At first glance, multicloud sounds like a contradiction because it combines the use of more than one cloud yet increases simplicity. As well as delivering increased simplicity, multicloud can also help businesses to become more agile too. That’s not to say that any company can freefall into deploying this kind of architecture. It requires a joined-up conversation across the entire business and it also needs companies to think about long term enhancements as opposed to just quick wins.
Multicloud is a progressive business strategy that enables firms to make best use of multiple vendors while managing them centrally. This differs from just having many clouds, which can be the source of chaos. The key difference between the two is the ability to make specific design decisions about both the network architecture and network operations. For applications at the endpoint to the edge and in every cloud in between, there has to be a priority given to connecting and securing them as if they were one cloud. Enterprises have to design their architecture as such.
Switched on enterprises are those who design their multicloud environments independently of any one provider – either service or technology. That’s because they maintain control of their infrastructure and have the freedom to switch out components when it’s beneficial to do so. The best way to embrace multicloud is in steps, each taken through a natural technology refresh. And with every step taken, there should always be a firm perspective on the end multicloud destination to ensure the journey is always on track and continues to be beneficial to the business.
Here are five ways multicloud can bring about business transformation and the practical steps to make best use of this approach.
Think about the last time you flicked a light switch. You probably didn’t think about the power grid that made it happen, you just wanted the light to work. Cloud and multicloud deliver this same assurance to users of IT services. For these users, their output is the applications and the tasks these apps help them achieve. So, for developers who want to create a new application, the infrastructure that enables them to do so works seamlessly in the background and enables them to set up the network quickly on their own. Invisible infrastructure, in other words.
This invisibility doesn’t occur without following some key security tenets, though, because if users, workloads and data can’t come together in a secure infrastructure, how can the infrastructure be invisible? It’s vital that end-to-end security is achieved and policy management should also be a major consideration. Multicloud often means different solutions from different vendors, so there’s potential for there to be a lot of moving, disparate parts. But policy management should be managed centrally and applied uniformly to ensure that traffic is consistently secure and treated equally, regardless of where the user or workload resides.
All services, everywhere, all the time
One benefit related to invisible infrastructure is ubiquity. Applications and services should be available everywhere and always offer the same level of service. Users shouldn’t be able to spot variations in service based on where they are or their workload’s location.
Additionally, multicloud should be reliable in order to deliver a service that is seamless for its users. Any infrastructure that starts out looking invisible becomes very conspicuous when it stops working. In order to meet the always-on need of multicloud, there has to be a reliance on automation to identify and resolve network problems quickly and efficiently.
A cohesive set of resources
A multicloud approach also can deliver the advantage of having access to the best of more than one cloud service without the headache of managing each one individually and disrupting an otherwise efficient operation. In fact, using a cohesive set of resources is the only way to manage a multicloud infrastructure successfully.
This means rethinking the approach that many enterprises have used for years. If you’re used to breaking complex networks into smaller, more manageable ones, it’s time to get rid of these silos. To achieve this new structure and manage multiclouds in a cohesive manner, architectures will have to extend beyond the data centre. Yes, the cloud exists in data centres but it also increasingly exists at the edge, with the onset of multiaccess edge computing and Internet of Things. A multicloud architecture will touch campus and branch networks and the security and automation constructs that make it all work will need to span all places in the network.
Multivendor through choice, not necessity
For some businesses, the move to use multiple clouds will almost feel thrust upon them. They may be running newer cloud solutions alongside legacy solutions, which could end up with a complex web of providers. However, the thing that differentiates a true multicloud solution from simply using multiple clouds is the fact that it enables choice. It enables them to use a mix of solutions from different vendors and gives them the power to manage them in a straightforward manner.
What organisations should bear in mind here is while they must keep an eye on existing infrastructure, they should also take into account future infrastructure by considering interoperability. A well-designed multicloud solution gives businesses the freedom to switch suppliers without being locked in to any one solution.
Evolution, not revolution
Multicloud isn’t a single product that an organisation can buy, install and then forget. It’s about embracing a different way of thinking and a new way of imagining what an effective infrastructure should look like. Multicloud is a journey that enterprises will embark on as they gradually evolve and improve their IT systems. A common model we see being adopted is one where businesses move from being predominantly device-led, to architecture- and operations-led, to ultimately being business- and customer-led.
It’s important to remember that migrations shouldn’t be vague, open-ended projects. They should be grounded in tangible actions based on capable technology. Enterprises might evolve different parts of the infrastructure at different times, but the thoughtful culmination of these ongoing efforts will eventually lead to a full multicloud future.
Fons Laudy, Sales Director, Data Center and Cloud, EMEA, Juniper Networks