More than one cloud provider: a target and challenges.

All analysts say it: in a shift to cloud, the target to achieve is to have more than one cloud provider, that is, aim for multicloud. Ok, I also recommend to my clients that they have this target, but know that there are challenges that you shouldn’t take lightly.

First, if your organization has started moving to the cloud without really realizing it, you’re probably already multicloud. Like many, you’ve switched your email to Exchange OnLine, migrate your collaboration services to Microsoft 365, people use survey services like Survey Monkey or anything else, SaaS services are starting to appear here and there, your IT people are proof of concept, or even better, they have Iaas/PaaS environments in production. This is a minimum of 2 or 3 cloud providers. You’re multicloud.

When you are advised to choose more than one cloud provider, it is implied to go to an IaaS/PaaS target with more than one provider. The Iaa/PaaS is important in this sentence. It’s normal to choose a well-informed and thoughtful first IaaS/PaaS provider that will meet most of your cloud needs.

However, think quickly and target to add a 2nd provider. This will allow you to offer your teams services that complement those of the first provider. We are talking about flexibility and agility. The amount of services provided by using a second cloud provider will give your organization a range of choices. This flexibility will allow it to test, validate concepts and make cost comparisons, all in order to find the best service for the expressed need. In addition, the agility of being able to move your loads from one supplier to another and to offer optimal disaster recovery: imagine having a system in production with a first supplier and its recovery in place in the second.

But, there are significant challenges in using multicloud.

Operational governance: do not lose control over costs, data residency, security (multiplication of logs and entry points, access management,…)

  • Solutions to be evaluated.
  • Set up, on day 1, the landing zones adhered to the best practices of the selected suppliers.
  • Offer configurations (servers, storage, bd, etc…) through a service catalog.
  • Always apply optimal metric alerts (budget per project, notifications of overbudget and configuration and security breakdowns).
  • Deploy services through programming (Infra as a Code).

Interoperability and portability: Ensure that the services and components of different cloud providers are able to communicate with each other and that loads can be moved from one provider to another.

  • Solutions to be evaluated.
  • Choose cloud services that are based on industry standards or standards. For example, databases from open source (or open source software compatible), directory services that can link to Microsoft’s Active Directory, Docker and Kubernetes for containers and others.
  • Provide for API exchanges between services/providers.
  • Use of transportable programming languages, e.g.Net Core, Java, Javascript and others.

Data portability: You always need to worry about being able to move your data from one provider to another.

  • Solutions to be evaluated.
  • Avoid proprietary database services and those that would not be based on free software.
  • Data extraction should always be possible in a reusable format.
  • The costs of moving your data must be reasonable so as not to be a barrier to a possible supplier change.

Security: Multicloud must not compromise the security of your information systems.

  • Solutions to be evaluated.
  • Enforce security at the deployment code level. The infra as a code allows you to insert security elements when deploying your services.
  • Choose security services from your cloud vendors that provide the ability to manage the security of multi-cloud and even on-premises environments.
  • Watch to implement security-specific cloud services (Security as a Service) from vendors known to offer multicloud-compatible services.
  • Group your logs in one place.

Managing multicloud environments: Having more than one management console to watch, master can become a problem.

  • Solutions to be evaluated.
  • Use a Cloud Management Platform (CMP) service — simply a management console that gives control over the different services of your cloud providers.
  • Empower different teams to manage your cloud differents environments.

As you can see, the move to multicloud poses challenges. Challenges that are not without solutions, be reassured. You need to understand these challenges and provide them with the right solutions. In this article, I wanted to make you think about the multicloud. My words are just the beginning of the conversation. I do not claim to have provided all the solutions to the challenges outlined. It’s up to you to continue your reflection.

Note: for this article, I was inspired by my experience in the field with my clients and this very interesting article :

CIO Think Tank: Setting the multi-cloud agenda

How can enterprises handle the complexity of multiple clouds — and reap unprecedented benefits? In a series of virtual roundtables, 30 IT leaders articulated the challenges and delivered insightful recommendations.

https://www.cio.com/article/3569471/cio-think-tank-setting-the-multi-cloud-agenda.html

As always, I invite you to contact me to discuss the content of this article.

Luc Pâquet

Translation made by the Amazon Translate service

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