Multi-cloud application management is a key feature of application management today. Moving applications to the cloud has long been a matter of "when", rather than "if" as more options have become available over time.
Back in 2018, a reported 86% of large enterprise technology decision-makers said they were using a multi-cloud strategy. Multi-cloud adoption continued to increase year over year until 2020 when digital business and a global health crisis drove unprecedented multi-cloud adoption. Multi-cloud adoption over a 12 month period increased sharply—70% according to the 2020 edition of "The Continuous Intelligence Report: The state of modern applications, DevSecOps and the impact of COVID-19." This push represents an ongoing change in the way digital business is conducted.
Significant increases in cloud adoption requires skilled technicians to ensure everything is running smoothly. Even so, managing multiple cloud applications across platforms can quickly become a complex operation. Cloud application management requires many elements to work well together to be successful. (Read also: Myths About Multi-Cloud Data Management.)
Avoid unforeseen challenges by considering these different aspects before migrating:
Understanding Cloud Application Management
Cloud offerings are many and offer a wide range of features. Knowing what to expect from your cloud provider can make all the difference in the way you manage your cloud applications. Choosing a provider that meets your business needs is the first step in cloud application management.
Potential issues can arise when the chosen provider’s offerings aren’t a good fit for the applications your organization needs to run. It’s better to discover this incompatibility before engaging in a long-term contract. (Read also: 5 Questions Businesses Should Ask Their Cloud Providers.)
Migrating to the cloud can offer a great many improvements for application performance as well as better control over costs. However, it’s not without its own set of challenges. It’s important to consider the following when choosing a cloud provider (or providers):
Integration & Interoperability
Integration with multiple cloud services is common, but might not be available for everything your business requires. IT teams must carefully examine how well a particular cloud platform integrates with others already in use.
Service level agreements (SLAs) cover all the facets of responsibility held by a cloud provider. Delving into the details of these agreements can help you better understand what is and is not considered the responsibility of a cloud provider. System uptime and performance is often covered, as well as data loss and service interruptions. Knowing what to expect in the event of a major disaster, for example, can help IT teams plan for unexpected outages.
Downtime and disasters aren’t the only outcomes to consider. IT teams must also consider the possibility of a cloud provider going out of business. Access to data in this case becomes a high priority.
Build a Transparent Relationship with Providers
Transparency is a key driver in a business relationship where mission-critical assets are in play. Cloud provider transparency about how it maintains services and data is essential to knowing the risks associated with that service. Without visibility into the service and relevant logs, companies may find themselves in an untenable situation should disaster strike.
Migrating to the cloud doesn’t automatically equal better security. A cloud computing platform should be secure by design. Additional controls should exist to ensure configuration can be too. High profile data leaks of misconfigured Amazon Web Services (AWS) instances show how important it is to get a handle on every aspect of your cloud security. The growing complexity in cloud offerings means there are even more pieces and parts to protect. A lack of security transparency from the cloud provider could mean serious customer losses. (Take the quiz: What Do You Know About SaaS Risk?)
Best Practices for Cloud Application Management
Understand the Contracts
Ensure your company fully understands what is outlined in cloud provider contracts. Consult with in-house counsel, or another trusted legal professional, before committing to any contract. A detailed review of cloud provider contracts can help reveal provider expectations of the business relationship as well as information on who owns the data. A cloud provider that assumes data ownership should be avoided. Ensure your company maintains ownership of the data to avoid any questions of responsibility or intellectual property rights.
Utilize a Multcloud Strategy
Deploying to a single cloud platform makes for simplified management, but doesn’t account for future needs. Cloud isn’t a singular item – it’s a collection of services that can be used together to meet multiple business needs. Current business needs may not resemble those that may arise in the future. The same goes for cloud providers. A multicloud strategy enables a more flexible approach to availability and offers an added layer of redundancy.
Don’t Move Everything into the Cloud at Once
When it’s time to migrate applications to the cloud, work in batches rather than moving everything at once. An incremental move gives you the opportunity to test and troubleshoot before moving onto the next. This can also ensure critical resources are available when needed, avoiding unnecessary downtime.
The cloud isn’t suitable for absolutely every application. A careful approach to migrating applications to the cloud should consider the actual benefits of the move. Some applications, especially legacy applications, may not fare well as cloud applications. (Read also: Optimizing Legacy Enterprise Software Modernization.)
Establish an Application Management Strategy
Moving to the cloud requires a plan to manage application performance over time. Ensure the application lifecycle is closely monitored by deploying an application management strategy. Application management allows companies to adapt and innovate while also measuring performance. Deploying applications without a plan for how they will be managed can result in an unnecessary increase in complexity.
Ensure Adequate Backup and Failover
It’s important to know what happens to your applications during a service disruption or worse. Expect the worst and arrange scheduled backups for application data and settings. Define a plan for backup retrieval and testing. A regular backup scheme is only effective when the backups actually work.
Failover is imperative to ensure there are no long term service interruptions. Transparency remains an important aspect of even failover plans. Laws and regulations around data storage and access should be followed appropriately. Failover that lands data in the wrong jurisdiction could result in serious legal consequences.
Cloud applications aren’t without challenges, but many can be avoided with planning. Transparency in pricing, security, and reliability are key aspects in choosing the right provider for your application. Not every cloud provider will meet all your business requirements.
Deploying a multi-cloud solution can potentially meet the needs of your organization so long as they’re monitored closely throughout the application lifecycle. Moving to the cloud with a solid understanding of what to expect can mean productivity and performance improvements.