Finding the right balance in multi-cloud data management

April 15, 2020

Originally published on CIO.

IT leaders today have a lot more to consider in building a cloud-based and data-driven infrastructure than juggling resources and maintaining costs.

Multi-cloud environments are fast becoming the new norm in terms of developing hyper-scale infrastructure that can be easily adapted to meet business demands and deal with uncertainties in the global market.

In the near future, most companies will adopt architectures that leverage multiple clouds to expand and minimize their infrastructure footprint and dynamically manage their resources in a cost-effective fashion. These organizations will also invest considerable time and effort incorporating hyper-automation techniques into business processes that enhance human-centric and collaborative systems for both employees and customers, as well as make use of AI and machine learning technologies that are essential to achieve a data-driven enterprise.

Managing a multi-cloud and borderless infrastructure, however, will not only require that IT leaders orchestrate a multitude of resources, but also develop capabilities that leverage existing legacy applications, maintain security and compliance, and keep infrastructure costs in check. Clearly, IT leaders today have a lot more to consider than just building an impactful infrastructure.

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There are certain architectural considerations that are critical success factors in creating a multi-cloud infrastructure landscape – data reliability, data accessibility and business continuity. IT leaders often do not recognize the limitations of data protection capabilities provided by public cloud vendors. Without a comprehensive and seamless data management strategy for multi-cloud workload provisioning, management and de-provisioning, there is a risk of compromising or losing valuable data.

In the new multi-cloud world, it is imperative for IT architects to account for these three considerations and include comprehensive data management as one of the critical foundational blocks in their architectures.

Understanding and thinking multi-cloud in a highly distributed world

In order to successfully develop and operate a seamless and efficient multi-cloud infrastructure that can cater to the rapid development of new features, IT leaders should consider the following questions as they develop a set of best practices:

  • How do I make the data portable? As applications are spread across multiple clouds, the new architecture needs to ensure that the underlying data also moves fluidly across the clouds, irrespective of where it resides (on-prem private or public clouds). Data storage mechanisms and the database, as well as data lake choices, can play a pivotal role in ensuring portability of the data.
  • How do I provide security across the board? As foundational architectural services are created for data protection, discovery, backup, restoration and replication across multiple cloud environments, capabilities should also be developed for cloning data, masking certain elements and securely storing replicated data. This can become a great enabler in creating a truly agile organization that delivers more applications and features seamlessly and securely.
  • How do I ensure 100% data availability? As data becomes fragmented, it adds an additional risk to environments by creating islands of data infrastructure that are harder to manage and sustain. Architectures must be established that can support seamless approaches and ensure data is available, regardless of where it resides, or the complexity involved in retrieving that data.
  • How do I recover from disasters? Disaster recovery, ransomware protection and compliance are critical to ensure business continuity. Disaster recovery and compliance objectives will continue to guide the evolution of future architectures and will become top priorities in digital transformation plans or for enabling new business capabilities.

As IT leaders become more prepared to address these challenges, they will most likely end up creating “enablers” that can improve the speed of business and accelerate the pace of deployment of new applications and features that will be hosted on a multi-cloud infrastructure.

Multi-cloud data management as part of a holistic digital environment

By utilizing multi-cloud architectures, businesses will see a reduction in infrastructure complexity, and IT teams will have the freedom to shift some of their focus from maintenance to innovation. Over the next few years, multi-cloud architectures will evolve and standardize to abstract the underlying complexity of managing the core infrastructure, which can empower developers to focus more on building solutions for the business. Key benefits of a multi-cloud architecture are greater operational efficiency and productivity, which ultimately increase data access speeds and reduce wait times for customers and suppliers.

As enterprises set out to execute on their digital transformation strategies, it is important to find the right balance in supporting business and infrastructure goals. The ideal multi-cloud infrastructure will offer the ability to control data access, protect data, discover data, support compliance requirements, and move data between clouds based on business demand. Regulatory compliance and the emergence of new threats can become key decision-making points mandating lift-and-shift of SaaS applications, thus creating a need for data movement between clouds.

The ease with which IT leaders can navigate in a multi-cloud world, regardless of where the actual applications and data reside, makes it the new norm for future architectures.

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