Strategies for Cloud Agnostic Architectures

Cloud architecture strategies

Strategies for Cloud Agnostic Architectures

Introduction

If your business uses cloud computing–as most businesses do these days–it’s very likely that you have at least one public cloud solution. Ninety-one percent of organizations have adopted the public cloud. What’s more, a full half of large enterprises now spend more than $1.2 million every year on their public cloud deployments.

The “public cloud” refers to cloud computing services such as storage, software, and virtual machines that are provided by third parties over the internet. Some of the biggest public cloud providers are Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.

Increasingly, however, companies are growing interested in a “cloud agnostic” strategy. So what does “cloud agnostic” mean, and how can your own business be cloud agnostic? 

This article has all the answers.

Cloud Agnostic: Definition and Examples

cloud agnostic infrastructure

One of the greatest benefits of cloud computing is its flexibility. If you’re running out of storage, for example, your public cloud solution can automatically scale it up for you so that your operations will continue seamlessly.

Being “cloud agnostic” takes this idea of the flexible cloud one step further. As the name suggests, cloud agnostic organizations are those capable of easily running their workloads and applications within any public cloud.

The fact that an organization is “cloud agnostic” doesn’t mean that it’s completely indifferent as to which cloud provider it uses for which workloads. Indeed, the organization will likely have established preferences for their cloud setup, based on factors such as price, region, and the offerings from each provider.

Rather, being cloud agnostic means that you’re capable of switching tracks to a different public cloud provider should the need arise, with minimal hiccups and disruption to your business.

Why Do Companies Want to Be Cloud Agnostic?

benefits of being cloud agnostic

It’s hardly surprising that more companies are looking to be cloud agnostic, given that 84 percent of enterprises now use a multi-cloud strategy. This involves using two or more public cloud solutions, allowing you to take advantage of the differentials in features or prices between providers.

Another reason that companies want to be cloud agnostic is to avoid vendor lock-in. Cloud computing has revolutionized the ways that companies do business. It does so by giving them access to more products and services without having to support and maintain their own hardware and infrastructure. However, this increased reliance on cloud computing also comes with the risk of dependency.

Management consulting firm Bain & Company finds that 22 percent of companies see vendor lock-in as one of their top concerns about the cloud. “Vendor lock-in” is a phenomenon when a business becomes overly dependent on products or services from one of its vendors. This is highly dangerous if the vendor hikes its prices, stops providing a certain offering, or even ceases operations.

The world of cloud computing is rife with vendor lock-in horror stories. One example is that of Nirvanix, a cloud storage firm that went out of business and gave clients only two weeks to move their data. While it might seem impossible for an Amazon or Google to go out of business, remembering companies like AOL show that it’s not completely unrealistic for a vendor to cut services. By making your company more flexible and adaptable, being cloud agnostic inoculates against the risk of vendor lock-in.

Cloud Agnostic: Pros and Cons

Cloud agnostic architectures

The Pros of Being Cloud Agnostic

  • No vendor lock-in: As mentioned above, being cloud agnostic makes the risk of vendor lock-in much less likely. Companies that are cloud agnostic can “diversify their portfolio” and become more resilient to failure and changes in the business IT landscape.
  • More customization: Using a strategy that’s cloud agnostic and multi-cloud lets you tweak and adjust your cloud roadmap exactly as you see fit. You don’t have to miss out on a feature that’s exclusive to a single provider just because you’re locked into a different solution.
  • Redundancy. Having systems in place across various clouds means you are covered should any one encounter problems.

The Cons of Being Cloud Agnostic

  • Greater complexity: Being cloud agnostic sounds great on paper, but the realities of implementation can be much more difficult. Creating a cloud strategy with portability built in from the ground up generally incurs additional complexity and cost.
  • “Lowest common denominator”: If you focus too much on being cloud agnostic, you may only be able to use services that are offered by all of the major public cloud providers. Even if AWS has a great new feature for your business, for example, you may be reluctant to use it unless you can guarantee that you can replicate it in Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform. While more of a choice in enterprise strategy than a drawback, it is something to be aware of.

Strategies for Being Cloud Agnostic

A number of articles say that being truly cloud agnostic is a “myth.” These pieces argue that “cloud agnostic” is a state that’s not realistic or even desirable for most organizations.

In fact, being entirely cloud agnostic is an ideal that may or may not be achievable for you. Unless you are sure that the future won’t change, it may not be worth the effort to reach this goal. In large part, the tradeoff comes at the expense of your other IT and cloud objectives.

Nevertheless, there are a number of “low-hanging fruit” technologies that you can adopt on the path toward being cloud agnostic. These will be advantageous for your business no matter where you stand on the cloud agnostic spectrum.

For example, container technologies such as Docker and Kubernetes are an invaluable part of being cloud agnostic. Essentially, a “container” is a software unit that packages source code together with its libraries and dependencies. This allows the application to be quickly and easily ported from one computing environment to another.

Another tactic for being cloud agnostic is to use managed database services. These are public cloud offerings in which the provider installs, maintains, manages, and provides access to a database. The major public clouds such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google all offer theoretical possibilities for migrating between providers.

That said, using products such as IronWorker that can deploy on any cloud, including fully on-premise deploys, is the easiest and most cost effective way to remain cloud agnostic. This is because with virtually one click, you can save your settings and deploy to whatever environment your enterprise wishes. In short, simplicity equals operational cost efficiency.

Conclusion

Technologies such as containers and managed database services will go far toward making your business more flexible and adaptable. This is true even if not completely cloud agnostic. If you do decide to become a cloud agnostic organization, consider using the services of Iron.io. Set up a consultation with us today to find out how our cloud agnostic IronFunctions platform can help your developers become more productive and efficient.