Many businesses, once they are established in the cloud, move on to the next step -- managing multiple clouds. Larry Collins, Vice President of E-Solutions and Risk Engineering at Zurich Services Corporation, explains, "Two of the most common ways this might happen include: (1) one company acquires another and each had its own cloud or 2) a company maintains both an off-site cloud as well as their own in-house private cloud." In either case, a company may have to maintain a larger infrastructure than they might otherwise have to do. Any time they need to combine data from multiple clouds, they may find that they have to store the pieces separately.
"Additionally, each cloud will have to be managed. Management information will need to be reviewed and monitored, system sizes and response times monitored and new capabilities digested and understood. The more clouds there are, the more these tasks multiply," adds Collins.
If you prefer not to use one provider for all of these needs, you may use multiple cloud computing providers. Before doing so there are several questions you must ask, including:
- Will the applications work compatibly in multiple clouds?
- Who's responsible for problem determination?
- Will data security suffer as a result?
Also, critical is considering the API -- the application programming interface or the interface between different software programs that facilitates their interaction. Evaluate the cloud provider's integration capabilities:
- Do they have good documentation? Do they provide working examples for common tasks?
- What are the API access methods? Ask if your multiple vendors' API's use the same protocols. Trying to mix and match access protocols can make future integration more challenging.
- How has the API developed? Is there a clear road map for new features? How quickly are bugs fixed?
- Is integration a two-way street? Often you can pull/push data from cloud service vendors but not both. Make sure data synchronization can flow as needed for your integration.
So if you're ready to move to a multiple cloud environment be sure to weigh all your options and make the choices that are right for your business.
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