Author: Mike Jenkins, Founder of The Instillery
Everyone (well almost everyone)seems to be jumping on the Multi-cloud bandwagon because even in the world of cloud and automation, you do NOT want vendor lock-in. You definitely want the best bang-for-buck platform for the workload or outcome you’re trying to deliver and of course you want to unlock all the benefits of data portability including resiliency, velocity and enhanced security.
So, beyond the world of private cloud, when it comes to true public cloud you’ve really got 3 choices:
- AMAZON WEB SERVICES
- MICROSOFT AZURE
- GOOGLE CLOUD
According to the 2018 Cloud Gartner’s magic quadrant, Amazon Web Services is the well-established leader in the market (this changes if you include SaaS like O365) . They’ve been in the game for more than 10 years continuing to evolve and releasing over 1000 features a year. They’re supported by a rapidly expanding kiwi team and all impressive list of customer success stories, as evidenced at AWS transformation day in Auckland last month.
Azure has an extremely mature go to market channel, a re-energised portfolio spearheaded with their latest AI + ML offerings combined with an enviable enterprise and government stable of clients. They also have the very material commercial benefit of “hybrid use benefits” when combined with Cloud Service Provider contracts.
Google is big on containers, and analytics and getting more value for your data through their sustained use benefits commercial model. They also have a damn nice console.
Because of the unique benefits of each, it’s becoming a regular occurrence that The Instillery are being asked to provide an architecture that delivers the best of everything and yes, this means you will need to move your ‘crown jewels’ (your business / departmental data) between clouds and from one cloud to another and be able to leverage and connect that to the compute in each cloud.
The key aspect to leveraging the three cloud platforms, complementary to any existing IaaS or private cloud infrastructure is to look at the strength of each cloud platform and then leverage the appropriate capabilities there, and in doing so, not create so much admin overhead to defeat the purpose of leveraging the cloud.
To make this achievable two things are really important:
- Cloud hygiene factors such as account structures, network architecture, tagging and taxonomy… the list goes on…
- Management tools that provide capability across multiple clouds, and leverage the hygiene factors through reporting, monitoring and controls.
The most important piece is how do I get my data flowing seamlessly between these environments without losing control of auditability, security & cost.
Based on our experience, here are the 5 BIG benefits of Multi-cloud
It CAN absolutely save you money – cost of cloud & reduced operational costs
A multi-cloud approach provides businesses with the ability to use the best ‘bang-for-buck’ platform for specific business functions to the best ability, best commercial model and associated license structure.
If businesses effectively analyse the ratio of on-premises to cloud workloads, as well as what would be beneficial on which cloud platform, businesses can take control and choose the best, most cost-effective system to run their business in the cloud.
In our experience leveraging unique consumption models of private and public consumption such as Google’s sustained use benefits, Azure’s Hybrid Use benefits and AWS’ Reserved Instance models – significant savings can be gleaned to the tune of 60%+.
By also enabling true control and visibility across your cloud platforms there are additional operational cost benefits that can be realised through the most basic cloud operation capabilities such as time of day resource automation (i.e. turning non-prod workloads off in the evening and weekends) alongside the ability for you to provision / right-size server, compute and storage at will.
It isn’t about just implementing everything all at once either, but ensuring you do the planning up front to ensure you retain choice later.
Access to the best platform for your business
Going multi-cloud gives businesses choice when it comes to cloud. A multi-cloud architecture and complementary operational framework offer businesses the ability to utilise the best of every platform, to mix together an infrastructure specific to an individual business depending on its organisational goals.
We’re seeing Kiwi enterprises being able to have the flexibility to target specific opportunities in their business. This ranges from legacy monolith apps in their own on-premise DC private cloud, to Google Cloud for running BigQuery and analytics for their Oracle workloads, Compute and SAP on AWS and their MySQL PaaS services running in Azure alongside their federated AD.
Through this approach, you can carefully evaluate and select “the best bits” for each of these private and public clouds and use that as your base for solving your challenges and capturing your marketing opportunities.
Multi-cloud won’t let you down
When it comes to outages… no one is immune, and we’ve seen several examples over the years of big brands paying for a reliance on a single cloud platform whether that’s on-premise, a single IaaS provider or in public cloud.
Facts are that operating your business using one cloud platform could prove risky as your data is all stored in a singular place even with geo-redundancy and site recovery capabilities. However, if a business operates with a multi-cloud system, even if one host fails, the business can continue to operate by utilising another platform it has stored in the multi-cloud system.
Multi-cloud also offers low latency, by having cloud services in one space it allows data to be transferred across different platforms much quicker. The idea that workloads and services are operated from more than one infrastructure suggests this will enable businesses to serve customers at a much quicker pace, rather than having data transferred from a singular location.
You’re in control of your data and destiny, not your managed service provider, IaaS or billing provider
Multi-cloud gives businesses autonomy and control when it comes to cloud vendors. Using multi-cloud infrastructure allows organisations to hold the power to mix between platforms and avoid workloads being ‘locked-in’ to a single cloud provider.
In doing so it allows business and customers to have more control to change what platform they’re using, dependent on the business needs around performance, security and productivity.
Businesses and customers no longer need to rely on just one cloud platform but utilise as many as they require to grow and innovate their businesses. Multi-cloud allows businesses to analyse each individual case and decide what will best fit that aspect rather than being told that one certain cloud platform is best for their business.
The world of cloud and automation continues to develop and evolve, whether it’s public, private or hybrid – a multi-cloud strategy brings all these things together creating an epic opportunity for businesses to embrace.
But while the above benefits are well documented, many organisations fall into the trap of failing to execute on the design and delivery of a multi-cloud architecture by “learning on the job” or defaulting back to managing data across their business and the discrete cloud platforms with the discrete hypervisor i.e. VMware or cloud consoles i.e. AWS, Azure or GCP.
While many worry that securing data across multiple cloud platforms is going to lessen security, in fact the opposite can be true.
Not only do public cloud providers have the responsibility for securing key elements of the infrastructure and platform stack, they also offer native tooling that is incredibly powerful.
How can this enhance your security?
By being inherently data-driven, through API’s and logging, we are actually able to get a lot more granular with how we define security but also with how we can reporting on it, analyse it, and baseline against compliance frameworks. That can be incredibly difficult to do when network security is defined at the layer 3 gateway, but where every network connection, or IAM interaction can be implemented and monitored at a granular level, we are now able to much better secure against compromises that take advantage of cracking through the hard outer shell, but laterally moving through the gooey centre.
The ability to do this well comes back to those two key factors:
- Cloud hygiene
- Good management tools
How you can accelerate your multi-cloud success?
The first area of focus is establishing a single pane of glass view for each of your multi-cloud operations domains. This is as important as the requirement for a fundamental shift in security and networking philosophy, policy and architectures. Important areas to focus on include:
- Cost visibility, control and optimization
- Enhanced cloud-native security
- Basic automation such as time-of-day resource scheduling
- Cloud native monitoring – whether log analytics, monitoring or both, something that understands the native API and logging layers.
Getting this right, not only does it lay the platform for future choice, it prevents stalling along the way.
The second area to focus on is abstracting your data from the infrastructure or platforms in which it resides.
It’s for this reason that The Instillery partners exclusively with Actifio.
We work alongside the Actifio team to disaggregate your critical business data from the infrastructure it resides on. So, whether it’s for non-production use cases such as backup or disaster recovery, rapid creation of test or dev instances or even an entire enterprise production environment. Actifio can provide you with a single pane of glass to manage your data no matter where it is based in the cloud or on premise and give you a seamless extension to attach the data to any kind of compute you want.
We call this “Enterprise Data-as-a-Service” which will enable your business to:
- Automate Disaster Recovery for instant failover and failback
- Accelerate application delivery by 3x
- Backup and recovery of cloud-resident applications
- Consolidate data centres & IaaS providers
- Deploy Hybrid Cloud in minutes in AWS, Azure, Oracle, Google Cloud or even IBM Cloud
- Develop local and deploy globally
- Migrate applications from one public cloud to another
- Modernise backup restore and disaster recovery
- Leverage Multiple Clouds & receive a single bill (that you can understand)
- Provision hundreds of virtual database clones in minutes
- Recover multi-Terabyte databases instantly anywhere; on-premises, in any cloud
- Native Microsoft and Open Source Distributions
- Develop local and deploy globally
- Multiple Clouds, one bill
Getting a good base design established and then abstracting data away from infrastructure and platforms (breaking the law of data gravity), sets up to start leveraging the cloud platforms that are right for your business.