How to Avoid Multi-Cloud Vendor Lock-in, Part 1: Application Strategy

With 90 percent of organizations already using multiple clouds to run their various applications, articles abound that extol the virtues of a multi-cloud strategy, particularly for the potential cost savings from avoiding cloud vendor lock-in.

The argument goes like this: multi-cloud architectures let you blend platforms and vendors so that you can run workloads based in different clouds, simultaneously. Hence, you are not locked into one vendor. That sounds great…in theory.

This post highlights the most common reasons for cloud vendor lock-in, even when using a multi-cloud strategy, and provides 5 helpful tips for ensuring you avoid lock-in with your multi-cloud app strategy.

Major Causes of Cloud Vendor Lock-In

Many IT and Development teams have failed to plan their application strategy properly to avoid lock-in scenarios in their multi-cloud infrastructure and, as a result, find themselves locked into multiple providers ─ each for different applications. Ironic, right? They went multi-cloud to, in large part, avoid vendor lock-in and now find themselves shackled by more than one cloud provider.

How did this happen? Typically, cloud providers are quite adept at migrating workloads to their own cloud, then they make it extremely difficult to untie apps and data from their underlying infrastructure.

A second cause of lock-in came from the attractiveness of individual cloud’s unique platform capabilities and features. These have driven organizations to see compelling reasons to use different clouds for different apps. For example, Google Cloud provides superior tools in AI, ML, and data analytics, Azure’s hybrid cloud capabilities are unmatched, and AWS offers the broadest array of tools.

The third major cause of lock-in comes from selecting native cloud services, such as API management, storage, and governance. These require organizations to modify their applications, and once an application is modified to the point where it becomes cloud-native to one cloud, you cannot simply move it to another cloud and expect it to run properly. In many cases, a lot of rework must be done, and many development teams are too stretched as they develop and deploy newer apps.

 

4 Steps to Avoid Cloud Vendor Lock-In

Step #1: Decide which applications are the best candidates for a multi-cloud architecture.

Let’s face it, you may have some unique applications that will benefit so greatly from a single, specific cloud feature, such as Google Cloud’s analytics, that the functionality benefits far outweigh the risk of disruptions caused by lock-in. Beyond this type of extreme situation, you should plan to develop most of your apps in a way that avoids vendor lock-in, steps 2-4 below.

Step #2: Rely on Non-Native Tools.

Using all non-native tools to develop your apps will provide two hefty multi-cloud benefits. First, you will be able to run each app’s workloads across multiple clouds from the outset. Not only does this make your apps more resilient, you can save ongoing costs by shifting workloads around between cloud providers based on ongoing cost and performance evaluations. Second, you will have a much easier time adopting additional open-source features/functions going forward.

Step #3: Do Not Put Security Data in the Source Code.

Cloud providers often make it easy for you to define values and insert into the source code passwords, API and encryption keys, and other sensitive, security-related data. There are many different ways to avoid doing this, and you should choose any one of them over source-code insertion.

Step #4: Have a Single Point of Access.

It goes without saying that a multi-cloud app will be hosted on multiple cloud infrastructures. This makes granting user access more complicated, unless you use a single domain name or IP address. These options give you a single entry point and can avoid becoming their own single point of failure when you leverage a round-robin domain name convention.

In the end, which apps you choose to make truly multi-cloud will drive your decisions regarding ‘Open-vs-Locked.’ Whichever you choose, Kmesh will be there to ensure your data is accessible to all your apps, in support of any multi-cloud strategy. Contact us today at info@kmesh.io

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