Skip to main content

Is Multi-Cloud a Solution for High Availability?

With the average cost of downtime estimated at $8,850 per minute, businesses can’t afford to risk system failure. Full access to services and data anytime, anywhere is one of the main benefits of cloud computing.
By design, many of the core services with the public cloud and its underlying infrastructure are replicated across different geographic zones. This helps ensure the durability and availability of your data and services and protects against downtime. However, outages happen. To protect against costly downtime, many companies spread their services across multiple providers to reduce the chances of failure.

But is a multi-cloud strategy the only solution for ensuring high availability?

In February 2017, an engineer’s typo caused a major service disruption on Amazon S3 in its US East region. The outage impacted many companies that relied on S3, and specifically those that relied on S3 exclusively in the region.
Workloads impacted by the S3 disruption fell into two categories: those considered “not mission critical” and those that lacked sufficient architecture and chaos testing. Companies who lacked a robust architecture sufficient for testing felt the impact most acutely. In this instance, replicating files on another cloud provider could have mitigated the effects of the disruption. However, cross-cloud replication would also add more complexity, perhaps unnecessarily. Using a single cloud provider with cross-region replication is another solution.
Let’s explore the technical feasibility of using multiple cloud providers to achieve high availability in three scenarios:
Application Distribution: Teams will have to work to abstract away vendor-specific functionality if they want to achieve high availability for the same functionality across different cloud providers.. This means that you will be limited to the features that are common to your selected platforms. At the individual service level, the differences between various cloud providers’ implementations can create a lot of extra work in the form of abstraction layers.
Containers: At the application level, due to IaaS implementation differences across providers, containers could serve as a viable abstraction. This approach would require running the same container orchestrator on multiple platforms and limiting the use of underlying functionality (or accessing underlying functionality through a common interface). While using containers to run the same application across providers may be technically possible, the implementation is far from practical, making it more prone to human error and potential outages down the road. The potential increase in errors may be caused by differences in how data is replicated and differences in the IaaS offerings themselves.
Security and Compliance: Managing security for any single deployment across multiple public clouds will not be easy. Serving up virtual networks, firewall rules, monitoring, logging, and identity and access management can be difficult and time consuming. Ensuring compliance across multiple providers adds a whole new level of complexity, especially at the rate that cloud providers release updates. Additional tooling, processes, and training will be required to ensure cross-platform consistency.

Is multi-cloud a solution for high availability?

Not necessarily.
New tooling or processes should be added to solve problems, not side effects of other problems. Adding the tooling required to implement a multi-cloud deployment is solving a side effect of using multiple platforms to accomplish what could be done with a single platform.
The bottom line is this: Multi-cloud could theoretically solve certain high availability issues, but it’s more likely to add undue complexity. Instead, a better understanding of technology and implementing best practices should be your starting point before looking for a multi-cloud solution.
This post is excerpted from our new whitepaper, Separating Multi-Cloud Strategy from Hype: An Objective Analysis of Arguments in Favor of Multi-Cloud.
You will learn:

  • The reality vs. hype of multi-cloud deployments
  • How to achieve high availability while avoiding vendor lock-in
  • The advantages of a best-fit technology approach
  • The arguments that should be driving your multi-cloud strategy

Discover the best approach for your multi-cloud strategy in our new whitepaper, download now.
Discover the best approach for your multi-cloud strategy in our new whitepaper.

Written by

Ben is a software engineer with years of experience building web and mobile apps. He learned about DevOps some time ago, and hasn’t stopped talking about it since. In addition to DevOps, he’s passionate about information security, as well as virtual and augmented reality systems. When he’s not working he’s hiking, camping, or creating video games.

Related Posts

— November 28, 2018

Two New EC2 Instance Types Announced at AWS re:Invent 2018 – Monday Night Live

Let’s look at what benefits these two new EC2 instance types offer and how these two new instances could be of benefit to you. Both of the new instance types are built on the AWS Nitro System. The AWS Nitro System improves the performance of processing in virtualized environments by...

Read more
  • AWS
  • EC2
  • re:Invent 2018
— November 21, 2018

Google Cloud Certification: Preparation and Prerequisites

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) has evolved from being a niche player to a serious competitor to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. In 2018, research firm Gartner placed Google in the Leaders quadrant in its Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service for the first time. In t...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud
Khash Nakhostin
— November 13, 2018

Understanding AWS VPC Egress Filtering Methods

Security in AWS is governed by a shared responsibility model where both vendor and subscriber have various operational responsibilities. AWS assumes responsibility for the underlying infrastructure, hardware, virtualization layer, facilities, and staff while the subscriber organization ...

Read more
  • Aviatrix
  • AWS
  • VPC
— November 10, 2018

S3 FTP: Build a Reliable and Inexpensive FTP Server Using Amazon’s S3

Is it possible to create an S3 FTP file backup/transfer solution, minimizing associated file storage and capacity planning administration headache?FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a fast and convenient way to transfer large files over the Internet. You might, at some point, have conf...

Read more
  • Amazon S3
  • AWS
— October 18, 2018

Microservices Architecture: Advantages and Drawbacks

Microservices are a way of breaking large software projects into loosely coupled modules, which communicate with each other through simple Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).Microservices have become increasingly popular over the past few years. The modular architectural style,...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Microservices
— October 2, 2018

What Are Best Practices for Tagging AWS Resources?

There are many use cases for tags, but what are the best practices for tagging AWS resources? In order for your organization to effectively manage resources (and your monthly AWS bill), you need to implement and adopt a thoughtful tagging strategy that makes sense for your business. The...

Read more
  • AWS
  • cost optimization
— September 26, 2018

How to Optimize Amazon S3 Performance

Amazon S3 is the most common storage options for many organizations, being object storage it is used for a wide variety of data types, from the smallest objects to huge datasets. All in all, Amazon S3 is a great service to store a wide scope of data types in a highly available and resil...

Read more
  • Amazon S3
  • AWS
— September 18, 2018

How to Optimize Cloud Costs with Spot Instances: New on Cloud Academy

One of the main promises of cloud computing is access to nearly endless capacity. However, it doesn’t come cheap. With the introduction of Spot Instances for Amazon Web Services’ Elastic Compute Cloud (AWS EC2) in 2009, spot instances have been a way for major cloud providers to sell sp...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud
— August 23, 2018

What are the Benefits of Machine Learning in the Cloud?

A Comparison of Machine Learning Services on AWS, Azure, and Google CloudArtificial intelligence and machine learning are steadily making their way into enterprise applications in areas such as customer support, fraud detection, and business intelligence. There is every reason to beli...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud
  • Machine Learning
— August 17, 2018

How to Use AWS CLI

The AWS Command Line Interface (CLI) is for managing your AWS services from a terminal session on your own client, allowing you to control and configure multiple AWS services.So you’ve been using AWS for awhile and finally feel comfortable clicking your way through all the services....

Read more
  • AWS
Albert Qian
— August 9, 2018

AWS Summit Chicago: New AWS Features Announced

Thousands of cloud practitioners descended on Chicago’s McCormick Place West last week to hear the latest updates around Amazon Web Services (AWS). While a typical hot and humid summer made its presence known outside, attendees inside basked in the comfort of air conditioning to hone th...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Summits
— August 8, 2018

From Monolith to Serverless – The Evolving Cloudscape of Compute

Containers can help fragment monoliths into logical, easier to use workloads. The AWS Summit New York was held on July 17 and Cloud Academy sponsored my trip to the event. As someone who covers enterprise cloud technologies and services, the recent Amazon Web Services event was an insig...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Summits
  • Containers
  • DevOps
  • serverless