Today, few companies are in a position to leverage a single cloud for all their needs. Even as service providers add multiple services like email and collaboration to try to keep people in the ecosystem, companies need a multi-cloud strategy.
The goal of a multi-cloud strategy should be to provide the most value to the business for the money being spent. Staying loyal to a single cloud provider often means that certain cost structures will not be competitive, or an integration point with a business partner or client will be more difficult to achieve.
This article explains the value of a multi-cloud computing architecture and the considerations that should factor into your strategy for building one.
When talking about multi-cloud environments, some clouds in the mix will be used exclusively for software and Platform-as-a-Service offerings.
Two examples are Salesforce.com and ServiceNow. While all of these platforms have the ability to run additional functionality to solve more business problems than their core offerings, even when the platforms are leveraged to solve additional business problems, they are not general-purpose cloud infrastructure platforms, and as such will always co-exist with one or more cloud infrastructure providers in any real multi-cloud strategy.
Some providers will advertise as having a single cloud but are actually multiple cloud platforms under the same company banner. A great example is Microsoft — Office 365, Dynamics, and Azure can all be on the same bill but are distinct clouds with their own routing and integration requirements.
Every cloud infrastructure provider has one or two features which really help them stand out from the crowd. If one or more of the services you have running or are migrating to the cloud rely heavily on a feature which works much better on one cloud versus another, then it only makes sense to move the service(s) in that cloud.
As an example, if you have a critical web application which uses SQL Server as the database backend, then Alibaba Cloud, which has SQL Server as a managed offering, is a much better choice than co-locating it in Oracle’s cloud just because you already have PeopleSoft running in that cloud.
Interconnecting with Partner or Client Systems
When working with clients and partners and trying to integrate systems, it is often more cost-effective and faster to move part of the workload to the same cloud platform as opposed to trying to create a fully interconnected solution that spans clouds.
One common issue that can occur is the complexity of setting up a VPN connection between two cloud providers. Many providers are used to working with the flexibility that on-premises networking equipment has, and cloud-to-cloud connections either work on the first try or require a lot of massaging. (This could be overlapping IP ranges, or something more complicated like being unable to add a second route to a VPN gateway when the initial setup didn’t enable dynamic routing.)
Geography and Data Residency
There are always geographic factors and various regulations in place that will affect how a company can operate in certain jurisdictions. The one factor that is often cited, especially by government clients, is data residency requirements.
Data residency requirements for government data that is deemed confidential and is in use by any department, including defense and intelligence agencies, is one of the primary reasons why providers are building fully redundant cloud computing regions in so many countries instead of simply using edge content delivery network points of presence.
As more enterprises move from their private infrastructure to embrace cloud computing, they will in almost every case end up with a multi-cloud model for several reasons (including geographic, contractual, and functional requirements). And in some cases, the legacy technology that a business unit uses (with no migration plans) must be included in the transition as well.
If you’re interested in exploring the possibility of adding another cloud provider to your architecture, you might wish to take advantage of Alibaba Cloud’s current offer for $300 in free credits.
Vince Power is a Fixate IO Contributor. He also is a Solution Architect who has a focus on cloud adoption and technology implementations using open source-based technologies. He has extensive experience with core computing and networking (IaaS), identity and access management (IAM), application platforms (PaaS), and continuous delivery.