Most businesses architect their IT infrastructure and applications to support multiple cloud platforms to maximize choice and protect themselves from vendor lock-in. Multi-cloud can include public clouds such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud.
What Are the Benefits?
Multi-cloud is now mainstream and pervasive in IT infrastructure for many of the reasons listed below:
- Businesses deliberately source IT services from multiple providers to negotiate the best rates for resources. A single-vendor approach can be risky from an availability standpoint, making maintaining a relationship with a backup vendor advantageous.
- Having multiple cloud platform choices allows the organization to take advantage of the latest technological advances in each cloud platform. Cloud service providers often differentiate themselves with features such as, developer and management tools, machine learning and predictive analytics, storage solutions, faster provisioning, diverse data center locations, and more.
- Better pricing is always an important consideration. A storage-heavy application will benefit from a provider offering lower-cost storage, more archival levels, and better retrieval service level guarantees.
- Many cloud providers offer specialist cloud environments that guarantee that data never leaves a particular state or federal jurisdiction to comply with local regulations. Different cloud providers often operate in different countries, which is another reason to have a broader choice of cloud provider.
- Building portable applications across clouds makes them more future-proof and opens the door to portable microservices that can load balance across providers for higher availability and business resilience.
There are several challenges associated with a multi-cloud strategy, many of which are listed below:
Every cloud-provider relationship has to be managed, which creates administrative overhead.
Managing multiple clouds is more complex than a single cloud strategy. Each cloud provider uses its own terminology and processes, which can create a training challenge. Since vendors price and package services differently, comparison can be difficult.
More clouds creates a bigger attack surface to secure from cybersecurity threats. Keeping security policies consistent across clouds is harder.
Migration between providers can incur egress charges, raising migration costs.
Getting to Multi-Cloud
Transitioning to multi-cloud is beneficial. But there are some things to take into consideration:
- Common application programming interfaces (APIs) are available across different cloud platforms. Some are driven by standards bodies, others by vendors. The ODBC driver is a typical API used by applications. Native database drivers are usually faster. If you have a common target database, such as Ingres or Oracle, deployed on different clouds, you can use the native SQL driver.
- Some data management systems, such as the Actian Cloud Data Platform, provide their own user interface that manages instances deployed on different cloud platforms and offer common application APIs.
- Containerization was conceived to make applications portable and easier to maintain. So many legacy applications have an uncertain future because the infrastructure they depend on has become obsolete. Operating systems such as VAX VMS were architected to run on propriety processors such as the Alpha chip, making it difficult for software providers to virtualize it to keep it running on modern processors efficiently. Software such as Docker encapsulates the application in a portable software stack, making it future-proof and perfect for serverless deployment or running as part of a component-based application model.
- Multiple cloud platforms can extend workload management infrastructure that spans heterogeneous clouds.
- Testing should be automated to generate a software-defined infrastructure to speed continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. This accelerates testing cycles and reduces the incidence of human error in the configuration management process.
- Application monitoring and performance management must be extended to instrument multiple clouds.
- A dual-sourced infrastructure makes applications more resilient to failures on one of the vendors clouds. This is akin to an individual who maintains two laptops, one running Windows and another dunning MacOS, just in case one decides to do an unscheduled maintenance update during a critical workday.
Is Multi-Cloud Better Than a Single-Cloud?
The advantages of multi-cloud over a single-cloud deployment can be boiled down to greater application deployment choice, better pricing, and lower risk for the business.
Actian in Multi-Cloud Environments
From its inception, the Actian Data Platform was designed to operate in multi-cloud environments. The Actian Data Platform handles multi-cloud complexities by providing the ability to deploy instances from multiple cloud providers. Instances that span multiple clouds can be connected to provide an aggregated view. This distributed query provides transparent access to data wherever it resides.
The Actian data platform is cluster aware for scalability. Block storage lets compute and storage scale independently. The data integration capabilities built into the Actian Data Platform with DataConnect work with popular data storage structures. For example, templates in GitHub are provided for S3 buckets, Google Drive folders and Azure Blob storage. The Actian Data Platform makes multi-cloud management easy using a single management console. Try it for 30-days by signing up for a free trial.