Multi-Cloud is one of the hottest trends for enterprises right now, but a common misconception can cost your organization millions if it isn’t addressed. IT leaders need to recognize that multi-cloud is an application strategy, not an infrastructure strategy.
Adopting multiple clouds can deliver a better global footprint, provide unique data services, and avoid lock-in, but it can also fracture your applications, teams, and budget. Infrastructure-centric teams will have to spend significant cycles configuring, deploying, and scaling applications uniquely per cloud. A fragmented cloud strategy like this is costly, time-consuming, and counter to the promise of multi-cloud.
Multiple clouds ≠ multi-cloud.
Acquiring cloud resources from multiple vendors is the easy part. Building a seamless application lifecycle that can easily move across the silos of cloud environments is more challenging, but necessary to realize the true value of multi-cloud.
Multi-cloud can only be achieved by abstracting applications from the underlying infrastructure and application services, such as load balancers. This provides a heterogeneous environment where the application has the flexibility and portability to get resources it needs without requiring custom configuration per environment. The goal is to make the application agnostic to the cloud infrastructure and apply services directly to the application so the services have the same portability as the application.
Abstraction allows enterprises to move at the speed of their applications, not the infrastructure that delivers them. Many platforms, especially container-based technologies, are agnostic and span multiple clouds with ease. However, most application services, like load balancing and WAF, are still infrastructure-centric and don’t align with your multi-cloud application strategy.
The native load balancing solutions from the cloud providers only function in their respective environment (e.g. AWS ELB doesn’t work in Azure and Azure’s Application Gateway doesn’t work in AWS). Similarly, virtualized load balancers are configured to operate inside of an infrastructure silo. These load balancers still function as appliances which means they are anchored to infrastructure and don’t have the same flexibility and portability that your applications do. These traditional load balancing solutions are designed around infrastructure — not your applications.
The challenge now is to provide high availability for applications across your multi-cloud environment so it aligns with your application strategy. It’s time to re-imagine load balancing.
Over the last decade, we’ve seen infrastructure turn on its head. Racking and stacking used to be commonplace. Managing hardware used to be considered the fastest way to get the infrastructure you needed that gave you the features and controls you wanted — a statement that is almost laughable now. Visionary IT leaders, self-service practitioners, and CAPEX-conscious finance teams, all played a role in the shift towards the cloud. Today, investment in hardware infrastructure is more uncommon than ever. Application teams are more interested in getting the resources they need instead of being opinionated about how the resources are delivered to them. IT operations teams are challenged to take on growing demand with flat or shrinking budgets. The services, business model, and mindset towards infrastructure have all radically changed. And these changes made multi-cloud realistic and attainable.
Load balancing, on the other hand, has seen little change in the past decade. What little innovation we have seen from the incumbent vendors has been the repackaging their hardware appliance into a virtualized edition so it can run in the cloud. The architecture is the same (without the benefit of proprietary hardware), which means they aren’t capable to deliver services that applications need to thrive in a multi-cloud world. These appliances, hardware or virtual, are not application-centric and in no way support multi-cloud initiatives.
Like most other appliances, they need to be re-imaged as software services—services that can be deployed per-app and move with the application to whatever environment best suits the application.
Multi-cloud is an application strategy. And the only way to bring this strategy to life is to leverage infrastructure and services that put your applications first.