As companies grow and expand to become global enterprises, IT infrastructure inevitably becomes more complex. When it comes to cloud computing, that usually means maintaining multiple clouds. There are many reasons for using different cloud service providers (CSPs)—some by choice and others by mandate.
For instance, a large enterprise with operations around the world may choose to use an in-country cloud vendor to be closer to the customer, therefore reducing latency and increasing application performance for operations in that country. Alternately, in some countries, data residency laws require that certain kinds of data reside on cloud providers within the country’s borders, which means companies with local operations can only use a cloud provider in that country. Both circumstances lead companies to maintain multiple clouds to facilitate operations at scale. Additionally, a company may decide to use two or more cloud providers as part of a fallback strategy to automatically reroute network traffic to another provider if a major outage occurs.
Regardless of whether the use of multiple CSPs is a choice or a mandate, enterprise IT leaders—and DevOps teams in particular—need to think strategically about multi-cloud environments and design their software delivery ecosystem from the outset to accommodate a multi-cloud strategy.
Best Practices for Multi-Cloud Environments
An effective multi-cloud DevOps strategy is essential for allowing businesses to easily scale application delivery across many different cloud assets and is therefore vital for enterprises operating globally. To create an effective strategy, consider these best practices.
Use a Centralized Software Delivery Platform
With many CSPs—each with different requirements and tools—companies too often create siloed software development and delivery teams by vendor (AWS, Azure, GCP, etc.) or functional role (security, compliance, etc.). To avoid this pitfall and maintain control and visibility across all cloud providers, it’s important to implement a centralized software delivery platform, ideally one that’s environment agnostic. This will give your DevOps leaders the intelligence and insight they need to manage the entire software delivery ecosystem across multiple clouds anywhere in the world. At the same time, automated delivery processes can ensure quality checks and other milestones aren’t missed regardless of the cloud destination and that reporting, analytics and metrics from a centralized platform can identify and eliminate bottlenecks across different clouds.
Use Cloud-Agnostic Tools
Most cloud vendors have their own tools. However, maintaining a multi-cloud environment using vendor-specific tools can lead to lock-in and which can be costly and time-consuming to remediate. Too often, when companies move to the cloud, they use a set of vendor-specific tools for their software delivery processes. That works well initially, but as the company scales and requires a multi-cloud approach, the teams either find themselves heavily siloed without visibility across the whole ecosystem or there is significant technical debt that needs to be overcome. To avoid this, companies need to plan for the use of cloud-agnostic development and deployment tools from the outset so you can easily shift applications to different cloud providers as necessary to keep pace with changing business needs.
Create Cloud-Agnostic Templates
As developers assess and use tools and applications for different clouds, environments and use cases, they can create templates and abstracts to share lessons learned across teams, increase productivity and speed development cycles regardless of the destination CSP. For enterprises with more advanced DevOps practices, self-service capabilities—like a shared module catalog—can further speed development processes.
Make the Most of a Multi-Cloud Environment
Once your enterprise has embraced a multi-cloud approach and the DevOps systems and processes are in place to efficiently deploy applications across different CSPs, a multi-cloud environment can be used to your strategic advantage—to increase flexibility, speed software delivery and reduce costs. Here’s how:
Align Application Destinations to Specific Clouds
When you’re not dealing with the confines of country-specific cloud providers, IT and DevOps leaders can strategically align applications to specific cloud providers by region or country to reduce latency, optimize workloads or take advantage of specific service offerings from a particular CSP.
Use Application Features in Different Clouds
This concept is a great way for DevOps to leverage a multi-cloud architecture. If an application is run in one cloud and you want to add a feature that uses an application from a different cloud in your IT footprint, you can create a multi-cloud cluster using the same underlying cloud database to support both workloads. In this scenario, a production node resides in cloud A and runs in parallel to the read-only node in cloud B. This helps developers avoid the headaches that come with custom scripting as well as the costs of maintaining a backup and restore scenario.
Reduce Costs and Improve Performance with Cloud Arbitrage
This strategy is somewhat new, but it’s becoming more and more mainstream as competition increases among cloud providers. Here, you use a multi-cloud cluster to shift your workloads among several cloud providers to optimize your cloud environment and take advantage of negotiated discounts, specialized support, higher availability, lower latency or other unique features offered by a specific CSP.
To keep pace with our rapidly changing world, enterprise-scale organizations must be able to manage software delivery across multiple clouds. If your DevOps systems and processes aren’t designed for flexible development and delivery across different CSPs, you could limit your ability to adjust and successfully manage major disruptions or scale to take advantage of new opportunities.