5 Multicloud Challenges and How to Manage Them

5 Multicloud Challenges and How to Manage Them

Solutions for common problems that may be impacting your multicloud deployment and connectivity

In 2022, the term “multicloud” is no longer a new one; by now, you are probably familiar with many of the advantages of this approach to cloud computing. Within this framework, an organization relies on cloud services sourced from more than one vendor. With multicloud, various Cloud Services Providers (CSPs) are utilized as opposed to a single provider, and they each contribute distinct resources and capabilities to meet the specific needs of their client.

There are many advantages of multicloud computing, as indicated by its rapidly growing popularity. Because CSPs can differ greatly from one another in terms of capabilities, compatibility, and cost structures, a multicloud approach can allow companies to select a combination of those best suited to their needs. For organizations looking to increase the control they have of their data and its management, multicloud offers best-of-breed capabilities and helps avoid vendor lock-in. In addition, it offers users the power to select for themselves the most cost-effective provider for their needs. Gartner claims that by 2025, more than 90% of enterprises will pursue a multicloud infrastructure and platform strategy (1). 

Despite these significant and noteworthy advantages, the complexity of multicloud computing brings with it some as-yet unfaced hurdles. As you move towards the adoption of a multicloud approach, here are some challenges your organization might face and approaches towards dealing with them.

Challenge 1: Reach 

Enterprises embracing cloud adoption require infrastructure workloads deployed globally in a truly distributed manner.  

One challenge to the broad implementation of a multicloud approach is the problem of global reach. Enterprises embracing cloud adoption and distributed microservices based application architectures must optimize the application delivery architecture and user experience through the consistent, global deployment of workloads. This imperative creates a need for reliable connectivity from users and developers to globally distributed CSP regions. 

In many ways, the global reach of multicloud is one of its largest advantages over the traditional single-cloud model. Where enterprises have, in the past, been forced to select a single CSP and limit themselves to locations offered by that one provider, they can now take advantage of the locations offered by several CSPs. For example, while Google GCP has a location in Buenos Aires that Microsoft Azure does not, Azure has one in Copenhagen that is not offered by Google. Where an enterprise would have been forced to choose between these locations in the past, multicloud enables them to benefit from both of these locations if desired, and many more. Essentially, instead of relying on the locations offered by a single provider, multicloud allows use of an expanded set of global networks of locations across various providers. 

However, this advantage comes with the challenge of managing a larger network of locations. Because every location requires a degree of individualized management, the expanded set of possible locations available to enterprises can become inconvenient or even impossible to maintain without assistance. A third party can help to manage this network and launch changes at scale.

 

Challenge 2: Transit Architecture

Organizations must decide whether to rely on cloud native constructs or deploy a homogenous transit network architecture across CSPs.

Another of the most challenging problems faced by enterprises looking to adopt a multicloud approach is the implementation of a manageable and consistent architecture. With a single-cloud model, users could typically work within the context of the native architecture specific to their chosen CSP. Though cloud providers typically utilize distinctive and incompatible architectures, their incongruity was inconsequential because they were not in communication with each other. Now, multicloud requires both an understanding of the architectures specific to all selected cloud providers as whatever capabilities are necessary to synchronize the distinct architectures. Organizations can adopt a transit architecture which is homogeneous across all CSPs. With this strategy, the transit architecture is deployed within the CSP infrastructure or at a CloudHub at the edge of CSP region to abstract networking and security complexities from the Cloud private networks. This architecture allows for the user to adjust it to best meet their needs and accommodate existing technologies in a manner that one focused on cloud native constructs cannot.

Challenge 3: Scale, Consistency, and Compliance

The chosen architecture must be deployed at scale with high-availability, cost-efficiency and automation in mind. 

An additional problem in the implementation of multicloud architectures is that of implementing them at scale, in compliance, and with consistency across locations and cloud providers. Though these problems exist in some form even in single-cloud architectures, they are magnified by the larger task of distributing information not only across a larger range of locations but also with the added complications of working within the context of multiple CSPs simultaneously. Because of their complexities, multicloud architectures are singularly vulnerable to inconsistencies and vulnerabilities which can be costly and time consuming to resolve. 

As successful multicloud frameworks are much more complex but must still ensure implementation, functionality, and compliance across the board, it can be difficult to issue changes across all locations easily and accurately without inconsistencies. The best way to overcome these challenges is to utilize a unified management center which ensures that information is communicated quickly and effectively while the necessary conditions for compliance are met. 

Challenge 4: Performance

Information should be communicated quickly and accurately.

Another problem that arises with a multicloud approach is that of ensuring high performance. Specifically, a well-designed and successfully executed multicloud implementation will communicate information across the shortest, most reliable path with the required quality-of-service treatment for end-to-end connectivity between the users and applications. In order to guarantee high performance, organizations must ensure that the infrastructure equipment can support the throughput and encryption requirements of multicloud.

One reason performance is complicated in a multicloud setting is that latency increases when information is moved between clouds via the internet. Where a single-cloud implementation can communicate information promptly within the cloud provider’s infrastructure, multicloud models incur a separate delay when they communicate externally with one another. The best way to manage this challenge is to design your multicloud implementation such that information is not stored in one cloud and processed in another except where absolutely necessary. However, as this problem is not always so easily avoidable, it is best to have systems in place to help minimize performance complications when they do arise.

Challenge 5: CSP Standardization Each cloud provider’s implementation for networking stack is unique.

Finally, a significant challenge being faced as organizations transition to a multicloud approach is that of the lack of standardization among CSPs. Each of the three major CSPs (AWS, Azure, GCP) has a set of control mechanisms and application programming interfaces (APIs) distinct to itself, and they are managed and developed in accordance with their established structures. Though there are architectural commonalities, the implementations differ from CSP to CSP. Because of this, each CSPs uses what is essentially a fully distinct language to operate its infrastructure and implementing them in conjunction with one another can be excessively complex. 

One solution to this problem within the context of the multicloud model is to have a third-party vendor that exists in the middle of the various CSPs and translates the different languages into a simplified and unified version. Once converted, this information is passed by the translator to the end-user for ease of management. 

5 Recommendations for Implementing Solutions 

The various complexities of multicloud listed above are challenging to address without expert intervention. A third-party provider can work with organizations to ease management of multicloud connectivity and orchestration; however, most solutions have only been solved in silos thus far. We recommend implementing an end-to-end solution utilizing the following recommendations: 

  1. Connect to an edge location of a global middle-mile provider to reach from any corporate location to any cloud region globally, in a performant manner
  2. Deploy standardized transit architecture at the edge of the cloud regions (preferably at colocations) instead of inside every CSP environment, to achieve standardization and cost optimization
  3. Use Automation and Orchestration to achieve scale and consistency in configuration and management
  4. Employ SD-WAN and connect to distributed transit architectures at collocations to achieve the best performance
  5. Leverage API abstraction to decouple requiring interactions with each CSPs in their native language

Sources:

  1. https://www.eweek.com/cloud/predicting-cloud-trends-for-2022-migration-multicloud-and-esg/ 

Author's Bio

Kunal Thakkar

Director, Solutions Engineering at Apcela