Considerations and Challenges of Multicloud and how to Overcome them

Introduction

In the previous blog post, we talked about the many benefits of multicloud. However, implementing a multicloud strategy is not easy for many organizations. Moving workloads to the cloud require thorough planning, effort, and considerations already. So what comes on top of that when using services from even multiple cloud service providers?

This article will go through the most common and significant challenges to consider and how to overcome them to benefit from multicloud while having a reasonably priced, highly secure, and performant environment.

Network Connectivity

If you use multiple clouds for different and independent projects and solutions, you don’t necessarily need a network connection between your cloud environments.

However, having a secure and low-latency connection becomes essential for your multicloud topology for split-stack architectures when having the databases in one cloud serving the application in a second cloud. In a disaster recovery strategy, your application and database are replicated across clouds and need network connectivity for data synchronization.

An easy way to achieve this is having an IPSec site-to-site VPN tunnel over the internet, which is, as you know, limited and not reliable for mission-critical applications. A superior solution is to implement a private, dedicated, and high-bandwidth connection through a network as a service provider like Colt, Equinix, Megaport, or many others.

For high availability in production environments, deploying redundant network resources for each interconnection component is recommended.

The great news is when connecting Oracle to Azure Cloud, you can take advantage of the cross-cloud Interconnect Microsoft and Oracle have already implemented at ten regions worldwide. Log in to the OCI Console and the Azure Portal to configure the interconnection yourself within minutes without involving any third-party service provider.

Security and User Management

There is no doubt that security is the number one concern organizations raise when moving to the cloud. This concern increases with multicloud, as you need to secure multiple environments with different security concepts and standards. Additionally, companies fear that with more environments, more windows to exploit will be open.

Contrariwise, multicloud also means higher security and greater protection. Being a victim of a DDoS attack on a specific site will not take your entire business down, as your application will continue running on a second cloud until you recover from the attack.

Implement robust security settings and policies across the clouds, keep them consistent, and maintain the least privileged access across all environments. Furthermore, take advantage of cloud automation to reduce risk and human error.

Another point is user and authentication management, where you might end up with multiple accounts per user to manage and secure. Microsoft and Oracle provide a unified identity management service with a single sign-on (SSO) to simplify user and login credential management across Oracle and Azure clouds.

Unified Management

Each cloud provider has its own web interface and APIs to provision and maintain its cloud resources and services. Switching from one web portal to another to manage different pieces of your deployment might quickly become exhausting. However, many companies usually use the web interfaces only in the first cloud transition phase to get familiar with the cloud provider’s services, but finally switch to using the APIs to simplify and automate more tasks, which is one of the most significant benefits of the cloud.

Here, Terraform provides you with a unified Infrastructure as Code (IaC) tool that allows you to efficiently provision and manage your resources across clouds using the same instrument.

Unified Monitoring

Having your deployments spread across multiple cloud providers makes it essential to have a single dashboard to monitor the health and performance of your business-critical applications. You need to identify bottlenecks and optimize resources for high performance, detect and fix anomalies before they can impact your business, and ensure high availability, all from one place. You should also monitor your cost and spending to identify high consumption of resources that might be unnecessary or can be scaled down to save cost.

Oracle Cloud Observability and Management Platform provides integrated monitoring across hybrid and multicloud environments to increase visibility and reduce operational complexity and risk across the entire stack. It uses agents across the different tiers to monitor infrastructure, applications, security, and end-user activity. Additionally, it integrates with Oracle Enterprise Manager for Oracle Database performance and capacity analytics.

Networking Costs

A cost increase usually occurs for the additional network connectivity across the clouds. On the one hand, there is a fixed port per hour fee associated with the bandwidth that depends on your requirements; on the other hand, the outbound network traffic cost when moving data out of the cloud. When you implement the private dedicated connection through a third-party network service provider, as discussed above, an additional charge for the provider is added.

Oracle and many other cloud providers are part of the Bandwidth Alliance to reduce or even waive the data transfer charges and help simplify the path to multicloud. Keep in mind that there are no network egress fees in Oracle Cloud when using FastConnect.

A further point to consider is the risk of provisioning more resources than needed just because you have access to a much larger pool of services available in multiple clouds. As discussed earlier, keep an eye on your monitoring dashboard and terminate or scale down the resources not needed anymore to avoid unnecessary spending. Even better, create limits, policies, and alerts to prevent uncontrolled spending before it even occurs.

Even though there is some cost increase for implementing multicloud environments, saving cost through taking advantage of the competitive pricing provided by the multiple cloud providers should outweigh the additional network cost in the long term.

Specialist Expertise

If your software engineers are only familiar with one cloud provider so far, they will need time, which implies cost, to learn how to manage the services of further providers and get acquainted with their best practices. However, nowadays, most IT staff dealing with the cloud has or should have expertise in multiple clouds already. Furthermore, understanding the concepts of any cloud provider will simplify the transition to further cloud providers.

As more and more companies move their workloads to the cloud, getting trained and gaining skills in cloud technologies is a matter of course for many IT professionals. Just think of the number of new cloud certification postings on LinkedIn every day.

Speaking of certifications, Oracle extended the free OCI training and certifications through February 28, 2022.

Conclusion

A multicloud strategy can optimize your high availability, performance, and spending. Getting there takes several considerations and adds complexity. However, there are different tools and options to accomplish the additional tasks efficiently when planned appropriately and done correctly.

Provided having a solid strategy, the right tools in place, and taking advantage of standardization and automation, the benefits of multicloud will outweigh the challenges.

Further Reading

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