Cloud / August 15, 2023

What Is Multi-Cloud?

Cloud computing has revolutionized the way organizations access and utilize technology resources. The ability to store, manage, and process data and applications in the cloud has brought about significant advantages, including improved scalability, cost-efficiency, and unmatched flexibility. And as organizations continue to embrace cloud computing, many are exploring new cloud strategies to optimize their operations. One such strategy is the multi-cloud computing model.

Multi-cloud refers to the practice of utilizing multiple cloud service providers to meet specific business needs. Rather than relying on a single cloud platform, organizations adopt a multi-cloud approach to distribute their workloads across different off-site computing environments. This approach allows businesses to leverage the strengths and capabilities of multiple cloud providers, enhancing redundancy and resiliency while avoiding vendor lock-in.

Because multi-cloud computing relies heavily on the ability to build, migrate, coordinate, and optimize applications and workloads across a range of cloud environments, most multi-cloud solutions are built on universally supported, open-source technologies native to the cloud. Kubernetes is one such technology, allowing organizations to carefully orchestrate containers and applications across all environments in their multi-cloud architectures. A multi-cloud platform is typically needed to provide centralized control and visibility into the various clouds.

What Is the Difference Between Multi-Cloud and Hybrid Cloud?

While both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud involve the use of multiple cloud environments, they each represent distinct concepts with different characteristics.

Hybrid cloud refers to a cloud computing model that combines both public and private cloud environments, allowing organizations to seamlessly share data and applications between the two. In a hybrid cloud setup, organizations maintain certain workloads and data on-premises or in a private cloud while utilizing public cloud services for other workloads. The goal is to achieve a balance between the benefits of public cloud scalability and cost-efficiency and the control and security provided by private infrastructure.

Conversely, multi-cloud involves the use of multiple cloud service providers, regardless of whether they are public or private clouds. With multi-cloud, organizations have the flexibility to select different cloud providers for specific workloads or applications, leveraging the strengths and features of each. The focus of multi-cloud is on optimizing performance, establishing redundancy, and avoiding vendor lock-in by distributing workloads across multiple clouds.

While there are similarities between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud, they represent different concepts and address different requirements. Both approaches recognize the advantages of utilizing multiple cloud environments, but hybrid cloud specifically emphasizes the combination of public and private clouds, while multi-cloud is agnostic to the type of cloud, instead referring to the use of multiple cloud providers.

What Are the Benefits of Multi-Cloud?

Embracing a multi-cloud strategy brings a range of benefits for organizations looking to optimize their cloud infrastructure and operations. Among the most prominent advantages are:

  • Avoiding vendor lock-in
    By leveraging multiple cloud providers, organizations can avoid becoming dependent on a single provider for their cloud infrastructure. This empowers businesses with the freedom to switch between vendors or utilize different providers for specific workloads.
  • Getting the best of each cloud
    Not all cloud vendors are equal; many offer unique features, services, and pricing models. With a multi-cloud approach, organizations can choose the most suitable cloud provider for each workload or application.
  • Optimizing cost efficiency
    Multi-cloud allows organizations to optimize costs by selecting the most cost-effective cloud provider for each workload. This makes it possible to take advantage of competitive pricing and discounts, leading to potential cost savings.
  • Innovating technology
    Multi-cloud strategies encourage innovation by allowing organizations to leverage cutting-edge technologies and services offered by various cloud providers, staying at the forefront of technological advancements and incorporating emerging solutions wherever they appear.
  • Advancing security and regulatory compliance
    Multi-cloud setups can enhance security and regulatory compliance by spreading workloads across different cloud providers. This approach reduces the risk of a single point of failure and helps meet regional or industry-specific compliance requirements.
  • Increasing reliability and redundancy
    Distributing workloads across multiple cloud environments enhances reliability and fault tolerance. If one cloud provider experiences an outage or service disruption, organizations can rely on other providers to ensure continuous operations and minimize downtime.
  • Accelerating app transformation and the delivery of new apps
    Multi-cloud allows organizations to rapidly develop and deploy applications at scale. Leveraging the strengths of different cloud providers, developers can accelerate the app transformation process, delivering new applications more regularly and efficiently.
  • Supporting the rise of the distributed workforce
    With the increasing trend of remote work and distributed teams, multi-cloud strategies help organizations secure and manage users and their devices across different cloud environments. This ensures seamless access to applications and data while still maintaining strong security and compliance.
  • Improving disaster recovery
    Multi-cloud setups provide better disaster recovery capabilities by utilizing redundant infrastructure across multiple cloud providers. In the event of a disaster or data loss, organizations can quickly restore operations from backups stored in different cloud environments.
  • Eliminating shadow IT
    When employees use unauthorized tools or services, it creates a potential security weakness. By providing a range of cloud options, organizations can reduce the likelihood of this form of shadow IT. With a multi-cloud approach, employees have access to approved cloud providers, reducing security risks and maintaining centralized control.

What Are the Challenges of Multi-Cloud?

While adopting a multi-cloud strategy offers significant benefits, organizations should be aware of the challenges that come with working in multiple cloud environments. These challenges may include:

  • Management complexity
    Increasing the number of interconnected clouds naturally creates a more complex set of problems, particularly in terms of orchestration, monitoring, and governance. Each cloud environment may have different management interfaces, APIs, and deployment models, requiring specialized skills and tools to effectively manage and maintain the infrastructure.
  • Increased latency
    Deploying workloads across multiple clouds can result in increased latency, particularly if data needs to be transferred between different providers or regions. Organizations must closely monitor network connectivity and data transfer costs to optimize performance and minimize latency issues.
  • Greater attack surface
    Multi-cloud expands the potential attack surface, increasing the risk of security breaches. Consistent security practices across all clouds — including proper access controls, encryption, threat monitoring, and incident response — are essential to mitigating the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access.
  • Maintaining consistent security
    Ensuring consistent security measures across multiple cloud providers can be challenging. Different cloud environments may have varying security configurations and protocols. Organizations must implement robust security frameworks and regularly audit and update security policies to maintain a consistent and comprehensive security posture.
  • Integrating software environments
    Organizations need to carefully plan and implement integration strategies within their multi-cloud environment. Data synchronization, API management, and middleware solutions all factor into enabling smooth interoperability across clouds.
  • Issues with consistency
    Each cloud provider has its own infrastructure, network architecture, and service-level agreements (SLAs), which can lead to variations in performance and reliability. Organizations must carefully design their multi-cloud architecture, considering workload distribution, redundancy, and failover mechanisms, to ensure consistent performance and reliability.

What Are Some Examples of Multi-Cloud?

Despite the challenges, the pros of a multi-cloud approach usually outweigh the cons. Used properly, multi-cloud solutions have the capacity to enhance workload orchestration in businesses across a range of industries, such as:

  • E-commerce
    E-commerce companies can utilize multiple cloud providers to distribute their workloads, relying on one cloud provider for hosting its website and front-end applications while employing another for managing inventory and backend systems.
  • Financial services
    Financial institutions may leverage a multi-cloud strategy to enhance security and compliance. This can involve storing sensitive customer data on a private cloud and running scalable analytics workloads on a public cloud. This approach helps the institution meet regulatory requirements, maintain data privacy, and ensure high availability. 
  • Healthcare
    Healthcare organizations often adopt multi-cloud solutions to securely store and process patient data. They may work with various cloud providers for storing electronic health records (EHRs), running advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms on patient data, managing patients’ IoT devices, orchestrating self-service portals, and more. This enables the organization to leverage specialized services from different providers while ensuring data privacy and regulatory compliance.
  • Media and entertainment
    Media companies employ multi-cloud strategies to handle content distribution and streaming services, utilizing separate providers for content storage, delivery, transcoding, and video processing. This approach allows these companies to optimize media workflows, improve scalability, and deliver a seamless user experience across different devices and platforms.

Gigamon Gets You More Out of Your Multi-Cloud Solution

As organizations of all kinds accelerate their multi-cloud strategy, addressing the challenge of ensuring strong security and effective monitoring across their cloud workloads becomes ever-more essential. To successfully navigate this shared responsibility model and achieve the desired outcomes from your multi-cloud initiatives, turn to Gigamon.

Gigamon offers robust security and visibility solutions that enable enterprises to extend their security and compliance postures to workloads running in multi-cloud environments while also providing total visibility enhanced with reliable, real-time network intelligence. Gigamon empowers companies of all sizes to:

  • Gain centralized visibility of data, allowing comprehensive security monitoring of all computer instances. This visibility empowers IT teams to detect and respond to security threats in real time using their preferred security tools, ensuring the protection of sensitive data and critical workloads.
  • Enjoy consistent traffic visibility across on-premises and public cloud environments. By leveraging a single platform, IT teams can streamline their monitoring operations and gain a holistic view of their entire IT infrastructure, simplifying management and improving operational efficiency.
  • Rapidly detect changes. This agility enables IT teams to respond quickly to evolving cloud environments, ensuring that their security and monitoring tools remain effective and up to date.

And that’s only the beginning. Learn more about how Gigamon creates a new standard of multi-cloud observability and security, and see how far the right approach to multi-cloud computing can take you.

Demo Gigamon today!

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