Across all industries, the enterprise space has wholeheartedly embraced the cloud. In terms of businesses continuing to follow the latest cloud trends, there's no slowing down. Their approaches are often evolving as technology changes.
One of the ways in which this manifests is a strong interest in multi-cloud adoption. According to the Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud report, approximately 92% of organizations have adopted a multi-cloud strategy. Meanwhile, about 80% have opted for a hybrid cloud approach, linking their on-premises infrastructure to one cloud or more.
Companies must juggle the complex and varying cloud demands from disparate—and competing—cloud service providers. This is why a system for multi-cloud management is essential to unlocking the full spectrum of benefits that a multi-cloud deployment can offer. Here, we'll define the core tenets of multi-cloud management, examine the practice's advantages and associated challenges, identify notable use cases, and look at essential techniques and tools for the process.
What is multi-cloud management? The fundamentals
The best way to succinctly describe multi-cloud management is the oversight of data and application workloads across multiple cloud environments, facilitated by cloud management tools that provide visibility, control, and security. Such resources can be composited within multi-cloud management solutions. Enterprises may also use collections of a la carte tools, covering single functions ranging from container orchestration to cost management.
By contrast, an all-in-one multi-cloud management solution should cover multiple bases—One minute a user is monitoring the resource usage in Kubernetes clusters within an AWS cloud, and the next they might be searching for anomalies in the enterprise's Azure deployment. Additionally, such a solution should automate as many functions as possible to allow for greater efficiency and facilitate scalability as needed.
In some cases, enterprises will turn over the responsibilities of managing a cloud ecosystem entirely to a cloud outsourcing provider, while others prefer to handle these tasks directly.
How to create and support a multi-cloud management strategy
In a multi-cloud deployment, be it a hybrid cloud running in conjunction with on-premises data center infrastructure or a cloud-only setup, cloud architecture will vary widely between each of the environments. Successful multi-cloud management can help you bridge such gaps, so that your enterprise most effectively leverages all of the resources within every cloud.
But achieving this goal requires the adoption and implementation of various tools and technologies. The following are some of the most important.
Containers are essential for allowing applications and their workloads to move from one cloud to another, which is one of the main reasons why enterprises opt to use multiple cloud providers in the first place. An effective container management platform streamlines this process by enabling an elastic web server framework for cloud apps, and it serves its purpose more efficiently than virtual machines would if they were used for the same purpose. A strong cloud management solution for multiple clouds will have support for containerization and container orchestration.
Controlling access to cloud resources according to users' permission levels and keeping track of potential weaknesses is especially critical in a sprawling multi-cloud environment. Numerous security tools can be employed for this purpose in a multi- or hybrid cloud environment, including identity and access management (IAM), real-time vulnerability auditing, zero-touch network access, encryption, and endpoint detection and response.
Performance monitoring and reporting
Every cloud deployment that leverages infrastructure from multiple cloud service providers is a sprawling mass of storage, networking, compute, and application resources. It's absolutely critical to be able to monitor these widely distributed assets all at once, in keeping with the single-pane-of-glass methodology. Any multi-cloud management solution should provide visibility that is both broad and deep.
Along similar lines, your cloud management strategy should allow for comprehensive and meticulous reporting on key performance indicators (KPIs) regarding all key resources. This is essential for drawing actionable insights about traffic patterns, data egress and ingress, storage capacity, application usage, and other KPIs that affect total cost of ownership (TCO).
4 key benefits of multi-cloud management
A comprehensive framework for multi-cloud management can be critical to the success of your organization's cloud strategy in a variety of ways.
1. Broader visibility
As we alluded to above, single-pane-of-glass visibility is immensely valuable when dealing with cloud infrastructure spread across multiple cloud environments, each provided by a different cloud vendor. An effective multi-cloud management framework will allow you to maintain this level of visibility, even as cloud workloads move back and forth between different deployments.
2. Better cost management
One reason that organizations migrate apps and workloads from their on-premises infrastructure to public cloud environments in the first place is to stabilize costs by only paying for the resources they actively use. But when scaling up to multi-cloud, data transfer fees and other expenses can get out of control. A proper multi-cloud management strategy will help mitigate the risk of such expenses.
3. Greater availability
Establishing an effective multi-cloud management framework boosts availability beyond what you'd already expect from the cloud. IT teams can quickly duplicate workloads within one cloud environment and migrate them to another in the event of the former environment's failure.
4. Efficient resourcing
A multi-cloud management system can reduce the IT team's burden by simplifying and automating processes such as application and workload management. Taking these processes off their hands can be a critical advantage at your enterprise's busiest times.
Challenges of multi-cloud management
As with any other aspect of the cloud, multi-cloud management isn't without potential hurdles.
For example, applications hosted within one cloud environment may cause integration issues if moved to another, which is why it's so important for organizations to implement effective containerization measures. Also, cloud service providers' native security offerings may vary from vendor to vendor. This requires security personnel to either track and uphold their responsibilities according to each provider's policy or apply stringent controls across the board. Last but not least, don't forget that cloud data backups and archives are just as critical for multi-cloud as they are for on-premises.
Teradata is dedicated to helping enterprises maximize data management and analytics within their multi-cloud deployments through Vantage, our signature data analytics platform for a hybrid multi-cloud world. Between the efficiency, automation, and scalability of Vantage and the considerable expertise we offer through our managed services, you can begin to realize your multi-cloud vision sooner rather than later.