The advantages of multi-clouds
Companies choose a multi-cloud approach for various reasons.
According to Gartner, the advantages of multi-cloud include increased agility, less dependency on providers, better availability and performance, as well as consideration of data sovereignty, compliance with legal requirements and all labor costs. In addition, it says that no cloud provider or product is perfect and that it therefore makes more sense to take advantage of different clouds and, in the event of a system failure, to have a second cloud available as a backup via failover.
While multi-cloud offers numerous advantages, the CIOs must also ensure that on the one hand there is no cloud sprawl and on the other hand that business agility and forward thinking are maintained. This means that the CIOs must have control over their multi-cloud strategy.
For many IT managers, one of the most important reasons for moving to multi-cloud is the rise of shadow IT, in which employees or departments use cloud applications and services without the approval of the IT department. This inevitably creates an uncontrolled multi-cloud. Not surprisingly, IDC says the biggest challenge for corporate data centers is developing a successful multi-cloud strategy.
What is the best way to map the complexity of a multi-cloud environment – before it’s too late?
The thought of having to deal with a mix of IaaS and SaaS providers and numerous cloud services from various public clouds can cause headaches. Many services look similar, but they differ in terms of functions, costs, provision and technical know-how. The first multi-cloud steps of a company should therefore be to define the transformation strategy, to create a roadmap and a business case and then to define the corresponding cloud architecture.
To do this, the CIOs need to know which providers and products are already used in which departments. In this context, for example, they have to set expected values for performance, security, availability, operation and interoperability. This also serves to define appropriate test and selection criteria for the services. These services should be listed so that the company can check at any time which tools and processes it needs to manage the multi-cloud.
This can be done using special cloud management tools that are designed to make managing multiple clouds less complex.
For example, containers solve the problem of interoperability if the software environments between different clouds are not identical. This is done by providing an appropriate application platform. Such “containerization eliminates the differences in operating system versions and the underlying infrastructure. This means that these processes can be isolated from the rest of the system, and this has the advantage that they can be easily moved between different clouds while they are not affected in terms of development, testing and production. Developers can test their applications across multiple operating systems and protect them against a crash so that only the container is affected and not the operating system. In addition, containers can be grouped into clusters, making the services scalable and robust. Companies can then update individual services without having to take the entire application offline. Containers are considered the best solution for microservice-based applications, but they can and will be used for traditional applications and infrastructures.
A service mesh is another tool for thinking outside the box when it comes to multi-cloud. Microservices libraries are able to handle service-to-service communication without any problems. At some point, a company will scale these microservices and add new functions. This means more work for the developers, since they have to deal with additional inquiries, as well as a loss of transparency in data traffic. Here, a service mesh serves as a logical framework for the provision and connection of microservices and thus improves standardization. While a service mesh is possible across different clouds, a lot of technical expertise and experimentation is required for such a proper function. This means that everyone involved has to gain comprehensive insights into how the technology can be operated in different scenarios.