Data volumes are continuing to boom for organisations in all sectors and with hundreds of storage options to choose from, the question of where to optimally store data is becoming increasingly difficult.
Every workload and application has its own place and the age-old ‘one size fits all’ strategy isn’t sufficient anymore. With so many options and different requirements, why should we have to choose one cloud option if we can use two, or more and reap better rewards? The term ‘multi-cloud’ has been appearing on IT agendas for some time, but the technology now exists to fully utilise the concept accordingly.
But it’s not always been as simple as it sounds. Below, industry experts from the storage world discuss what IT teams need to know when adopting a truly multi-cloud strategy, what challenges they might come across and how to overcome them.
Enlisting the expertise of a third party
“Multi-cloud is the new normal, with more than 85% of enterprise IT organisations committing to multi-cloud architectures by 2018, according to IDC. With more organisations turning to multi-cloud environments, organisations need to make sure they choose cloud services tailored to their individual workloads and needs,” explained Matt VanderZwaag, Director of Product Development at US Signal.
“It is vital to define a multi-cloud strategy with solutions that meet your organisation’s specific needs today and can accommodate them as they change, with security requirements in mind. When guided by expertise from an IT Service Provider, a multi-cloud strategy can be developed and ensure many number of key benefits, such as greater performance, scalability, data protection and a full disaster recovery infrastructure.”
For James Henigan, Cloud Services Director at Six Degrees, “multi-cloud is just another variation of the ‘hybrid cloud’ model – it can include on-premises, private and public cloud locations with, in some cases, businesses making use of multiple external providers in each of these buckets. The challenge with this approach however, can be variances in supplier and vendor management as well as inconsistencies in operational and commercial processes.”
Henigan understands that maintaining an IT strategy can detract from the core business values and so advises seeking the help of a third party. “Organisations can of course reduce the headache of working in multiple cloud environments by investing in a range of solutions from one ‘umbrella’ supplier, such as a managed service provider (MSP). An MSP can offer a variety of expert services for on-premises IT, private cloud and public cloud from all of the major suppliers, while facilitating consistent billing and support processes.”
Henigan continued: “We have seen an explosion of multi-cloud procurement from early adopters who bought theoretical best-of-breed from different suppliers, only to find challenges with managing such services. Customer feedback is consequently suggesting that organisations want multi-cloud and best-of-breed, but from a single supplier, which is exactly what an MSP can provide.”
Michael Tso, CEO of Cloudian, agrees that a multi-cloud strategy can be challenging and solutions should be put in place to ease the transition. “The multi-cloud offers great benefits for organisations that can derive the greatest value from each platform. At the same time, it also poses new challenges to eliminate barriers for data and cloud storage management. To maximise the benefits and overcome the challenges, organisations need a scale-out storage solution that bridges both on-premises and cloud environments, letting users store and manage data in both private and public clouds around the globe as a single, unified storage pool for files and objects. That way, users can store, protect and search data from one management screen, no matter where the data physically resides.”
Adopting new tools
“Not all applications are cloud-ready and migration from legacy operating systems can be challenging. Often written specifically for the system they run on and unsupported by the likes of Azure, AWS and Citrix Cloud, IT teams are left with the headache of addressing how to get from A to B,” explained Mat Clothier, CEO, CTO and Co-Founder at Cloudhouse. “And the problem doesn’t end there – once you’ve made it off-premises, your applications still might not be compatible across clouds; the free movement of workloads, as per their individual requirements, is where the real value lies.”
Clothier continued: “Whereas previously, this situation often called for a complete re-write of non-cloud-native apps, IT teams can now save time, money and effort through the use of compatibility containers that provide ‘lift and shift’ portability to, from and even any way between multiple clouds.”
Gijsbert Janssen van Doorn, Tech Evangelist at Zerto, agreed: “Indeed, organisations today want the freedom to move to, from and between any combination of clouds, including the big guys like Azure, AWS and IBM Cloud, as well as the hundreds of smaller local cloud service providers. However, using software and tools that are not purpose-built for multi-cloud scenarios can result in an incredibly frustrating time suck; completely negating the benefits multi-cloud can offer.”
Doorn continued: “To adopt a true multi-cloud strategy effectively, organisations need to approach the process, not by trying to force legacy tools to work in their new environments, but by adopting new solutions that are built with the future in mind – a future where the majority of businesses are leveraging more than one cloud platform to move workloads freely as they see fit for their business, while also fully protecting them.”
It’s all about the architecture
Mark Young, VP of Systems Engineering & Field CTO EMEA at Tintri, said that the best starting point for organisations is to build a multi-cloud strategy on a solid architecture. “Most organisations already employ different cloud ecosystems, depending on the use case. But using different platforms at the same time doesn’t constitute a successful multi-cloud strategy. A good strategy enables IT teams to achieve full ‘cloud-flexibility’ and get the best possible solution for every scenario.”
Young went on to suggest: “Some of those scenarios are best served running on a local cloud architecture, like VDI, DevOps or databases. In those instances, it is critical to ensure they are underpinned by a powerful and modern cloud storage architecture that is fast, easy to manage, integrates well with hypervisors and is ready for automation. By covering this key part of the multi-cloud strategy, businesses will be able to reap the full benefits of the private cloud element of their multi-cloud strategy.”
A future in multiple clouds
As organisations increasingly rely on the importance of data, many are looking to utilise the best tools available. As a result, there is a steady rise in the adoption of multi-cloud environments. To support this, Research and Markets recently predicted that the multi-cloud management market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 30.9% until 2022.
With multi-cloud adoption on the rise, it’s important that organisations start to look for the best approach to take, in order to reap the full benefits.