Multi-cloud is marching its way beyond “buzz word” to a real deployment scenario. Some key drivers behind this new normal include:
Preference: Different internal teams can have different preferences when picking clouds due to each team’s competency and specialization
No lock-in: To avoid vendor “lock-in” and reduce reliance on one cloud provider, not only to gain stronger negotiating power but also help to build a more resilient infrastructure
Efficiency: To promote operational efficiency that generates positive business outcomes, e.g. enabling rapid migration when pricing or capability make it appealing
Regulations: To meet compliance/regulatory requirements for international business
A substantial percentage of cloud adoption happens presumably as an extension of existing on-prem infrastructure. That’s why it also makes sense to mention hybrid-cloud when we talk about multi-cloud; they go hand-in-hand referring to a holistic infrastructure for an organization.
Beyond the Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Hype
Hybrid and multi-cloud are here. How do we know? Kentik recently published a research report, “AWS Cloud Adoption, Visibility & Management,” based on an industry survey of 310 IT professionals attending an AWS user event. A few key findings on the move to multi-cloud included:
58% of respondents said they’re actively using more than one of the big-three cloud providers (i.e. AWS, GCP, and Azure).
A common multi-cloud combo is AWS + Azure. Among AWS users, more than one-third (35%) of respondents said their organization also actively uses Azure.
59% of respondents reported using at least two tools to try to gain cloud visibility.
Another newly published research report, “Network Engineering and Operations in a Multi-Cloud World,” from analyst firm Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) indicates similar results. In the report, it acknowledges the fact that “enterprises today are leveraging the cloud more than ever before, building hybrid and multi-cloud architectures and adopting dozens, if not hundreds, of SaaS applications.” The report shows 84% of responders use more than one IaaS (35% to use two and 7% to use six or more!).
The Reality of Multi-Cloud Visibility
Along with hybrid and multi-cloud architectures, it’s also worth noting another reality: visibility. In a multi-cloud environment, it’s not realistic anymore to leverage cloud-providers’ built-in visibility tools. Those tools were built for their own cloud infrastructure, and they lack a few key necessities, including:
Resiliency. IaaS built-in cloud monitoring tools reside INSIDE that public cloud! When that cloud provider’s cloud service goes down, the native monitoring services will also be impacted. Users can no longer rely on the tool to do any kind of troubleshooting in this scenario and will be left in the dark.
Lack of a holistic view across multiple cloud providers. For example, you cannot use AWS CloudWatch to monitor GCP’s network statistics. Monitoring the infrastructure under a unified view is a big gap today among all visibility solutions.
An individual cloud vendor is probably NOT the Subject Matter Expert you want for ALL of your networks, old and new (including the ones you own).
Monitoring the entire infrastructure under a unified view is a huge gap that exists today among all visibility solutions.
The Demand for a Modern Cloud Monitoring Tool
In hybrid and multi-cloud environments, a modern monitoring tool should meet four key requirements:
The tool must provide a unified view across hybrid and multi-cloud, for your entire infrastructure. A single-pane-of-glass view and management can help reduce operational complexities and avoid silos.
The tool must unlock powerful analytics, driven by in-depth visibility.
The tool must be able to manage the top challenges such as performance, cost, and security for modern cloud infrastructure. The analytics should be contextualized in order to answer both technical and business questions for various stakeholders.
The tool must be able to integrate with container orchestration and service mesh management (e.g. Istio). One major cloud advantage is the agility of adopting cloud-native architecture including containers/microservices. However, to leverage that advantage, your monitoring tool needs to provide visibility of the communications among those services (e.g. when the communication between them is slow, that means business is under risk).
The Big (Clear) Picture on Multi-Cloud
There is no doubt that hybrid and multi-cloud will be complex to deploy and manage, but the good news is that smart people are working on innovative solutions to critical problems. We probably still have a long way to go before reaching the end game, so now is the time to start preparing and educating yourself on the new tools and techniques needed, which includes achieving multi-cloud visibility, to execute a winning strategy in the cloud.