Multi-cloud management is the set of tools and procedures that allows a business to monitor and secure applications and workloads across multiple public clouds. Ideally, a multi-cloud management solution allows IT teams to manage multiple clouds from a single interface, and supports multiple cloud platforms (such as AWS and Azure) as well as new tools like Kubernetes.
Today, most organizations use more than one public cloud service provider. This reduces dependency on any one vendor, allows the organization to take advantage of the relative strengths of each provider, and enables optimization of cloud usage and costs. However, the more cloud providers an organization uses, the more complex the task of managing them becomes. Multi-cloud management strategies and solutions seek to simplify and streamline management by providing a centralized management platform that integrates with other tools.
Containers and Kubernetes are key technologies for enabling multi-cloud management. Since containers bundle up apps with their dependencies and necessary services in a lightweight package, they make it easier for developers to build applications that can be deployed on any cloud. Kubernetes then allows those containers to be effectively managed, deployed and automated.
It’s common for multi-cloud management solutions to enable self-service access to resources to allow developers to choose the best cloud environment for their applications. Some solutions also include migration capabilities as well as business continuity/disaster recovery solutions.
A robust multi-cloud management platform offers many benefits, including:
- Reduced strain on IT teams: By offering simplified, centralized management, a multi-cloud management solution allows IT teams to more effectively manage applications and workloads across multiple clouds.
- Visibility: Without multi-cloud management, it’s difficult to monitor workloads and know what’s running where in a complex environment that spans multiple cloud providers. A good multi-cloud management solution offers visibility across the entire multi-cloud environment in order to enable businesses to reap the benefits of multi-cloud.
- Security: It’s challenging to keep security policies consistent across cloud providers, andthe complexity of multi-cloud can contribute to security holes and an increased attack surface. A managed approach allows IT teams to deal with potential security issues proactively, rather than reactively. In addition, the best multi-cloud management platforms offer features such as security monitoring and automation, plus the ability to enforce security policies across platforms, which significantly reduces the difficulty of keeping your environment secure.
- Cost management: While many businesses adopt a multi-cloud strategy to take advantage of discounts and cost savings offered by different cloud providers, it’s easy to lose track of costs in the increased complexity of a multi-cloud environment. Multi-cloud management helps your business keep track of costs and usage, and some platforms even use intelligent data analysis to optimize cost management.
- Increased availability: Availability is just one of the many advantages that businesses seek when they pursue a multi-cloud strategy. But to fully realize the benefits of multi-cloud, IT teams need to be able to duplicate and seamlessly migrate workloads when one environment fails. Effective multi-cloud management allows that to happen.
There are many multi-cloud management strategies and solutions, but the best ones share a number of common features. Perhaps the most powerful is compatibility with containers, which enable workloads to be moved across multiple cloud providers more easily than virtual machines. Thus, support for containers and Kubernetes is key to a robust multi-cloud management platform..
Automation is another feature of effective multi-cloud management solutions. Automation allows IT teams to deploy, monitor and secure applications quickly and reliably, and to scale their operations without becoming overwhelmed. In this way, automation helps businesses manage the complexity of multi-cloud environments.
Moving workloads across a multi-cloud environment begins with ensuring that they are portable. You’ll need to make sure that a workload can be moved without the need for significant changes, while also maintaining its cloud-native elements. Many companies are turning to containers for easier workload portability; each container is a lightweight package of one app and its dependencies, making them easier to move across different clouds and environments
You’ll also want to make sure that application management is consistent across clouds, and this is where a cloud management platform comes in handy. Proper cloud management helps you enforce consistent policies across your cloud environments and choose the best platform for each application.
Finally, know when (and why) to move workloads to a different public cloud. Even when using containers, it still takes some effort to move workloads, and there’s always a risk of lowered performance in the new environment. This is why a thoughtfully planned multi-cloud strategy is so important: Are you aiming for redundant deployments in order to increase resiliency? Or are you using a distributed deployment strategy based on running each workload in the environment that suits it best? Decide what your goal is, and then move your workloads only in support of that goal.
Although multi-cloud management has undeniable benefits, it can be challenging to implement. Here are some of the potential roadblocks to implementing a management solution:
- Increased complexity: This is the most basic challenge of a multi-cloud approach and one that multi-cloud management is designed to address. Multi-cloud environments are inherently more complex, and it can be difficult to get a handle on that complexity in order to implement an effective management solution.
- Integration between different software environments: For effective multi-cloud management, businesses must build applications that can move across environments without integration issues, which is a difficult task considering the differences between each cloud platform. As mentioned before, containers are a new technology designed to circumvent this challenge, providing easier portability between different public cloud providers.