As the company operating The Weather Channel, Weather.com, Weather Underground, and other weather-related businesses, it’s no surprise that the Weather Channel is a fan of the cloud.
The Weather Company has long been a notable user of Amazon Web Services (AWS), where they run applications that require flexibility, scalability and the ability to transmit and process large amounts of data quickly and efficiently.
According to a case study released by AWS, “The Weather Company re-designed its big data platform, forecasting systems, and applications to run natively in a cloud environment…allowing The Weather Company to scale while maintaining control over the environment and costs.”
Being a loyal AWS customer, it was rather shocking for many journalists, technology analysts and influencers when IBM announced that The Weather Company was a new customer of their IBM Cloud platform. The resulting speculation was that The Weather Company had departed AWS for IBM.
However, when pressed by Business Insider‘s Matt Rosoff, The Weather Company’s CIO, Bryson Koehler, provided some clarity to the situation. The Weather Company wasn’t switching cloud providers. They were using both.
AWS remains the vendor for The Weather Company’s consumer business, and IBM’s SoftLayer was selected for the migration of The Weather Company’s business-to-business workloads from enterprise datacenters to the cloud. Ultimately, the move is part of The Weather Company’s commitment to move to a multi-vendor cloud architecture.
What The Weather Company is doing isn’t revolutionary. In fact, it’s part of an ongoing trend in the IT marketplace.
Large enterprises, organizations and government agencies are embracing what was originally referred to as a, “hybrid cloud environment.” They’re utilizing multiple clouds and cloud vendors across their business. Unfortunately, as the cloud gained traction, attention and acceptance, the term “hybrid cloud” was purloined and used to describe an environment that combines public and private cloud environments. So, to avoid confusion, let’s call these environments, “multi-cloud environments,” instead.
Why are these companies embracing multi–cloud environments? There are a few reasons.
First, each cloud provider has different benefits, features, incentives and pricing, which we’ll explore in greater detail in future articles on Cloud Sprawl. Depending on the workload or application being moved into a vendor’s cloud environment, there could be advantages of choosing one vendor over the other. This has led to many companies selecting different cloud vendors for different workloads and applications – creating a patchwork of different cloud environments across the enterprise.
Then there’s the issue of flexibility and resiliency. Many companies simply can’t afford to have their applications or Websites go down or be unavailable for any period of time. By using a combination of cloud vendors and cloud environments, workloads can be moved off of clouds that are experiencing downtime.
In the case of e-commerce and other applications, avoiding even minutes of downtime can result in significant loss of revenue. Multi-cloud environments mitigate risk and ensure resiliency.
Finally, there’s the issue of security. Although many cloud environments can be just as secure – and in many cases more secure – than traditional enterprise datacenters, there is still a risk that a public cloud could be hacked and information could be compromised. By having all information stored in one cloud, many enterprises feel that they’re essentially keeping all of their proverbial “eggs in one basket,” with a single security breach compromising all sensitive data.
This is especially concerning for healthcare, financial services and other industries where customer information and data is exceptionally sensitive. In fact, in a recent article in Healthcare IT News, Matt Ferrari, the CTO for ClearDATA, a HIPAA compliant provider of cloud hosting, backup, disaster recovery and information security services, was quoted as saying, “The future is about multi-cloud…with worries about hacking and data breaches, they want to be able to spread out the risk.”
Today’s enterprises, regardless of the industry, are turning to multi-cloud environments for the scalability, resiliency and security they need for their data, applications and workloads. Unfortunately, this isn’t without challenges. In future articles on Cloud Sprawl, we’ll look at the cloud management and data migration issues that these multi-cloud environments can create, and share best practices to help overcome them.