Common Misconceptions About Multi-Cloud Infrastructure

Common Misconceptions about Multi-Cloud Infrastructure

by Mariusz Michalowski — 1 year ago in Development 5 min. read

The term multi-cloud has been thrown around in the business world in recent years. Every company that is presently using a cloud provider is also looking to adopt a multi-cloud strategy for various reasons. It could be to avoid being stuck with a vendor forever or to have a quick failover to another cloud in case their provider goes down.

However, as with any new disruptive trend, there are many myths and half-truths out there about multi-cloud infrastructure. In this article, we will look at some of these common misconceptions and help separate fact from fiction.

1. Infrastructure as Code (IaC) Makes Multi-Cloud Easy

While it’s true that infrastructure as code and tools like Terraform enable us to go multi-cloud, it would be wrong to assume that you can easily switch from one cloud provider to the other in your Terraform code. No IaC tool works this way.

Tools like Pulumi and Terraform describe your infrastructure as code, allowing you to see what infrastructure supports your whole architecture. However, these tools define resources particular to a cloud provider.

In order to replicate your infrastructure in a different cloud provider, you first need to define the entire infrastructure as resources in that particular provider, including your networking, storage, computing, and identity management.

Although an IaC tool gives you an advantage since all your infrastructure is available as code, the code associated with a particular cloud provider would need to be cloned to be the equivalent resource in another.

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2. Cloud Providers are All The Same

This is theoretically true. As cloud providers, both GCP and AWS have data centers and offer APIs to enable you to access various services for the smooth running and development of your technology. It is also true that they provide similar services.

If other cloud providers have services similar to the ones you are currently using, you have avoided one of the biggest challenges to multi-cloud deployment. But the word “similar” is not as simple as you may think when it comes to implementing a multi-cloud strategy. Even basic terminologies can vary between cloud providers. This can make finding similar services for moving your IaC setup from one vendor to another an arduous task.

The difference does not end at terminology. Authentication mechanisms, networking, APIs, IaC resource definitions, and even storage can vary from one cloud provider to the other. These differences will need to be resolved in order to port your infrastructure as code from one provider to another.

As we mentioned earlier, Infrastructure as Code (IaC) offers you an advantage, but it does not eliminate the differences between cloud vendors for you.

3. Clouds are All Equal

The thought of offering another cloud vendor to your customers can be fascinating. And it is something you can easily do by moving over some work you have already completed if your infrastructure is defined as code.

But one fact many people seem to miss is that cloud providers are not equal.

It’s true that a cloud provider may offer a unique service that others don’t currently have. But more broadly, cloud providers are not equal in terms of their scale. This implies that providers don’t have the same resilience, security, and availability. While using a cloud provider is better than operating a data center yourself, it would be wrong to say that one provider is more available than the other.

This is an important thing you need to think about when considering multi-cloud infrastructure. When you go multi-cloud, your footprint increases, and so does the number of things that can go wrong.

Now that you know the common misconceptions surrounding multi-cloud infrastructure, let us explore the advantages and disadvantages of adopting a multi-cloud strategy.

4. Too Many Options Become Overwhelming

Today’s customers like to have plenty of options, though not too many that it becomes overwhelming. This is very common if you are developing platforms as service offerings. Your customers will ask you if it is possible to use your technology in GCP, AWS, or Azure.

But why? It’s probably because they see Amazon as a competitor and don’t want to give their money to their competitor by using AWS. Or maybe they have unclaimed credits in GCP that would make running your technology on the provider more economical. Another possible reason is that their whole engineering team may only be conversant with Azure. So, your customers may be asking this question in order not to introduce a learning curve by porting to another cloud provider.

You can help your customers solve these issues by offering your technology to two or more cloud providers.

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5. You Can Get All The Features from One Cloud Provider

Cloud providers are constantly competing with one another. Every now and then, they develop new services and offerings to gain an edge in the market. Cloud providers are helping customers like you resolve their issues more quickly and efficiently, and the neck-breaking competition among them is good multi-cloud users.

You can design your product or offering to take maximum advantage of the recent cloud development that enhances your services. Going multi-cloud also allows you to leverage new developments no matter the provider that first introduces them. While you may not be able to add that new feature in all cloud providers, using it in one provider until others catch up isn’t a bad idea.

6. Your Infrastructure Footprint Doesn’t Matter

The more cloud providers you support, the more your infrastructure footprint increases. When you support a second provider, your infrastructure doubles. Support another one? It triples. While certain things will overlap, the fact remains that more providers mean more infrastructure. So, you will have to provision, monitor, and keep this larger footprint for life.

7. It’s not That Costly

This is a bit similar to the point above. More infrastructure means more expenditure. The cost will depend on your infrastructure and the services you leverage in each cloud provider. Expectedly, you will spend more money maintaining a product or service across multiple cloud providers than on a single one. Replicating your infrastructure from one provider to the other is expensive. And you will also spend a lot of money to hire talent that can create and maintain infrastructure in the other cloud providers.

The fact of the matter is that providing a multi-cloud offering comes with many unique benefits. It will enable you to win business you would have otherwise lost because of selecting one cloud provider or the other. However, it is expensive and takes a lot of work. Many things increase when you run your production infrastructure in multiple cloud providers, including your context, infrastructure, and expenditure footprint. This is a big cost that you need to consider against the advantages to know if adopting a multi-cloud strategy is actually worth it.

So Should You Consider Multi-Cloud Infrastructure?

Well, it depends on the issues you are helping your customers solve. Adopting a multi-cloud strategy is a sensible thing to do if a big cloud provider is branching into your industry. If your business has no fault tolerance, you may want to replicate your infrastructure in many cloud providers.

The three factors that will determine whether or not multi-cloud is important for you are:

  1. Your type of business.
  2. The product or services you are offering.
  3. And your customer’s expectations.
Mariusz Michalowski

Mariusz is a Community Manager at Spacelift, a flexible management platform for Infrastructure as Code. He is passionate about automation, DevOps, and open-source solutions. In his free time he enjoys car detailing, swimming, and nonfiction books.

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