The rise of multi-cloud and data controllers

Over the past two years the number of organisations adopting a multi-cloud strategy has increased dramatically. According to an IDC report more than 20% of IT organisations have plans to implement a multi-cloud strategy within 12 months while more than 50% are already doing so. Let’s start by understanding where this tendency is emerging from.

The cellular mobile communications networks in the mid-90s, just like the cloud, was a completely disruptive communications model which changed the way people interacted. At the time, long before it was commoditised, many players raced for this technology.

Fundamentally, thinking about mobile communications today, a business or individual wouldn’t choose to have all their eggs in the same basket. They would want to have the flexibility to move from one carrier to another to have full control of your telecommunications costs. But while this is obvious today, the telecommunications industry has tried very hard to maintain a single sourcing model by creating a level of “stickiness” in the services provided.

>See also: Debunking the multi-cloud myths

This was done, for example through strict pricing policies in the early days, or the so-called convergence of operators where landline providers started adding mobile communications to their offering to position themselves as a one-stop-shop. Ultimately, this is now almost irrelevant as the industry has become extremely commoditised.

Going back to the cloud, twenty years or so down the line, the technology is different and so is the industry. But the concept is still valid: it is not desirable to have all the eggs in the same basket. In the telecom arena, the world of cloud is going to get simpler in terms of tariff and this is ultimately where multi-cloud comes in.

Simply put, multi-cloud is the simultaneous implementation of two or more cloud service providers. Spreading cloud applications between different providers is fairly commonplace in the modern enterprise.

>See also: Shift from premise telephony to the cloud to accelerate in 2017

In fact multi-cloud, which encompasses both on premise and public cloud storage solutions that are compatible with one another, offers three key benefits that would not be possible when working with just one cloud provider.

First, multi-cloud helps to mitigate the risk of data loss or downtime caused by a localised component failure in a cloud computing environment. Second, some clouds are better suited than others to specific tasks: for example, one might be more effective at handling numerous simultaneous requests for relatively small data transfers, while another might be able to process a smaller number of large data transfers.

Third, IT managers need to consider data sovereignty as well as the regulatory landscape across different jurisdictions. A multi-cloud strategy can help to overcome such obstacles as it allows different data to be stored in different cloud platforms. A multi-cloud is therefore safer and more efficient than a single cloud strategy.

But doesn’t a multi-cloud strategy add complexity?

The key consideration when planning a multi-cloud strategy is data management, governance and assurance. How can the IT team manage users and their data across various cloud platforms?

>See also: The year of the cloud: flexible, agile and scalable

Introducing a cloud data broker (CDB) is paramount to ensure secure encryption, access control and rich metadata services across these new multi-cloud environments. If implemented correctly, this CDB will reduce complexity by providing complete control over organisations’ metadata and will be fully integrated with enterprises’ user directory systems.

CDB technology is continually improving and the next-generation of intelligent CDB will allow us to realise many of the promised yet elusive benefits of multi-cloud deployments: increased hardware and vendor independence, flexibility in customisation, optimised performance and minimised latency, and sustainable reductions in the total cost of ownership.

IT managers must look at service level agreements (SLAs) when adopting a multi-cloud approach. It is vital to understand what the advantages and limitations are of each cloud platform. For example, a public cloud platform may have high availability, but does it guarantee a certain level of performance? Probably not. By gaining a deep understanding of what the key benefits and shortfalls of each cloud service are, the IT team can quickly build a picture of what cloud services are required to host the kind of data the business is using.

>See also: Achieving true enterprise-level interoperability

Ensuring uniformity is key for a good multi-cloud strategy. All too often, IT managers that implement several cloud platforms find themselves maintaining a variety of different user interfaces that work in different ways and their time becomes consumed with balancing workloads across numerous cloud services.

The main advantage of the cloud is that it simplifies data management. To ensure this remains the case in a multi-cloud environment IT managers must ensure they assess business needs in order to determine what cloud services are best suited to fulfil them, before implementing a solid DCL to ensure a consistent and unified strategy is in place.


Sourced by Erwan Menard, president and COO at Scality


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...