The other day I was pruning my apps on my phone to delete those that had not been used in a long time. Here are some that gave me pause:
- Business (Adobe, Concur, Dropbox, etc)
- E-commerce (Amazon, Grocery Shopping, Meal Delivery, Starbucks, etc)
- Financial Institutions
- G-Suite Apps
- Microsoft 365 Apps
- Home Automation (Amazon Alexa, Home Automation)
- Entertainment (Netflix, Spotify, etc)
- Security (Password Managers, Authenticators, SSO)
- Media (News)
- Multimedia conferencing (Zoom, etc)
I’m sure many of you have a longer lists. Each of these apps has a cloud presence that we often take for granted. We just sit back and assume that the infrastructure is taken care of, and it is for smartphone owners. But for a large company, or enterprise, that infrastructure is far more complex.
Take an enterprise A that uses multiple clouds to leverage their respective strengths:
- Microsoft – Active Directory and Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365)
- Google – TensorFlow AI
- Oracle – PeopleSoft and Siebel
- AWS – For everything else (that sounds like the MasterCard ‘priceless’ slogan)
Enterprise A could be any company that seeks best-in-class solutions and does not want to be locked in to that vendor. It could be where you work. The need for multi-cloud adoption has been emphasized by analyst giants, such as Forester, IDC, and Gartner. Specifically,
- According to a 2019 study conducted by Forester and commissioned by IBM, Forester recommends to hedge against cloud vendor lock-in by designing for multicloud deployment and architectures wherever possible. This makes sense: if you are an ISV that offers services on one cloud, your customer might demand to be served in multiple clouds so that they are not tied to that cloud.
- After the outbreak from the COVID-19 pandemic, IDC stated in March 2020 that by 2022, over 90% of enterprises worldwide will be relying on a mix of on-premises/dedicated private clouds, multiple public clouds, and legacy platforms to meet their infrastructure needs.
- At the Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference held in June 2020, Gartner were very clear about “Do Not Design for Single Cloud” in their 6 steps for planning a cloud strategy:
- Develop a cloud-first and multicloud strategy
- Continuously practice workload placement analysis
- Plan for cloud adoption maturity
- Establish multicloud governance and management processes
- Develop a multicloud management tooling strategy
- Evaluate multicloud SaaS integration requirements
Coming back to Enterprise A: The cloud networking requirements for each of those is intricate enough. Now, suppose that enterprise needs to acquire or partner with Enterprise B that uses these cloud services:
- Microsoft – CosmosDB
- Google – G-Suite and GKE
- AWS – For everything else
All of a sudden, this snowflake will become a nightmare to build and integrate applications across multiple clouds. At its core, there is a strong requirement for standardized plumbing. Without a multi-cloud networking blueprint or reference architecture, it is not feasible to build and manage this requirement at scale.
Alternatively, Enterprise C might be 100% invested in AWS, while Enterprise D is a GCP shop. Now, suppose that C acquires D. This happens more often than you might think, recently as follows:
- 2017 – Financial services company Credit Karma discusses its approach to migrating to GCP and is a referenced customer of Google.
- 2018 – Financial software giant Intuit sells off its largest data center to go all-in on AWS, which has a dedicated Customer Success Story page for Intuit with various case studies.
- 2020 – Intuit announces its intent to acquire Credit Karma for $7 Billion.
Another point worth revisiting is of vendor lock-in. Cloud is all about infrastructure-as-code and so each vendor has a proprietary cloud-native approach to automating their infrastructure. AWS has CloudFormation, Microsoft has Azure Resource Manager, and GCP has Deployment Manager. Developing a mastery in any one of those is not a trivial endeavor. Once enterprises go down the multi-cloud path, they need cloud-agnostic tools, such as Terraform, which requires talent investment, which, in turn, results in higher Opex. That’s when they need to look at multi-cloud networking and security solutions.
How do you learn multi-cloud networking? Well, I have spent a fair bit of time working with one such vendor – Aviatrix Systems. They cover more than just the network plumbing of multi-clouds. With their Co-Pilot release, they can enable IT revenue generation by providing business intelligence through deep insights into apps. You can learn more about their solutions and receive in-depth training here.