Cloud computing is already making waves across the world, with an increasing number of enterprises leveraging incredible technology to achieve their business goals. Many cloud experts believe that more and more companies will switch to a multicloud strategy in the coming years. So, the question is, what is driving this change?
This article explains the basics of multicloud management, its benefits, challenges, and why companies are using it.
What is Multicloud Management?
Multicloud refers to using cloud services from more than one cloud service provider to manage an application or an ecosystem of applications that operate in a common architecture. You can use it as software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) from various cloud vendors like AWS, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Services. Most enterprises typically run their applications on PaaS and IaaS.
Multicloud management is a term used to describe a company’s strategy of managing cloud services from various vendors using a centralized environment.
Your multicloud strategy can include the following:
- Several public cloud service providers.
- Hybrid clouds (private cloud plus public cloud).
- On-premises cloud environments.
A multicloud solution is portable – it is developed on cloud-native, open-source technologies like Kubernetes and is supported by several cloud vendors’ cloud infrastructures.
Such multicloud solutions enable you to manage workloads on different clouds using a central console. A number of cloud service providers and cloud solution providers offer these solutions for development, compute infrastructure, cloud storage, data warehousing, AI/ML (artificial intelligence and machine learning), and more.
How Does a Multicloud Approach Work?
Multicloud management strategies involve several architectural approaches. You can develop distinct parts of an application stack in different cloud environments. In such an approach, each part of the application stack accesses different services and systems needed to work together. However, in such cases, developers build logic in the application itself instead of building it into the infrastructure side.
Other scenarios also exist. For example, you may want the same application services to run in various cloud environments with minimal, if any, changes to the application code. This approach once entailed significant challenges. However, open-source technologies like Kubernetes have made it much more convenient today.
Here are some of the primary features of using a multicloud approach:
- Self-service provisioning – you can choose a cloud environment of your choice for deploying a certain application or its parts. The vendor does not interfere, and you can make the decision based on your requirements.
- Workflow automation – it allows users to automate their tasks by creating and managing computing instances without human involvement.
- Scheduled tasks – users can schedule their tasks at predetermined intervals.
- Reporting – it enables users to access multiple reports using a centralized console.
Let’s explore the benefits and challenges of adopting a multicloud management approach.
Benefits of Multicloud Management
The greatest benefit of adopting a multicloud approach is that it helps you avoid ‘vendor lock-in.’ Vendor lock-in refers to a situation where a company depends on a single cloud service provider for a service or set of services. Moreover, the company can’t switch to another vendor due to legal constraints, high costs of switching, or technical issues.
Relying on just one cloud-based service provider often puts you in a tight spot. It entails performance issues, unnecessary costs, and limited options due to one vendor.
Here are some of the key benefits of multicloud.
As cyber threats grow in number and intensity, the security of vital enterprise data often features as the most critical concern for many IT and business executives. Moreover, employing a multicloud approach can make your cloud management and security an uphill task, with the probability of cyber threats growing.
Nevertheless, multicloud solutions come armed with various security mechanisms and features like automation and monitoring, thus helping you reduce the probability of a successful cyberattack against your cloud infrastructure. Moreover, these multicloud solutions also support enforcing a consistent security policy across all cloud environments.
2. Aids Regulatory Compliance
Multicloud solutions facilitate you in adhering to government regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). These regulations direct organizations to store customer data in specific locations.
A multicloud strategy enables you to provide data securely and safely without needing to manage your on-premises data centers.
3. Improves Performance
You can use a multicloud strategy to build a robust IT infrastructure that lowers cloud integration costs and optimizes application performance. A multicloud approach allows you to improve user experience (UX) and application responsiveness by letting you create unique connections.
It lets you choose the vendor you want based on location, price, features, and performance offered by a service provider.
4. Enhances Resilience
Application downtime can occur at any time, irrespective of the vendor. Hence, relying on only one cloud service provider is very risky. By adopting a multicloud strategy, companies can spread their downtime and outage risk across multiple vendors. This improves security, reduces vulnerability, increases disaster recovery, and gives you better fail-over options.
Multicloud management enables consistent and continuous availability of data storage resources, thus making cloud-based applications’ deployment resilient. It also reduces latency and packet loss, improving your application performance.
5. Allows Better Flexibility
A key benefit of adopting a multicloud approach is that it gives you the flexibility to choose different cloud-based services from different vendors. You can choose the best service a given vendor offers while choosing another vendor renowned for another cloud service, helping you build an incredible cloud environment.
Other factors that may impact your decision include pricing, location, security, performance, and compliance needs.
Challenges of Multicloud Management
While there are many benefits of utilizing a multicloud infrastructure, significant challenges are also involved.
Let’s look at some of the major challenges you’re likely to face in a multicloud environment.
1. More Complexity
Creating and managing multicloud environments is a tall order due to complexity. You might find it challenging to implement a multicloud solution.
2. Shortage of Skilled IT Experts
The pace at which cloud computing is growing is too much for the labor market to manage. As a result, there is a severe shortage of experienced and skilled cloud engineers and experts. Moreover, it isn’t easy to find resources adept at using and managing multicloud environments where companies use services from different vendors like AWS, Azure, Google, and IBM.
3. Integrating Different Environments
Another major challenge multicloud users face is the difficulty in integrating different cloud platforms. As each cloud environment differs from the other, companies need to ensure that their applications are cross-platform, thus avoiding integration issues.
But building cross-platform apps can be difficult. However, you can use containers to enable easier application portability for different cloud vendors.
4. High Costs
Multicloud environments can be costly if your users fail to decommission unused cloud instances. This is called cloud sprawl. Costs for different cloud services often spiral out of control under such conditions.
5. Reconfiguration Issues
In a multi-cloud environment, you deploy your applications to different cloud environments. This may lead to reconfiguration issues as the application adapts to its specific cloud environment. You also need to put in significant work to move applications between various cloud environments. And sometimes, the apps run differently in each cloud, causing inefficiencies.
Multicloud management is being adopted by companies worldwide, despite the challenges it poses. That is because it is possible to manage the difficulties involved in multicloud environments.
The flexibility, resilience, cost efficiency, and improved performance and security offered by multicloud are too good to be ignored. In the future, we will see more and more companies diversifying their cloud setups, looking to unlock the power of cloud computing.
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