Cloud is the lifeblood of digital transformation. It has brought unprecedented scalability, flexibility and choice to enterprises as they have moved from first adopting the cloud for hybrid IT deployments to pursuing full-blown migrations where they access a range of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS platforms through multiple cloud partners. The RightScale 2018 State of the Cloud Report shows that 81% of enterprises now have a multicloud strategy, with organizations leveraging five clouds on average ꟷ running production applications in 3.1 clouds and experimenting with 1.7 more.[i]
The second annual Global Interconnection Index (the GXI), a market study published by Equinix, projects Interconnection Bandwidth will grow at a 98% CAGR between 2017 and 2021.[ii] One of the key factors driving this bandwidth increase is the rise of multicloud and hybrid cloud infrastructures, which spur a greater demand for private interconnection between businesses and the Cloud and IT Provider ecosystem. Many enterprises have moved away from managing their own data centers because they now have the extreme convenience of choosing a variety of compute, network and storage managed services from multiple cloud providers at neutral colocation facilities like Equinix.
More clouds, more challenges
While cloud holds the promise of streamlining, scaling and simplifying IT, the abundance of multicloud choices has actually increased business complexity in many enterprises. As the cloud continues to mature, organizations are coming up against the real-world challenges of integrating and managing multicloud architectures, not to mention the rising costs associated with connecting to multiple cloud platforms individually. Many businesses are also finding that accessing different cloud platforms over the internet decreases performance while increasing cybersecurity threats and compliance risks. As IT organizations’ cloud maturity increases, they are focusing on locking down multicloud security policies and understanding the benefits of multicloud resource segmentation (choosing the right cloud for the right job), which also increases the need for cloud diversity exponentially.
How enterprises are using multicloud
Understanding how companies are using multicloud is a good place to start when looking for opportunities to optimize and better manage multicloud infrastructures. The following are some of the key ways today’s businesses are using multicloud:
- Lines of business application and data owners launch hybrid/multicloud strategies to automate their operations to stay competitive and work within tighter budgets.
- IT departments spin up compute and storage services from IaaS providers and form partnerships with PaaS vendors to speed up software development and quality assurance testing.
- Organizations securely host their storage in neutral locations while accessing compute services from multiple public clouds for greater data protection and compliance. This also enables them to move to a more cost-effective compute usage-based OPEX model.
- Enterprises deploy multicloud strategies to pursue redundant architectures for data and application management, protection, business continuity and/or disaster recovery, and then discover other cloud-enabled optimization and scalability benefits.
How IT organizations can tame multicloud complexity
Our position at the center of the cloud world, as the home to one of the largest cloud provider ecosystems, gives us the advantage of seeing the best cloud practices our customers are putting into action around the globe to resolve cloud complexity. These include:
Standardizing cloud application migration
Companies have been fairly quick to realize that they can’t possibly migrate all of their applications to the cloud, giving rise to creative methods for standardizing cloud application migration. Maturing virtualization and container technologies and the standardization of open source container formats, such as Docker, and orchestration technologies, such as Kubernetes, are now accelerating the adoption of hybrid/multicloud architectures. Containers can encapsulate applications and live on top of a single operating system, providing a common denominator approach that can be applied across multiple clouds, while reducing requirements for memory and storage and their associated costs.
Integrating hybrid/multicloud environments via private interconnection
Many businesses are embracing hybrid multicloud adjacent infrastructures that enable them to simplify moving data and workloads between on-premises private and public cloud providers. Proximity between private and public cloud environments enable organizations to lower latency and networking costs. This is where we see private interconnection coming into play with many of our customers.
Traditional IT and networking infrastructures don’t have the flexibility, agility or reach to integrate multiple clouds into a cohesive, manageable infrastructure where the value of multicloud can be truly realized. Our customers are addressing this problem by leveraging Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric™), a software-defined interconnection solution that enables access to different cloud platforms via a single physical port across multiple metros. ECX Fabric is designed for scalability, agility and one-to-many connectivity over a self-service portal or API, where enterprises and service providers can directly and securely connect IT infrastructures to multiple network, cloud and SaaS providers.
ECX Fabric acts as an interconnection hub at secure, distributed traffic exchange and control points on Platform Equinix®. Interconnected across Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers around the world, ECX Fabric enables secure access to cloud platforms that may not be local to a business’ data center locations. Leveraging ECX Fabric for multicloud access allows IT leaders to segment and control multicloud traffic at the digital edge, closer to users, applications, data and local network and cloud providers, reducing enterprise backbone congestion, latency and cloud ingress and egress costs.
Cloud security scrutiny has increased as multicloud deployments have risen. It’s more and more difficult to manage data and its associated encryption keys across a broad variety of on-premises and cloud platforms. Different security policies and evolving government regulations are driving the need for a more secure, unified and flexible multicloud encryption key management solution. This is one of the reasons we developed Equinix SmartKey™, which protects data in on-premises, public, private, or hybrid/multicloud environments, whether your company is within or outside an Equinix IBX data center. The solution manages encryption as a SaaS-based hardware security module, in a vendor-neutral and cloud-agnostic environment, reducing complexity and cost, and increasing security and compliance.
Easybook: An multicloud use case for transportation ticketing
An example of a thriving digital business that has successfully solved the challenge of multicloud complexity through private interconnection is our customer Easybook. The company is a one stop-shop, online transportation ticketing platform that was experiencing rapid user growth and working to expand into multiple markets. The Easybook team needed to reign in expanding costs while still efficiently and effectively scale its services for a growing customer base.
ECX Fabric on Platform Equinix® enabled Easybook to deliver automated, real-time provisioning for multiple cloud service providers via software-defined interconnection. This direct and secure multicloud interconnection solution gave Easybook greater application performance and scalability for its customers and helped reduce its cloud costs by up to 40%.
The benefits multicloud infrastructures are accelerating digital transformation for businesses to better compete today and in the future. As cloud complexity increases, so does the requirement for direct and secure, private interconnection to deliver the real value multicloud can bring to digital business.
By leveraging the power of interconnection inside carrier neutral data centers, such as ECX Fabric on Platform Equinix, digital businesses can gain the flexibility and agility required to create dynamic multicloud infrastructures that enable them to tame cloud complexity and win in today’s cloud-first world.
Learn more by attending our High-Impact, Two-Day Cloud Workshop.
You also may want to check out these other resources for taming multicloud complexity:
[ii] Interconnection Bandwidth is the total capacity provisioned to privately and directly exchange traffic with a diverse set of counterparties and providers at distributed IT exchange points inside carrier-neutral colocation centers.