While business leaders understand and embrace the benefits of cloud – elastic infrastructures and robust platforms – that does not make the challenges faced by technology leaders any less real or frustrating. Those challenges are compounded by the use of multi-cloud. And increasingly, the solution might be supercloud.
That is the consensus of our annual research. The results from that research have been on my desktop for months now, and as I explore it, I have come to two inescapable conclusions:
- Nearly every business is invested in multi-cloud and, on average, uses 2.16 different environments.
- Every one of those businesses faces challenges operating in that model.
That complexity is about to compound as edge and distributed cloud gain steam. And gain steam it is. Just about one-third (35%) of organizations rely on a single environment, typically core (on-premises). The rest are spread across core, cloud, and edge locations. One in ten (10%) operate in all three environments.
Focus on multi-cloud
Organizations struggle with multiple challenges that span performance, security, and observability:
- Applying consistent security policies across all company applications
- Migrating apps among clouds and data centers with ease
- Gaining visibility into application health (status, performance, capacity)
- Optimizing application performance
These challenges of multi-cloud have risen to the surface for years. They are echoed in current conversations among technology leaders and influencers alike as driving a potential solution, that of ‘supercloud.’
Now, like any new term, supercloud is already being applied to the solution du jour. But a common theme to the explanations of “what is supercloud” are notions of normalization that enable consistent control over policies and configurations that are the foundation of answering most of the multi-cloud challenges faced by IT.
I am partial to the definition of supercloud offered by Cornell University to describe a solution it offered back in 2016:
“Supercloud is a cloud architecture that enables application migration as a service across different availability zones or cloud providers. The supercloud provides interfaces to allocate, migrate, and terminate resources such as virtual machines and storage and presents a homogeneous network to tie these resources together. The supercloud can span across all major public cloud providers such as Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine, and Rackspace, etc., as well as private clouds.”
Specific solutions from vendors providing such solutions today are sometimes designated as "distributed cloud," which itself is somewhat of a misnomer as distributed cloud includes a growing number of edge options as well. That’s important given how fast the adoption of edge is occurring. And it's not just the traditional "Edge 1.0" services that are gaining traction. Plans for the edge include the deployment of digital experience workloads – web front ends – as well as data-processing workloads in addition to the expected security service workloads such as DDoS protection and Web and API Protection (WAAP).
But those multi-cloud challenges still stand in the way, whether it’s cloud or edge. The ability to uniformly operate and monitor workloads and applications across multiple environments remains a sticking point for many organizations.
Normalizing security policies and interfaces (APIs) across cloud and edge providers is an extant need. As business forges ahead on its digital transformation journey and expands its digital presence, the need to deploy diverse workloads across the globe – in near real-time – will become necessary. The resulting multi-cloud mess needs a better answer than expanding on traditional operational models that rely on human expertise with a particular product. And that includes cloud and edge.
An abstraction layer, focused on normalizing cloud and edge provider APIs and security policies, will go a long way toward answering the challenges that organizations have struggled with for more than a decade.
Whether we call it supercloud or distributed cloud, it serves the same need: simplifying the reality of operating in a multi-cloud world and making it possible to realize the aspirational capabilities of cloud: seamless migration, consistent security, and optimal performance.