Multicloud architecture, which is now at the core of a majority of cloud strategies, offers a range of benefits. But multicloud architecture also poses some significant challenges in the realms of security, performance and more.
Given these challenges, planning an effective multicloud architecture requires more than simply adding another cloud to your environment and calling it a day. Instead, you should develop a detailed plan for implementing multicloud in a way that minimizes the challenges associated with multicloud environments.
Factors to Consider When Planning for Multicloud Architecture
Multicloud architectures come in many forms. They typically involve the use of more than one public cloud at the same time. However, given the vast array of cloud services available from the public clouds, there is a virtually infinite number of setups possible that combine services from two or more public clouds. You could host data in one cloud and an app that uses the data in another. You could mirror the same data across two clouds to increase reliability. You could deploy a Kubernetes cluster that spans multiple public clouds’ IaaS services. And so on.
Depending on how exactly you define multicloud, your multicloud strategy could also center on a hybrid architecture that blends an on-premises environment or private cloud with just one public cloud.
Because of the variability surrounding multicloud architecture, there is no simple set of steps to talk through in order to move from a single cloud to multicloud. A better approach is to ask yourself a series of questions that will help you determine the best plan for implementing a multicloud architecture tailored to your priorities.
Why are you moving to multicloud?
Those questions start with asking why you are moving to multicloud in the first place.
If it’s just because you’re read a lot of articles on tech media sites telling you that multicloud is the wave of the future, maybe you should reconsider your multicloud plans entirely. Not everyone needs multiple clouds.
Alternatively, if you’re moving to multicloud architecture primarily to save money, then you know that cost optimization is the chief priority that should guide your multicloud planning. Or, perhaps performance optimization or reliability improvements are your main goals. Maybe you just want to take advantage of additional types of cloud services that are not available on your current cloud.
Which clouds offer the best solution?
The second factor to weigh in planning for multicloud architecture is which specific clouds offer the best solutions for your priorities.
For instance, if your main goal is to save money, you’ll need to look at the cloud services you use and the pricing available for those services on different clouds in order to determine which clouds offer the best opportunity for cost optimization. If workload reliability is your goal, evaluate different clouds based on their history of downtime and their uptime SLA guarantees.
Keep in mind that, in order to plan the most effective multicloud architecture, you should consider not just public clouds, but also hybrid and private cloud frameworks. Depending on your needs, a multicloud environment that pairs a public cloud with a private cloud based on something like OpenStack, for instance, could be the best solution for you.
How will you structure your multicloud workloads?
As noted above, workloads running in a multicloud environment can come in any number of shapes and sizes. You’ll need to evaluate the different combinations that are possible in the clouds you plan to use, and align those approaches with your priorities.
If cost optimization is the chief goal, for example, you may decide to structure workloads in such a way that data is stored in the cloud that offers the cheapest storage service, while applications are hosted in another cloud that offers the cheapest compute service. If reliability is your priority, you may instead choose to deploy redundant instances of the same workload in different clouds, or to set up a solution that allows workloads to fail over automatically from one cloud to another.
How will you manage your multicloud workloads?
There are a variety of ways to go about managing workloads across multiple clouds. The simplest is to use the native tooling provided by each of your clouds. The downside to that approach is that it requires you to learn and juggle multiple sets of management tools.
A more efficient strategy would be to find tools that will work with all of the clouds you need to manage. Toward that end, identify the types of tools you need--common categories might include infrastructure-as-code solutions, access-management tools, and monitoring and logging tools--and then look for platforms that will work with all of the clouds you intend to include in your multicloud plans.
How will you migrate your workloads to multicloud?
The final key question to weigh is how you will go about migrating your existing workloads to a multicloud environment. If the clouds you plan to use offer native migration solutions for getting data and applications into their platforms, like GCP’s Migrate tool and Azure Migrate, those are likely a good place to start when planning for the migration. But you’ll likely also need to do some manual lifting-and-shifting to move different parts of your workloads to the right locations in the multicloud environment you are building.
Once you’ve answered the questions above, you’re in a good position to build a formal plan for moving to multicloud architecture. Then, migrating to multicloud is as simple as executing the plan.
You’ll likely face some hiccups along the way--that happens even to the best laid schemes, of course--but having a plan from the start is much more effective than trying to plan each step of your multicloud migration as you go.