Navigating The Multi-Cloud World

With cloud based solutions becoming the norm, is it time to standardize?


Applications are transforming the commercial world. The digital era is paving the way for a faster-moving environment where businesses need to be more strategic. This is especially true for DevOps methodologies, access to mobility, and the design of cloud architecture. Irrespective of how firms develop and deploy applications or how quickly they scale in the cloud, they are still at a distinct disadvantage unless their apps run faster, smarter and safer.

Every cloud journey is unique. According to IDC, 73% of businesses currently adopt a hybrid cloud strategy; 66% will use a private cloud, either an on-premises environment or co-located with a partner.

Migration is significantly picking up the pace with 50% of workloads projected to be in the public cloud by 2018. Private, public and hybrid cloud worlds will feature prominently, but a new trend is also emerging. Multi-cloud solutions are now part of 85% of businesses’ cloud strategies. The cloud’s magnetism is clearly strong, but so too is the desire to retain proprietary solutions.

In the past, apps were managed via data centres with on-premise technology. Today, many companies are migrating apps to private clouds built in on-premises data centres, private clouds in co-located environments, and utilising hybrid models to tap into the public cloud.

Most use multiple private and public clouds in a single architecture. The benefits can be significant ranging from cost-savings to operational efficiency, but there are also notable challenges. The prominent concern is the notion of a multi-cloud sprawl, whereby applications deployed to different clouds require domain knowledge specific to every provider. Each one operates, manages and services differently and with varying levels of visibility. Complexity grows exponentially as companies add providers and utilise a variety of toolsets, including analytics and reporting capabilities. Consequently, applications can have different owners with varying degrees of support and policies, resulting in inconsistent levels of control.

Without standardisation, the multi-cloud environment fails to optimise application management or deliver consistent security. Ultimately, the flexibility to move applications is compromised by such a disparate range of technologies and environments.

It is important to meet these challenges head on and regain application control. Many IT departments are stretched, including Developers or NetOps struggling to learn or master each platform. When skillsets reach their limit, inconsistency creeps in and there is no guarantee to successfully manage and implement common security policies.

The onus in now on cloud and app security providers to help businesses better navigate the complexity of a multi-cloud world. Crucially, this entails delivering a consistent foundation for application services and automated orchestration wherever they are required. This support can function across multi-cloud environments, where solutions include cloud formation templates for faster and safer deployments, as well as Bring Your Own License (BYOL) and utility billing scenarios.

Cross-industry enthusiasm is also building for cloud connectors, which link on-premises applications to cloud-based software. These can, for example, revolutionise existing policies to be automatically replicated, especially via co-location frameworks. Solutions of this nature also apply to containers, providing transparent application of services for east-west traffic flows, in addition to north-south architectures. Furthermore, heat templates, which allow users to describe deployments of complex cloud applications in text files, are available for public cloud OpenStack environments.

Delivered via hardware, software or as-a-service, it is important to standardise on a cloud solution that is coherent and all-encompassing. A robust strategy ensures enhanced security and control with direct, measurable impacts on both performance and the bottom line. Multi-cloud migration does not have to be mired in complexity if the strategic focus centres on controlling access, authentication processes and vital credentials.

With the right policies and security plans, you can get the best of both worlds – the security and control of an on-premises data centre, combined with the nimbleness and speed of the public cloud.


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