Multi-Cloud Governance for Beginners
When one cloud isn’t enough, multi-cloud governance can help organizations meet their IT infrastructure requirements. Major players in public cloud include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, all of which own sizable shares of the cloud market. While cloud providers offer similar services, organizations may choose a multi-cloud strategy for a variety of reasons.
Why choose more than one cloud? Cloud administrators may depend on one cloud platform for data analysis and another for their archiving needs. They might also take advantage of the edge locations, availability zones, and regions of one cloud to store data closer to their users. Others choose multi-cloud to reinforce their cloud architecture and provide greater resiliency to limit potential downtime.
There’s a lot to consider when searching for the best way to govern your multi-cloud environment. Controlling costs, understanding your inventory and utilization, and maintaining security and compliance across multiple platforms are chief concerns for organizations of all sizes.
As you expand your cloud practice, keep in mind the five rules to follow for effective multi-cloud governance:
1. Understand How to Optimize Cloud Costs
When virtualization technology was first introduced into data centers, the concept of virtual machine (VM) sprawl quickly followed. It became simpler than ever to provision a virtual machine.
In some cases, administrators perceived VMs as entities that had little or no cost. So much so, that people left compute resources on longer than necessary, often requesting resources far beyond what they actually needed. As soon as this happened, a new industry cropped up with solutions to manage the problem.
When it comes to cloud environments, the problem of VM sprawl can be a lot worse, amplified by the ease with which you can provision massive amounts of resources. It can be tedious and difficult to keep track of factors such as:
- How much you spend each month
- What resources you’re spending money on (including waste)
- Who is responsible for the costs accrued
- Whether the resources you provisioned are actually sized correctly
Cloud providers have built-in tools to handle these issues, but native tools are often best leveraged in early stages of a business’s cloud journey. Moreover, it can be challenging to correlate the costs of a single project or business unit across all resources in use in all clouds.
Venturing into the realm of multiple public cloud providers can complicate things even further. Every cloud provider measures its resources in a different way, which can significantly impact day-to-day budget management. Plus, metrics are inconsistent across platforms, so the aggregation of costs within different public clouds is extremely difficult to achieve using the out-of-the-box tools each vendor provides. An all-in-one cloud management platform that supports multi-cloud governance will enable you to view, manage, and optimize your costs across clouds in a single dashboard.
2. Adhere to Security and Compliance Frameworks
A cloud governance tool is crucial when managing security and compliance across multiple clouds. Given the risks and penalties associated with security breaches and non-compliance, organizations can’t afford to ignore vulnerabilities in any part of their IT infrastructure.
The most widely-used cloud providers use different methods, or at least different terminology, when it comes to protecting your resources. AWS utilizes security groups and NACLs, Microsoft Azure uses Network Security Groups on interfaces and subnets, and Google uses Firewalls.
While each of these vendors has technology that protects your resources, none of them have built-in mechanisms that offer a comprehensive, holistic security story to protect your whole environment. A cloud governance tool that can understand each of these methods, ensure all of your resources are protected, and conform to your security and compliance needs is crucial when managing workloads across multiple clouds.
3. Stay on Top of Your Inventory
Keeping track of your applications in a single cloud can be a daunting task. As a general best practice, you should be tagging all the resources you deploy in the cloud. Tagging resources will allow you to categorize them and eventually attach a cost to each resource.
Embracing a standard tagging convention early in your cloud deployments will enable you to organize resources across different cloud providers. Tagging helps you understand which resources belong to certain projects and which personnel have permission to use them. This enables you to apply different policies depending on the importance of the resources in use.
For example, you could save money by shutting down resources when they are not in use. Development resources could be shut down after hours and on weekends while production resources need to be constantly running. With proper inventory management and overall multi-cloud governance, you will be able to track dormant cloud resources such as proof of concepts that were forgotten or resources of projects that are no longer needed.
Each cloud vendor will have native tagging tools within their platform to help you track inventory. In a multi-cloud environment, however, a cloud governance tool can help drive consistency across all resources.
4. Manage Your Cloud Utilization and Scaling
Many organizations move to the cloud because of its flexibility and pay-as-you-go billing model, which allows you to pay only for what you use. For example, there is no reason to provision large-scale instances to handle a load spike that occurs once every six months. Rather, the elasticity of the cloud allows you to scale your resources up and down or out and in based on capacity and demand.
To do this, it’s important to understand the actual usage of your resources in the cloud. As we’ve mentioned, the metrics do differ from one provider to the next. Both the frequency of data points and the scale upon which the metric is measured can vary.
A cloud management platform can help collect metrics from your workloads (regardless of which cloud they are running on), normalize the data, and present it to you in a way that helps you understand what resources your applications are using. These tools can also show how the ideal placement of your resources across multiple clouds will enable you to optimize both performance and cost.
5. Automate As Many Manual Processes As You Can
While DevOps professionals are rock stars, there is only so much they can do in a day. Automatic remediation of issues and events in your cloud will enable your teams to invest in further improvement and better automation across your workloads. For example, when your instances are suffering from an increased load, it would make sense to scale the instances to meet the influx in traffic.
However, managing an environment that resides in multiple cloud platforms is not something that the major cloud providers offer. You need an intelligent platform that can react to events across multiple clouds, take appropriate action automatically, and record a trail of events in a centralized location for future auditing purposes.
In addition to comprehensive multi-cloud governance, a cloud management platform can reduce the number of manual tasks associated with managing the most complex cloud infrastructures.
How to Succeed in Multi-Cloud Governance
Managing resources in a single cloud comes with its own singular challenges. Yet when venturing into the world of multi-cloud, the amount of challenges and their complexity grows exponentially with the number of cloud platforms you are using.
Building on the basic foundations mentioned above and understanding multi-cloud governance will enable you to grow your presence across the cloud providers of your choice. This will allow you to focus on the important parts of your business — without having to invest time and resources into managing the underlying infrastructure.
Bring Cloud Governance and Best Practices to Your Organization
A Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) can act as a task force that helps to address the complex challenges of cloud management throughout an organization. Whether you choose one cloud or many, learn how to develop a team of cloud experts in your organization to help you follow cloud best practices.
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