What Is Multicloud?

Learn all about how to manage multiple clouds and the value of a multicloud strategy

Multicloud definition

Multicloud refers to an organization using multiple cloud computing platforms and services from different providers to meet its computing needs. Organizations choose a multicloud strategy to distribute workloads, applications, and data across multiple cloud environments. These cloud environments can include any combination of public, private, and hybrid clouds.

A multicloud approach takes advantage of the unique features, capabilities, and cost structures offered by different cloud providers. It also allows an organization to avoid vendor lock-in, reduce reliance on a single provider, and choose the best services on the market for specific requirements.

To learn more about multicloud, continue reading.

Why should you use multiple clouds?

A multicloud strategy offers an effective way to improve the stability and resilience of your systems while gaining more control over your costs and optimizing your application performance. By distributing your technology capabilities across multiple cloud providers, you can:

Reduce risks – In simple terms, you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. You eliminate the danger of dependency on a single provider to keep your systems up and running, and you’re not held hostage to their pricing structures or technology limitations.

Lower TCO – The flexibility of a multicloud architecture enables you to mix and match services from various cloud providers. By selecting the best services and prices for specific use cases, you can optimize your overall total cost of ownership.

Improve application performance – You can optimize your data storage and processing by choosing cloud providers in regions and zones closer to your applications and users. Closer proximity improves performance and reduces latency.

Multicloud vs. hybrid cloud

The terms multicloud and hybrid cloud are sometimes mistakenly used interchangeably. While the two concepts are related, and the strategies are often combined, they are distinctly different.

Multicloud

The key aspect of multicloud is using multiple cloud providers to meet different business and technology needs. Multicloud does not necessarily require integration between the different cloud environments, and each cloud platform typically operates independently.

Hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud refers to an integrated computing environment that combines both public and private cloud infrastructures. It allows organizations to maintain a portion of their workloads and data in a private cloud environment dedicated to their exclusive use, while also using public cloud services for other purposes.

The hybrid cloud approach enables seamless data and application mobility between the private and public clouds, providing flexibility and scalability. It enables businesses to keep sensitive or critical workloads in a private cloud for enhanced security and control while leveraging the public cloud for burst capacity, cost-effective scalability, or accessing specific services.

Synergy of multicloud and hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud and multicloud approaches complement each other and are often combined in enterprise settings. A hybrid multicloud architecture incorporates private and public cloud services from two or more cloud vendors to take advantage of both deployment models.

Multicloud management

The primary challenge of multicloud is managing the complex differences and interdependencies of multiple environments. It requires expertise in integrating and orchestrating different cloud services, ensuring data interoperability, managing security and access controls across various platforms, and monitoring costs and performance.

Managing multiple clouds is especially complex because different cloud platforms, services, and management interfaces all operate uniquely. Key areas to plan for include:

Centralized visibility and control – Implementing management tools or platforms that provide a unified view of all your cloud resources is critical. Administrators must be able to monitor performance, track costs, manage security, and enforce policies consistently across different cloud providers.

Interoperability and integration – Integration tools, APIs, and middleware can enable interoperability and seamless communication between your various cloud platforms. Integration services help streamline data flows, automate workflows, and ensure smooth operations across different clouds.

Security and compliance – Security tools, such as identity and access management (IAM), security information and event management (SIEM), and data loss prevention (DLP) solutions, can help ensure robust security across multiple cloud providers. You also need to address compliance requirements, taking into consideration the specific regulations that apply to your organization and its data in different regions.

Cost optimization – To optimize across multiple cloud providers, you’ll need to implement tools that analyze usage patterns and manage costs. The goal is to match instance types and sizes to your workload performance and capacity requirements at the lowest possible cost.

Automation and orchestration – Automation of deployment, scaling, and application and infrastructure management alleviate major operational headaches for development teams, and the benefits are compounded when multiple cloud environments factor into the equation. Automation helps streamline operations, reduces manual errors, and enhances overall efficiency.

Service-level agreements (SLAs) and vendor management – When working with multiple cloud providers, it’s essential to establish clear SLAs and effectively manage relationships with each vendor. This process includes monitoring and evaluating vendor performance, negotiating contracts, understanding support mechanisms, and ensuring that the services provided align with your organization’s requirements and expectations.

Overall, multicloud management requires a combination of technical expertise, robust management tools, and effective governance practices.

Any cloud, any workload, any location

Couchbase Capella™ is a fully managed and automated DBaaS designed to make multicloud management as simple and painless as possible. You can use our multicloud control plane to easily deploy and seamlessly manage clusters and nodes across AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud.

As a cloud-native database, Capella is designed to take full advantage of the cloud to provide maximum flexibility, availability, and scalability for your modern applications. It fuses the agility and performance of NoSQL with the strength of an RDBMS, provides mobile syncing app services, and lets you use your familiar SQL skills for JSON.

Multicloud benefits

The challenges of a multicloud approach shouldn’t be taken lightly, but for businesses seeking to optimize their cloud infrastructure, the many advantages of multicloud usually outweigh the inconveniences. The significant benefits of multicloud include the following:

Vendor diversity and avoiding vendor lock-in

By using multiple cloud providers, a business avoids becoming overly dependent on a single vendor. Cloud diversification reduces the risk of becoming tied to a specific cloud provider’s services, technologies, or pricing models. When you’re already using the services of multiple providers, it’s easier to negotiate better terms or to leave for a better deal if you need to.

Best-of-breed services

Different cloud providers excel in different areas and offer unique services and capabilities. For example, one provider might have exceptional data analytics capabilities, while another specializes in machine learning or IoT services. By selecting the best cloud provider for specific workloads or applications, a business can optimize performance, scalability, and cost-efficiency for each aspect of its operations.

Redundancy and disaster recovery

By distributing workloads and data across multiple cloud platforms, a business can mitigate the impact of outages or service disruptions. If one of your cloud providers experiences issues, you can seamlessly shift your applications and data to another provider to ensure continuity and minimize downtime.

Regional presence and data sovereignty

Different cloud providers have data centers in different global regions. If your business has specific compliance or data sovereignty requirements, a multicloud strategy allows you to host data in different geographic locations to comply with regional regulations. This ensures that your sensitive data remains within specific jurisdictions while adhering to local laws and regulations.

Cost optimization

Having multiple cloud providers gives you the opportunity to continually compare prices, negotiate better deals, and optimize costs based on the specific needs of each workload. For new projects, you can select the most cost-effective cloud service that aligns with your budget and requirements.

Innovation and future-proofing

By embracing multiple cloud providers, your organization can continually explore new technologies, services, and features offered by each one. This variety promotes experimentation and agility, and the flexibility allows your business to adapt more quickly to emerging trends and take advantage of cutting-edge advancements in cloud computing.

Multicloud challenges

As explained above, the biggest challenge of a multicloud strategy is successfully managing multiple cloud environments in a consistent, efficient, and integrated manner.

Before you can manage different environments cohesively, you need to connect them. This aspect of integration is known as multicloud networking (MCN). Multicloud networking requires specialized tools and techniques to ensure seamless communication, data transfer, and security between various cloud environments. It often involves complex configurations, dynamic workload management, and optimized routing to enable efficient resource usage across multiple cloud platforms.

Here’s a more detailed look at other top challenges of managing and maintaining a successful multicloud strategy:

Complexity of integration

Managing and integrating multiple cloud platforms requires expertise in connecting different systems, ensuring data interoperability, and managing communication between various cloud environments. It involves dealing with different APIs, management interfaces, and security mechanisms.

Security and compliance

Each cloud platform may have its own security controls, access management systems, and compliance requirements. Ensuring data privacy, identity management, and regulatory compliance across different clouds requires diligent planning, robust security measures, and effective governance practices.

Governance and control

With multiple cloud providers, it becomes crucial to establish standardized policies, enforce consistent controls, and monitor operations across all platforms. Lack of centralized visibility and control can result in difficulties in managing costs, enforcing policies, and ensuring adherence to organizational standards.

Skill and expertise gap

Effectively managing a multicloud environment requires skilled professionals with expertise in different cloud platforms, integration techniques, security practices, and cost optimization strategies. The scarcity of skilled personnel with the necessary knowledge across clouds can be a hurdle for organizations adopting a multicloud strategy.

Vendor lock-in risks

While multicloud strategies aim to prevent vendor lock-in, there’s still a risk of becoming tied to specific technologies or services offered by different cloud providers. Migrating workloads or data between clouds can be challenging, and dependencies on certain cloud-specific features or services may limit the ability to switch providers easily. You must carefully evaluate the portability of your applications and data to mitigate vendor lock-in risks.

The value of multicloud

Overall, multicloud offers flexibility, resilience, and the ability to leverage the strengths of multiple cloud providers, enabling organizations to achieve their specific business goals efficiently. A multicloud environment introduces the complexity of integrating multiple cloud providers, but the significant advantages offset the challenges for many organizations.

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