In today’s digital economy, companies are looking for an edge. They want to be more efficient, outpace the competition, and deliver a customer experience that builds loyalty and increases revenue. And they’re exploring hybrid cloud and multicloud strategies to accelerate that transformation.
In doing so, more and more companies are realizing they’ll need to welcome public clouds into their IT environment. Of course, some might argue public clouds are not a requirement in either a hybrid cloud or multicloud approach—we’ll leave that debate off the table. But as a refresher, multicloud refers to the presence of more than one cloud deployment of the same type (public or private), sourced from different vendors, while hybrid cloud refers to the presence of multiple deployment types (public or private) with some form of integration or orchestration between them.
Hybrid cloud and multicloud approaches are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but because they always involve more than one cloud deployment and/or cloud type, it’s likely that at some point, a public cloud will be added to the mix. After all, public cloud promises greater elasticity, scalability, and speed of deployment.
But public clouds also present challenges. When enterprise IT organizations begin adopting public cloud, the infrastructure, management, and automation software delivered by the public cloud provider may be different from what the IT organization uses in its own data centers. And, enterprises may find themselves locked into the cloud provider’s services and tooling.
As businesses iron out their cloud strategies—and consider when and where to use a public cloud – here are some of the key questions to ask.
What makes up the cloud infrastructure stack?
Be sure to ask potential service providers what comprises the infrastructure software that they use. For example, do the provider’s operating systems have the proven reliability, security, and performance of the operating systems you run in your data centers?
Will my IT staff need any new training?
Are there notable differences in the operating system (OS), middleware, or container orchestration technologies offered from the cloud provider that will require retraining of your IT staff?
Who is in your partner ecosystem?
This may be one of the most important questions to ask, especially since the answer is intertwined with questions one and two above. If a potential cloud provider is already partnering with vendors you use in-house, there may be an opportunity for a fair amount of consistency between their infrastructure and yours. To that end, Red Hat has hundreds of certified cloud and service providers in its partner ecosystem, along with Red Hat OpenShift, a comprehensive container application platform built on Kubernetes that lets users run apps in any environment on any cloud, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the most deployed commercial Linux distribution for public clouds.
Does your provider offer the services you need?
Cloud providers have a menu of services that may include Kubernetes, serverless computing, databases, artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc., but the choices only matter if they offer the services you need. Be sure to ask for details about all their services, and map those to your current and near-term plans. And don’t forget to ask about their roadmap to see if it dovetails with yours.
What security do you have in place?
Ask the provider for a full review of all the security plans, systems, and certifications they have. For example, how do they secure the hardware, and how do they encrypt data, both in transit and at rest? Also, find out if they offer any monitoring functions, and what their policies are regarding security breaches.
With thousands of providers all over the world to choose from, due diligence is key when choosing a public cloud partner. And it’s important to remember that the technology delivered by your public cloud provider must integrate with your existing IT, and that connectivity relies on the operating system. Linux is often the operating system of choice for public cloud, with 90 percent of public cloud workloads running on Linux, along with 9 of the top 10 public clouds in 2017.
About the author
Dan Juengst is Sr. Principal Technology Evangelist at Red Hat. He has 20+ years of high tech experience in areas such as DevOps, cloud computing, Platform as a Service, application performance, grid computing, and high performance computing. Juengst has held senior technical positions at CloudBees, CA Technologies, Sun Microsystems, SGI, and Wily Technology.