Enterprise IT is on an unstoppable march to adopting cloud technologies. As the range and depth of cloud resources continues to expand, so do the opportunities for realising game changing business advantage derived from greater application performance, limitless scalability, pay-as-you-use economics, operational efficiencies, world class security, customer insight, and an addictive rapid innovation capability.
Amid this relentless pace of change, many enterprises are beginning to discover the importance of portability and choice in their journey to the cloud, to ensure an ordered co-existence of their on-prem environments with the public cloud. Choice allows them to select the best tools and platforms for the job without experiencing technology/or vendor lock in; ensuring best fit economics; and the convenience of a single security posture and single operations framework. In short, we are now moving to a phase of the enterprise cloud journey that through necessity involves bridging technologies and operating frameworks to encompass hybrid or multi-cloud strategies.
Multiple clouds, multiple benefits: Building for choice
Multi-cloud has emerged as a means for capitalising on the utility the public cloud offers, not to mention differentiated technologies from different vendors. According to the RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud Report from Flexera, 84 percent of organisations already have a multi-cloud strategy in place, and intend to spend 24 percent more on public cloud this year than they did in 2018.
Adopting a multi-cloud framework means enterprises, both big and small, are able to use multiple cloud services within a single architecture, allowing massive scale out commodity, compute and storage. The other added benefit is having a single operations approach and security posture across multiple environments. This enables the adoption of a vast range of services without the resource implications of managing on-premises, nor the technical implications of moving workloads from location to location - not to mention the cost benefits.
In this article we detail three key recommendations looking at how to build your cloud strategy around choice. Enabling choice and flexibility should be the cornerstone of any successful multi-cloud strategy:
1. Choice in cloud native application development: Build for portability using open standards
Technologies enabling the interoperability of cloud environments should be a priority for enterprise IT. Different cloud providers follow their own service development roadmaps, and many cloud-based applications have been built leveraging proprietary databases or services, effectively locking users in to that cloud provider and limiting the portability of apps.
techUK’s Cloud2020 Vision Report recommends that organisations embed data portability and interoperability within their architectures from the beginning to be in a position to re-evaluate decisions on which workload is being run as more choices come online.
Modern application development is defined by the speed of deployment. Shipping regular updates and building new functionalities needs an agile and outcome-focused framework. Open source technologies give developers access to the building blocks they need to develop and continually enhance these applications.
A key example of these types of technologies is Kubernetes, an open-source container orchestration system for automating application deployment, scaling, and management. It was originally designed by Google, open sourced and is now independently maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Kubernetes is now an industry-wide standard that allows for easy migration of workloads across different cloud platforms and is supported by core cloud service providers globally.
Cloud portability using open source technologies such as Kubernetes and others like Istio and Knative, allows enterprises to capitalise on a range of tools across multiple locations, seamlessly adopting best-fit resources for the applications they’re integrating or developing. Companies and sectors that leverage open source initiatives to improve portability, interoperability, and compatibility efforts are able to improve customer choice and control and also realise long-term gains in their ability to innovate. Open source is the future of public cloud: it’s the foundation of IT infrastructure worldwide and has also been a part of Google’s foundation since day one.
Using a platform such as Google Cloud Platform, users can consume open source tools, including databases such as MongoDB, natively from the cloud. The combination ensures apps can be built without any lock-in and all cloud environments can benefit from a single operating approach, helping to improve developer agility and accelerate innovation.
2. Choice in deployment model: 'And' as opposed to 'Or'! Bridge your on-prem and public worlds so you can do things at your own pace
The ‘as a service’ approach to infrastructure, platforms and software enabled by cloud is an attractive prospect for enterprises that have been used to running and managing IT on-premises. Making this transition, however, isn’t always so simple: legacy data infrastructure, internal resistance to change and skills shortages are all common hurdles to fully embracing the public cloud.
So why not strike a balance between sustaining legacy and sweating an existing asset with the agility offered by the public cloud. With a properly architected multi-cloud approach, enterprises can work seamlessly and securely between their on-premises and cloud environments, moving workloads between locations in line with cost, compliance and security considerations.
3. Bring it all together with a single operating framework and security posture
Multi-cloud enables business innovation, providing the tools enterprises need to manage their activity across different cloud platforms in order to capitalise on the features and benefits of each. This approach reduces the complexity of IT, delivers massive ‘day two’ operational efficiencies and frees up teams to build on their 'as a service' portfolio in a flexible and carefully controlled way, under the umbrella of a single security posture and single control pane.
This level of control can be achieved through a platform such as Google Cloud’s Anthos. Anthos provides a common way to develop, deploy, secure, and operate applications on any cloud. It’s an open source-based technology, incorporating Kubernetes, Istio, and Knative, allowing teams to write once and run anywhere, so they can build and manage applications in their existing on-premises environment or in the public cloud of their choice.
As the use of multiple cloud services within a single enterprise IT environment becomes the reality, enabling public and private clouds to work in harmony with on-premises infrastructure needs to be an organisational priority. Finding a right-fit environment for each workload means IT can accelerate application development with choice and flexibility at its foundation, helping to unlock the true range of possibilities a multicloud world offers.
Google has always been committed to open ecosystem, promoting interoperability and innovation. It’s about choice, innovation, interoperability and a vibrant, dynamic ecosystem. As we move forward, the question for enterprises will be less about which cloud service provider to pick, and more about whether to migrate to open or closed systems.