With more enterprises migrating their data and applications to cloud services from multiple providers, the need to tackle the resulting increases in complexity, security concerns, and potential inefficiencies in utilization and performance has never been greater. Multi-cloud management platforms meet these challenges by supplying the capability to automate, manage, and monitor any mix of clouds from a single centralized console. The desired results are transparency, visibility, and control of IT assets – all of which reduce costs and complexity, simplify maintenance, and ensure consistently high performance across the multi-cloud environment.
As enterprises move to a multi-cloud environment, it’s not just management of the infrastructure and tools of different cloud vendors that grows in complexity. A multi-cloud strategy means that your data is now distributed across many locations too. That makes data portability, governance, security, and integration for analytics (between public clouds and/or an on-premise data center) a key consideration for those adopting a multi-cloud strategy.
Problems and deficiencies in multi-cloud management can lead to over-complexity of cloud administration and under-utilization of the multiple cloud services you’re subscribing to. Challenges include:
Accelerated multi-cloud adoption: As companies move more applications to a multi-cloud environment, it becomes increasingly difficult to monitor, manage, and secure IT operations as a whole.
Information overload: IT operations teams need to optimize and orchestrate numerous applications running in disparate multi-cloud environments. This is just about impossible to do with traditional management procedures alone. The volume and speed of processing require leveraging AI and machine learning techniques for monitoring and troubleshooting.
Automation: IT organizations must use consistent methods to manage and deploy applications across cloud services. Multi-cloud management platforms address this need by automating and simplifying processes and workflows.
Cloud sprawl: When workloads are frequently moved among clouds without adequate monitoring and multi-cloud management, unused services are left running instead of being removed or decommissioned. This results in unnecessary expense and infrastructure complexity.
Migration issues: Migrating to a multi-cloud environment creates the need for secure access for numerous data centers, mobile users, and remote offices. Advance planning is essential to avoid problems that can cause headaches later. A robust multi-cloud management platform will enable you to deploy consistent company standards and policies across your cloud environment from the start.
Compliance: Compliance in the cloud is governed by a shared responsibility model. This means that organizations have to harmonize their own IT, security, and business standards and policies with those maintained by their cloud providers. What makes this especially challenging is that providers such as Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) employ different standards and rules. If compliance is not well addressed, problems such as “shadow IT,” cost overruns, and security vulnerabilities can arise.
Multi-cloud management platforms offer a range of essential capabilities:
Automation: These are features designed to automate time-consuming manual processes related to managing infrastructure provisioning and connectivity.
Cloud analysis and insight: Metrics, monitoring, and analysis reveal whether cloud services are meeting cost, availability, and performance objectives, with a view toward optimizing workloads or migrating them to other cloud environments. It’s also essential to know which applications and data are located in which cloud.
Governance: Multi-cloud management platforms simplify the process of deploying the company’s security and governance policies uniformly on clouds from multiple providers. DevOps teams can implement policies across clusters using a single unified management dashboard.
A host of vendors offer multi-cloud management platforms. According to the Gartner 2020 Magic Quadrant for Multi-Cloud Management Platforms, providers include BMC Software, Cisco, CloudBolt, Embotics, Flexera, HyperGrid, IBM, Morpheus Data, Scalr, and VMware.
One option to manage the data infrastructure contained in a multi-cloud environment is to use multi-cloud clusters on MongoDB Atlas. With multi-cloud clusters you can realize the benefits of a multi-cloud strategy with true data portability and a simplified management experience.
This opens a new set of possibilities that were previously difficult, if not impossible, to achieve, from being able to use best-of-breed services across multiple platforms to data mobility and cross-cloud resiliency.
Service provisioning: Provides the ability to set up and allocate cloud services on demand. A provisioning request is made using the multi-cloud management platform, which translates this request into an API call to the target cloud.
Service monitoring: Monitors and reports on performance metrics throughout the multi-cloud environment. The metrics can be analyzed to determine the reliability, cost-efficiency, and other performance aspects of each cloud service. Poorly-performing services can be identified and replaced.
Service governance: The capability to define and implement policies and standards for the use of cloud services.
Service orchestration: Deploys and tailors cloud services to the requirements of specific business processes or applications.
Monitoring analytics: Detailed evaluations of the operational functions of individual services within your multi-cloud, including predictive analytics for future reliability and performance.
Security integration: The ability to seamlessly harmonize your own security policies with those of each of the cloud services within your multi-cloud architecture.
Simplicity: An interface and features that are simple, efficient, and easy for administrators to use. A centralized “single pane of glass” control panel is considered the gold standard.
Plan your architecture to fit your needs. It’s important to have a clear understanding of where and how multi-cloud fits into your IT environment as a whole and serves the objectives of business units and users. Develop this total picture early on and you’ll avoid having to make complicated changes later. Consider the need for different cloud providers and types of cloud services to meet various business requirements.
Standardize utilization. It’s common practice for business units to pick and choose cloud services from different providers – for example, serverless backends on AWS, AI and Machine Learning from Google Cloud, and devops workflows on Azure . This is all well and good, provided you have policies and procedures in place to ensure that costs, performance, and security are clearly visible to IT and stay within its governance and control.
Integrate your environment. Key areas for multi-cloud integration include business rules, data, processes, governance, security, and development tools. The entire environment should be administered as a single entity, ideally from a centralized multi-cloud management console.
Leverage containers. Containers can help package cloud-native applications together with their dependencies, separating them from underlying infrastructure so they can run anywhere and be easily moved from one cloud to another. This makes them ideal for multi-cloud environments, where application portability is paramount. Containers are organized, deployed, scaled, and managed by container orchestration platforms, with Kubernetes being the most popular and widely used.