The benefits of a multicloud strategy, which essentially involves using two or more cloud computing and storage services within a single architecture, are becoming increasingly prominent in this cloud-dominated world. Companies spanning all industries and sizes are adopting a multicloud approach as a way to ensure business continuity and select the best services available. In fact, 81 percent of public cloud users who responded to a 2019 Gartner surveysaid they are working with two or more providers.
By opting to work with multiple cloud vendors, businesses can leverage cloud offerings from different platforms while optimizing costs, ensure better contingency planning and risk management, avoid vendor lock-in, and create reliable disaster recovery strategies. However, building out a multicloud strategy and making this transition is no simple task. Many startups that take on this challenge don’t have the necessary expertise in-house, or launch without having their data and systems landscapes ready.
Before diving in, you need to determine your readiness for a multicloud project, which requires a strong DevOps culture and modern architecture features within your existing cloud infrastructure. Once you have this, if you’re lacking internal expertise to manage the transition, you can then go on to either build out your in-house team or consult with external experts.
Here’s how to ensure a smooth transition and set yourself up for multicloud success.
How to Know You’re Ready
Let’s take a look at what determines readiness for a multicloud architecture.
Before you embark on a multicloud project, there are a few things you need to have in place to be able to leverage its full potential and prevent delays and mistakes down the line. One of the most fundamental elements is having a strong DevOps culture in place which prioritizes continuous delivery, Agile practices, and cross-team collaboration. This will help to ensure that you can make changes and updates as needed to your product while transitioning to multicloud and thereafter.
You also need to have high availability, resilience, and zero downtime strategies. If you don’t understand how these are achieved in your current architecture, you’re not going to be able to make informed decisions around your multicloud adoption strategy. It’s important to make use of the most modern features of cloud architectures, such as microservices and containerization, before moving into multicloud.
When migrating to the cloud, legacy architectures need to be modernized, especially when launching a multicloud strategy. Addressing older features in your architecture before migration will serve to make the transition much less convoluted overall, and allow you to achieve interoperability between cloud environments. For example, you might need to split one application into parts that run in separate clouds in order to optimize costs—legacy architectures haven’t been designed to allow for this.
It’s also crucial to have a full understanding of your data landscape and strategy. You need to consider how your technology stack for data storage, transactional databases, data warehouses, and data analytics platforms can be accessed across multiple cloud platforms. You also need to think about your data integration architecture, data lake and big data architectures and decide whether they need to be redesigned or even replaced by hyper-scalable cloud services or multicloud services such as BigQuery Omni.
Software licensing and pricing models that are often used on-premise or within one cloud can turn out to be costly in multicloud scenarios, so your data strategy is a vital part of your multicloud strategy. You must also consider how the security, privacy, and compliance of your data handling strategy fits in with multicloud adoption. For example, certain cloud vendors might not be 100 percent compliant with regional data legislation such as GDPR—ensure you have these bases covered before you make the jump.
Lastly, consider how the kind of business you are relates to multicloud adoption and the types of obstacles this may put in your way. For example, if you’re an API-as-a-product business, this will likely require extra care and consideration, as your product is provided through API integrations which other businesses rely on. Other businesses with fragile architectures include those that create composable solutions, where there is an ecosystem of partners integrated through APIs into the bigger solution, creating additional dependencies. Migrating or modernizing these API products means paying extra attention and adding in more measures than you might with regular applications.
Build Out Your Internal Expertise
You might not yet have the resources to set up your own Cloud Center of Excellence, but it could still pay to invest in team members with additional cloud expertise to help you manage your transition. At the very minimum, you’ll need a DevOps team that’s dedicated to the success of your multicloud project.
In fact, the growing popularity of multicloud is putting increasing pressure on DevOps engineers to master cloud-agnostic development, as well as gain knowledge of cloud-native architectures like microservices and containerization. If you don’t already have this expertise in-house, you should build out your team with cloud experts and quality assurance engineers. They will be able to provide vital insights into how to transition to multicloud without wasting time or money.
Furthermore, when you build out and train your internal team, you’re investing in the knowledge and experience of your own people. However, in order for this to be successful, it’s essential to have a culture of incubating new team member training and prioritizing R&D efforts.
Cloud Consulting Services can Guide with Experience
An alternative to in-house hiring is to source an expert partner who can help you design your multicloud strategy and manage the transition. Third-party experts vary from those who can provide guidance on how to build out your team and who with, through to an end-to-end service that helps you design, build, monitor, and maintain your multicloud architecture.
External experts with a breadth of cloud experience can help you identify which elements of your cloud architecture need to be agnostic and how to protect your architecture against future eventualities such as systems failures or security threats. They can do this through the refactoring, redesigning, and re-architecting your workloads and microservices.
For example, many startups lock into one vendor for all of their automation needs. Here, an expert partner would be able to advise on how they can remain agnostic by using a service such as Terraform for their cloud automation.
Furthermore, experts with experience using multiple clouds are able to guide you on how to optimize costs by using the same technology stacks across different cloud environments. This is in addition to sharing knowledge on working with and combining the features of each cloud vendor to achieve interoperability and cut costs. And when it comes to scalability, remember that it’s much easier to ramp up the involvement of a third-party partner in your project than it is to hire and train additional team members.
Multicloud adoption may seem like a long road ahead, but with a solid strategy from day one, you’ll be able to reap its benefits and experience extensive ROI. Just as migrating to a single cloud vendor from strictly on-premise systems seemed like a hassle to many businesses years ago, now those organizations would never look back to a non-cloud existence. By conducting a thorough assessment of your current landscape, understanding how your existing architectures relate to a multicloud environment, and recognizing the value of bringing in additional expertise, you will set yourself up for a successful multicloud transition.
Marcin Niczyporuk is CTO and Facundo Navarro is Engagement Manager at intive.