A multicloud environment is one where an enterprise uses more than one cloud platform (with at least two or more public clouds) that each delivers a specific application or service. A multicloud can be comprised of public, private, and edge clouds to achieve the enterprise’s end goals. In other words, it combines on-premise operations with services and applications running on multiple public cloud providers, which enables organizations to capture the benefits of each platform while mitigating their downsides.
Multicloud hosting allows organizations to deploy applications and other services across multiple clouds. This means data and workloads are stored across a range of physical or virtual cloud servers that are networked together. The benefits of multicloud hosting include increased flexibility and excellent scalability, as data can be located across as many servers as needed and isn’t confined to just one.
Through multicloud hosting, organizations can take advantage of the following:
Specialized services offered by different providers, as different cloud providers have differing features and capability strengths. This allows organizations to store and manage their data on the platforms that work best for each data and application type, etc.
Regional and other geographic considerations for storing data and applications and making them accessible to users who are physically close to the source, such as is often needed in edge computing; require data sovereignty that keeps data in the same region as the customers who provide that data; and ensuring high availability in specific geographic regions as needed.
Backups to help maintain business continuity, which requires fast and efficient data recovery to reduce downtime and keep operations running despite outages. Multicloud hosting allows organizations to create copies and store them across clouds to ensure data and applications are still available when primary clouds go 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 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.” It’s critical that organizations become familiarized with what falls within their sphere of responsibility, so they don’t assume that the cloud providers are watching over security in specific areas when they’re not.
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.
To keep data and applications in the multicloud secure and protected, organizations need to develop and adhere to a comprehensive security strategy. The strategy should address in detail the possible security risks that come from keeping workloads and other data across multiple clouds. A solid security plan for multicloud should include:
Centralized management of and visibility into all cloud environments
Access control and identity management that manages who can access cloud environments and what they can do with that access
Encryption of sensitive data in transit and at rest
Network security, including firewalls and network segmentation to limit damage from a breach
Compliance with all relevant legislation and regulatory requirements, such as HIPAA and GDPR
Regular risk assessment to identify vulnerabilities and quickly address them
Threat detection and response to quickly identify and respond to incidents
Regular security audits to identify security issues and take corrective action
Training for employees to ensure they adhere to security policies and procedures
Zero-trust data protection that eliminates the trust assumptions that can be exploited by attackers
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).
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.
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.