Multi-cloud computing, which is the use of more than one public cloud service, is rising in popularity as a way to grow an organization’s cloud-based portfolio and avoid vendor lock-in. That’s why we think it’s important for businesses to explore this discipline.
Multi-cloud , or using multiple public cloud providers, allows users to leverage the best of both worlds: flexibility and lower cost. This makes sense, since most data is processed on-premises, yet there are times when it’s preferable for a business to carry workloads across clouds.
“The cloud is down.” It’s a statement that no one wants to hear. Regardless of what business you do, you know a cloud failure is costly. It robs an organization of its productivity and profitability, and, in certain circumstances, can result in serious business damage.
But cloud outages do not need to be a problem. There are ways to plan around them. Therefore, organizations have been architecting around technology failures for decades. They need to apply the same principles to cloud computing.
What does that look like?
Simply stated, businesses need to avoid single cloud scenarios. Therefore, experts will tell you that multi-cloud is the only viable, long-term solution for any business.
“No one should ever use a single cloud,” explains Micheal Gibbs, CEO of Go Cloud Careers. “It’s the same as putting all your eggs in the same basket. A single cloud is a single point of failure. It does not provide the reliability that businesses need. We can’t use a single cloud if we want to have access to high availability, high security cloud architecture.”
Go Cloud Careers is a career development company that focuses on training students in the technical competencies and soft skills necessary for securing cloud computing jobs. Go Cloud’s cloud architect and cloud engineering programs, which leverage Micheal’s 25 years of industry experience and 20 years as technology career coach, have an incredible success rate at getting six-figure jobs for graduates that complete all program requirements.
Michael’s warnings about the fragility of single cloud architecture is not just pessimism. Cloud outages happen. The major cloud providers had seven outages in 2021. When Google Cloud experienced a global outage in November 2021, it affected Home Depot, Snapchat, Etsy, Discord, and Spotify.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) had several outages in 2021, including one on December 7 that disrupted service for five hours. The result was five hours of downtime for some businesses. If an outage like that were to happen to a hospital system where physicians and nurses relied on the cloud to access patient records, the net effect could be patient deaths. As you can see, these cloud outages can have very deleterious consequences and require a multi-cloud architecture as the only solution.
Why does the cloud go down?
Quite frankly, all technology fails – it’s just a matter of when. A network failure is one of the primary reasons.
“When you rely on a single cloud, you are relying on a single network,” Michael says. “If the network fails, the whole cloud fails. We network architects design a network across multiple network providers, never one. We’ve never done that for the last 30 years. We know you can’t provide reliable connectivity with one network provider.”
There is also the possibility of the software that controls the cloud failing. “There’s an orchestration part of the cloud called the control plane that makes everything work. If that breaks down, for whatever reason – a hacking event, a misconfiguration, or just a bug – it can take the whole cloud down,” Michael explains. “A control plane failure can mean every customer that is only using a single cloud is down, not secure, and not available.”
A massive security event can also take down an entire cloud. Therefore, security events are not uncommon. However, A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a common type of security event that can lead to a cloud outage. These attacks involve hackers overwhelming a cloud with an extraordinarily high level of traffic that disrupts its normal traffic. Microsoft Azure, which is considered one of the world’s top cloud providers, reported it experienced an “unprecedented” number of DoS attacks in the second half of 2021.
Overall, businesses have come to rely on cloud computing for digital transformation. As organizations become increasingly dependent upon technology, making sure those systems are available when needed becomes critical. Organizations need to diversify their “portfolio” by placing their systems on multiple cloud providers. Then, when a cloud provider fails, which is inevitable, normal business operations can continue to function.