Cloud adoption and its importance have been the topic of everyone's interest for more than a decade now. Various reports underpin the statement that the cloud is the way for IT. Gartner's study shows that the cloud infrastructure market in 2018 was $32.4 billion with a 31.3 percent increase from the previous year. Whereas IDC predicts global spending on public cloud services to grow to $500 billion in 2023 from $183 billion in 2018
To match the speed of the dynamic requirements a strong and automated DevOps process is something that the developers need. The infrastructure & tools that each cloud provider has in its arsenal have their pros and cons that can help set the necessary DevOps culture for faster application delivery. However, for complete software development with reduced risk, optimized resource usage, and cost optimization it sometimes becomes necessary to combine multiple cloud services. Furthermore limiting developers to one cloud vendor may significantly affect performance and deployments. A survey by Gartner suggests that 81 percent of public cloud users are using two or more providers. Another IBM research suggests that 85 percent of the companies are existing multi-cloud adopters. Around 39 percent of the respondents have DevOps processes implemented, and 41 percent have adopted a multi-cloud management strategy.
The broader shift towards multi-cloud adoption by many organizations can be seen in the past few years. Minimizing risks, customized cloud usage, regulated costs, convenience, and flexibility are some of the key factors behind the multi-cloud usage. In simple words adopting a multi-cloud approach is like using either two or more than two cloud computing services. Here are some of the highlighting benefits of adopting a multi-cloud strategy in detail:
- Vendor lock-in: Multi-cloud adoption helps you to avoid getting locked into a specific cloud provider’s infrastructure, services, and pricing models. You get the convenience to switch your vendors. And just to avail the best amongst all the solutions, many large organizations have started adopting this strategy.
- Shadow IT policy: Shadow IT simply means applications and infrastructure that are managed and utilized without the knowledge of the enterprise's IT department. This is typically a problem with large organizations where multiple business units have varying requirements and end up using multiple clouds.
- Performance factor: Network hops between servers play an important role when it comes to performance. The closer the datacenter is the less will be the hops, variations, and packet loss. Organizations can reduce the latency related problems by selecting a cloud provider with data centers that are close. Thus, for organizations that have a broad range of cloud-based workloads, the best solution is to switch to multiple cloud providers.
- Compliance and security: Some compliances, especially if you are working in Europe, may require you to hold customer data in particular locations. Now you can either maintain your data on-prem or simply choose a multi-cloud approach based on the organization’s workload and geographical distribution.
Additionally, it is risky to put all your mission-critical information and workloads with only one provider. Even though most of the cloud providers promise 99.XX percent of up-time in their SLAs, it is always better to store your confidential information in a private cloud. However, this is a costly solution. An alternate way is a multi-cloud approach where organizations can maintain a hybrid cloud environment that will be both secured and cost-effective. You can keep the highest priority workloads in private and regular ones in the public cloud.
To adopt a multi-cloud strategy, you should be fully aware of your decision drivers. It usually depends on three major factors:
- Sourcing: This involves a variety of factors such as availability, performance, data sovereignty, regulatory criteria, and costs associated with labor.
- Architecture: With the new design approaches giving more priority to modular style, provision for multiple cloud providers and their services is another driving factor.
- Governance: Enterprises these days are focusing on unified monitoring and administrative policies, processes, and tools that will help them in complete governance and cost-optimization across the multi-cloud environments.
Managing a multi-cloud deployment
With great power comes great responsibility and this is true for the multi-cloud approach too. No surprise lots of organizations are facing a hard time dealing with the multi-cloud deployment because most of them adopt multiple vendors in an ad-hoc manner than in a planned way. Most of them prefer their long-term providers and the ones that already have cloud strategy service, deployment, migration, and management capabilities. Thanks to Cloud Management Platforms (CMPs) there is some relief. There are numerous available solutions to assist organizations to manage multi-cloud (comprising private and public clouds) services as well as resources. CMPs offer an efficient way to manage the provisioning and orchestration, service request management, monitoring and analytics, cloud migration, backup and disaster recovery, identity, security, and compliance. Also, some of the leading Managed Service Providers (MSPs) deliver tooling, processes, and staffing that are a combination of cloud-agnostic and cloud-specific capacities. However, a unified solution that provides full transparency is still a very rare gem. In one of my earlier blogs, I spoke about one such gem from Google, Anthos. It allows a perfect combination of hybrid and multi-cloud environments with which you can run your applications on-prem, on GCP, or leading third-party vendors like Azure and AWS.
In addition to CMPs you can also look for different Cloud Service Brokerages (CSBs) that basically add value to one or more cloud services. These services can be broadly categorized into aggregation, integration, and customization. CSBs can elevate the multi-cloud performance by helping to manage different platforms from a single interface and providing an in-depth monitoring and transparency across applications. This helps in cost and resource optimization, simplified operations, and additional expertise provided by the CSB's technical teams.
Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, everyone has realized the need to work remotely and the cloud is the pillar of this modern-day infrastructure serving these needs. Having a multi-cloud architecture further enhances the potential and power of this solution. It is not only multiplying possibilities like autonomy, better disaster recovery, and migration but also optimizing the ROI, security, and governance. I won’t be surprised at all if multi-cloud witnesses the same growth curve as the cloud.