Multi-cloud strategies of large European companies

Most major organizations use cloud services intensively for IT infrastructure, application development, testing, and operation or rely on the increasingly comprehensive services offered by the large cloud platforms in areas such as machine learning, AI, and IoT. And most of them use more than one cloud platform – they rely on multi-cloud or hybrid clouds. While hybrid cloud refers to a combination of public cloud and private cloud or legacy deployment models, multi-cloud usually stands for the deployment of several public cloud platforms. In our recent InSight Analysis, we present how and for what purpose more than 30 large European companies are implementing “multi-cloud”. These include AXA, BP, CERN, ENEL, HSBC, London Heathrow, Novartis, Siemens, SNCF, Unilever, and Volkswagen.

A great variety of use cases

It turns out that many innovations are implemented on the cloud platforms of hyperscalers. They range from small digitization projects to highly strategic business transformations. We are also observing large migrations of business-critical workloads such as SAP systems to public clouds – while at the same time other use cases are being implemented with other clouds.

Many different forms of multi-cloud usage

We have seen quite different forms of multi-cloud scenarios in enterprises, ranging from explicit, strategic multi-cloud usage to rather non-strategic multi-cloud usage (“multi-cloud by accident”).

Asset-heavy sectors are most advanced

Most multi-cloud case studies can be found in the manufacturing sector. Here, companies have not only traditionally been early movers when it comes to the adoption of new IT concepts that help to increase cost efficiency (outsourcing, offshoring, cloud, etc.), they have also been heavily transforming their established business models and investing in both new digital customer experience features and Internet of Things technologies – both of which are widely supported by modern, public cloud-based technologies. The same is true for utility or transport companies, for instance. In these asset-heavy sectors, we have also seen the most significant cloud migration and transformation projects.

Financial services companies, for example, are significant multi-cloud users as well, but use cases are usually limited to selective resource usage, e.g. for simulations on the one hand and the development of new service offerings on the other.

Few or no examples are given for the services, public, and telecom sectors. Why is this?

Companies in the services sector, such as media, entertainment, gaming, tourism, or professional services, are among the most intensive public cloud users. For the report, however, we focused on the largest European user companies, and although some large service companies such as TUI Group have a consistent cloud strategy (AWS), we found few examples for the use of multi-cloud solutions. One exception is the IT industry; particularly ISVs like SAP have been heavy multi-cloud users, among other things for the hosting of their various SaaS solutions. 

European public sector organizations are more reluctant to use public cloud services than other sectors or their counterparts in the US, for example. The superiority of non-European cloud providers is viewed skeptically both at local level in many countries and at EU level. Depending on the sub-sector, institutions in Europe make little or no use of public cloud services (defense, public authorities, healthcare) or use them more intensively (e.g. education). Although cloud computing is an important source of flexible and scalable computing power and storage for the needs of research institutions such as CERN, examples of multi-cloud strategies for major applications are rare.

Telecom providers use hyperscaler resources for internal use cases and often resell their offerings. At the same time, some of them continue to position themselves as competitors, especially as European alternatives to hyperscalers or as hosting and private cloud providers.

In the SITSI® report "Multi-cloud strategies of major European companies - InSight Analysis - Europe", we present a total of 32 selected, concrete examples of large European companies that operate in different sectors and each have at least two cloud platforms for relevant applications - beyond pure infrastructure use.