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Stitching up the Cloud

Multiple Clouds are an unfolding reality, but there is an inconvenient truth. Matthew Parker, UK Sales Director and Country Manager at InterCloud, explores the issues. 

Cloud computing is now so pervasive for individuals and organisations, especially those whose operations depend upon the likes of Salesforce, Amazon, and Microsoft, that its basic premise is well-accepted, established and little challenged. But as the variety of cloud platforms proliferate in an enterprise, an inconvenient truth emerges, namely that multiple clouds can give rise to a very unsatisfactory user experience, with poor performance, unavailability of relevant data across applications and even compromised security.

Problems with cloud proliferation have, at their root, the patchwork nature of our existing enterprise computing architecture. As the Cloud Industry Forum has said, "Every cloud is built differently" and data doesn't necessarily flow easily across multiple clouds. However, data is the lifeblood of successful enterprise, and if it can't get to the extremities where it's needed, in a timely way, then those extremities will start to develop the business equivalent of organ failure. Business agility will suffer, or, worse, users will start operating with inaccurate or insecure data - and the enterprise as a whole is placed at risk.

The key challenge, therefore, is not just migrating to the cloud, but, once there, ensuring that the different cloud platforms can communicate and that data can pass easily and safely between them.

Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) don't necessarily help this situation - each CSP has a vested interest in attracting as much business as possible to its own platform, rather than cooperating with others. In turn the IT function has the unenviable task of stitching together disparate cloud environments, adding, shifting and discarding pieces of the patchwork as the organisation evolves and users come and go.

Faced with this cloud-to-cloud scenario, there are three key things the CIO should seek: the ability to connect cloud environments as easily as possible; the need to make sure that this is done securely; and to accomplish both of these quickly. Business agility is very often dependent upon the right supporting technology being in place at the right time. There's no point in having the best solution if your competition already had it six months ago.

Larger pipes from each of your various CSPs is, at best, a partial solution and not the most cost-effective approach - and you may end up struggling to prevent your own network becoming the bottleneck that slows data transfer between your various CSPs. If you want to get solutions live as quickly as possible, application segregation is the key; it's the applications that support the business, so line them up against a holistic view of the business goals to enable a clear view of data access requirements. Also, look for a way to connect your various CSPs at the periphery of your network, to minimise traffic across it.

Finally, ensure that you find a way to extend your organisations' security policies to cover the cloud applications and services that your business needs to be agile, efficient and secure. NC

 

MULTI CLOUD CONSIDERATIONS

• Treat this issue holistically and focus on the business problem you are solving.
• Priority must be connecting cloud environments quickly and securely.
• Application segregation can efficiently prioritise cloud apps: their importance is not equal to the business.
• Connect CSPs at the network edge or cloud platform to reduce network overhead.
• Work only with CSPs with relevant expertise, and then only connect to cloud platforms that support your security policies.

Matthew Parker

UK Sales Director & Country Manager of InterCloud

AWS & InterCloud

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