The Benefits of a Diversified Cloud

    June 2, 2016

    By Luis Colon

    Many companies would rather solicit multiple cloud vendors than overhaul their entire infrastructure to be compatible with a single suite of apps. While this ultimately saves money, it also introduces considerable complexity, making capacity management processes all the more crucial.

    Across all industries, IT services have become a common denominator, crucial to the proper functioning of any business in the digital age. However, how each company delivers those services varies significantly; customer demands and specific technical needs can push applications (and departments) worlds apart.

    When the question of cloud migration comes around, this puts businesses in a tough situation: endure the pain of overhauling entire departments to fit one platform, or buy from multiple cloud vendors?

    Quite a few companies choose the latter option (for more reasons than just incompatible software). However, abandoning the simplicity of a homogeneous environment also presents distinct challenges. Achieving success in a diversified cloud takes a highly coordinated effort, one that comes with a rigorous understanding of capacity usage. To get there, what do organizations need, and what do they stand to gain?

    The Cloud, Squared

    To be sure, there are clear benefits of a diversified cloud: by avoiding a single provider, organizations can avoid vendor lock-in, and decrease the likelihood of a single catastrophic outage. At the same time, they can pick each vendor’s highest-quality specialized service to build the best possible IT infrastructure, also known as a best-of-breed solution. This offers customers broader functionality and compatibility.

    It’s not always as simple as installing a few software platforms, however. As TechTarget points out, organizations need to make sure that multiple infrastructural areas align seamlessly: compute and workload processes, storage devices and locations, data usage, security, and finally, the management of the entire, fragmented infrastructure.

    The biggest question is the degree to which businesses rely on each of the individual vendors for the services they provide versus their own independent management systems. With data storage, for instance, certain vendors offer extremely low-latency virtual databases with little to no overhead — quite an appealing option. However, such databases often use proprietary systems that don’t mesh well with other vendors’ offerings.

    In that case, it may be better to run your own database, where you can code out individual configurations to meet the specs of each cloud vendor. That might sound like a pain, but it’s often easier than trying to manage several competing systems, especially if you need to share data across them (which can cost extra for data egress).

    Ultimately, the challenge comes down to evaluating which particular cloud configuration will be most cost-effective for your infrastructure needs — a process that may include migrating only some applications to the cloud, depending on the scenario.

    Each Layer Has to Fit


    Obviously, the appeal of a diversified cloud is maintaining a wide breadth of services while remaining agile — in other words, having your cake and eating it, too. But with competing systems in play, a multi-cloud environment can just as easily work against you.

    By introducing serious complexity, a multi-cloud environment can make your IT infrastructure difficult to manage, which introduces a significant risk of overspending. No matter what kind of speed or performance you accomplish, exceeding your budget is never an acceptable outcome.

    It’s helpful to note that the cloud works towards slightly different goals than traditional IT environments. As a TechTarget white paper notes, rather than purely meeting SLA agreements and performance thresholds, virtual environments demand that businesses “orchestrate resources for fast provisioning, effective capacity management, and ongoing service stability.”

    To achieve this goal, IT professionals need tools that can automate monitoring and provide insight into capacity and performance issues before they start driving up costs. Gaining control over capacity and spending requires a holistic view of your entire infrastructure, one that lets you track and manage performance across heterogeneous environments from a single pane of glass. This business value dashboard should ideally give you the ability to model new environments and workloads, allowing you to remain flexible in the face of change without risking lost performance or efficiency.

    In summary, with multiple vendors in play, automated capacity planning tools with intuitive, comprehensive displays are needed to ensure that capacity is balanced in a cost-effective way. These days, organizations are at full liberty to transfer their hard-earned services to the cloud environments that suit them; it just takes the right amount of planning to set things off without a hitch.

    (Image credits Solipsis/Wikimedia; geralt/Pixabay)

    Tags: teamquest
    Category: cloud