According to Flexera’s RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud Report, most businesses utilize a multicloud environment. Multicloud is the practice of hosting data and applications in more than one cloud environment, whether that’s multiple public cloud services or a mix of public and private cloud environments. Multicloud is so pervasive that 98% of companies say they expect to have a multicloud environment by 2021, according to a survey from the IBM Institute for Business Value.
Yet despite the pervasiveness of multicloud computing, many IT and business executives have major misconceptions about what multicloud means and how they can create a multicloud strategy. One of the biggest misconceptions is that multicloud and hybrid computing are interchangeable terms. In fact, there are significant differences.
A hybrid computing environment has one or more cloud services and non-cloud applications. It’s the most diverse computing environment and may include everything from legacy on-premise apps and on-premise private clouds to hosted private clouds, collocation, and public cloud services from multiple cloud providers.
Multicloud is a subset of hybrid computing that excludes non-cloud environments. Multicloud strategies include private and public cloud environments, multiple cloud providers, and technologies such as edge computing, IoT, hyperconverged, and multitenant computing.
A multicloud strategy might involve combining public cloud platform services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, native cloud applications developed by the customer, and cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications such as Salesforce or Microsoft Office 365.
Two other “urban legends” that frequently confuse IT managers and hinder their ability to develop successful multicloud strategies are that multicloud security and management are difficult to achieve. Both are false. Here’s why:
Myth #1: Multicloud strategies create major security gaps
Fact: Multicloud environments require a different approach to security but can be just as secure as any other environment. One major security mistake IT departments make with multicloud is in how they configure their cloud environments. Vulnerabilities in configuration and code development may leave loopholes for hackers to enter. According to McAfee’s Cloud Adoption & Risk Report enterprises have an average of 14 misconfigured cloud infrastructure and platform instances running at any one time.
An IT security team can close those loopholes by properly learning the environment as well as the different security approaches of each cloud platform or provider and being alert to new security updates. Investing in end-user training also improves security. The McAfee report found that end-user sharing of sensitive data through an open, publicly accessible link has increased by 23% over the past two years.
For organizations that need assistance with cloud security, managed security services providers (MSSPs) and security as a service applications can help. Forrester’s report Empower Your IT Teams with Security as a Service Offerings found that nearly half of the IT executives consider application and data security to be a major challenge, leading many to adopt managed security services and security as a service. MSSPs can also guide an IT department in developing its multicloud strategy to ensure security is “baked in” from the start.
Another solution is a cloud access security broker (CASB). CASBs are specifically designed to be security gateways between multiple cloud services and to identify and protect data regardless of where it is stored. They provide a single place to administer an organization’s security policies across multiple cloud services and to monitor how users handle sensitive data.
Myth #2: Multiple cloud platforms cannot be effectively integrated
Fact: While multicloud environments consist of various disconnected cloud platforms, it doesn’t mean they can’t be properly managed and integrated. In fact, just as there are ways to secure a multicloud environment, there are multiple options for managing a multicloud environment.
One solution is to use a cloud management platform. These are designed to provide better visibility, control, automation, and process orchestration across disparate cloud services and providers. IT can use the cloud manager’s central console and policy engine to configure, integrate, monitor, and otherwise administer multicloud and hybrid environments. IBM, Nutanix, and VMware all offer cloud management platforms, as do many other vendors. In addition, cloud services providers often have tools to help customers manage multicloud environments.
Cloud providers can also provide centralized management and connectivity through their partnerships and connections with multiple cloud platforms. Providers with enough connections and geographic coverage—such as TierPoint’s 40-plus regional data centers–can serve as central management hubs for multicloud environments.
For example, TierPoint provides access to several cloud platforms and providers–including Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Office, and Amazon—as well as its partnership with Connect Point, a marketplace hub for connecting with network providers, cloud services providers, and managed services. TierPoint also offers cross-cloud management tools and services such as backup, security, and disaster recovery to make multicloud security and management easier.
Unfortunately, many IT and business executives are either unaware of these options or unsure of how to take advantage of them. The IBM survey discovered that only 41% of the executives who plan to have a multicloud environment by 2021 have a multicloud strategy. Further, only 38% have the tools and procedures needed to manage a multicloud environment.
What does your multicloud strategy look like?
A multicloud strategy is critical to avoiding pitfalls in cloud security and management. A successful strategy will start by listing your company’s key business goals and IT requirements, and then explain how different cloud services and environments will support those goals. Once you know your goals and how the cloud environment will support them, you’re in a much better position to tackle security and management issues.
TierPoint can help businesses develop a multicloud management strategy the ensures sound security and unified management across disparate cloud environments. Start your journey to multicloud with a complimentary cloud strategy workshop today.