Five Common Multi-Cloud Challenges Solved by IT Service

Multi-Cloud Challenges

This is part of Solutions Review’s Premium Content Series, a collection of contributed columns written by industry experts in maturing software categories. In this submission, VMware VP and CTO Amanda Blevins outlines the most common multi-cloud challenges which can be solved by IT service.

SR Premium ContentMulti-cloud environments offer significant business benefits—from increasing agility to improving efficiency. However, adopting a multi-cloud infrastructure too quickly, without the proper tools and strategies in place can also create operational complexities that many users are not prepared to manage. If the infrastructure you are using to build new, innovative apps and solutions for your customers is afflicted with complexity, your innovation capabilities are limited out of the gate.

The challenge with using various clouds is that each one sits in an isolated silo with its own development and operating model, taxonomy, services, APIs and management tools. This lack of consistency across clouds forces companies to manage their multi-cloud environments through a patchwork of off-the-shelf, custom-built and native cloud service provider tools.

This also often requires specialized teams and new skills to leverage the innovative capabilities of each cloud environment. Because of these differences, application and development teams struggle to quickly troubleshoot performance issues when they arise, and operators find it hard to consistently apply policies to ensure that apps are secure and compliant wherever they are deployed.

Here are the top five multi-cloud challenges we’ve identified that many modern organizations experience:

1. Differing infrastructure, APIs, database, network and security constructs

2. Cost and time of refactoring applications for a new public cloud environment

3. Risks related to security, data and privacy issues associated with regional data regulations

4. Increased complexity from specialized tools

5. Need to train staff or hire for specialized skills to support public cloud

Initially, IT teams addressed these challenges by unifying cloud environments and adopting services built on a seamless abstraction layer that spans clouds. Virtualization made it possible to abstract finite physical infrastructure assets, storage arrays and networking devices that all operated independently in the data center. This enabled organizations to build, deploy, run, manage, secure and access apps and infrastructure in a consistent way based entirely in software. As virtualization advanced, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and the era of hyperscale cloud providers was created.

Today, with most organizations using multiple cloud providers for their apps and infrastructure, IT teams are experiencing another pattern of operational complexity. For developers, each cloud provider has unique infrastructure, interfaces and APIs. For operators, each additional cloud increases the complexity of their architecture, fragmenting security, performance optimization and cost management.

As in the past, tackling this new multi-cloud complexity starts with creating a layer of abstraction that spans across heterogenous cloud environments to enable horizontal development and operations capabilities without hindering access to each cloud provider’s unique portfolio of services. However, organizations need to simultaneously consider how to best to build, manage, govern and optimize apps and workloads across a multi-cloud environment.

Enter the era of multi-cloud services

Rather than managing cloud environments in a customized manner, organizations can implement multi-cloud services to help address comprehensive multi-cloud challenges. Multi-cloud services, a fast-emerging category of IT services, are the key to helping organizations implement a multi-cloud strategy that simplifies and streamlines development, operations, networking and security across clouds. They provide a consistent API, object model, identity management and other core functions across clouds, and it runs in one or more of the following scenarios:

  • On a single cloud but supports interactions with at least two different clouds.
  • On multiple clouds and supports interactions with at least two different clouds.
  • On any cloud or edge, even in disconnected mode, and basic operations are fully automated.

Organizations can use multi-cloud services to standardize cloud infrastructure and operations, development, and security capabilities into one platform to reduce or eliminate the complexity of individually building or consuming the same native services from multiple clouds. This benefits businesses in various ways.

Operators can deploy, manage and monitor apps and container infrastructure in the same way for every cloud. This reduces operational overhead, while minimizing the need for specialized teams when working with specific clouds. This creation of “skill portability” also enables developers and operators to use the same skills across multiple cloud platforms via consistent services and APIs, and enables developers to write apps using their preferred framework without worrying about the infrastructure or the cloud on which it runs.

Moreover, this abstraction also helps minimize risks by enabling security teams to apply policies consistently to every cloud and app. And ultimately, the business realizes quicker time to market and quantifiable improvements in app performance, efficiency and security. Those in regulated industries can also meet their unique sovereign cloud requirements and maintain jurisdictional control while achieving cutting-edge transformation at scale.

Today, there are a few types of core categories of multi-cloud services, including application services, infrastructure services, security services, and end-user services. These are broad categories and over time we expect we will define more granular service categories and entirely new services.

Multi-cloud complexity is best addressed through a rich platform-as-a-service (PaaS) layer of multi-cloud services that equip enterprises with a broad set of capabilities to build, run, manage and secure apps consistently across clouds. By abstracting the complexity of multi-cloud, businesses can reach new levels of agility and growth without compromising sovereignty or security.

Amanda Blevins
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