In the last decade, the cloud has become a standard for data storage and computation, leaving expensive datacenters as ancient artifacts. Organizations have embraced virtualization and have migrated most or a considerable amount of their workloads to the cloud. Public cloud vendors have monetized this snowballing popularity of the cloud. However, today, various organizations are moving to the next level of cloud computing, the multicloud. The need for multicloud — and a mulitcloud strategy to get there — can be traced back to the various challenges faced by enterprises relying on a single vendor. There are only limited services provided by any particular vendor and vendors that do provide a wide array of services are usually expensive. There’s also the issue of availability. Cloud providers can be down occasionally for several reasons, which makes it less than ideal to rely on a single vendor for the entire workload of an organization. However, arguably the biggest drawback of having just one cloud provider is vendor lockdown. Vendor lockdown occurs when an enterprise relies heavily on a single vendor leading to huge data being accumulated that is very hard to migrate.
Multicloud infrastructure inherently provides solutions for all these challenges. With multiple cloud vendors in a single architecture, an organization can have more flexibility, higher scalability, and higher availability. Let’s take a look at certain factors to keep in mind before implementing your multicloud strategy.
Culture matters in a multicloud strategy
An enterprise looking to implement a multicloud strategy should understand that there’s a need for a shift in the culture. Every individual member of a DevOps team should be upskilled on various vendors and services that the enterprise is interested in leveraging. Doing this ensures that the implementation of multicloud architecture is smooth and seamless. The change in culture goes way beyond choosing certain vendors. The organization should work on instilling trust among teams and breaking down any technological barriers.
A collaborative environment is important for faster and more efficient deliveries. Having development teams and operations teams work separately creates a knowledge gap that slows down the development process. The change in culture also includes provision of up-to-date processes and management platforms that focus on visibility and resource management. Security should be put at the forefront and should be weaved into the development process to avoid pain points in development and deployment for quicker time to market.
Become an infrastructure steward
To usher in the multicloud infrastructure, there is a need for any organization to become an infrastructure steward. This means that an organization should make the transition to the multicloud smooth and efficient. Enterprises should set up centralized cloud teams that take care of implementing cloud policies and cost management. These teams should be made up of individuals from operations, security, and networking teams. DevOps teams should also be trained in cloud-based technologies like containerization, microservices, and serverless computing. Using different cloud providers also means there are different interfaces for each vendor. Developers should come up with a centralized interface to access services from different vendors all in one place.
While using multiple cloud vendors, it is important to ensure that there is a standard set of policies that are implemented across the architecture. Enterprises should implement policies that take advantage of the multicloud platform. Without fixed policies in place, your multicloud strategy will become cluttered and chaotic. Having multiple stakeholders leads to friction which can be avoided by putting standards and guidelines in place. Enterprises can automate the implementation of these policies to ensure continuous regulatory compliance.
Cloud costs can be tricky while using only a single cloud provider. So, it’s safe to say that it only gets exponentially more complex within a multicloud architecture. Cost management in multicloud architecture is extremely important for any enterprise that wishes to avoid unnecessary costs. This can be done with the help of regular monitoring. Frequently monitoring the costs can help identify resources that are more expensive and find ways to curb the cost. Alerts can be set based on a particular threshold so that unnecessary resources can be paused to save costs. Monitoring can also help identify if the costs are high due to the internal network or Internet traffic. If it’s because of Internet traffic, it can be because of a DDoS attack.
Enterprises should ensure that their workflows are carefully evaluated and based on their specific requirements, kept on the cloud provider that is the most cost-effective. For example, if there’s a huge volume of critical data that is rarely used, that data can be moved to object-oriented cloud storage like AWS S3.
Modern architectures and a multicloud strategy
With the help of containers and Kubernetes, developers can create code that is platform agnostic and can be used on any platform. This is extremely helpful when it comes to implementing a successful multicloud strategy where various cloud vendors are used. A platform-agnostic application offers more flexibility. Modern applications are developed using various techniques and tools to allow portability.
What does modern architecture look like?
- Microservices: This technique helps developers create small, reusable, and independent components that act as building blocks for an application.
- GitOps: The technique of storing application versions in a Git repository and using these to rollback to the desired state. Automated delivery pipelines automatically roll out changes to the infrastructure when changes are made to the Git.
- Observability: This in addition to Git acts as a source of truth for the current running state of an application. In GitOps, both Git and observability are used to control an application and how it works. An observable application is the one that can be monitored from the outside and can be traced and logged to provide various details that can help developers in improving application performance.
- Security: In modern architecture, security is quite important because public clouds can be attacked and breached by cyberattackers if they get their hands on secrets. Therefore, secret management tools and container image management tools are an essential part of the architecture to avoid attacks.
What does modern infrastructure look like?
- Kubernetes: The most popular container orchestration platform that is supported by almost every cloud vendor in the market.
- Stateless and immutable: Stateless applications consist of only one function and the server does not store any information. Servers only process the latest request and don’t hold on to state information between requests. Immutable infrastructure is an infrastructure where the servers are never modified after they’re deployed. If the changes are to be made, a new server is built from a common image with the desired changes which replaces the old one once it’s validated. This makes for more reliable and consistent infrastructure.
- Service meshes: Service meshes like Istio are configurable infrastructural layers for microservice applications that ensure fast and secure communication between different services in an application.
- Security: API authentication and authorization and applying the principle of least privilege help secure K8s clusters.
- Monitoring and observability: monitoring tools supported by Kubernetes can be deployed that can provide information about cluster health and performance.
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