Simon Jelley, General Manager for SaaS Protection, Endpoint and Backup Exec at Veritas Technologies.
The terms ubiquitous and inclusive, combined and contrasted quite well describe the current state of cloud computing for enterprises. Research suggests that 94% of organizations use the cloud in one form or another. Yet, only 60% of business data is expected to be stored in the cloud by 2022.
So enterprise cloud computing is almost ubiquitous – virtually all organizations use the cloud in some form (whether they know it or not). But it is not all encompassing. Organizations don’t use the cloud for everything.
This is because, despite all the benefits of the cloud (ie flexibility, efficiency and cost), there will almost always be a reason to keep at least some computing resources and data in place (eg cost, security, digital compliance, etc.).
Enter: the hybrid multi-cloud concept. “Hybrid” refers to moving some compute resources and data to the cloud while some remain on-premises. “Multi-cloud” means using multiple public cloud service providers to meet different needs. For our purposes here, I’ll just call this multi-cloud.
There are three considerations in building a multi-cloud strategy that I will discuss here:
Determine your multi-cloud needs.
The first consideration when building a multi-cloud strategy is to determine your multi-cloud needs. However, that’s incredibly subjective and an ever-evolving journey. So any attempt to define it for a specific set of use cases in a single article would fail.
What’s important to note here is that, as with on-premises computing, the cloud is made up of applications, service tiers, and storage tiers built for specific purposes and defined by moments in time driven by customer needs and current architectures. Again, as with the on-premises world, these moment-in-time needs and architectures are changing and improving. You need flexibility and portability to adapt, which the cloud providers that provide the applications, service tiers and storage tiers have no real interest in because there is no business benefit to them. So consider empowering your multi-cloud umbrella to deliver recoverability, failover, disaster recovery, and portability no matter how your infrastructure evolves.
Choose the right providers.
An extension of determining your multi-cloud needs is choosing the right providers to meet your moment-in-time needs and architectures based on the providers’ specialization, security, cost, etc. It’s important to make a careful analysis that compares the specific needs of your organization with the strengths and weaknesses of the various cloud service providers you are considering.
One thing worth noting here is to look for providers that support API frameworks, especially RESTful APIs, which I find are becoming increasingly important in multi-cloud architectures as systems become more interconnected. API frameworks make it easier to integrate different applications into your multi-cloud environment.
Keep in mind that your multi-cloud needs will constantly evolve, as will your mix of cloud providers, re-emphasizing the importance of recoverability, failover, disaster recovery, and portability that are independent of your cloud providers.
Protect and manage your data.
Companies are quick to assume that their cloud service providers will protect their data as well. However, the opposite may be true as these providers can deny that they are not responsible for protecting it. In other words, it is your responsibility to protect your data from ransomware and other cyber threats.
This problem that is not addressed is only exacerbated in multi-cloud environments where you not only have to deal with different solutions to protect and manage your on-premises versus cloud-based data, but also different solutions for your on-premises data and various, inadequate solutions from cloud service providers for each of your cloud environments.
In a previous article, I highlighted two keys to protecting and managing your data in multi-cloud environments that should be repeated here because they should be part of any multi-cloud strategy: consolidation and automation of your data protection management. This provides insight into your data, reduces the complexity of multi-cloud environments and eases the burden on your IT teams.
This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide, but rather an introduction to get you thinking about how to purposefully make the move to multi-cloud, or what to revisit once you’re already on your way.