When implemented correctly, a hybrid cloud topology can yield immense returns on investment, such as increased agility and improved efficiency. However, managing such an environment poses its own set of challenges. One such challenge is the use of various clouds, each of which operates in an isolated silo with its own development and operating model, taxonomy, services, APIs, and management tools. This lack of consistency across clouds results in companies managing their multi-cloud environments through a patchwork of off-the-shelf, custom-built, and native cloud service provider tools, often requiring specialized teams and new skills to leverage the innovative capabilities of each cloud environment. Due to these differences, application and development teams struggle to troubleshoot performance issues quickly, while operators find it challenging to consistently apply policies to ensure that apps are secure and compliant, no matter where they are deployed. The main challenges posed by these differences include:
Managing multiple cloud platforms can be complex, requiring businesses to navigate different tools, interfaces, and pricing models. This complexity can make it difficult to achieve a unified view of IT resources and workloads, adding to the burden of IT infrastructure management.
The additional complexity of multi-cloud management typically requires additional time and expenses to ensure the solution is implemented correctly. This complexity can span several areas of technology, such as networking, automation, data services, recoverability, and security.
Read more: Top 5 Reasons Why Multi-Cloud is the New Favorite of CIOs
- Workload or Application Management
Multi-cloud computing presents technical challenges in workload or application management, introducing new potential points of failure. Therefore, reliability and disaster recovery planning should be paramount when dealing with any cloud provider.
Disaster recovery is a commonly overlooked issue, and organizations must plan for recovery when, not if, a disaster occurs. Understanding the failure modes of each cloud provider and how they might affect your application stack is crucial to building reliable applications, especially considering the increased complexity of multiple cloud providers.
Recovering from a disaster across multiple cloud providers can be challenging because each provider has a proprietary recovery process. This added complexity could further hinder predefined recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO), potentially leading to service level agreement violations in the future.
Specialists in cloud development and DevOps tend to focus on one major cloud platform, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure. Hiring additional experts with the cross-platform experience to fill knowledge gaps can increase costs. Even though individual products like Microsoft SQL Server function similarly across platforms, a database administrator who understands the Microsoft Azure ecosystem might not be familiar with the Amazon Web Services (AWS) environment. Each cloud provider brings unique issues that require expertise to address. Therefore, having specific knowledge about each cloud provider is essential.
A multi-cloud strategy comes with both security strengths and weaknesses. On the downside, there is the added burden of securing data and preventing leakage across multiple cloud platforms, which can be time-consuming and require significant effort. Managing security policies is another major requirement in this architecture, and with the increasing frequency of cyberattacks, a multi-cloud ecosystem can broaden the attack vector, potentially compromising security. Organizations must exercise a higher level of due diligence to secure all their boundaries, including those across different cloud platforms. This can be particularly challenging in a multi-cloud environment due to the different types of endpoints in each cloud.
- Finding the Right Multi-Cloud Management Tool
Expanding an ecosystem to a more complex and tightly coupled environment can make consistent and reliable multi-cloud management difficult. While each cloud provider may offer its own monitoring tools, these tools often lack a holistic overview beyond their own platform. Manually monitoring or using disparate tools to piece together performance insights can often create more frustration than resolution.
Integrating multiple cloud platforms can pose challenges, especially regarding data integration and application deployment. It requires extensive planning and coordination to ensure proper workload distribution and synchronization of data across various platforms.
- Cost Management
In a multi-cloud environment, managing costs can be a challenge. With various pricing models and billing cycles, businesses must monitor their spending carefully to prevent unexpected charges and optimize their expenses. Multi-cloud economics presents perhaps the most significant challenge for organizations planning its adoption. Each provider has its own billing and metering systems, pricing models, sizing units, data egress fees, and so on. Consequently, managing cloud costs across multiple providers can become a nightmare.
To successfully manage multi-cloud environments, CIOs and IT leaders must proactively address challenges in security, cost management, data integration, and application deployment. A single-pane-of-glass view of disparate cloud environments can streamline management and improve governance and security. Comprehensive planning and coordination are essential to overcome the most pressing multi-cloud management challenges.