Why adopt a multi-cloud solution?
The biggest benefit of a multi-cloud approach is the flexibility it affords. Some providers will specialize in certain services more than others, so being able to move between multiple tools to leverage the best solution, at the right time, from the most appropriate provider will be essential if businesses are to operate as effectively as possible.
The use of multiple providers often also goes hand-in-hand with a hybrid cloud strategy, where businesses can take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness of public options, while retaining the high level of control and security that private alternatives provide.
Multi-cloud is clearly seen as the way to go by many businesses. Rightscale's 2017 State of the Cloud Report revealed 85% of enterprises now operate in such an environment, with cloud users running applications in an average of 1.8 public clouds and 2.3 private clouds.
But while the benefits are clear to see, managing multiple cloud providers comes with its own set of challenges. So what do IT managers need to keep in mind in order to make sure this strategy is a success?
How do you keep control of your data?
A key question to consider is how you handle data across multiple clouds. There are two elements of this: namely, data sovereignty - where your data is physically stored and how it is handled - and data locality, which relates to how it is prepared and stored for processing in the global cloud environment.
In a recent study conducted by IFP, nearly 50% of IT security professionals said they're concerned about data sovereignty/residency/control.
Determining what data is stored on which cloud will be a key consideration in this. The ability to store and process data in the most appropriate location, depending on regulatory, security and efficiency needs, is a major benefit of a multi-cloud approach. However, sooner or later, workloads will need to be moved across clouds.
Generally speaking, data needs to be stored as close to the relevant compute resources as possible, in order to ensure performance is high and costs are low. Tech Target observes that copying data in and out of a cloud will often increase expenses, so it makes sense to keep these tasks in the same cloud where data is generated where possible.
Should you use a managed cloud partner?
For many businesses, the simplest way of dealing with these issues will be to secure the assistance of a managed cloud services provider, who can handle all the day-to-day aspects of the technology and monitor multiple cloud providers to ensure they are delivering the service they promise.
Ideally, these providers should help businesses to observe and control all their cloud deployments from a 'single pane of glass', which offers one solution and point of contact for all services.
As each provider will have its own set of service level agreements (SLAs), it can be challenging to keep on top of all these without help. An effective solution should be able to pull together all availability and performance information, as well as "have the ability to carry out synthetic transactions against defined services and applications, show overall system health, and monitor response times and latency," states Compare the Cloud.
However, this route may not be for every enterprise, particularly if there are worries about ceding control. In this case, businesses can still take advantage of multi-cloud management tools in order to meet the challenges of this environment. Meenagi Venkat, Vice-President of Technical Sales and Solutioning at IBM Cloud, said:
However a firm chooses to go about managing its cloud, attempting to monitor and control each individual cloud manually will likely prove to be a complex and time-consuming struggle. Putting in place a clear plan, embracing management tools or even partnering with an expert in the field can take much of the hassle out of multi-cloud environments.
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- Hybrid Cloud Headaches: Securing a Complex Environment
- Everything You Need to Know About Cloud Security
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