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Multi Cloud Management: Making the Most of Your Cloud Provider Services

Originally published by New Context.

Some businesses intentionally adopt a multi cloud strategy to take advantage of the added flexibility and scalability offered by this architecture. Other companies end up with a multi cloud environment after years of gradually migrating individual workloads to various different cloud providers to take advantage of promotional discounts or specialized functionality. Whichever route you take to achieve a multi cloud environment, you’ll likely discover that it makes managing your cloud resources, applications, and platforms a lot more complex. To successfully manage your cloud services and reduce the complexity of your multi cloud environment, you need plans and solutions for controlling your costs, maintaining compliance, and keeping everything secure.

Advice for Successful Multi Cloud Management

The goal of any multi cloud management strategy is to get the most out of your cloud provider services while keeping costs low and maintaining privacy and security.

Optimizing Cost

In theory, a multi cloud strategy can help you save money because it allows you to take advantage of discounts and promos from different vendors while helping to reduce your on-premises infrastructure costs. In practice, many companies end up losing track of costs across their complex cloud environment as promotions expire, additional services are added on, and the sheer number of vendors to manage increases.

In addition, as workloads or containers are moved from one platform to another for various reasons, you may end up continuing to pay for services you don’t need on a cloud that’s no longer providing critical architecture. There are a variety of strategies you can use to track and optimize the cost of your multi cloud environment, including:

  • Cloud Services Brokers (CSBs) – CSBs are consultants who evaluate your cloud providers and make recommendations for optimizing costs, whether it’s migrating to less expensive platforms, downsizing your services, or renegotiating your contract upon renewal. Cloud Services Brokers may also offer other services for managing your multi cloud, including software tools and ongoing consultant services.

  • Multi Cloud Management Tools – Most cloud providers offer management tools for their individual platforms, but you can also use a centralized multi cloud management tool that supports all your cloud services. Many of these solutions include cost optimization analysis and tools so you can easily see how much you’re spending and where you can be more cost-efficient.

Redundancy and Disaster Recovery

Although multi cloud strategies help you achieve redundancy and business continuity, you can’t neglect the reliability and disaster recovery plan for the multi cloud deployment itself. You need to understand exactly how each of your cloud resources should behave in case of an outage—either an outage of that resource, or of a dependency on another cloud—and create plans to enable that behavior.

This can be incredibly complex to map out and manage in certain types of multi cloud deployments in which applications share dependencies across multiple platforms. A good multi cloud management solution can also assist in this area by providing visibility on all of your services in a centralized location. Some of these tools will even automate the process of mapping and configuring a multi cloud disaster recovery strategy.

Containerizing Workloads

Containerization is becoming an increasingly popular method for managing cloud workloads using orchestration tools like Kubernetes. With containers, you can easily manage and move application instances between cloud providers in a predictable way. However, containers do add a layer of complexity to multi cloud deployments, so you need a team that fully understands the security, networking, and resource provisioning requirements of containerization before you move to that model. Even if your organization isn’t quite ready for containers now, you should still ensure your multi cloud providers all support containerization in case you need to adopt it in the future.

Maintaining Compliance

As you plan out your multi cloud strategy, you need to comply with any relevant privacy laws and regulations that affect your cloud data. Any cloud platform or application that touches regulated data needs to follow security and privacy guidelines regarding who has access to that data, where it’s stored, and how it’s used.

One critical component for managing user access to sensitive data across multiple clouds is identity and access management (IAM) software. A good IAM solution will allow you to apply data permissions and manage user access controls for all of your cloud platforms from one central location, ensuring that every piece of your multi cloud architecture is compliant.

Security Challenges in Multi Cloud Management

Due to the high complexity of multi cloud environments, security is a major issue. Each of your cloud providers may have different security policies and procedures, and under the shared responsibility model, you’re responsible for making up any deficits to ensure the security of your cloud resources.

Multi cloud management software, redundancy and data recovery policies, containerization, and IAM solutions will all contribute to successful multi cloud security. However, you can’t leave security as an afterthought as you develop multi cloud management strategies—you must keep it at the forefront of your mind as you shop for cloud providers, implement management solutions, and write your policies and procedures.