Enterprise cloud strategy: Platforms and infrastructure in a multi-cloud environment

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platforms infrastructure multi-cloudIn past posts about multi-cloud strategy, I’ve focused on two principles for getting it right — governance and applications and data — and their importance when working with a cloud services provider (CSP).

The third and final element of your multi-cloud strategy is perhaps most crucial: platform and infrastructure effectiveness to support your application needs.

Deployment flexibility

When managing multiple clouds, you want to deploy applications on platforms that satisfy business, technical, security and compliance requirements. When those platforms come from a CSP, keep these factors in mind:

  • The platforms should be flexible and adaptable to your ever-changing business needs.
  • Your CSP should allow you to provision workloads on bare metal servers, where performance or strict compliance is needed and can support virtual servers and containers.
  • The CSP should be able build and support a private cloud on your premises. That cloud must fulfill your strictest compliance and security needs, as well as support a hybrid cloud model.
  • The CSP must provide capabilities that help you build applications by stitching together various platform-as-a-service (PaaS) services.
  • Many customers use containers to port applications. Find out whether your CSP provides container services backed by industry standards. Understand any customization to the standard container service that might create problems.

Seamless connectivity and networking

Applications, APIs and data must travel along networks. Seamless network connectivity across various cloud and on-premises environments is vital to success. Your CSP should be able to integrate with carrier hotels that enable on-demand, direct network connectivity to multiple cloud providers.

Interconnecting through carrier hotels enables automated, near-real-time provisioning of cloud services from multiple providers. It also provides enhanced service orchestration and management capabilities, along with shorter time to market.

Your CSP must also support software-defined and account-defined networks. This helps you maintain network abstraction standards that segregate customers as well as implement network segmentation and isolation.

The CSP should also control network usage with predefined policies. It must intelligently work with cloud-security solutions such as federated and identity-based security systems. Make sure the CSP isolates your data from other clients’ and segments it to meet security and compliance requirements.

Storage interoperability and resiliency

Extracting data from a CSP to migrate applications in-house or to another CSP is the most challenging part in a multi-cloud deployment. In certain cases, such as software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms, you may not have access to all the data. One reason: there are no standards for cloud storage interoperability. It only gets more complex when you maintain applications across multiple clouds for resiliency.

The solution is to demand that your data can move between clouds and support both open-standard and native APIs. Ask your CSP whether it supports “direct link” co-location partnerships that can “hold” customer-owned storage devices for data egress or legacy workload migrations.

With a sound storage strategy, you’ll have good resiliency in case of disaster. Again, questions matter. Does your CSP provide object storage in multi-tenant, single-tenant or on-premises “flavors”?

As with everything else involving a CSP, look carefully under the hood. Find out whether the CSP’s storage solution is true hybrid; that is, an on- or off-premises solution that simplifies multi-cloud governance and compliance.

For more information, read “IBM Optimizes Multicloud Strategies for Enterprise Digital Transformation.”

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