The use of multi-cloud is not a question of “if” but “what cloud” and “when”. In any case, it is important to be fully prepared to keep all the cloud services under your control. The use of cloud services must be part of a comprehensive enterprise IT strategy.
The last few years have been heavily influenced by the theme of cloud. Many companies have been more or less intensely concerned with the question of whether the use of cloud in their own company makes sense at all. However, the subject was repeatedly overshadowed by uncertainties, fear of loss of control and concerns in the publication of critical data.
This era seems to be slowly over and now the question of whether cloud, but what cloud, is no longer established. Even before the actual cloud debate, the use of cloud services in the form of shadow IT was available. Departments have already used cloud services that allow files to be shared, collaborated, or communicated with other companies – but without the knowledge of IT. As a rule, these solutions are driven by the innovative will of individual specialist departments. Even new applications, written mostly by innovative start-up companies, are mostly pure native cloud applications, although operating them in their own data center is often no longer possible. The reason is that many companies still confuse virtualization with the cloud.
Which cloud services to use?
However, companies have recently been forced more and more to deal with the topic of cloud. One quickly notices that the pure adaptation of the desired cloud service is not really effective. The use of cloud services must definitely work in the corporate IT strategy. Therefore, the question should be clarified in advance which cloud services should actually be used. Cloud services include Infrastructure Providers (IaaS), Platform Providers (Paas), and Software Providers (SaaS). Because of the fast pace of life in the cloud environment, deciding which service is currently meaningful can only be a snapshot.
Today’s agile work environment makes it possible to move workloads from cloud to cloud and take advantage of their cloud providers when they are needed. This type of cloud usage is called multi-cloud.
You do not have to think of the multi-cloud as an extension of your own data center – as in the case of the hybrid cloud. A multi-cloud is more like a large cloud that can consist of multiple vendors. Among them is also the own data center in the company building or outsourced with a Colocation center which can consist of various providers.
Many advantages, but also disadvantages.
The advantage of a multi-cloud is that it provides just the right solution for the specific problem that a cloud with its applications or services alone can not provide. The use of multiple clouds, however, has another decisive advantage: the company is not dependent on a provider and exit strategies can be implemented much better. The parallel use of various cloud services also increases the availability and reliability of the respective services. However, a disadvantage of the parallel use of multiple cloud services is the increase in complexity. For example, the implementation of uniform security or data protection concepts is very difficult, since each cloud has its own user management. If an employee leaves the company, this must be deactivated/deleted in all clouds. Furthermore, a uniform configuration management is possible only conditionally. To get this problem under control, cloud management platforms (CMPs) were introduced years ago to provide abstraction across every single cloud – with the idea of unified management.
Outsourcing your own infrastructure to colocation partners
Unfortunately, most of the solutions fail so far that the special cloud services of the individual providers can only be managed very rudimentary and therefore have to be used to a large extent back to the actual cloud portals. As a result, companies are more or less forced to continue to deploy special stand-alone solutions to gain the necessary control over interoperability within the multi-cloud. For example, these are identity and access solutions that connect the local Active Directory and each cloud, or backup solutions that also store cloud data.
In general, it is important to broaden the current view as the on-premises infrastructure is no longer the central starting point for all services. The reason for this is that a good connection of the own location to the other services becomes more and more difficult. If all external services are initially routed through the local infrastructure, this will affect both line capacity and the infrastructure used. In addition, most cloud services are more secure and have higher availability than their own infrastructure. The placement of a central authentication service, for example, makes limited sense locally and creates more dependencies and risks. A way out might be to outsource your own infrastructure to colocation partners running state-of-the-art data centers, in which also large clouds are rented. A placement of central multi-cloud services would be ideal here. However, it is important to consider how the services are operated. Renting rack space only makes limited sense. It is advisable to operate centralized services on modern and highly available infrastructures that are able to adapt flexibly to new cloud events.
Cloud storage platform
In order to meet these challenges and not invest huge sums in new infrastructures companies are adopting the cloud platform. Customers have the option of adding or removing individual services as needed. Billing takes place to the minute, so that only the actually used services are paid – an ideal cost-benefit ratio for the customers. In addition, virtual servers can be individually booked with the associated work or hard disk space. No prefabricated templates are used, but all systems are individually adapted to customer needs.