A Beginner’s Guide to Multi-Cloud
In recent years, a majority of companies have moved to cloud storage and functions. The usage of cloud services has increased drastically in all business areas, be it large enterprises or startups.
If you are new to cloud technology, terms like multi-cloud architecture must seem confusing or intimidating. However, it is very helpful to know and understand these concepts for the growth of your company.
What Is Multi-Cloud?
A 2020 IDG study says that about 92% of organizations around the world use cloud technology in some way for business operations. This means that cloud technology is rapidly taking over the market and proving to be significant in all industries.
Multi-cloud is the strategy of using multiple cloud platforms to do business in the cloud computing environment. It is extremely beneficial as it makes use of varied resources from different providers and helps users address different pain points in their organization.
Each cloud platform offers unique services and smart answers for business requirements. Thus, multi-cloud is considered an advanced solution for organizations. As the name suggests, it refers to multiple cloud services and describes the concept of using several storage and computing services in a single network architecture.
Initially, cloud technology comprised private clouds with single-user technologies. It then expanded to multi-tenant public clouds and hybrid clouds. In all these, users could use cloud assets, applications, and software from a shared environment, without worrying about its maintenance or scalability.
Multi-cloud is one step forward, as it increases the computing power and resources available, along with decreasing downtime and loss in performance or data.
Multi-cloud architecture is a system that includes more than one cloud of similar types. It may have multiple PaaS and SaaS services so that businesses are not dependent on one cloud provider.
A multi-cloud architecture may consist of multiple private clouds or multiple public clouds from different vendors. A multi-cloud generally has a 3-tier architecture. The three tiers are Load Balancer, Application Server, and Database Server.
- In production environments, each tier has a redundant server, called redundant 3-tier architecture.
- In case of non-redundant architecture, one server is used for each tier.
- For distributed multi-cloud architecture, there are two environments, for instance, in a tiered hybrid with public cloud for frontend and private cloud for the backend.
Redundant architecture provides higher uptime as the components are implemented in different computing environments.
Why Use a Multi-Cloud Strategy?
More and more businesses are being pushed towards multi-cloud due to high adoption rates and competition performance. Each year, numerous companies are implementing and upgrading their multi-cloud technology for various reasons.
Based on business requirements and budget concerns, multi-cloud can elevate business operations in many ways.
- It serves as a backup of your data and resources, in case of downtime and disasters.
- It makes operations more secure and protects them from cyber risks, like Single Point of Failure (SPOF).
- It lets work continue even if one service host fails.
- It helps you maintain industry standards, win over competition, and achieve risk and compliance management.
- It avoids vendor lock-in periods and dependence on one provider.
- It overcomes data gravity by moving all information from physical data centers to the cloud.
- It optimizes cloud workloads and elevates application performance for optimized results.
- It enhances disaster recovery capabilities for maximum uptime.
A multi-cloud strategy lets organizations deal with unplanned outages by using failover systems and moving workloads from one public cloud to another. You can also comply with data localization laws through this strategy by using service providers with regional availability zones. This can be done even while leveraging another cloud provider in a separate geographical location with different data laws.
Benefits of Multi-Cloud
If you have a multi-cloud platform, you can benefit from the best services of each platform. Thus, you can customize your infrastructure based on business needs and avoid the terms and conditions that come with relying on just one vendor.
Reliability, Resilience, and Scalability
Having a multi-cloud environment ensures you can maintain smooth operations even if one cloud fails. Mission-critical tasks can be restored in no time if you have failover systems, and redundant backup and recovery facilities in place.
Multi-cloud offers efficient solutions to process and store information with automation, real-time syncs, and on-demand scaling. It allows businesses to run smoothly in spite of server failures and also ensures they can scale their storage up or down based on demand.
IT experts can choose among the best multi-cloud providers to create an infrastructure that provides optimized performance in each task. For instance, one cloud provider can offer high upload and download speeds, and another can give you fairer agreement terms. You can combine both offerings to match your specifications for different lines of business.
With this, you can create a high-speed, low-latency system that integrates smoothly with your existing IT setup and extends your network to multiple servers and providers. You can also use local, low-latency connections to shorten response time and achieve private links with multiple providers.
Since you are dealing with multiple cloud providers, you can choose optimal pricing options for various resource capabilities. You can also compare different providers and select the best rates based on your infrastructure needs.
Independence from a single cloud provider’s contract lets you access features like customizable capacity, flexible payment, adjustable terms, tailored storage, etc.
Security and Risk Management
With multi-cloud, you are no longer responsible for infrastructure security. Cloud providers have sufficient capabilities to ensure network security, risk management, and service stability. They also work to keep operations running, even if one vendor has a cyber-attack or meltdown.
You can automatically switch to another server or private cloud to mitigate risks. Some security and risk assessment mechanisms include vulnerability testing, failure detection, redundant systems, authentication methods, and API assets consolidation.
Drawbacks of Multi-Cloud
With operations spread across multiple cloud providers, there can be a few drawbacks in such business infrastructures.
The most common disadvantage of multi-cloud architecture is its complexity. With a wide range of cloud services, the complexity of management also increases. In case you cannot manage the system efficiently, your overall costs will increase and agility will decrease.
Finding experienced engineers and architects who can manage multiple clouds is also tricky. Since cloud technology is in such high demand, cloud developers and managers can be hard to find. Hence, even simple administrative tasks like operating system patching, monitoring services, and applications, responding to emergency events, consolidating logs and backup data, etc., can become complex and time-consuming.
Prospective Financial Wastage
Multi clouds make it tricky to consolidate costs and chargeback as each cloud provider has varying cost estimation and pricing structures. If you cannot perform cost reporting accurately, you will end up paying more for services across multiple clouds than you are probably using.
Even when you choose to move data between clouds, the costs can build up since you are transferring data from one cloud provider to another.
Although multi-cloud provides optimal security, it can lead to operational risks as more than one cloud provider is involved in the environment. You must ensure that all providers have robust security in their networks.
In complex applications involving multiple clouds, the risk of a security breach increases. You can reduce that with measures like security alerts and logs, IDS/IPS firewalls, virus protection, WAF, incident response, etc.
Multi-cloud infrastructure lets you automate and scale business operations while minimizing downtime and failure risks.