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Multi-Cloud Interoperable Cloud Services

DZone's Guide to

Multi-Cloud Interoperable Cloud Services

From our recently-published Cloud Guide, we look at why companies choose multi-cloud services and how they connect them all.

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This article is featured in the new DZone Guide to Cloud: Serverless, Functions, and Multi-Cloud. Get your free copy for more insightful articles, industry statistics, and more!


Multi-cloud is defined as an approach that combines more than one cloud (public or private), from more than a single cloud vendor. However, this is not an aggregation of various services from different vendors; it requires a mandatory glue — a cloud-agnostic approach with interoperability across all providers. Below, we'll cover what problems the right multi-cloud implementation can solve, what challenges can be faced, and how to achieve the required interoperability.

Problems Multi-Cloud Solves

Usually, we are not sure which solution is better, but we are perfectly aware of the problems we are struggling with. Below are some issues that can be solved with a multi-cloud approach.

Lock-In

The cloud strategies that started years ago, in most cases, do not meet the current requirements of enterprises — the product lines have changed, new technologies have arisen, the load and number of users have grown, etc. Soon you'll understand that there are lots of new solutions and services in the market that can ease and improve DevOps processes, thus pushing results higher and TCO lower. But, at the same time, the whole project architecture is built while keeping the features of the previously chosen cloud platform in mind, so migration becomes next to impossible and the company is stuck with one vendor. However, if the projects are built based on a multi-cloud approach, you get compatibility with different vendors by default, and you can move your applications to the most appropriate vendor anytime.

Cost

Production environments require the highest performance capacity, so you choose the most appropriate cloud option,which will usually be pretty expensive. But before getting to production, the project goes through the whole lifecycle of development, testing, and staging. As a result, you pay high rates at all stages.

Multi-cloud provides the ability to mix and match pricing plans for infrastructure from different vendors to meet not only technology needs but also available budgets. In most cases, dev and stage workloads can be placed on less expensive cloud platforms, while production environments will go to a premium, and thus high-priced, cloud. Also, various types of data can be distributed to the generic public cloud or kept on a more secure and isolated private cloud.

Latency

More and more, modern business plans are erasing geographical boundaries, letting companies target a worldwide audience. But this leads to new challenges, as clients demand quality and fast performance no matter where they are located. Bringing the connectivity point closer to customers ensure slower latency. That's where multi-cloud availability can help, as the data can be distributed across regions from geographically disparate locations. Each service provider cannot build datacenters in all required locations, but by using multi-cloud, companies have a wider choice of infrastructure from other vendors smoothly integrated within the same platform.

Availability

Even reliable cloud giants can fail and face outages, especially due to weather, human error, or other unexpected factors. That's why "putting all your eggs into one basket" has always been a mistake. Distributing workloads across different clouds improves not only latency, but also availability and performance. Utilizing redundancy in infrastructure and software also guarantees a higher level of fault tolerance. This is a classic approach to mitigate the risk of application outages,downtime, and data loss.

Security and Regulation Laws

Many countries have introduced very specific regulations for data storage, requiring companies to keep data inside the country. And recently, GDPR in Europe only reminded us of the potential impact of regulations and security laws. In other cases, such rules are dictated by the security requirements of the company itself. As a result, businesses are looking for a way to distribute data across locations or various types of clouds and, at the same time, be compliant with different regulations.

Multi-Cloud Challenges and Their Solutions

Moving to multi-cloud requires thorough preparation, smart coordination of people and resources, patience, and positive thinking. Let's look deeper at some challenges and consider ways to overcome them.

Cloud Expertise Gap While Migrating to Multi-Cloud

Extending the number of cloud environments usually leads to extending the skills, tools, and effort required to run these environments effectively. When choosing among cloud options, you should consider the opinion of cloud experts who know the strengths and weaknesses of the available offerings and the way they relate to the specific needs of your company.

Multi-cloud integration can involve tasks unfamiliar even to experienced technical employees. So before starting a migration, an organization should be ready to make investments in order to develop the necessary skill sets internally or partner with a managed service provider that has a proven track record of multi-cloud expertise.

The process of moving workloads from one cloud model to the other is not trivial, and many companies struggle with how to ensure that the result will match expectations without wasting valuable resources.

The right multi-cloud management tool can ease and automate the deployment of existing standards and policies across the new cloud network. But such cloud platforms should also be chosen by taking a company's plans into consideration to eliminate the problem of vendor lock-in in the future. Zero code change, no proprietary API, standard container packaging support, ability to migrate legacy applications — these are just some of the aspects that should be considered.

Management Complexity

Running several clouds requires not only skills but human resources and time. Even seemingly simple things as resource provisioning can be tangled if vendors use various methods or measures. Each provider has their own portals, APIs, and processes that need to be managed.

DevOps experts who can work across multiple cloud platforms are difficult to find, so a solution can be to choose the right platform that provides automation and unified management of public and private clouds within a single panel. This can help achieve interoperability, unifying application deployment and lifecycle management within different vendors and enabling easy migration across them.

Companies should omit cases that lead to significant reconfiguration or cloud-specific adaptation of applications, as well as a mismatch of features. If the application requires different cloud-specific APIs or services on various clouds, or their deployment or migration across platforms needs immense work each time, then it loses the point of going multi-cloud and leads to waste. In order to avoid unnecessary complexity, it is important to follow standardization in tools and processes, aswell as avoiding the use of any proprietary services that are not available from other cloud providers.

Security Concerns

Multiple cloud platforms means there are more possible attack vectors and vulnerabilities and thus require extra effort to achieve effective security, governance, and compliance.

Security is not entirely the responsibility of the vendors involved in the multi-cloud strategy of the organization. Of course, they should provide a set of tools and top-tier approaches, but still, the main responsibility remains with the company itself.

It's vital to thoroughly discuss security requirements with potential cloud vendors before signing an SLA to find out whatis going to be covered by the provider and what reaction to a security breach or data loss should be expected.

Cost Tracking

Cost flexibility is one the main benefits of a multi-cloud approach, but at the same time, cloud diversity can lead to extra risks and loss of control over budgeting. Oversight, lack of ROI analysis, and tracking of cloud consumption can grow into a big waste.

In order to ensure multi-cloud efficiency, the organization has to continuously monitor the cloud spends, tune them in accordance with the projects and work of the team, and be proactive in predicting the future consumption patterns.

In some cases, taming multi-cloud economics can be considered as the biggest challenge. Every platform has its own billingsystem, pricing model, and resizing and payment options, so optimization and consolidation of the whole budgeting process can become a total nightmare. That's why this requires either internal hires (e.g. cloud cost analyst, engineers for tuning) or a partnership with a managed multi-cloud provider that can consolidate the data and provide cost analysis for specific applications separately and the organization in general.

Redundancy Strategy

Building a strategy for application and data redundancy, backups, disaster recovery, and failover protection cannot be overrated, especially if the systems are located in an external data center and you cannot fix the issues directly in the event of an outage or other emergency.

The system should include the possibility for automatic switching to the backup platform in case of failed operability orfull non-availability of the primary cloud. This can be achieved by redirecting user requests from one cloud to another. Also,there is a set of software that can be integrated to automatically make the switch based on outage triggers.

In order to ensure that data won't be lost while switching from one cloud to another, it is necessary to think through the process of data synchronization between every instance or application replicated across multiple clouds. The updates tothe database between clouds should be performed with the lowest latency possible to avoid data loss during the transfer. On top of that, several times per year, IT departments have to check the failover process by emulating errors (even if they seem impossible) and making sure that all environments work as intended in all cloud installations.

Compliance with Data Regulations

While choosing vendors for your multi-cloud infrastructure, itis important to consider the policies and regulations of yourcompany, the country where you plan to locate workloads, and the provider itself.

Some local governments restrict data storage, so you cannot place it outside the country. Also, different industries, like financial or governmental institutions, can host their sensitive workloads only in highly secure private clouds. All such specifics should be considered before involving a vendor in your multi-cloud strategy.

Summary

The key ingredient of a solid multi-cloud strategy is abstraction. Organizations need a governance layer that canprovide complete abstraction from the unique functionality of different cloud vendors and enable cloud-agnostic implementation without extra complexity. Such converging points between the business and cloud providers should either be aware of all cloud specifics or combine standardized services from the required clouds and provide missing functionality based on company needs. Multi-cloud management platforms provide the expected level of interoperability to ease the entry point and eliminate complicated processes throughout the project lifecycle. The main goal here is to choose the right option for your business.


This article is featured in the new DZone Guide to Cloud: Serverless, Functions, and Multi-Cloud. Get your free copy for more insightful articles, industry statistics, and more!

Site24x7 - Full stack It Infrastructure Monitoring from the cloud. Sign up for free trial.

Topics:
cloud ,interoperability ,multicloud ,challenges and solutions ,availability ,compliance ,cost

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