Image © Mission Bay Conference Center

Image © Mission Bay Conference Center

Last month, RightScale’s State of the Cloud report got me thinking about the rise of multi-cloud solutions. Next month, I’ll be moderating a Mapping Session at GigaOM’s Structure event to work out how, where, when, why and if this trend is going to prove significant.

Hybrid clouds, in which one public cloud and one private cloud are used together, are becoming increasingly common solutions to a range of business challenges. RightScale’s figures suggest growing interest in something more complex and, potentially, more interesting; multi-cloud. In a multi-cloud arrangement, customers build solutions combining one or more public clouds with one or more private clouds. This has the potential to significantly increase complexity, without necessarily delivering a comparable increase in value.

In my post last month, I suggested that many of these multi-cloud deployments were essentially accidental. A quick email exchange with RightScale shows that their survey respondents would appear to disagree; multi-cloud, for them, is a conscious business decision.

I’m intrigued, and so were GigaOM. So we’re putting on a Mapping Session at next month’s Structure conference to explore the issue further. I’ll be joined at the front of the room by fellow GigaOM Pro Analysts Ben Kepes and David Linthicum, as well as GigaOM Research Director Jo Maitland.

A GigaOM Mapping Session is more like a workshop than a regular panel. Although there are analysts at the front of the room, they’re really there to stimulate and guide a conversation with every single person in the room. We don’t have all the answers. We’re there to explore the topic, and to work out what — if anything — it might mean. The perspectives of customers, practitioners, suppliers and investors are an integral part of the process. When it works well, everyone comes away with a broader perspective than when they entered the room. Ideas are born, perceptions are sharpened, the germs of deals are done, and directions for future GigaOM research are painted. Mapping Sessions are free for registered Structure attendees, but separate registration is required. Numbers are capped, to ensure plenty of opportunity for discussion. If you’ve got perspectives to share, please do register to join us on 20 June in San Francisco.

Multi-cloud clearly throws up a host of intriguing issues for cloud vendors, their customers, and the ecosystem of cloud management-type providers (like survey author RightScale). What, if anything, do cloud vendors need to do in order to encourage, support, or hinder multi-cloud adoption? What’s the value proposition behind multi-cloud for customers, and what do the providers of cloud management services need to do in order to capitalise upon an emerging trend? Is this a long-term trend, or a short-lived opportunity?

Many of those stakeholders will be in the room, speaking, listening, and interacting. Do join us, and them.