What is Multicloud?
What is Multicloud?
The term multicloud refers to a data infrastructure strategy in which a single enterprise or organization uses two or more cloud services from different providers. For example, an enterprise infrastructure may use one public cloud combined with another public cloud and a private cloud. It combines services and resources from multiple cloud providers to increase the flexible use and availability of various applications and services, such as software as a service (SaaS), compute as a service (CaaS), storage as a service (StaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and platform as a service (PaaS).
In practice, multicloud can mean that an enterprise houses some data in public clouds and some in an on-premises private cloud. In such cases, repatriating some data to private cloud ensures a mesh of benefits from private cloud and from the multicloud ecosystem.
According to Seagate’s Rethink Data report, IDC analysts describe the multicloud as “an organizational strategy or the architectural approach to the design of a complex digital service that involves consumption of cloud services from more than one cloud service provider.” These providers may be directly competing cloud services, such as public object storage from more than one public cloud service provider, or IaaS and SaaS from one or more cloud service providers. According to IDC, in both these contexts, multicloud encompasses a much larger universe than does hybrid cloud and is only gated by the cost and complexity associated with enabling consistent management and governance of many different cloud options.
Why Use Multicloud?
Multicloud provides the ability to match solutions to business and organizational needs, combining the scalability and flexibility of various public cloud services with the predictable economics of scale that private cloud can provide. A multicloud strategy allows businesses to remain flexible with their IT architecture while customizing it to their needs. Multiclouds can help organizations reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) of their IT infrastructure by selecting the most appropriate combination of private and public cloud models to meet their needs.
Advantages of Multicloud
- Services and Features: Public clouds offer a broad catalog of services that include applications, compute, and monitoring resources. Multiclouds give businesses the option to select among cloud providers the specific services and features they need, and to switch to new cloud providers when new features are added to optimize for the apps or services they're running. Speed, capacity, cost, and security all factor into the choice of cloud providers.
- Flexibility: The multicloud features the ability to quickly turn on a high-performance compute that would be unaffordable in most private clouds. Access to public cloud services that meet a specific need means businesses can rent them, solve a puzzle, and be done with them without leaving them to sit idle. Access to public cloud compute means maximum compute horsepower that enables efficienct growth and elimination of stranded resources.
- Scalability: In a multicloud strategy, different cloud-based services can be disaggregated and decoupled to be treated individually, allowing organizations to customize their tech stack as appropriate. Organizations can then provision services on demand based on need. With appropriate public cloud services in place, enterprise teams can build and deploy an application or service in a common environment and start to benefit from the resulting revenue stream without an investment in CapEx to do so globally.
- Reduced Latency: Multicloud enables data managers to avoid or solve latency issues introduced by cloud systems that are not located nearby, which is accomplished by implementing appropriate cloud services and private clouds via colocated or physically closer data centers. Planning for physical proximity between private clouds and cloud services—reducing the distance between integrated computing, storage, and networking solutions that make up the multicloud—decreases latency.
- Cost: Moving to multicloud lowers the TCO for organizations because of the combination of solutions that can be created. Organizations have the flexibility to negotiate more competitive deals with the individual public cloud providers that make up their multicloud, and to deploy private cloud infrastructure for predictable economics in cases where more control over data or infrastructure will yield savings.
- Redundancy: Multiclouds offer the ability to build redundancy for any data that is being collected and leveraged within any application or service, ensuring access to data for multiple purposes and providing insurance against interruptions to availability.
- Avoiding Vendor Lock-in: Multiclouds eliminate reliance on any single cloud provider, giving organizations the freedom to customize their cloud tech stack based on the solutions that meet their requirements—no matter the provider. This helps reduce issues and costs around data being trapped within the structure of a single vendor.
- Security and Policy Compliance: Selecting cloud providers based on geography for some storage or application functions enables data managers to adhere to local policies that require certain data to be physically present within that country or jurisdiction. Adding private cloud as part of the multicloud may be useful for certain situations in which IP ownership, protection, and control of where that data physically resides is central—for example, in cases of data that needs a clear audit trail.
Real-World Uses of Multicloud
Handling Business Growth
Companies need an effective way to deal with the technology implications of rapid growth. A multicloud strategy can help an enterprise handle growth because it is designed for rapid scalability. Multiclouds can offer access to a growing ecosystem of applications, data, and computing power. A SaaS company might, for example, use one cloud for its core business and another to handle data from new acquisitions.
Accelerating Development Work
Multicloud can facilitate the ability to clone and create large data sets. A multicloud can, for example, be used with advanced virtualization technologies, such as containers. Using multiple clouds can be beneficial for building, testing, and deploying applications into production.
Handling Distributed Data Across the Multicloud
A distributed database in a multicloud environment can enable data managers to make that data available to all the systems that need it. Data can be created, replicated, used, and deleted within any part of the multicloud. This can reduce the load on a data set and increase the number of systems that can use it.
A company can do this, for example, by storing and using business unit data across its distributed database in a multicloud configuration. One cloud might monitor and update the data as needed, while another cloud is used to deliver business logic, personalization, search, and data processing activities.
Maintaining Speed in Factory Robotics
Multiclouds give organizations the ability to use multiple cloud solutions while retaining the speed of geographically proximate computing by deploying private cloud near to operations. Certain smart factory capabilities, like analyzing sensors that provide data on the efficiency of robotic arms, require microsecond latency between data analytics and the robotic controller. By locating private cloud infrastructure on or near the factory site for real-time analysis and feedback, while also maintaining other infrastructure in public cloud facilities to handle mass storage and applications applied to larger data sets, organizations can have the best of both worlds.
Incorporating Legacy Services Through APIs
Multiclouds can work with legacy applications and systems by incorporating an API layer between the new cloud service handling the workflow and the legacy technology. Cloud providers are already set up for API use, and the transition can be sped up by multicloud. A company might, for instance, use a combination of microservices and an API layer that enables them to continue using legacy technologies they are not ready to retire.
Managing data across a multicloud environment can present challenges such as separate workflows, disparate management tools, lack of unified security management, and difficulty sharing and moving large amounts of data across multiple cloud providers. Challenges may arise as a result of nonstandard architectures, the proliferation and coexistence of different storage technologies, lack of visibility of stored data’s management (object and file storage show up differently), deciding which data goes where, and an inability to look at a multicloud storage pool as a whole between on premises and cloud. These challenges add complexity and time to even simple data-related tasks like dashboard creation and reporting.
According to the Seagate Rethink Data report, a key solution to these data storage management challenges is to seek solutions that improve how business owners see the stored data. When designing a multicloud strategy, this challenge can be addressed in part by storing data in clouds that allow enterprises maximum control over their data. This may mean on premises, in private clouds, or in public clouds that do not require data lock-in. A further strategic goal is storage unification, in which IT architects would deploy solutions that enable data managers to see all data across the multicloud as if through a single pane of glass.