Written by: Vimal Venkatram, Managing Director, India, Snowflake
The benefits of using a cloud computing platform are now well understood by most businesses, however many are realising they can take their IT infrastructures even further.
Increasingly, businesses are taking advantage of multiple cloud vendors, choosing platforms that best suit particular workloads. Such an approach can improve performance and lower operational costs.
A recent cloud study by EY and NASSCOM revealed that Indian organisations are comfortable in exploring a hybrid or multi-cloud approach, with hybrid cloud occupying 34% of the cloud adoption landscape in India. Businesses want to increasingly leverage an optimum combination of cloud deployment models that best fits their business’ requirements.
Yet there is another step that should be considered: the adoption of a cross-cloud strategy.
This strategy allows data to move easily between multiple public clouds without any additional work required.
This means a business never has to be concerned about where its data and applications live or where business and technical staff are located. However, a must-have feature for all cross-cloud strategies is a technology framework that ensures robust security and governance across channels and devices used to access sensitive assets. This will ultimately support a seamless cross-cloud strategy and avoid scenarios where businesses stumble upon a cloud version of insecure data silos.
Delivering business opportunity
By following a cross-cloud strategy, a business can create an environment where data is no longer constrained by the cloud platform on which it resides. Instead, it can be easily moved to other platforms as required.
While this concept is simple to understand, it is rather more complex to achieve. Each public cloud provider has developed its own proprietary way of handling data, which makes it difficult to port data from one cloud to another.
A cross-cloud strategy solves this challenge by handling data appropriately with each provider, while providing a seamless end-user experience no matter where that data and applications live.
Cross-cloud is also important when it comes to ensuring business continuity in the event of a disruption. For example, enterprises in regulated industries require high-availability of mission-critical applications. That means data sovereignty and complete data availability, which can only be provided through mission-critical failover and failback. The best way to create data replication for failover is by using multiple clouds.
However, the strategy can go much further and help an organisation to achieve true data sharing on a global scale. Modern data sharing enables any two or more organisations to share data seamlessly, unlocking fresh insights and new business opportunities that were unimaginable just a few years ago.
Achieving a cross-cloud architecture
To reach a point where data can be seamlessly shared between multiple clouds, work must be undertaken at the platform level. To be truly cross-cloud, a data cloud must also deliver consistency at the data layer and be cloud agnostic. The user experience in the data platform should steadily meet expectations, regardless of which cloud provider hosts the data or the application.
Taking such an approach delivers a key business benefit: freedom. This is the freedom to add, move, or change clouds with ease and as required. This choice becomes a business decision rather than a technical decision.
Organisations need this flexibility with data because the business environment in which they are operating demands it, customers and partners are demanding it, and employees are demanding it.
The impact for application development
Currently, a lot of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers are multi-cloud but not cross-cloud. This means that anytime a provider operates on more than one cloud, their customers might as well be buying two or three different products from the same SaaS provider. The experience will be different depending on where the customer accesses the app and which cloud is used to store the customer’s data.
With cross-cloud, application development takes on a new life. SaaS providers can build applications on top of a cloud data platform and, by nature, access and use data from any public cloud. Also, when an application is developed on a cross-cloud data platform, it solves at least two issues:
- Data ownership: When SaaS providers want to take action on data, there’s often a problem as they need to take ownership of that data. However, with a cross-cloud data platform, application developers don’t need to take ownership because the application is simply sitting on top of the data platform.
- Rapid deployment: Any time a native app is developed with a backend database or an open-source tool, that app needs to be ported from cloud to cloud and from region to region. However, a data cloud allows a SaaS application to sit on any cloud and in any region without additional work.
Solving both these issues demonstrates the unique value proposition that a data cloud can bring to next-gen SaaS app development. An organisation can simply develop an app and choose where to deploy it. On any cloud, the customer experience will remain exactly the same, thanks to cross-cloud.
As the benefits of a cross-cloud strategy become more widely understood, businesses will quickly shift their infrastructure architectures. Just as cloud computing changed the game when it first arrived, so cross-cloud will take things to the next level.