Cloud Strategies: Understanding the Benefits and Risks

For organizations looking to remain ahead of the digital transformation curve, having a forward-thinking cloud strategy and enterprise architecture is imperative. Revolutionary technology and applications demand that logic and computation be performed at all layers of IT ecosystems. Complex questions arise in the realm of risk management, disaster recovery, data storage, ownership, and workload management. To build successful, scalable cloud strategies, organizations need to define their needs early and understand the differences between the strategies.


There are two main cloud strategies: Hybrid Cloud and Multi-Cloud

Hybrid Cloud


A hybrid cloud environment is one in which there is a mix of both third-party public and on-premises private cloud services. The separate environments work together to create a seamless workflow without a noticeable impact on the user experience. In a hybrid environment, there are not necessarily any other cloud providers, it is the third-party and on-premises relationship that defines the hybrid cloud strategy.

Multi-Cloud


A multi-cloud environment is one wherein you mix and match cloud services from different providers, often to meet specific workload needs. The distinction being that there are multiple providers in the strategic architecture. Multi-cloud environment generally contain a mix of public infrastructure as a service (IaaS) environments like Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure


While the benefits and risks related to each strategy largely overlap, it is important to understand the subtle differences when defining cloud strategy.

The benefits go beyond just cost and other simple metrics; different cloud and infrastructure services are optimized for certain uses, as they originated for different purposes. The three major cloud providers, Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure provide the same core service, but there are differences in pricing, packaging, and value-add services that could impact purchasing decisions. Researching and choosing the appropriate provider and public/private solution given the business case enables organizations to pool resources in the most efficient and appropriate environments. This flexibility allows distributed workloads, favorable risk profiles, and agile load balancing for all types of solutions.

With effective hybrid or multi-cloud environments, organizations free themselves to build next-generation initiatives without having to fret about the dreaded lock-in and the specialized functionality specifications of a single cloud offering.

On the flip side, there is inherent difficulty in brokering connectivity between unfamiliar bits of technology. Cloud environments are secured with unique network addressing schemes, special permissions, and firewalls, making it difficult to play nice across platforms. Navigating the security differences across providers is no small task, and there are several additional risks within diverse cloud environments, including:

  • Large attack surface → Multiple clouds means multiple avenues for nefarious attacks to originate. The interconnectedness of critical and non-critical data sources amplifies the potential impact of a breach at any level.
  • Threat containment → When workloads are distributed across multiple clouds, threats are more readily propagated to places outside the organization’s control.
  • Accountability → Each cloud provider is responsible only for infrastructure or applications that it hosts. In the event of an attack, it is often difficult to locate the origin, determine fault, and address issues with relevant parties.
  • Traceability → The ability to manage data and devices from disparate sources becomes increasingly difficult as complexity is added to the computing environment.
  • Standardization → Establishing and maintaining policies that work cohesively across interactions between cloud providers takes collaboration from all parties. Lack of standardization makes integration increasingly difficult, as compatibility is always in question.

Whether your needs align more with a hybrid or multi-cloud model, there is no one size fits all solution when choosing a cloud strategy. Today’s complex cloud environments often encompass many different devices, applications, interfaces and communication protocols.

In our experience, communication protocol hurdles often come with cloud environment architecture. These hurdles are why we built our own communication broker, Pubkeeper. Pubkeeper allows for disparate communications protocols to be hidden behind an abstracted client which allows participants to publish and subscribe to data within the system, regardless of the client type. This drastically reduces the friction of adding integrations within diverse cloud ecosystems. For more information, request a demo at niolabs.com