In recent years, the use of cloud services has become the standard for companies and organizations. However, there are many cases where the structure of systems and applications is not limited to a specific cloud service but is composed of various cloud services in a "multi-cloud" configuration.
There are also companies that use cloud services such as AWS for their main infrastructure while using on-premise (physical servers) for some of their system infrastructure in a "hybrid configuration".
In this article, I will introduce "examples of multi-cloud configurations" for companies and organizations, along with their advantages and disadvantages.
Examples of multi-cloud configurations
Multi-cloud refers to an infrastructure environment, concept and configuration that combines multiple cloud services.
In recent years, an increasing number of companies and organizations have tended to consider and adopt multi-cloud environment implementation and operation in line with factors such as technological advancements in cloud services and changing business needs.
Examples of multi-cloud configurations include the following conditions and configurations, depending on the requirements of the systems and applications used by the company or organization.
Services Provided by the Cloud
This configuration combines different cloud services for different functions. For example, AWS for IaaS, Microsoft Azure for PaaS, and Google Cloud for SaaS. Each cloud service is used according to its own specialties.
・Example of Functional Configuration
・Main infrastructure environment: AWS services
・Content data distribution: Cloudflare CDN
・Object storage for data storage: WASABI
・Authentication infrastructure for applications: Microsoft Entra ID (formerly Azure AD)
・Big data analysis platform: Google BigQuery
・Collaboration tools: Google Workspace
Configuration by Region
This is a configuration in which different cloud services are used in combination in different regions. For example, AWS is used for systems in Japan, while Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud are used for systems overseas.
If you want to have data redundancy, you can have data redundancy by distributing and storing data in different clouds, combining Amazon S3 and Google Cloud Storage.
Another option for any company with a local presence in China is to use a cloud service such as Alibaba Cloud, which has a China region available.
This configuration combines on-premise systems with cloud services. In this configuration, existing systems continue to be operated on-premise, while new systems are built in the cloud.
For example, if AWS Storage Gateway and AWS Outposts can be used to connect to the on-premise network environment and seamlessly integrate systems on-premise and in the cloud, it is possible to operate systems while enjoying the benefits of on-premise and cloud services.
The benefit of using multi-cloud
While there are a variety of factors that influence why companies and organizations adopt a multi-cloud approach, it is a powerful way to increase flexibility and efficiency by building systems that take advantage of the characteristics of each cloud service, spreading risk, and reducing costs.
High Availability and Redundancy
Multi-cloud configuration improves availability and redundancy of services and data by utilizing different cloud platforms, data centers, etc. By eliminating single points of failure, business disruptions to a company or organization can be minimized.
It also increases the flexibility of system operations by leveraging different cloud services and tools, allowing you to plan how to operate your system according to your specific applications and needs.
Avoiding Vendor Lock-in
Each cloud service has its own areas of strength and characteristics. For example, AWS has strengths in providing IaaS and PaaS, while Google Cloud has strengths in the areas of AI and big data/machine learning. By creating a multi-cloud environment, the characteristics of each cloud service can be leveraged to build an optimal system.
Also, by using multiple cloud services together, rather than relying on a specific cloud or provider, it is easier to plan for future service changes and migrations and to avoid the risk of vendor lock-in.
Risk Diversification and Improved Security
Multiple cloud services can be used to diversify the risk of security threats and data breaches and build defensive strategies. Combine different security practices to create a more robust security environment.
For example, when cloud services are used in a manner that relies on a single vendor, they carry the risk associated with that vendor's failure or service outage. With multi-cloud, multiple cloud services are used in combination, reducing dependence on a single vendor and spreading the risk.
Improving Cost Efficiency
Cloud services are generally based on a pay-as-you-go system, where you are charged only for the amount you use. However, you may be able to optimize costs by using multiple cloud services together, using the right resources and using only the necessary functions and services for the necessary amount.
The disadvantage of using multi-cloud
As mentioned earlier, while there are many advantages to having systems and applications in a multi-cloud configuration, there are also aspects of disadvantages.
It is advisable to consider and adopt a multi-cloud system based on the following disadvantages.
Complexity of Operations Management
In a multi-cloud environment, each of the different cloud services requires operational management and integration of the services and resources that are dispersed across the different cloud services.
Obviously, there are separate accounts, management consoles and APIs, which can make it difficult to establish management processes and troubleshoot problems.
Technical Skill Requirements
Designing, building, operating, maintaining, and monitoring a multi-cloud environment on a company or organization's own requires a wide range of technical skills.
Specialized knowledge is required to understand the specifications, operations, and best practices of each cloud service and to make the best choices. If a company or organization lacks the knowledge, skills, and resources to do so, selecting and deploying a multi-cloud environment can be a big challenge.
Difficulty in estimating costs
Cost estimation can be time-consuming because the pricing models and resource types for cloud services vary from one cloud platform to another.
Also, even if you calculate the cost of other cloud services while referring to the pricing model of the cloud service you are familiar with, you may find that the cost of other cloud services may increase due to unexpected resources.
Security and Compliance Concerns
Each cloud service has a different security model and compliance requirements.
Because security policy settings, access rights management, data encryption, SLAs, etc. are different, integrated monitoring and response to security events can also be a challenge.
While multi-cloud provides advantages such as system construction that takes advantage of the characteristics of cloud services, risk diversification, and cost reduction, it may also have disadvantages such as increased complexity of operation and management.
The key to success in implementing and operating a multi-cloud system is to fully understand these advantages and disadvantages and to consider the optimal configuration for your business and systems.
Beyond supports "multi-cloud" construction and operation of various clouds such as AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. If you are interested, please feel free to contact us.