What is Multi-Cloud?

Multi-cloud is a 10-15 year IT industry trend where organizations utilize a combination of on-premises, private cloud, public cloud, and edge to build, operate, access and secure their applications.

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Multi-Cloud Use Cases

To accelerate the next phase of digital transformation, enterprises are taking advantage of multiple cloud platforms and services to:

  • Accelerate app transformation and the delivery of new apps: Companies are choosing to deploy apps on public, private and edge clouds as it best suits their business objectives and application needs. Cloud First has been replaced by Cloud Smart.
  • Avoid vendor lock-in and ensure enterprise sovereignty: Total cloud spend, data sovereignty, vendor dependencies and lock-in are increasing concerns. As a result, enterprises will continue to spread their estate across multiple environments.
  • Distribute applications and services to the edge: In industries such as logistics, retail and manufacturing, the next generation of gains in automation, efficiency and improved customer experiences require applications to be distributed to the edge, closer to physical devices and users.
  • Support the rise of the distributed workforce: Distributed workforces are the new reality for enterprises. Securing and managing users and their devices as well as enabling them to be productive from anywhere is the new hybrid workforce challenge.

Multi-Cloud Challenges

In the multi-cloud era, IT organizations face the challenge of supporting both existing and new application architectures and workloads across all major clouds, at the edge, in co-location facilities, in sovereign environments, and in their private data center. Each cloud provider, with its own operating stack, services, and toolsets, delivers a unique set of capabilities that do not extend functionality to other cloud platforms. This inconsistency in cloud infrastructure and operating models places a strain on technology personnel, decentralizes IT services, and introduces complexity and risk into the environment.

Both IT and Developers cite numerous pain points in the successful operationalization of multi-cloud: 

  • Inconsistent infrastructure: Without a consistent multi-cloud infrastructure that spans all environments, cloud operational teams work in silos, with little flexibility to change strategies quickly or easily in response to changing business needs.
  • An ever-changing application landscape: To support the faster release of new apps or features that deliver digital business value, organizations need to support the growing complexity of both existing and new application architectures, ensuring they can support DevSecOps, performance, and availability across multiple cloud environments.
  • Inefficient management: Lack of efficient and consistent multi-cloud infrastructure and management tools across diverse cloud environments significantly increases costs while exposing major security gaps.
  • Networking and security: Networking and securing applications and data across clouds is complex, contributing to holes in security, risk exposure, and an increased attack surface.
  • A distributed workforce: With more data and people outside of the network, enterprises struggle to enable choice, flexibility, and a streamlined user experience without jeopardizing security.

Multi-Cloud Services

Multi-cloud services is an emerging category of software services in response to multi-cloud challenges. A multi-cloud service standardizes one or more functional areas across clouds with a consistent API, object model, identity management and other core functions and has one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Runs on a single cloud but supports interactions with at least two different clouds
  • Runs on multiple clouds and supports interactions with at least two different clouds
  • Runs on a cloud or edge of a user’s choosing, even in disconnected mode, and basic operations are fully automated

A multi-cloud service abstracts functionality into one platform and reduces complexity compared to individually consuming the equivalent native services from multiple clouds. In this model, the public clouds and data center and edge locations are all “verticals” and the multi-cloud services are “horizontal”, providing functionality across these locations. Multi-cloud services extend and complement the native services on each cloud, while also providing consistency across clouds.

Common functions provided by a multi-cloud service include: 

  • Application services: databases, messaging, AI/ML, serverless, CI/CD, dev tooling, and more
  • Infrastructure services: core compute, storage, and network services presented through virtual machines or containers accessed via self-service. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platforms include infrastructure automation and Kubernetes solutions
  • Security services: network detection and response (NDR), endpoint detection and response (EDR), next-gen anti-virus (NGAV), SASE, and more
  • End-user services: virtual desktop, mobile device management, end-user application delivery, and more
  • Data plane services: workloads and data that create applications, business analytics, and business offerings

VMware Cross-Cloud Services

VMware offers an integrated portfolio of multi-cloud services and interoperable technologies focused on helping organizations maximize the business benefits of using multiple clouds across key functions: 

  • Application modernization: Build and operate cloud-native apps
  • Cloud management: Manage the performance and cost of any app
  • Cloud infrastructure: Run enterprise apps and platform services at scale across public and telco clouds, data centers, and edge environments
  • Security and networking: Connect and secure apps and workloads in any cloud
  • End users: Empower employees to be productive from anywhere, from any device

Cross-Cloud Services Portfolio

The VMware Cross-Cloud™ services portfolio provides multi-cloud services for all apps across five flagship product families in these solution sets:

App Platform - Build and deploy cloud-native apps consistently across clouds with VMware Tanzu.

Cloud Management - Operate apps and infrastructure consistently, with unified governance and visibility into performance and costs across clouds with industry-leading VMware Cloud Management solutions. 

Cloud & Edge Infrastructure - Run enterprise apps anywhere with a consistent operating model across public clouds, data centers, and edge environments with VMware Cloud infrastructure and services. 

Security & Networking - Deliver security and networking as a built-in distributed service across users, apps, devices, and workloads in any cloud with VMware Cloud security solutions.

Anywhere Workspace - Empower employees to securely access any app on any device with VMware Anywhere Workspace services.

Benefits of Multi-Cloud Services

Organizations see many benefits when leveraging multi-cloud services to abstract core services offered by cloud providers. These include: 

  • Reduced operational overhead by managing applications and infrastructure with the same toolsets across clouds. This includes the creation of “skill portability” where developers and operators can use the same skills across multiple cloud platforms
  • Improved observability at all layers consistently across clouds, which in turn can improve application performance and security
  • Enhanced security posture by leveraging a Zero Trust architecture and secure software supply chains
  • Increased application portability opportunities via consistent services and APIs
  • Choice of best of breed cloud native services

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