Automation In A Multi-Cloud World

Many companies are embracing multi-vendor cloud environments, while looking for ways to remain competitive and improve service levels. IT departments are dealing with the current challenge of an accelerated pace of doing business by adopting multi-cloud strategies for added flexibility. Different cloud features lend themselves to different projects. Multi-cloud strategy gives an organization the power to select the right cloud offering for differing workloads, which can turn out to be a combination of public and private clouds such as Microsoft Azure, OpenStack, or Amazon AWS.  Depending on the needs of the company, different clouds from different providers may be used for separate tasks.

Driving Factors Behind Multi-Cloud Adoption

There are many reasons why enterprises would want to consider multi-cloud adoption.  Let’s explore these three:

  1. Address Unique Needs

Enterprises have different needs for different applications. With more workloads being moved into the cloud, a single cloud option may not be the right fit for every application. Your organization may be running a workload that requires powerful processing power and networking resources for big data projects on a private cloud, while at the same time you may have another team within the same company gravitating towards a public cloud, such as Microsoft Azure, because their task requires quick scalability. Multi-cloud strategy makes it possible to use one infrastructure for a system where the stress is on compliance and security and a completely different one for applications that require more scalability and power.  You can run each workload where it performs best. Moreover there is no hassle of migrating legacy apps to a new platform.

  1. Need to Diversify

Cloud technology has gone mainstream and most companies want to employ multiple cloud solutions to reap the maximum benefit from the technology and functionality it supports. There is no vendor lock-in, which minimizes dependence on any one provider. It also eliminates any risk of compromises that a single cloud solution may have. Critical infrastructure should not be dependent on a single vendor as outages can happen. For example, recently AWS developed a glitch with server issues in Virginia disrupting the infrastructure for services including Netflix, Medium, SocialFlow, Buffer, Pocket and more. In 2013, again, AWS suffered a similar outage that affected services such as Instagram, Airbnb and Vine. Adopting a multi-cloud environment ensures that your end users have access to what they need when they need it, even while preserving the best security practices.

  1. Save Dollars and Cents

A single provider bias does not allow you to take advantage of price fluctuations and new developments. You are stuck, if service runs into any problem or experiences failure. In comparison organizations with a multi-cloud solution can leverage the most cost-effective service, exactly when they need it. Companies working with multiple cloud vendors are almost assured of the best price and access to the latest and greatest tech services, which improves the bottom line.

Why Cloud Automation?

The real challenge for IT leaders is not in choosing the right cloud services but having to ensure that the diverse pools of IT infrastructure work collectively, while maintaining flexibility for application workloads. The demands of the “multi-cloud” landscape require a balance between developing best practices for workload configuration and ensuring consistency across different environments. This mix of public, private, and hybrid cloud necessitates having the ability to deploy and manage several clouds easily with a single point of integration, administration and automation. Research and Markets estimates the growth of multi cloud management market from USD 939.3 Million in 2016 to USD 3,431.2 Million by 2021, in their ‘Multi-Cloud Management Market” report. And cloud automation is expected to dominate this market so that organizations can work smarter to efficiently manage multiple cloud environments, while maintaining compliance and corporate standards.

Multi-cloud automation can help to properly configure resources, schedule backups, autoscale, maintain servers in less time than before and also to automatically recover a system after a failure. Cloud automation allows rapid deployment and optimum resource utilization in an organization. It ensures easy oversight and control, while improving agility and staff efficiency, and reduces cost of maintenance, to accelerate company growth.

Multi-cloud Automation Tools

There are scores of software and SaaS products specifically designed to automate infrastructure and deploy & manage applications across multiple clouds. There are also different multi-cloud management tools for management of workload migration at an operational level.  Some of these products are focused on specific needs or functionalities. For example, CSC  provides an integrated control platform for creation of custom policies for cloud governance, compliance, security and lifecycle management. It focuses on an end to end security model that encompasses the network, data and different access levels. New Relic offers a SaaS platform for monitoring and managing the performance of business applications in real time, from all leading cloud platforms. The platform also offers a powerful Business Intelligence system for analysis of all components such as databases, NoSQL, web servers, and more. While Cloudyn is an asset and cost management tool and via a dashboard it helps users identify the most efficient cost-performance deployment option for a definite workload. It specializes in the Amazon cloud.

The most popular multi-cloud products used by organizations embrace a DevOps approach to cloud management, which brings application programming into the world of infrastructure configuration and management. For example, Cliqr and Cloudify  take an application-centric approach to cloud automation. Cloudify works like a platform as a service (PaaS) for deploying and managing full application lifecycles on public or bybrid infrastructure using diverse toolsets, without requiring code changes. Some of the most commonly used infrastructure application tools are Chef, Puppet, RightScale, Ansible and Salt.

Chef: Chef helps to automate configuration management, infrastructure build and continuous deployment by turning infrastructure into code that can be interpreted by any system running the Chef client. Chef servers also store reusable definitions to automate infrastructure tasks and uses configuration data to determine whether nodes are out of date before proceeding to update them based on the recipes, if required. Hosted Chef and Private Chef reduce manual task replication by allowing cloud administrators to programmatically configure virtual systems. Chef server, workstations, analytics engine can also be fully run within the cloud itself as IaaS instances. Chef supports all the major cloud services including AWS, Azure, Google, VMWare, Smartcloud Orchestrator and OpenStack. Chef is a Ruby configuration management product.

Puppet: This product allows IT professionals to define the state of their IT infrastructure, which the Puppet server and runtime automatically enforces on target nodes. It proactively manages any change in infrastructure, on premise or in the cloud. It automates the software delivery process at any stage of the life cycle of the IT infrastructure. Puppet gives system administrators the power to automate time-consuming and repetitive manual tasks and enables quick deployment of critical applications. Puppet has a unique class-based DSL similar to the Nagios configuration file format. New features include support for third-party authentication services and also support for Windows and Google App Directory.

RightScale: It was founded in 2006 and this platform provides tools for configuration management and automating deployment of cloud resources through public and private environments, including AWS, Azure, Google, Datepipe, CloudStack, Eucalyptus and OpenStack. It addresses the potential time and resource drain from administrative workloads by enabling fast and easy automation of infrastructure in any cloud or data center. With Scalr you also get template based provisioning of multiple clouds from a single portal at only 10% of the price of RightScale. It is a web-based, open source, cloud computing platform to simplify infrastructure management for the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. This tool also offers support to Google, CloudStack and OpenStack.

Ansible: It is an all-in-one system for app deployment and configuration management. It operates completely through SSH connections for increased security and efficiency. Ansible uses YAML for its configuration “playbooks”, which are used for system configuration, deployment to remote machines and orchestration. It is also possible to sequence multi-tier rollouts involving rolling updates, interaction with monitoring servers and load balancers along the way. One can even delegate automation jobs to non-Ansible users with the portal mode.

SaltStack:  This relatively new platform focuses on real time automation and can communicate with servers in milliseconds. This systems and configuration management software also enables automation of CloudOps and DevOps with speed and scalability. It uses YAML to describe system states but there is a complex set of components to navigate on this platform, which makes it hard for those not already familiar with another automation platform.

Multi-cloud Strategies Are The Gold Standard

The IT infrastructure landscape keeps changing fast, making it necessary for data center managers to constantly revise plans and review products. There is a plethora of feature-rich automation tools designed for cloud workloads, with multiple delivery models. The integration details with various major cloud services may vary widely depending on the automation platform. But the choice of product should depend on the scale of one’s infrastructure and skill of the IT team. SaaS technologies have more easy to use Web UI’s with templates and are simpler to deploy and operate. In order to build a solid foundation for innovation in your organization, whether it is a startup or a multinational enterprise, you have to make important investments in multi-cloud systems, integration and automation. For maximum business advantage and agility, think intelligent multi-cloud strategies and build in automation wherever possible. At HostLabs , we specialize in multi-cloud technology and hosting services. Get in touch with our team today.