You probably know that moving your workloads into a cloud can help to decrease costs, increase agility, simplify deployment, and enhance security.
But did you know that you can double down on these benefits by leveraging not just one, but multiple, cloud data centers at the same time as part of a multi-cloud strategy?
If not, this blog’s for you. Keep reading as we unpack the benefits of pivoting to a distributed multi-cloud architecture that gives businesses the ability to spread workloads across as many data centers as they wish, thereby getting even more value from the cloud.
What is a multi-cloud strategy, and why does it matter?
A multi-cloud strategy is any approach to cloud computing that involves using more than one cloud at once. Under a multi-cloud architecture, you could use two or more public clouds (like AWS and Azure). Or you could pair a public cloud with a private cloud that you host in your own data center.
Multi-cloud strategies offer a variety of benefits:
- Cost-savings: By allowing businesses to choose from a wider selection of cloud vendors and services, multi-cloud helps them achieve the best tradeoff between price and features. In 85 percent of cases, multi-cloud ends up being less expensive than other types of cloud architectures.
- Reliability: Using multiple clouds at once increases workload reliability and availability because it ensures that some of your workloads will remain available if one of your clouds fails.
- Agility: The more clouds you have in the mix, the more flexibility you’ll enjoy about where and how to run workloads.
According to Forbes, more than 90 percent of large businesses currently use some kind of multi-cloud architecture.
The importance of multiple data centers within multi-cloud
Importantly, not all multi-cloud strategies necessarily involve distributing workloads across multiple data centers at once.
In some cases, going multi-cloud simply means that you host some workloads in one cloud, while placing other, separate workloads in a different cloud. You could host some of your applications on AWS, for instance, while others run in Azure.
That’s why we draw a distinction between multi-cloud computing in general, and multi-cloud architectures that involve hosting the same workloads within multiple data centers simultaneously.
The latter approach to multi-cloud means that different instances of a given workload are hosted in different cloud data centers at the same time. You could do this by, for example, deploying one set of virtual machines as EC2 instances in the AWS cloud, while simultaneously hosting a set of the same VMs in Azure Virtual Machines.
How multiple data centers bring even more value to multi-cloud
Any type of multi-cloud architecture delivers benefits like increased agility, enhanced reliability, and cost savings.
However, for most workloads, choosing a multi-cloud strategy that distributes workloads across data centers unlocks the greatest potential of multi-cloud. This is true for several reasons:
- Multiple data centers maximize reliability: If you host one workload in one cloud and another in a different cloud, one workload will fail if the cloud hosting it goes down. But if you host redundant instances of the workload in both clouds, it will remain available in the event of one cloud’s failure.
- Easily migrate between clouds: When you provision multiple data centers to host the same workload, you can quickly scale the workload up or down in each data center because it’s already configured to run there. It would take much more time to migrate a workload from scratch from one data center to the other; for example, you can’t instantly lift-and-shift an EC2 instance into Azure Virtual Machines.
- Rapid deployment: Along similar lines, having multiple data centers already ready to go can speed the deployment of new workloads of a similar type. If you’ve already set up EC2 or Azure Virtual Machines to host one type of VM, for example, chances are that you can launch a second VM on both services quickly because you will already have the configurations in place for networking, storage and so on.
- Tighter security: One of the major challenges of multi-cloud is that it is hard to configure Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies properly when your team has to work with multiple IAM frameworks in order to move a workload from one cloud to another. (This is why more than half of IT leaders report security as a barrier to adopting multi-cloud.) However, if your workload is already provisioned for multiple data centers, you’ll have IAM policies ready to go for all of them, reducing the risk of introducing security issues during a rapid migration from one data center into another.
The bottom line: Although distributing workloads across multiple data centers is not the only way to implement a multi-cloud strategy, it offers maximum benefits in many respects. That’s an important point to keep in mind in a world where 78 percent of IT leaders still believe their organizations have work to do to optimize their multi-cloud strategies and operations.