What is Multicloud?
Why use a multicloud strategy? WWT cloud experts review the basics of how to quickly and securely store, process, optimize and deliver data in multiple clouds, public and private, on-prem and off-prem.
What is multicloud and why use it?
Multicloud is the use of cloud computing and storage services from two or more cloud providers in a single network architecture. It can include any combination of platforms across a private data center, private cloud, co-location and public cloud. A multicloud approach can also rely on several cloud services, from Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
Using different providers like Google, AWS or Azure means you can match the right workload with the right cloud based on unique requirements for performance, data location, scalability and compliance. Multicloud is also readily available; if one cloud is offline, you can still work in other clouds. As a solution, multicloud offers customizable flexibility, empowering you to choose the best of each cloud type for your needs at a given time.
Finally, a multicloud strategy provides a level of security that a single cloud deployment cannot. This includes responding to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and addressing technology that is not being managed by your IT department.
Multicloud vs. hybrid cloud
Multicloud represents multiple cloud deployments from private clouds, hybrid cloud platforms, colocation facilities and/or public clouds in any combination. On the other hand, a hybrid cloud offers multiple deployment modes with one of the modes being a private cloud; hybrid platforms are typically deployed at a customer’s location. Think of hardware and software solutions from Dell, Cisco, VMware or others.
Here’s another way to look at it. Multicloud is a superset in which a hybrid cloud would be considered a multicloud deployment. When we say hybrid cloud, we are referring specifically to a customer- or partner-managed IT infrastructure plus a public cloud. For its part, multicloud refers to having more than one cloud deployment (private or public) interconnected. The two approaches can be mutually exclusive.
Public cloud vs. private cloud vs. colocation
A public cloud delivers IT services and infrastructure offsite via a network. The hosted applications share storage and computing resources with the other tenants on a single host in a multi-tenant architecture. It is a great solution for users or organizations seeking to cut their up-front costs without adversely impacting reliability, scalability, security or flexibility.
With a private cloud, services and infrastructure are dedicated to a single organization and resources are not shared. As a result, data storage, hardware and network pools are not accessible by other businesses in the same data center. Organizations use a vendor’s off-site IT infrastructure, with the vendor owning the hardware and the client owning their data.
Choosing colocation means purchasing one’s own servers, networking equipment, software and rack space, all of which reside in a vendor's data center. Overlapping with private cloud, colocation allows organizations to dictate the brand and configuration of server hardware, but the organization must manage their own installation, maintenance, software licensing and backups.
Types of cloud architectures
A multicloud architecture is created to support an organization’s business drivers. As you plan and undertake the move to a hybrid or multicloud model, make sure to account for the limitations that may come with existing software applications.
Getting the most from the migration means choosing the cloud architecture that most closely aligns with your organizational goals. Considerations should include how your apps are treated with different clouds, the integration of your data across providers and the benefits to disaster recovery times. Give thought to workloads as well, including whether or not they can be moved among clouds.
Edge hybrid‒Edge hybrid, or Intelligent workload placement, runs time- and business-critical workloads locally, at the edge of the network, using Intel Optane technology, while using the cloud for all other kinds of workloads. In an edge hybrid setup, the internet link is a noncritical component.
Analytics hybrid/multicloud‒The analytics hybrid/multicloud pattern capitalizes on the separation of analytics and transactional systems by running the two kinds of workloads in two different computing environments.
Environment hybrid‒Keep the production environment of a workload in the existing data center but use the public cloud for other, non-production environments.
Business continuity hybrid/multicloud-DR disaster recovery ‒With mission-critical systems, DR can be most cost-effectively approached by using a public cloud‒based computing environment for failover purposes. DR support is offered by many ISVs, including Rubrik, Cohesity and NetApp.
Cloud bursting‒Use a private computing environment for the baseline load and burst to the cloud temporarily when you need extra capacity.
Choosing the best multicloud architecture can help organizations of all sizes support a wide range of critical business and operational objectives. By advancing their top-line goals, companies find that they are better able to spur innovation, accelerate transformation and differentiate their organization and offerings from competitors.
Few enterprises rely on a fully homogeneous cloud environment. Most incorporate multiple environments in their multicloud architecture to achieve their cloud objectives. As a result, IT finds itself tasked with identifying the best ways to integrate, maintain and optimize their company’s heterogeneous platforms. Multicloud management offers the ability to manage multiple clouds from one central environment. Commonly referred to as multicloud technology or multicloud management platforms, such management solutions are increasingly common and especially notable when comparing multicloud and single-cloud offerings.
Known for their agility and portability, containers are small files that combine applications, libraries, environment variables, other software binaries and configuration files. By packaging things in this way, the container ensures that it includes everything needed to run the application out of the box—regardless of the operating environment.
Data stores or services can be built within containers and efficiently moved to the public cloud. They are also useful for testing applications across multiple operating systems and accelerating application deployment. Kubernetes has become the go-to container orchestration engine.
With open standards across clouds, containers are the ideal means for moving applications within a multicloud infrastructure. The application can run in any environment, meaning containers can be taken from an on-premises environment and placed on any public cloud infrastructure for the purpose of cloud bursting when you run out of capacity. Containers also help run an application in different places across a multicloud environment with efficiency and consistency.
When considering the container options available, the popularity of Docker and Kubernetes continues to put them at the top of the preference list. Some 65 percent of organizations use Docker, with another 58 percent using Kubernetes, a container orchestration tool that leverages Docker. Other organizations are also choosing Container-as-a-Service offerings from public cloud providers, including:
Automation and orchestration
A growing number of companies are turning to multicloud only to find they are unprepared to manually manage the environment. This can include spinning up the resources, testing them, identifying when they are no longer needed and taking them down. Cloud automation gives IT teams and developers the ability to automatically complete these tasks.
Still, doing so does require expertise and specialized tools. Look for help from a public cloud provider—by leveraging automation features in private cloud platforms or by using third-party cloud tools. By automating your multicloud management process, you can better coordinate disparate workloads, manage complex hybrid workflows and integrate DevOps processes.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is playing an ever-larger role in multicloud management and IT infrastructure. This growing contribution is rooted in AI’s ability to automate and accelerate many tasks with more scalability, predictability, speed and efficiency than manual methods alone can achieve.
As AI becomes more sophisticated, private and public clouds could increasingly rely on these tools for monitoring, management and repair. Once one’s core workflows are automated, AI’s analytical capabilities could help create better and largely independent processes. The system could then manage these processes, freeing IT to fully tap the efficiencies of cloud computing while freeing staff to redirect time and energy on other, more strategic demands.
Monitoring and analytics
Your cloud requires steady, focused attention if you are to achieve the greatest return on your investment. It starts with developing a sound understanding of best practices as they apply to vital monitoring functions spanning capacity, security and compliance.
Despite its many benefits, multicloud can still create silos and add unwanted complexity. This can increase the difficulty of monitoring one’s IT environment, making visibility more important than ever. For this reason, a growing number of vendors have started offering monitoring tools that provide a complete view of a multicloud environment. Make selection of a management tool a priority early in the process and avoid performance issues that will only get more severe without adequate visibility.
Storage is another consideration as you address multicloud. You will want support for multiple cloud storage services independent of the APIs and interfaces. Also, make sure data can be translated into the native format of any cloud storage service as this will ensure the data remains open and accessible to any system and not just the one that placed the data. Run the storage infrastructure on-premises, in the cloud or use a combination of both depending on your needs.
Flexibility and scalability are enhanced with cloud storage. Still, data privacy and regulations around archiving can impact what types of data can be stored in the cloud. Check the privacy laws in your state or region. Once stored, management of that stored data is the next hurdle. Overseeing multiple storage locations to keep data close to users makes sense but adds complexity. Explore available solutions simplifying cloud storage, despite geographically dispersed storage networks or number of clouds.
One consideration is shared by virtually every environment and platform: the security. The same is certainly true for multicloud. Providers of cloud services like Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft understand how critical it is to build in robust security controls and tools. It is, however, the responsibility of their customers to implement the requisite protocols and solutions to secure data when it sits in your on-premises environment and travels to and from the cloud.
A sound multicloud security strategy includes authentication policies to ensure users access only the cloud-based resources they need for their jobs. It must also protect the mobile devices those users rely on to connect to the cloud services and do that work. The multicloud will be customized to meet each customer’s unique need. Visibility into the entire infrastructure is a key requirement for meeting the security challenge.
Key multicloud benefits and challenges
The benefits of implementing multicloud are numerous and varied, spanning your entire organization. But the move to multicloud does not come without its hurdles. Let us look at each side of the equation to identify what you can expect.
- You avoid the limitations of being locked into a single-vendor cloud strategy. Box yourself into one and it can be both time consuming and expensive to move your systems.
- You can meet the needs of your business at the best possible price. AWS may be right for some needs, GCP for others. A multicloud strategy makes it easier to optimize for both cost and performance.
- You minimize single points of failure (SPOF) by using multiple clouds to host your various components. In this way, you can achieve an agile security via a reliable form of redundancy.
- You enjoy maximum choice by tapping different providers to find the best match for each part of your business. Remember that your business units’ demands for things like upload speed and size requirements can differ.
- Depending on your approach, multicloud can also support improvements in risk mitigation, scalability and latency, among other benefits.
- You must have a multifaceted approach that spans on-prem, off-prem and public cloud environments. As your components are moved to a cloud, you also may experience interoperability issues with your on-premises systems.
- You can reveal issues related to networking and new operational hurdles like determining where best to place your applications and data.
- You may discover that your staff does not bring the skill set necessary to solve them. This skills gap may cost time and effort to resolve in the short term.
- Security can be a consideration as you spread your workloads, applications and assets across multiple platforms. The added complexity can make it harder to safeguard data and stop leakage.
In Flexera’s 2020 State of Cloud Report, more than half a dozen key issues were identified by respondents as important challenges. The top spots went to security, managing cloud speed and governance, likely due to the growing number of workloads in the cloud and the development of hybrid and multicloud strategies. But it is worth noting that the bulk of the challenges were clustered quite closely together in the voting.
Elements of a multicloud strategy
An effective multicloud strategy starts with the planning. By devoting the necessary attention to the means and methods for maximizing benefits and minimizing complexity you will position multicloud to deliver the greatest possible value for your company.
The first step is establishing which of your workloads belongs in which cloud. You want to take the necessary steps to determine how you manage to ensure your business is not impacted in the event of a loss of data. The alternative could be devastating.
Another facet is addressing how you will manage APIs to enable the desired interoperability among your clouds and on-premises systems. It is true that cloud services commonly include API life-cycle solutions and deployment options. Bringing the required configurations expertise to ensure everything works together will be vital.
Have you addressed if your on-premises services will need any modifications before being migrated to the cloud? This is another important piece to your cloud smart strategy. You will want to make clear your rules and best practices for building, testing and running applications expected to interact with your cloud services. The last to-do involves security and making sure to address needs related to security controls, practices and solutions.
Multicloud and hybrid cloud use cases
A retail banking business wanted to reduce the amount of time and resources it spent managing its data center. The goal was to devote a greater share of both to accelerating innovation and creating the differentiating web-based services its customers were increasingly looking for.
But with its vast number of applications and data sets, and no experience working in a public cloud, the customer didn’t know where to start. Working with WWT, they determined they wanted to keep some of those applications and data sets out of the public cloud. The solution included use of a colocation facility and AWS.
With the arrival of a new leader, one insurance industry company wanted to rethink its strategy of operating its multiple business units individually, each using a separate cloud platform. The goal was to share best practices across the groups and simplify under one operating model for all three cloud platforms. The consolidation would be achieved by leveraging automation and shared services/communities. They also sought to evolve their new project intake business model to start determining which cloud was the best fit
The organizational objectives focused on modernizing the business to enhance efficiency and collaboration, spur innovation and sharpen the company’s competitive differentiation. WWT advanced those goals by leveraging the benefits of AWS, Microsoft Azure and GCP. We also recommended establishing a Multicloud Center of Excellence managed by a cross-functional team built from multiple departments.
To drive better business decisions, a professional sports organization needed a way to cleanse, combine and associate critical data coming in from more than nine different sources. It suffered from relational data architecture limitations and an antiquated data warehouse pushed to its limits. They needed to modernize their data platform, eliminate choke points, increase the efficiency of data capture/flow and support a more flexible analytics model.
The organization pursued faster access to critical data sets and the ability to allow various types of users to work with those data sets. Working with WWT, the organization moved 100 percent to the cloud. It was able to restructure its premise applications and data sets to run effectively in that environment. The aim was to help the company become more competitive and, ultimately, win championships.
WWT multicloud services
WWT’s overriding goal is to help you build a cloud smart strategy. That means aligning the strategy to your business and its goals, no matter if you need a public, private or hybrid cloud solution. We bring a robust array of tools and services expressly designed to empower your multicloud efforts. These resources are informed by demonstrated expertise in the following:
- Cloud data management‒Leverage cloud scalability by calling on the enterprise data services available across your choice of cloud. Take the necessary steps to accelerate, protect and migrate critical data for your cloud workloads.
- Cloud networking‒ Respond to escalating traffic demands by revisiting your approach and expectations related to public, private and collocated network architectures.
- Cloud security‒ Safeguard the critical corporate assets that you have migrated onto the public internet. Increase data protection, ensure compliance and achieve a more consistent application of security policies—while also simplifying management and operations.
- DevOps‒Iterate and deliver quickly to free staff and resources to pursue new and better ways to increase customer adoption and satisfaction. Equip and empower them to pivot when necessary.
- Cloud enablement and migration‒ Develop a comprehensive strategy incorporating your technical environment, organizational structure and business goals to streamline cloud migration.
- Cloud optimization and management‒ Capitalize on the benefits of cloud architecture by harnessing the best practices for cloud operations, from capacity management monitoring to automation strategies and tools.
- Cloud vision and strategy‒ Craft a strategic vision for your business-critical applications to get the most out of modern, private and public cloud platforms. Your applications need to be accessible on demand through self-service workflows.
- Hybrid cloud platforms‒ Determine how hybrid cloud platforms should fit into your larger cloud effort. Understand the hybrid cloud intention to ensure applications are running where they maximize value and meet business requirements.
- Business Analytics and AI
The power of WWT multicloud
WWT is your partner for public, private and hybrid cloud solutions, bringing expertise in both strategy and execution. With years of experience consulting, building and deploying solutions, we can bridge the skills gap and remove any of the friction associated with migrating to multicloud.
With WWT, your project is also supported and simplified through our established partnerships with all three of the major cloud providers: AWS, Microsoft Azure and GCP. Our AWS, Azure and GCP architects can create a secure environment in any cloud.
Our data center and colocation experts can also architect nonpublic cloud environments for optimal performance.
WWT offers multicloud consulting to help companies simplify cloud complexities and maximize business value. Our multicloud consultants can help you develop and execute a cloud strategy that supports your goals without wasting critical IT assets. We start by evaluating your current processes, identifying the capabilities you wish to add and how a cloud investment will impact every IT domain. WWT is looking for a mechanism that yields tangible gains across your enterprise.
Our ecosystem is further strengthened by our long-standing working relationships with key independent software vendors (ISVs) like VMware, F5 and Tanium, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Dell Technologies, Cisco, HPE and NetApp. We are especially proud of our alignment and collaboration with Intel, optimizing on the latest Intel compute, storage and networking technologies to address all multicloud architectures—public, private and hybrid.
In a world in which speed and agility are increasingly the defining features of success, a WWT multicloud solution gives you a powerful tool for sharpening both. Your ability to accelerate and do so nimbly unlocks powerful innovation within your teams and gets you to market—and positive outcomes—faster. This is how you harness the power of multicloud and sprint past your competitors.