The cloud debate has shifted. It’s no longer about whether the enterprise should be using the cloud — it’s clear the answer to that question is “yes”. In fact, most enterprises are already considering or deploying multi-cloud environments, as many of them have a number of testing implementations underway. The question is now: what should your multi-cloud strategy look like so you can reap the cost economics of the cloud and increase efficiencies within your organization?
The definition of multi-cloud varies depending on who you are asking. It can be used to mean hybrid cloud, where the “multi-” means a public cloud and a private cloud. More commonly, it means using multiple different public cloud providers (AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud). However, one defines multi-cloud, the management challenges are largely the same.
The biggest reason companies choose to deploy a multi-cloud strategy is to avoid vendor lock-in, but IT can also gain better efficiency, pricing and performance by selecting cloud platforms that best suit the individual needs of applications and infrastructure. Understanding these requirements are critical to ensure you don’t go over budget or end up in a project deployment nightmare. You must implement a cloud data management strategy.
Management concerns about using a multi-cloud strategy mostly fall into a few buckets: complexity, cost and security. Let’s take those in order:
Managing complexity and data sprawl
Adding a second or even third public cloud provider to your architecture increases complexity, particularly if you don’t have a comprehensive data management plan or system in place. If you plan to go with a DIY multi-cloud implementation, you need to have comprehensive (and expensive) data management tools in place to keep a handle on the complexity of moving — and then finding — your data.
In 2017, 51 percent of cloud users (PDF) were multi-cloud and 6.5 percent had data in four or more cloud platforms, according to data from Cloudify and IOD Tech Cloud Research. Even if you just use two clouds, data sprawl is a real problem. There’s no “set it and forget it” mentality here. You have to proactively manage your workloads on and off the cloud.
It’s all too easy to end up with multiple copies of data in multiple clouds, and that doesn’t even account for how complicated moving data between on-prem and different clouds becomes. IT constantly has to answer questions such as: Is this cloud the best for this workload? Do our cloud apps have access to the data they need? How many copies of our data do we have? Is it all protected? How much will we be charged in storage and egress fees?
Costs can quickly spiral beyond your budget
Cost is on the mind of every cloud user, multi-cloud or not. In its “2018 State of the Cloud Report,” for instance, RightScale found that 58 percent of cloud users cited cost savings as their top priority for that year.
Part of the concern is the opaque nature of public cloud billing. Especially when you’re moving data between clouds, egress and other charges can really sneak up on you, erasing any cost savings you’d hoped to gain. Plus, the problem of multiple copies looms large — no one likes paying to store the same data in multiple locations, especially if you’re talking about terabytes of copies.
Take a proactive approach to cloud billing so you can effectively understand the monthly usage. Do you have a historical analysis on hand? How do the cloud providers fare against each other?
How secure is your workload mobility?
The more clouds you work with, the more data you have moving between them. To keep that data safe, your data must be encrypted at rest and in transit. Of course, managing fully encrypted data, especially when it needs to be moved between locations, is complex and expensive, but without it, your data is vulnerable.
Also, whenever possible, use private lines to connect to the cloud instead of the public internet. Encryption will protect your data, of course, no matter how you transmit it, but with a private line you’ll not only reduce your security risk, but should also see significant performance gains.
So, we’ve established that managing data in a multi-cloud environment is complex and, potentially, very costly, if you’re trying to do it on your own. Thankfully, you don’t have to. The ClearSky service empowers enterprise IT to securely manage data in a multi-cloud environment while keeping costs down. Here’s how:
ClearSky Data’s approach to multi-cloud data management
ClearSky keeps a master copy of your data in its backing cloud, and then intelligently moves data through edge-based endpoints to provide high-speed access. The data is automatically protected, with multiple copies in multiple locations, but ClearSky customers pay only for a single, durable copy of data. There are no egress fees or other “stealth” charges, and management is a simple single web-based interface. Customers don’t think about where their data is stored - on-prem or in the cloud - they simply access their data where it’s needed.
Powered by our patented Smart Tiered Caching™ technology, ClearSky automatically optimizes your data across its entire lifecycle:
- Hot data is cached at the edge of IT’s applications, whether on-prem or the cloud;
- Warm data is cached in a PoP within 120 miles of the customer data center; and
- All data, including cold/archival data, is stored in multiple locations in the cloud and is accessible on-demand.
ClearSky moves data in the background, ensuring that the data end users need is accessible anywhere it’s needed, and, even better, that data is moved over redundant and diverse private lines, not over the public internet, for better performance and security. Finally, all data is encrypted both in transit and at rest with no one other than the customer controlling the encryption keys.
As a result, enterprise IT no longer needs to worry about managing, moving and protecting multiple copies of data in different clouds. The service has stronger security than most organizations could offer on their own, and the total cost of storage ownership is typically half of what a traditional storage environment would cost.
Want to learn more about how ClearSky helps manage data in a multi-cloud environment? Watch our webinar, “Multi-cloud is the new normal and hybrid cloud is inevitable”. Or see for yourself by signing up for a free demo of our service.