A multi-cloud strategy refers to the decision by a company to use two or more public cloud service providers, for instance, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. While many companies may be using different public cloud services simultaneously, this does not always happen as a strategy. For instance, the different departments within a company may be afforded the flexibility to choose their cloud computing service provider. They more than likely will end up picking different options. A strategic multi-cloud approach instead is by design and is meant to capture one or more advantages highlighted in this article.
Multi-cloud Strategy Vs Hybrid Model
A multi-cloud strategy is quite different from a hybrid cloud model. A hybrid model involves using on-premise infrastructure together with a cloud service with orchestration between the two. A hybrid model is deployed when an organization is attempting to gain the advantages of both on-premise resources such as security and the scalability that cloud services provide. In fact, some setups combine on-premise resources, public cloud services, and private cloud. This results in added agility for the business, especially when different departments have varying needs and priorities.
Advantages of a Multi-Cloud Model
The biggest public cloud-computing service providers have tiered pricing based on the performance levels required. The advantage of a multi-cloud strategy is that you can access different price points and end up optimizing your spending. For instance, if a particular application requires heavy computing power, it can be deployed where high-end performance service is the cheapest. On the other extreme end, a lower-power application is hosted where low-end performance is most affordable. Such decisions can end up saving a company tens of thousands of dollars each year.
A few hours of downtime for a company that relies on a single cloud provider might cause too much loss. For some companies, this is not a risk worth taking, even when most cloud providers have over 99% uptime throughout the year. By utilizing a multi-cloud strategy, a business is assured that its services will always be available because the different cloud service providers are independent of each other.
A multi-cloud strategy can improve the user experience for companies serving a large number of customers. When too many customers are sending service requests to one server at the same time, it may slow down their experience. However, with a multi-cloud setup, requests can be sent to the server that’s nearest thus reducing delays of requests.
Vendor lock-in is a major issue when it comes to picking a cloud-service provider. Lock-in happens when a company’s operations are all anchored on one cloud-service provider such that migrating them becomes too much of a hassle. Migration might be complicated, expensive, and could result in service interruption. The management feels like they must contend with sub-par service.
Working with a multi-cloud strategy from the beginning prevents from the onset ensures that this problem does not happen.
Disadvantages of Multi-Cloud Setup
The truth about a multi-cloud setup is that it is more complicated than an on-premise setup or a single-cloud setup. The configuration and maintenance of the infrastructure will vary across the various providers.
In order to make the most of a multi-cloud setup, it is important for a business to invest in the right talent. Knowledgeable staff will be able to get the configuration right and take advantage of spot instances. Spot instances represent unused capacity that is accessible at lower prices. The organization has to make the benefits and the need to pay senior data engineers to maintain the multi-cloud infrastructure.
There is a school of thought that contends a multi-cloud setup presents more security risks compared to a single-cloud setup. The argument here is that multiple cloud-services provide multiple targets of attacks. Therefore, proper penetration tests are necessary to provide assurance that there aren’t any vulnerabilities. It is best to only rely on tier-1 public cloud providers whose security records are impeccable.
There is no doubt that having a multi-cloud strategy adds a level of complexity to a business’s administrative work. There will now be several terms and conditions to understand from the service providers. For instance, while one provider may be charging for services based on capacity utilized, the other might charge a fixed price for bundled capacity. Without optimization, a business might end up paying for unutilized capacity.
Fortunately, there are tools to help businesses manage their multi-cloud setups. Services such as Avi Networks allows a business to manage several data centres. It offers support for the most popular public cloud providers including Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Cloud, and AWS.
Getting Started with Multi-cloud Strategy
In order for a multi-cloud strategy to work properly, it requires careful thought and planning. First, a business needs to be clear on the computing needs of the various departments, functional units, or operations. They then must profile the different public cloud service providers whose services it is considering using. The chosen providers should have a history of stability, hold a significant market share, and should not have recent reports of security breaches.
Some providers may be willing to explain how they handle security incidents. A detailed plan on the prevention of data-loss in case of an attack or natural disaster is key in providing reassurance to customers. Case studies of how past incidents were handled can act as proof that indeed the provider is well prepared for any contingency.
Indeed, a multi-cloud strategy is a great option for an organization that seeks to have the flexibility and assurance of 100% service availability throughout the year. However, proper implementation requires the right tech-talent as well as proper research into the strengths and terms of service of the various cloud service providers being touted. It is best to rely on tier 1 service providers who command significant market share, have an excellent uptime record, and whose financial stability is not in doubt. A collapsing cloud service provider could result in the death of businesses that did not have a proper backup of critical data.
If your company is seeking to implement a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud infrastructure, Transcendent Software can help you. Our team will help you design the ideal cloud setup to help optimize your cloud spending. Reach out to us today for a free consultation on your cloud infrastructure needs today.