What is multi-cloud?

Oct 28, 2021 - 8 min read
Erin Schaffer
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We’re only a couple of months away from the new year, which means it’s time to start looking ahead to the tech trends that will dominate the software industry in 2022. As the new year approaches, we want to help you get familiar with upcoming trends so you can be prepared and start taking your skills to the next level.

Today, we’ll discuss multi-cloud. Multi-cloud is a cloud computing model that leverages two or more cloud platforms, allowing you to take advantage of the resources different cloud providers offer. Multi-cloud can help organizations lower their cloud cost, increase resiliency and flexibility, and much more. Gartner estimates that over 75% of cloud customers will adopt a multi-cloud strategy by the end of 2022. With its increase in popularity, it’s an important concept to know!

We’ll cover:


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What is a multi-cloud environment?

The multi-cloud cloud computing model leverages two or more cloud platforms. Instead of relying on a single cloud provider, the multi-cloud strategy relies on different cloud providers to take advantage of the various cloud services those providers offer. Multi-cloud can refer to combinations of software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and platform as a service (PaaS) models. Commonly used cloud providers include Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, and VMware.

Different cloud providers offer different cloud resources, such as cloud storage, machine learning, big data analytics, serverless computing, databases, and more. Most businesses that move to the cloud implement some form of a multi-cloud model. A multi-cloud solution is a solution that’s transferable across many different cloud infrastructures. These solutions typically leverage cloud-native technologies and help manage workloads across many different clouds.

What is a cloud-native technology?

Cloud-native is an approach to app development that leverages the cloud computing delivery model. Cloud-native technologies use tools like containerization, service meshes, declarative APIs, and microservices to allow you to build, deploy, and manage high-impact applications. According to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), these technologies “empower organizations to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds.”

What is multi-cloud management?

Multi-cloud management is a set of procedures and tools we can use to manage and secure various applications across multiple clouds. Multi-cloud management platforms can be difficult to implement. It can be hard to consistently maintain cloud security across different platforms, deploy apps across various environments, and visualize information from various clouds on a single interface. An effective multi-cloud management solution does the following:

  • Manages multiple clouds from a single interface
  • Supports multiple cloud providers or platforms
  • Supports containerization tools like Kubernetes
  • Provides visibility into cloud resources
  • Provides artificial intelligence and analytics resources

Advantages of a multi-cloud environment

There are many advantages to adopting a multi-cloud strategy. Let’s take a look at some of the top benefits:

  • Freedom and flexibility: A single provider might not have all the cloud services that you want. Multi-cloud allows you to take advantage of a wide range of resources, and it also prevents vendor lock-in.
  • Disaster recovery: When leveraging resources from multiple cloud vendors, there’s a small chance that you’ll experience concurrent downtime or outages. Many top cloud providers offer service-level agreements that protect you against downtime.
  • ROI optimization: With a multi-cloud infrastructure, you can be selective with the solutions you want to use within your organization. You can allocate your resources effectively and pay only for what you use.
  • Reliability: Multi-cloud lowers the chances of an unexpected failure shutting down your entire enterprise. You can create redundancies to reduce the risk of failure.
  • Shadow IT: Shadow IT is the use of IT services, technologies, infrastructures, and projects without receiving formal authorization. Multi-cloud allows you to gain visibility into all cloud services in use, identify breaches, and enforce security policies.
  • Portability: Containerization technologies and microservices enable easy portability between different cloud providers, which helps decrease integration issues.
  • Resiliency: Multi-cloud allows you to allocate your resources appropriately and build an infrastructure that ensures everything runs smoothly and that the business can quickly bounce back in the event of a disturbance.

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Multi-cloud vs hybrid cloud

The hybrid cloud approach is often confused with the multi-cloud approach, but the two have key differences. A hybrid cloud environment uses both public cloud and private cloud. This allows you to maintain the security of private data within an on-premises cloud solution or within a private cloud. Hybrid cloud solutions leverage private data centers while taking advantage of the resources available from public cloud providers.

Multi-cloud doesn’t require the use of a private cloud or coordinated operations to work between the different cloud environments. That being said, a multi-cloud infrastructure can implement hybridization, which is sometimes called hybrid multi-cloud. This means that they use both public and private cloud, and these different cloud environments have some level of coordination between the two, allowing you to work within a single cloud IT infrastructure. A hybrid multi-cloud environment allows you to easily integrate Agile and DevOps best practices, securely and consistently deploy and scale data across various environments, and fully control your workloads.

Public cloud and private cloud

Public cloud is a cloud deployment model where resources are hosted by a cloud service provider and shared across multiple organizations. Public clouds allow organizations to scale their resources without adding more physical resources, and only use cloud resources when necessary. This also means that the organization saves money, because the organization is only paying for resources when they need them, and they aren’t spending money on as much physical hardware or software packages.

Private cloud is a cloud deployment model where resources are hosted by an organization’s own infrastructure. The private cloud is typically hosted at either the organization’s own data center or at a third-party facility. This environment is usually physically secured and protected. The organization using the cloud service usually manages the private cloud, including performing maintenance, upgrades, software and cloud data management, and more. Private clouds allow organizations to have the same level of control and safety as a normal on-premises environment at a lower cost.

Multi-cloud Kubernetes

Container orchestration technologies, such as Kubernetes, play a major role in an effective multi-cloud architecture. Multi-cloud can be difficult to implement because the more clouds you have, the more difficult it is to consistently manage them. Kubernetes can help reduce some of the complications of implementing a multi-cloud architecture.

A major complication in multi-cloud is provisioning. With Kubernetes, you can host all of your workloads on it and use the same configurations for all of your clouds in your multi-cloud architecture. If you organize your workloads to run in Kubernetes, you only need to configure your monitoring tools to monitor Kubernetes, which takes a lot of the stress out of monitoring your entire infrastructure. Kubernetes also helps strengthen security because you can standardize configurations to reduce the chance of oversights. Kubernetes also has its own security features that you can leverage to secure your infrastructure.

Wrapping up and next steps

Congrats on taking your first steps with multi-cloud! The multi-cloud model will continue to increase in popularity, as the cloud continues to take over the business landscape. Adopting a multi-cloud architecture has many benefits and use cases, allowing better business continuity, disaster recovery, flexibility, and resiliency. Combining containerization technology, like Kubernetes, with multi-cloud allows you to move your contained apps between different clouds and still have full functionality. It’s a key piece of multi-cloud deployment. There’s still so much more to learn about the cloud. Some recommended topics to cover next include:

  • Increasing network latency with Kubernetes
  • Deployment automation
  • AWS and Azure connectivity

To get started learning these concepts and more, check out Educative’s learning path DevOps for Developers. In this hands-on learning path, you’ll master DevOps fundamentals, such as Kubernetes and Docker, app deployment, and AWS Terraform. By the end, you’ll have the cutting-edge skills you need to help implement effective cloud infrastructure.

Happy learning!

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WRITTEN BYErin Schaffer

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