Organizations that embrace multi-cloud services experience real results and a heap of advantages—including greater resiliency, agility and data sovereignty. This is why it’s no surprise the majority of enterprises today are using two or more public clouds, with 81% reporting in a recent survey that they plan to adopt a multi-cloud strategy by 2024.
But despite the benefits, it’s also been proven that multi-cloud can be complicated and even overwhelming. It requires an entirely new approach to optimize workloads, simplify development and tackle a growing pattern of operational complexities. This has been described as cloud chaos, where greater cloud choice has led to a massive spike in complexity. Most report that building new apps is slow and cumbersome, and managing their entire app portfolio across disparate clouds is difficult and expensive. No wonder, when each cloud requires its teams to use proprietary tools that are siloed and incompatible with one another. Meanwhile, for the average employee, getting fast, secure access to critical apps from anywhere is imperative, yet it’s often a challenge. All this complexity has broad repercussions on the business, from managing costs to attracting and retaining top talent.
Tackling this multi-cloud complexity needs to start with creating a layer of abstraction that spans various, diverse cloud environments and doesn’t hinder access to each cloud provider’s unique services. However, organizations must take it a step further to solve the challenge of how best to build, manage, govern and optimize apps and workloads across a multi-cloud environment.
Multi-cloud services—a fast-emerging category of IT services—are the key to helping organizations implement a multi-cloud strategy that simplifies and streamlines development, operations, networking and security across clouds. A multi-cloud service provides a consistent API, object model, identity management and other core functions across clouds. And, it has one or more of the following characteristics:
1. Runs on a single cloud but supports interactions with at least two different clouds
2. Runs on multiple clouds and supports interactions with at least two different clouds
3. Runs on any cloud or edge, even in disconnected mode, and basic operations are fully automated
Multi-cloud services can be used to standardize cloud infrastructure and operations into one platform to reduce the complexity of individually building or consuming the equivalent native services from multiple clouds. In this model, public clouds, data centers, private clouds and edge locations are all verticals, and multi-cloud services are horizontals that provide functionality across these environments.
Let’s take a closer look at the five most common categories of multi-cloud services and when to use them.
1. Application Services
Application services allow teams to use core services in a standardized manner across clouds. These core services include observability, replication, backup, and restoration. By implementing application services, enterprises can increase their speed of innovation and make their technologies easier to use. Examples of application services include developer tooling, databases, modular development platforms, artificial intelligence, machine learning and serverless and CI/CD capabilities.
2. Infrastructure Services
If your organization chooses to run its applications as VMs, containers, or both, using infrastructure services is the right move to standardize management and operations across the clouds. Different types of multi-cloud infrastructure services include the ability to manage and observe compute, storage and network services leveraging VMs or containers, infrastructure automation and Kubernetes management solutions. When applied, infrastructure services can improve resiliency, security, performance, interoperability and portability.
3. Security Services
When using multiple clouds, an issue enterprises run into is that each individual cloud has its own security tools and approaches, making it difficult to ensure your enterprise is protected against cyber threats. That’s where multi-cloud security services come in – centralizing security operations and secure software supply chains. Some examples of multi-cloud security services are network detection and response, endpoint detection and response, next-gen antivirus and secure access service edge. These services enable organizations to achieve cohesive visibility, context and control by providing a single interface.
4. End-User Services: Access to Data and Services
No matter how big your enterprise is, or how many applications you use, it’s necessary to provide the right level of access to applications and data. But this can prove difficult when you have a multi-cloud infrastructure. Multi-cloud end-user services, which consist of virtual desktops, device management and end-user application delivery, will provide your organization a uniform way for all employees to have quick, secure access to your applications, all while simplifying device management.
5. Data Plane
In the past, workloads were restricted to a single data plane contained within a single public or private cloud or edge location. Now with the rise of multi-cloud services, enterprises can run workloads in the multi-cloud data plane. A prime example of workloads running in the multi-cloud data plane is a distributed application that runs in multiple cloud provider environments. Part of the application might run in the private cloud and the other services are deployed in a public cloud. The multi-cloud data plane is where the containers, services and data exist and where user interaction occurs.
From Cloud Chaos to Cloud Smart
The desired destination of every multi-cloud journey should be to move from a position of cloud chaos to one of cloud smart. Being cloud smart means taking an architected and planned approach to multi-cloud and digital transformation. As more enterprises adopt multiple clouds, multi-cloud services will be key to becoming cloud smart by helping to reduce complexity and risk and proving the freedom to select the right cloud for all situations based on technical and business requirements.