Are you pursuing a multiple cloud strategy? If so, you’re among the majority of companies. In fact, according to Rightscale’s 2019 State of the Cloud survey, 94% of respondents said they use cloud platforms in their enterprise. Not just one cloud platform—on average, they use almost five. In fact, 84% of respondents have a multi-cloud strategy.1
It’s not just the “big three” platforms we hear so much about, either. While Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) represent a big percentage of the public cloud services market (a total of 68.4%, according to Gartner) other providers like Alibaba, IBM, and Oracle continue to see increased customer adoption.2
Using more than one cloud platform is a good business decision. It enables you to leverage the right platform for the right use case, dictated in part by factors such as capabilities, features, and cost. This approach also decreases provider lock-in and allows for maximum agility.
However, to meet the needs of today’s digital business and agile IT, a multiple cloud strategy is not enough. You need a multi-cloud strategy.
Multiple Clouds vs. Multi-Cloud
You might feel like I’m playing with semantics, but I’m not.
Multiple Clouds is an operating environment characterized by having independent applications, services, or workloads running in separate cloud platforms. For example, an organization may have serverless applications in AWS, IaaS in Azure, and real-time data processing in GCP. While this approach may be dictated by a unique platform offering, it also allows the customer to select the platform that best suits their needs for each use case.
Multi-Cloud builds on this foundation but is different. A true multi-cloud operating environment is characterized by leveraging more than one cloud platform, yet those cloud platforms not only coexist but they also are codependent. For example, an application may have “front end” web services running in AWS and a “back end” database running in Oracle Cloud. Another scenario could require “back end” data integration between two cloud platforms or one cloud platform and an on-premise platform. For models like these to be successful, all platforms must be available, secure, and responsive.
In a true multi-cloud scenario, the ability to integrate and leverage each cloud platform extends the usability of the other. Applications can be integrated across different platforms. Data residing on one platform can be accessible to other platforms. Use cases, spanning from disaster recovery to mobile or IoT, can span platforms.
The concept may seem simple enough. Implementation is not. After all, implementing one cloud platform has its challenges. In a multi-cloud environment, existing challenges are magnified, and new challenges emerge.
- Access. Providing user, application, and data access to one cloud platform introduces wrangling with bandwidth, performance, and security.Multi-cloud exponentially increases these challenges as well as introducing cloud platform interconnectivity. Do we continue to solve this ad-hoc or is there a better way?
- Integration. In a traditional scenario, you only needed to integrate cloud with your private data center or private cloud. In a multi-cloud scenario, you need to integrate multiple clouds with your on-premise footprint and one another. How do you do this effectively and efficiently?
- Governance. With multi-cloud, you have more security concerns. You not only have user to application (north/south) traffic but also data center to cloud or cloud to cloud (east/west) traffic between platforms. Applications communicating between different platforms and exchanging data must be governed closely to control access and reduce risk. How do you accomplish that?
- Auditing/Reporting. Doing this with one cloud platform is hard enough. How do you perform cross-cloud auditing and reporting in a multi-cloud environment?
Finding answers to these questions and others is challenging but not impossible. Creating a multi-cloud architecture is a critical step to success.
The purpose of creating an architecture is to establish an overarching framework that governs actions and decisions. Among other things, it links technology strategy to business goals and objectives, defines criteria and ownership, and ensures consistency in product/service selection and implementation. Without a defined architecture, problems often are addressed through point solutions, which is an approach that has proven to be costly and ineffective.
A multi-cloud architecture address four (4) key areas of cloud and multi-cloud computing. The good news is you may already be familiar with them. However, you will need to treat—and leverage—them differently than you have in the past.
- Performance: The way we deliver and ensure performance with on premise applications and workloads is something we have been perfecting for decades.Delivering the same, or better, performance for cloud – and multi-cloud – is a much greater challenge.We face this challenge, and the challenge of latency, across the entire portfolio of cloud including SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, and more. The ePlus Multi-Cloud Architecture ensures the right performance on a per application and workload basis.
- Cost: The costs associated with cloud introduce new factors and considerations with regard to both capital and operational expenditures. One example is connectivity.Connectivity for both cloud and multi-cloud presents unique cost challenges that do not align well with IT and business initiatives. The ePlus Multi-Cloud Architecture address the cost challenges associated with cloud and connectivity for cloud.
- Resiliency: The way we deliver and ensure IT resiliency for customers, users, applications, and workloads today is also something we have been perfecting for decades. Delivering the same, or better, for cloud is a much greater challenge. This is especially the case for hybrid cloud where there are on premise and cloud dependencies. The ePlus Multi-Cloud Architecture ensures the right resiliency on a per application and workload basis.
- Security: The way we secure on premise applications, workloads, and users has historically been addressed by “adding” or “bolting” on a technology product to solve a very specific problem. Cloud and multi-cloud introduce many different security considerations including visibility, compliance, and governance. The ePlus Multi-Cloud Architecture addresses the critical need for security not by “bolting” it on but by integrating it directly into all of the right places in a multi-cloud compatible model.
Designing a multi-cloud architecture requires a shift in thinking, a different approach, and multiple unique skillsets. At ePlus, we use a prescriptive approach that will help you find the right answer for your organization. For more information visit our Multi-Cloud Architecture page or reach out to your ePlus Account Executive.