At first, it was all about going to the cloud — singular. These days, it is hard to avoid being on multiple clouds simultaneously.
Even those that try to consolidate on to only AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud often find that some of their services go through other managed service providers. Hence multiple clouds are here to stay.
Here are some of the top trends companies and IT teams are seeing in the multicloud market:
1. Security concerns magnify
Companies are adopting a multicloud strategy, so they can benefit from the capabilities of each cloud. But there are impediments to realizing the multicloud vision.
The network is one of the primary ones. Networks used to be about connecting sites and data centers together. Now, they are about connecting users, things, and applications together.
Users can be anywhere, and applications can be in any cloud or in an on-premises data center. What this means is that traffic is not only between sites/data centers, but between users and apps and apps to apps.
“The challenge is building a secure network to support all of these interactions,” said Atif Khan, co-founder and CTO, Alkira.
“Such a network does not only connect to the edge of the cloud, but also exists inside the cloud. Many companies struggle with just a single cloud, so although using a multicloud approach is desired/required in many ways, implementing it and maintaining a high level of security is much easier said than done.”
As enterprises forge ahead on multicloud strategies, then, they must be sure to consider all the security implications and take appropriate steps to safeguard all their cloud assets.
A recent survey on multicloud workload security revealed that 95% of IT leaders viewed Log4Shell as a wakeup call, according to Vishal Jain, co-founder and CTO, Valtix.
As a result, 87% feel less confident about their cloud security than they did before. Seventy-seven percent were still dealing with Log4J patching as of March, a full three months after the initial disclosure. All of this resulted in a realization that there is no such thing as an invulnerable app — even with a focus on shift left and app security.
“IT leaders are now refocusing their efforts in 2022 to gain visibility and control for cloud security by applying defensive strategies outside the app,” Jain said.
2. Zero trust and multicloud
One solution to the multicloud security headache is to implement zero-trust network access.
Zero trust is contrasted with the traditional perimeter security approach of east-west vs. north-south. While you can argue that directions don’t apply to the cloud, the zero-trust concept of “never trust, always verify” most certainly does.
In fact, the lack of direction and boundaries of the cloud make it an ideal environment for zero trust, said John Yun, VP of product strategy, ColorTokens.
“When you consider that many organizations are leveraging hybrid environments and some with multicloud, enforcing policies between different nodes and cloud workloads becomes ever more critical,” Yun said.
“Organizations should follow through on a zero-trust strategy for their current environment and extend it to the cloud and multicloud workloads. The time and effort spent on following through with zero trust will pay off in the form of a secure cloud environment.”
3. Application high availability
There is growing confusion and concern about application high availability from companies with a multicloud infrastructure, according to Cassius Rhue, VP of customer experience, SIOS Technology.
IT teams are unclear as to whether using different clouds for different applications is good, because it lets them match application needs with cloud strengths — or bad, because it adds complexity.
“As company mergers and acquisitions continue, having a defined corporate IT strategy for cloud utilization is becoming increasingly important,” Rhue said.
“Many IT teams are being forced to face a multicloud future, so now is the time to start developing a cloud utilization and management plan, and an IT strategy to help teams navigate the coming complexities”
4. End-to-end visibility
There are many tools around that provide visibility into a certain set of applications or the cloud resources of a particular provider.
But as enterprise organizations migrate to multicloud and cloud-native architectures, there is a dire need for end-to-end visibility across the entire IT stack.
“Full-stack observability is the ability to observe the entire IT ecosystem with business context to align all the independent teams who need to target the same business outcome of providing a good user experience,” said Gregg Ostrowski, executive CTO, Cisco AppDynamics.
“Organizations that fail to invest in this type of digital transformation face a multitude of risks, including poor user experience that can damage the brand and potentially cause the user base to move on to a solution that better fits their needs, resulting in a hit to revenue.”
Full-stack observability provides comprehensive visibility and increased performance that allows enterprise IT teams to filter through volumes of data and leverage the cloud to deliver their business needs.
With this greater visibility, technologists can easily identify the root causes of performance issues and anomalies before there’s negative impact on the end customer or user.
5. Using AI in cloud management
Once multiple clouds are involved, there is no escaping complexity.
Managing that complexity requires automation and also the incorporation of tools, such as artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify operations and troubleshooting.
“We must move beyond ad hoc strategies and simplify management of cloud environments,” said Samta Bansal, global consulting strategy leader, Hitachi Vantara.
“Simplifying cloud management across edge, core, and clouds through better strategy and AI-driven approaches is critical to tackling cost overruns from cloud overuse and overcoming the lack of in-house skills felt by many IT organizations.”