A Multi-Cloud Solution Offers Innovation, Performance, and Cost Benefits
In this multi-cloud blog post we’ll pick up where we left off with our “Amazon Web Services (AWS) vs Microsoft Azure – Which is Better and Where are We Now?” blog post. As we said in that post, investment managers who leverage cloud computing allow their organizations to get new products on the market faster, increase efficiency, lower operational costs, improve interdepartmental collaboration, reduce capital expenditures, and increase innovation. We discussed the overall benefits of cloud computing as well as several of the strengths and weaknesses of the major vendors. In this blog post, we’ll take the discussion a step further and discuss the benefits of a multi-cloud solution for the asset management industry.
Multi-Cloud Strategy Definition
Multi-cloud is the use of cloud services from more than one cloud vendor. It can be as simple as using software-as-a-service (SaaS) from different cloud vendors – e.g., Salesforce and Workday. But in the enterprise, multi-cloud typically refers to running enterprise applications on platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) from multiple cloud service providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.
Given the recent occurrences at AWS, the benefits of a multi-cloud solution that’s portable across multiple cloud providers’ cloud infrastructures are apparent for all. Multi-cloud solutions are typically built on open-source, cloud-native technologies, such as Kubernetes, that are supported by essentially all public cloud providers. They also often include capabilities for managing workloads across multiple clouds with a central console or as we say, a single-pane-of-glass solution.
To generalize, a multi-cloud is a cloud computing strategy in which a company relies on multiple cloud providers instead of a single vendor. An organization can pick and choose the best services from each provider based on the following major factors:
- Service cost
- Technical requirements
- Geographic availability
The primary reason many organizations have moved or are moving to a multi-cloud concept is that no single provider can offer a solution to all the problems a business can face. Just like most organizations, cloud providers have their own strengths and weaknesses. Thus, organizations can use multiple clouds to create a custom infrastructure that ideally fits all business goals. Organizations want innovation, flexibility, cost savings, and a best-of-breed solution that incorporates the strengths of each of the cloud providers they choose.
What is a Multi-Cloud Strategy
As we suggested in our AWS vs Azure blog post, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the market leader, offers by far the greatest range of cloud services, and has long been the number one choice for companies looking to migrate to the cloud. However, there are now many providers to choose from and each has strengths and weaknesses.
Rather than just picking one infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS) cloud provider that best meets the needs of the business, a multi-cloud approach involves adopting a mixture of IaaS services from 2 or more cloud providers and sharing workloads between each, choosing services that provide the greatest innovation, performance, flexibility, reliability, choice of features, or are offered at a much better price point.
What are the Main Multi-Cloud Advantages
With so much competition in the industry, each cloud provider is having to launch new services and shave prices to give customers a better deal. It is now much harder for a single cloud provider to meet the exact needs of a business and provide the best services and prices across the board, so choosing one cloud provider may no longer be the best choice.
That fact has certainly not been lost on businesses. A study by Dimensional Research found that 77% of businesses are planning to adopt a multi-cloud strategy in the next two years in order to better meet their needs. But what are the multi-cloud advantages that make a multi-cloud approach so attractive? Multi-cloud means taking advantage of the strengths of multiple cloud providers
AWS may have 200+ cloud services, but it does not mean that it will be able to meet all the cloud computing requirements of a business, or at least not optimally. By choosing multiple cloud providers organizations can take advantage of the best parts of each provider’s services and mix and match to suit the needs of their applications, workloads, and business. Different business units may have different demands, and while AWS may be ideal for one unit, Azure or VMware may be better suited for another. Multinational organizations are likely to find that what is optimal for one geographical region is not good for another, multi-cloud solves those problems.
Innovate Rapidly with Multi-Cloud Solution
Two of the key benefits the multi-cloud strategy provides is the possibility to quickly evolve and innovate at speed. Since organizations are not restricted by the limitations of an individual cloud provider, organizations can focus on innovation and choose the way their company develops. Although all cloud providers strive to offer a full set of tools you need, a multi-cloud strategy provides the possibility to pick the best sets of services from each provider and incorporate them into your app.
Essentially, multi-cloud offers the flexibility to innovate rapidly while taking advantage of the unique or best-in-class sets of services every cloud provider offers. This enables an organization’s developers to focus on innovation without having to compromise to meet the limitations of one cloud provider over another.
It is no different from the legacy enterprise approach where the vendor dictated the architecture of the enterprise applications through the features. The opportunity to innovate, by using the right set of services, is one of the primary advantages of a multi-cloud strategy.
While all cloud providers compete to offer the best services and toolsets for everything a company needs to accomplish, a multi-cloud approach allows them to choose the provider and services that best fit their needs.
For instance, AWS may have the best service for encoding a video, but Google Cloud may be the best – or the only cloud that can annotate videos to make them searchable. Again, each cloud provider has its strengths and weaknesses. Depending on the features that you need to incorporate into your application, organizations can pick the best services from each provider to build applications.
Best of Breed Approach with a Multi-Cloud Solution
Most organizations manage a variety of applications. For example, there may be customer-facing applications such as mobile applications along with an e-commerce platform. In addition, they have internal applications to manage travel expenses and sick days, and perhaps a new data science team uses collected data to run analyses to optimize resource management and fulfillment. The larger the organization the greater the variation in cloud service requirements. A best-of-breed approach describes an approach where the company uses the best suitable infrastructure type and provider for each workload.
As a simple example, a business can select a database solution from one vendor (e.g., Snowflake), a customer relationship manager from a different provider (e.g., Salesforce), and a communication platform from yet another company (e.g., Slack). This helps guarantee that employees are using the best solution for each function of their job.
Cloud providers may manage or package different applications and solutions differently, thus organizations will often pick and choose providers based on the applications or solutions that their organizations are using today.
Cost Savings with a Multi-Cloud Solution
From an implementation standpoint, a multi-cloud strategy might be more expensive than implementing a single-cloud strategy, considering the efforts required to build and maintain it. However, according to Gartner, 81% of cloud users work with two or more cloud service providers. We’ll walk through why there may be long-term cost savings, however.
When your data center is on-prem, you have quite the strong negotiation power, as you designed the architecture yourself and decided which vendors to bring in, in a bidding process. The negotiation power balance shifts when you opt into a public cloud. As cloud providers (mega players such as AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure) are more stringent in their offering and ask that you choose from their predefined packages, so your organization can benefit from the agility and flexibility that they have to offer. Using a multi-cloud strategy can help you gain back some of that negotiation power.
To benefit from the negotiation advantages of the native-multi-cloud approach, we need to make sure that we can cost-effectively:
- Move workloads from one cloud provider to another
- Connect workloads from different cloud providers
To achieve cost-effectiveness, organizations need to understand the following two main measurements:
- Cost to migrate – How much does it cost to migrate a specific workload from one cloud provider to another?
- Cost to connect – How much does it cost to connect two workloads that reside in different cloud providers?
The multi-cloud approach certainly has its advantages and disadvantages, however, if organizations can reduce the “cost to migrate” and “cost to connect” between cloud providers, they will be able to select the most cost-effective service.
Too often the true cost of running your cloud environment is not apparent when you first sign up. Further, I can’t tell you how many clients have had to implement, “automated” killbots to automatically shut down environments that are lightly used or marginally used so that their next month’s bill is not astronomical – you’d think cloud providers were also Texas electricity companies! RyanEyes has saved 50% on the bills of clients simply by managing when instances are running and ensuring that instances that are not in use are shut down.
Finally, we have multiple clients that want to use the cloud selectively across multiple cloud providers – But how? With an in-house network, you could control rights and provisioning within one cloud; it’s somewhat simple to provide resources per the resources. But with multiple clouds, suddenly you need separate users per cloud environment.
Ryan Eyes Cloud Management solves all three!
Remember how Grandpa used to walk around the house turning off all lights and then exclaimed, “Electricity costs money!”; Well in your Cloud environments, “Don’t leave your servers on!” If you want a tool that could cut your server costs by 50%, use Ryan Eyes to schedule when servers are used and when not in use. Further, it puts the control in the business user to stop and start servers. You could set up bots that try to automate this but eventually, the business complains about a lack of control.
Best of Breed Solution
Use toolsets that are optimal for your organization. Have you committed to one provider but wish you could use the functionality of another provider? Use Ryan Eyes to call services and features from one cloud to another. Take advantage of a “best of breed” approach so that you can entitle users to take advantage of the best tool available.
Managing User Rights
Managing user rights and privileges across a multi-cloud environment can be quite challenging. Typically a firm will want to pick an “Active” cloud environment provider where user controls are maintained for individuals within the organization. Then they will allow a separate application to manage and control user access privileges in the “passive” cloud environment. In this way, sufficient controls can be maintained however, the burden of having to maintain two environments is mitigated. An alternative method would be to use an SSO approach. But even with the SSO approach, access to one environment’s Groups and Users is essential for broadly maintaining access.
A solution like Ryan Eyes permits both approaches and at the same time maintains the highest levels of security and log collection to understand who is accessing the cloud environments and when.
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