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Hybrid Multi-Cloud Observability

What is a multi-cloud environment? 

A multi-cloud environment usually refers to the use of multiple public infrastructures as a service (IaaS) environments such as Amazon web services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google clouds, and others. A 2019 Gartner survey of public cloud users mentioned that 81% of survey participants had been working with two or more providers.

Multi-cloud computing is a subset of hybrid cloud that uses a combination of on-premises, private, and third-party public clouds.

Why do organizations use multi-cloud environments?

A multi-cloud environment helps organizations to optimize their infrastructure costs through competitively priced cloud services for different end-users. It provides flexibility to an organization to customize its IT infrastructure to a specific goal by leveraging the relative strengths of different platforms, helps organizations to avoid vendor lock-in, and minimizes downtime risks. As part of disaster recovery and business continuity plans, organizations use multi-cloud environments to ensure the availability of computing resources and data storage.

It helps store sensitive data in specific geographic locations and assists in governance and risk management both from a business and technology perspective.

What is multi-cloud management?

Multi-cloud administration refers to the development of a uniform and reliable system to handle the workflow and applications in a multi-cloud environment.
A multi-cloud management solution helps the IT infrastructure team support multiple cloud environments through a single pane of glass. An ideal multi-cloud management tool monitors usage, tracks billing and identifies roadblocks or bottlenecks. The tool should have a good user interface, easy to install and integrate with different platforms.

What is multi-cloud observability?

With the evolution of technology, old IT monitoring approaches have become inadequate. As such new practices are being added to existing processes to meet the requirements of a fast-evolving technology landscape.
Observability has been recently applied to IT Infrastructure, specifically cloud computing. The core concept of observability is understanding the internal state of the systems from its external output.

In the context of IT Infrastructure, observability refers to identifying the potential outages based on the data generated from different hardware and software components of the system. Also, in the event of an outage, the team should quickly get to the root cause so that the incidents can be acted on at the earliest.
The IT Infrastructure system automatically generates records for every activity. These system records include sign-ins data, application logs, security logs, security threats, and other types of events.

Observability extends the capabilities of the monitoring systems to analyzing the events along with other data for deriving actionable insights. It provides the ability to predict the likely future behavior of the systems using data analysis and other technologies.

The observability of a cloud computing environment is also important because of the change in the applications that are built and architected. Modern applications are built using agile principles that depend on multiple services through APIs and microservices. As such a service request is no longer completed by one service but rather by the composition of microservices. As such, there is a need to track the service request from start to finish. The concept of observability helps by analyzing all raw data and presenting a holistic view.

IT organizations can implement software tools purpose-built for observability or repurposed monitoring and management tools. Even as the repurposed tools claim to offer observability functionality, there is a lack of standard features/functionality across different tools.

The purpose of developing observability is to enable IT professionals and business managers to better understand systems and proactively address the problems that can impact business negatively. The observability of a cloud computing environment should be viewed as an important step towards achieving key business objectives of reliability, security and compliance, and revenue growth

How does FinOps help in cost optimization of a multi-cloud environment?

The emerging discipline of FinOps which is the shorthand for cloud financial operations helps the organization to bring financial accountability to the variable spend model of cloud computing. FinOps team comprises a multi-functional team from IT, Finance, and Product, to increase the business value of the cloud for the organization.

FinOps provides access to real-time data to the operational team (workload, product owner) to enable them to strike the right balance by efficiently planning their cloud spend against speed, performance, and service quality.

FinOps helps correctly segment and charge back cloud cost data to specific business units, products, or customers. This improves an organization’s ability to make informed decisions using cloud billing data.

FinOps helps the individual teams to identify over-provisioning or inefficient use of resources by providing visibility to the cost data. This enables the respective teams to take corrective steps by provisioning the right resources leading to cost optimization. FinOps team is also responsible for establishing processes and guidelines for public cloud resources, thereby creating long-term value for the organization.

What are the challenges in managing a multi-cloud environment?

When an organization deploys multi-cloud, its cloud operations strategy will combine best practices and guidelines of different cloud platforms. This presents its own set of challenges for the operations team. And since the operations team does not have expertise in all cloud platform tools and services, it will have to continuously update its skill sets to complement the organization’s innovation pace. However, the security team will face the most challenging task of mastering different consoles and dashboards to provide visibility and ensure the security of applications.

Automation will help to mitigate the challenges of managing a multi-cloud environment. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning can help to automate repeatable tasks and free the resources for high-value work. Process automation may also help the organization reduce the headcount.

Conclusion:

As organizations continue to invest in multi-cloud environments, effective cloud management is the need of the hour to derive technology and business benefits. The observability concept is gaining acceptance in managing multi-cloud environments, and the future looks bright from all aspects.