MANAGING COMPLEXITY IN THE REALM OF MULTI-CLOUD
Businesses are adopting new advances in Big Data, AI, Blockchain, and other digital technologies to improve their efficiencies and create new revenue streams. Whether it’s a financial organization launching a P2P lending portal, a startup venturing into O2O food delivery model, or a manufacturing company managing its logistics fleet with IoT; the cloud is often the mainstay of every new technology initiative. In a survey, 90% of organizations reported using some cloud service for their business.
However, there is a lot of fragmentation in the cloud market. A vast majority of organizations have their systems and applications distributed across multiple cloud services, as well as on-premises infrastructure. Around, 69% of organizations plan to have some sort of multi-cloud environment by 2019. While innovation and digital transformation are the major factors, unique regulatory and audit demands also force organizations to adopt a multi-cloud environment. AWS, OpenStack, Azure, and Google are the first choices for these multi-cloud strategies.
ADVANTAGES OF A MULTI-CLOUD ENVIRONMENT
- One of the most cited advantages of a multi-cloud environment is that it helps organizations in avoiding vendor lock-in. Organizations can meet their cost constraints and adopt solutions that better suit their varying performance needs by choosing to work with multiple cloud service providers (CSPs).
- Not all data is created equal; organizations maintain some historical data for compliances while they need some other databases for their live operations. Naturally, the security, access frequency, and availability requirements for these databases vary a lot. With multiple CSPs, organizations can meet their varied storage requirements, optimize their data management, and reduce costs.
- The multi-cloud environment enables geo-redundancy as different CSPs have data-centers spread across different regions. By eliminating a single point of failure (as in the case of high-profile CSP outages), an organization can achieve a high level of resiliency. Eventually, the strategy also helps organizations improve their data security.
CHALLENGES OF A MULTI-CLOUD ENVIRONMENT
- Manageability and Visibility
For an IT administrator, working with different CSPs means handling numerous consoles. It is a daily struggle to make disparate systems work together. Further, organizational heads also lack central visibility into their infrastructure, applications, and databases. Synchronizing these multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments is a major challenge for IT practitioners. Organizations need solutions that can help them orchestrate their resources, reduce visibility challenges, and improve agility in their multi-cloud operations.
While most of the CSPs offer security controls, the policies for access control and identity management vary from vendor to vendor. It is not rare for organizations to misunderstand a CSP’s security responsibilities and how they vary between PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS models. Hence, when a data breach occurs, organizations are often caught off guard. Moreover, a report suggests that 73% of all companies on AWS are vulnerable to varying levels of security threats due to some form of cloud misconfiguration. It is obvious how mitigating such security risks becomes even more challenging when an organization uses a multi-cloud model.
- Application Management
Today, every enterprise is using a plethora of applications across its departments. Shadow-IT still poses a challenge to IT administrators. Very often, IT department has to deal with teams which go rogue and start using applications that violate enterprise policies. Further, not every organization is equipped to monitor, control, and secure itself from numerous application vulnerabilities. In a multi-cloud environment keeping track of such applications becomes a bigger challenge.
Further, in addition to using public-public multi-cloud models, organizations also use hybrid cloud models to meet their unique security and performance needs. In fact, Gartner forecasts 90% of global organizations will adopt a hybrid infrastructureby 2020. However, ensuring compliance in hybrid setups is a complex undertaking.
Let’s take the example of PCI DSS, which defines encryption and other security standards for handling payment card data. A company’s onsite data center (or private cloud setup) and public cloud service provider can both meet this compliance, encrypting and securing the data at rest. However, in a hybrid setup, the company has to ensure that the data-in-transit between private and public infrastructure is also encrypted and secure.
Using services of a cloud access security broker (CASB) can help organizations in implementing the policies for three As (Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting) along with policies for encryption, tokenization, logging, monitoring, and alerts. However, such systems again add a managerial overhead on top of other point solutions for security, information, and event management (SIEM). Identifying and implementing a unified security solution which offers comprehensive coverage of on-premise and multi-cloud assets is not easy.
- The Cost
In a survey of 1000 IT decision makers in 11 countries, 45% of the respondents said that cost optimization is a major driver of their multi-cloud strategies. However, 40% of these respondents also admitted that they were unable to track their cloud spending. Perhaps, multi-cloud economics is not as simple as it appears superficially. Every cloud platform comes with its own set of variables, pricing models, billing systems, VM sizing options, taxes, data egress fees and numerous hidden costs that make cost optimization a full-time job. That’s why budgeting in a multi-cloud environment becomes a herculean task.
HOW TO LEVERAGE A MULTI-CLOUD ENVIRONMENT?
Selecting the right cloud for the correct application is crucial. For this evaluation, an organization must consider security requirements of the application, the data migration challenges, and also consider overall governance issues. Also, the cost optimization is not always the best criteria for selection of a cloud. Trends show that compute and storage costs have come down over the years. Instead, of focusing on these costs, organizations should focus on their present and future application needs.
When selecting a CSP, evaluating different services with an application-driven strategy can help an organization in solving some of its management challenges. They should explore APIs and edge services along with higher value services for analytics, mobility, and integration as a bigger priority. For securing applications within IaaS and PaaS environments, organizations need a comprehensive approach with API-based, host-based, and in-line protection components. Organizations also need capabilities to gain SaaS application visibility with granular control over sanctioned and unsanctioned applications in the cloud.
Nonetheless, there is a limit to which manual processes can handle IT operations. That’s why organizations need to automate the management of specific cloud services. Such tools should simplify monitoring and tracking of potential network issues in real-time to identify risks such as unusual traffic spikes, ensure access control, and avert security breaches.
However, organizations are still using a myriad of traditional SIEM tools and systems for management of applications, virtual machines, and databases. Managing and analyzing the humongous logs is a complex task and can lead to oversights. Amidst all these operational tasks, vendor management adds another layer of complexity. This is why organizations often choose to work with a third-party vendor that offers managed services for multi-cloud management.
THIRD PARTY MULTI-CLOUD MANAGED SERVICES
When evaluating third-party managed services providers, you should evaluate their experience in deployment and management of cloud solutions. Their SLAs should ensure quick response in the event of service-conflicts and disasters. With third-party services, you should also look forward to establishing a shared understanding of reporting frequency and the scope of reports. At times such reports can obfuscate simple facts; make sure the reports are straightforward.
Nxtra Data offers multi-cloud managed services for your end-to-end cloud lifecycle management, including backup services, DR solutions, ERP deployments, big data solutions and more. Our consulting exercise identifies suitable workload for the right type of cloud delivery be it public, private or hybrid cloud. You can establish WAN connectivity to AWS & Azure through express-route and direct connect. We also help you migrate your applications to desired cloud instance followed by 24X7 technical support. For a consultation, contact us at Nxtra Data.
Call: 1800 102 9635 | Visit: http://www.nxtradata.com
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