Multicloud is an infrastructure approach that includes a combination of two or more cloud platforms. These platforms can be public or private – although most multicloud infrastructure is made up of at least two different public cloud platforms. Multicloud can also (but not necessarily) include on-premises compute, networking, and storage that must integrate and work together with the cloud services.
Many organizations choose a multicloud approach to infrastructure because it addresses and helps eliminate some common challenges.
First of all, having more than one cloud platform allows organizations to take advantage of the unique features and capabilities of each platform. Not all cloud service providers are alike, and some clouds work better for some workloads than others. For instance, one platform might be optimized for application hosting, while another offers cost-effective, scalable space to store public archives, and so on.
With a multicloud approach, organizations overcome the limitations of vendor lock-in and can access all the different capabilities they need. Using a single cloud provider locks them in to not only features and capabilities but also pricing and other factors, such as available services and tools.
Another reason enterprises opt for multicloud is to comply with data sovereignty and regulations in specific geographic locations. Different regions and countries have different laws, so an organization might need to store customer data from one country, for example, in a cloud located there – while other customer data from another region is stored separately.
Multicloud can also serve as an effective failover model, which can help organizations retain data and keep operations running in the event of a cloud or connection failure. Having multiple copies and backups of critical data on different cloud platforms can mean faster recovery time and better business continuity if their main cloud platform goes down.
What are the benefits of multicloud?
There are many reasons for organizations to choose a multicloud environment. Each benefit associated with a multicloud approach can prove instrumental in establishing or maintaining a competitive advantage in today’s digital economy. A solid management tool helps simplify migrations, and provides the visibility needed to ensure seamless inventory, security, migration, and change management. Other top drivers include:
Mitigating vendor lock-in: By carefully evaluating the expectations and potential pitfalls and having a strong negotiating position that makes it easy to switch from one cloud provider to another, companies can harness the power of the cloud and get the most value out of their partnership with any cloud service provider.
Suitability: When incorporating multiple clouds into a company's IT strategy, administrators are able to line up their business requirements with the best cloud-hosting providers for each individual task.
Competitive pricing: Organizations can now enjoy the freedom of comparing different providers and securing the best available rates based on their specific IT needs.
Flexibility and scalability: Multicloud allows businesses to scale their storage up or down based on an ongoing demand. Ideally, multicloud providers work seamlessly together so organizations can invest in any level of capacity, security, and protection based on the needs of each data segment.
What are the challenges of multicloud?
As IT organizations embrace multicloud environments, the challenges in realizing their goals are becoming more clear:
Different workflow and management tools: These tools can be expensive and create silos, adding additional complexity to already complex infrastructure.
Lack of unified security: Organizations should assess the security of their network on a regular basis as infrastructure and software change over time. Without a unified mechanism to assess their cloud security, they may not catch security risks in time.
Skill gaps: When enterprises deploy a new multiplatform tool, IT leads often have to retrain staff to learn skills across multiple clouds. As organizations rapidly respond to new changes, it’s hard for enterprises to find staff with the multicloud skills they need.
Data sharing: Multicloud can often cause difficulty in synchronizing and sharing data, have different provider maturity, and have issues with API differences.
To counteract these challenges, organizations should look for solutions that securely connect users, apps, and data anywhere on any device, provision virtual desktops in minutes, and prevent vendor lock-in when designing a multicloud environment.
When would a multicloud strategy be useful?
There are a number of reasons companies rely on a multicloud infrastructure:
- To prevent data loss or downtime due to a localized component failure in the cloud
- To avoid vendor lock-in
- To achieve broader business and technical goals which include the use of more price-competitive cloud services or taking advantage of the speed, capacity or features offered by a particular cloud provider in a particular geography
- To achieve optimal performance and minimal latency through data sovereignty which enables organizations to locate compute resources as close as possible to end-users
- To help organizations meet regulatory requirements by selecting from multiple IaaS providers' datacenter regions or availability zones
Multicloud security: is a multicloud environment secure?
The security posture of major cloud providers is as good as or better than most enterprise datacenters and security should no longer be considered a primary inhibitor to the adoption of multicloud services. However, it is not as simple as moving on-premise workloads to the cloud. Security teams should look to leverage the programmatic infrastructure of public cloud IaaS and understand that in a public cloud world, security is a “shared responsibility.”
Multicloud security is divided into two parts: the cloud provider is responsible for security “of the cloud” while the user is responsible for security “in the cloud.” Automating as much of the process as possible removes the potential for human error - which is the primary cause of successful multicloud security attacks. This is a critical driver for success in the multicloud security world, where digital assets are ephemeral and can also be provisioned and deprovisioned on demand. Keeping track of security controls needs to be programmatic for ensuring complete cloud compliance.
What is the difference between multicloud and hybrid cloud?
While multicloud and hybrid clouds have been used interchangeably, they are indeed unique in their own right.
A hybrid cloud is a subset of the multicloud. We already know that a multicloud is a variety of cloud platforms that each delivers a specific application or service. A hybrid cloud combines on-premises IT (traditional infrastructure and private cloud) with off-premises Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) or other services delivered by a public cloud—such as Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS), or Microsoft Azure—or at a cloud service provider (CSP).
According to this blog, Hybrid Cloud vs Multicloud: What’s the Difference?, "One common misconception when comparing hybrid and multicloud infrastructures is that the two are mutually exclusive. The explicit definition of a multicloud environment suggests that a hybrid cloud model is also a multicloud model. However, the inverse is not always true. A multicloud configuration can be hybridized but it can also exist without the need for individual clouds to talk to each other." The main thing to keep in mind is that in a multicloud deployment there are typically two or more public clouds, which is not the case in a hybrid cloud deployment.
What is multicloud storage?
Multicloud storage is the use of multiple cloud storage services, either hosted in the public cloud, in a private cloud, or as standalone on-premise resources with cloud-like capabilities. It is part of a multicloud architecture, which combines services and resources from multiple cloud providers and/or private cloud infrastructure.
How does enterprise multicloud storage work?
Multicloud storage requires controllers – made up of storage manager, cluster, and security agents – that combine storage resources from all the various clouds into a single pool. Organizations can merge services such as cloud-native public cloud services, third-party cloud solutions, marketplace images, and managed service provider services into a more easily managed multicloud environment. Using one namespace and API, all storage resources are easily managed as a unified infrastructure from one centralized dashboard.
With multicloud storage, organizations eliminate the complexity of having to operate and manage multiple siloed storage environments from private and public clouds. Users and even applications don’t need to know where the data they access is stored – it’s all simply available as needed.
What are the benefits of multicloud storage?
There are several benefits to using multicloud storage, depending on an organization’s configurations. The most common include:
Increased data protection: Since applications and data are separated across services, breach of one service only affects a limited amount of data. This enables organizations to easily isolate attacks and to reliably store data backups in remote locations.
Increased flexibility: Using storage services from multiple vendors enables organizations to avoid vendor lock-in and increase data durability through duplication. Combining services also provides greater access to specialized, proprietary services.
Cost optimization: The ability to piecemeal storage services enables organizations to customize cost and performance options according to their needs. Multicloud environments enable organizations to take advantage of the best possible prices and pricing structures for each service.
What are the challenges of multicloud storage?
While multicloud storage can provide a host of benefits, it can be challenging to manage, protect, and deploy storage in a unified way. Some common challenges include:
Multiple APIs: Cloud services communicate via APIs. While there is some standardization with RESTful APIs, different providers create different API structures. This can include different rule structures or different languages. These differences require application customizations to enable communication across services.
Compatibility issues: To integrate smoothly into a single environment, storage services need to be compatible across clouds. This means services need to accommodate the same data structures and allow integration with the same tools.
Complex management: Visibility across cloud services and environments can be difficult to ensure. It requires centralized monitoring and federation of services, such as identity and access controls. Without centralization, services are likely to have configuration differences or errors, and increased vulnerability.
How can multicloud storage be personalized to a company’s needs?
Multicloud storage allows you to choose the type of storage you need whether it’s for private cloud, multicloud or hybrid cloud, or public cloud and only use what you need when you need it.