What is Multi-Cloud? The Security Challenges It Brings
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Today, more and more companies are opting for a multi-cloud architecture due to increased scalability, flexibility, and innovation. In fact, according to a cloud computing trends report, 89% of organizations have a multi-cloud strategy in place, while 80% take a hybrid approach.
More often than not, organizations with multi-cloud architectures leverage the best solutions from each cloud provider, distributing workloads between different computing infrastructures. So, the motto here is “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” However, the benefits of multi-cloud come at the price of increased network complexity and other security challenges. Let’s go back to square one and understand multi-cloud and its challenges.
What is multi-cloud?
Multi-cloud is the use of multiple public cloud services from more than one cloud service provider (CSP). Businesses that adopt a multi-cloud strategy conduct their business operations using multiple cloud computing and storage solutions from multiple vendors.
ℹ️ What is a public cloud? A public cloud is a platform where the computing resources are owned and operated by a single vendor but shared by multiple users via the internet. I.e., AWS, GCP, and Azure.
It can be as simple as using different software-as-a-service (SaaS) from various cloud providers. Or for enterprises, it can be the adoption of platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) from multiple cloud vendors such as AWS, Google Cloud Platform, or Azure.
The multi-cloud approach allows businesses to opt for specific providers for each workload, spreading deployments across multiple vendors. For example, a mobile app may run simultaneously via different technologies between AWS and Azure for different business requirements.
What is a multi-cloud solution?
A multi-cloud solution is portable across multiple cloud service providers’ infrastructures. Multi-cloud solutions are typically cloud-native, open-source technologies supported by all public cloud vendors. One popular example is Kubernetes.
Why do organizations adopt a multi-cloud strategy?
According to a survey conducted by Gartner, 81% of public cloud users are using two or more cloud service providers.
A multi-cloud strategy is an approach where a company leverages two or more cloud providers to perform its business needs. This strategy is often picked up by organizations that desire to benefit from the unique services of different vendors while avoiding vendor lock-in.
So, the majority of modern companies prefer multi-cloud. But you must be wondering, why do they choose a multi-cloud approach instead of sticking to a single provider?
It is because the adoption of multi-cloud provides:
- Access to the most suitable solution for unique business needs
- Prevents vendor lock-in
- Streamlines compliance with data residency requirements
- Resilience against the competition risks
Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and place them against the disadvantages. This way, you can scale the approach based on your business needs and see which side weighs down.
Pros and cons of using a multi-cloud strategy
The following are some of the advantages and disadvantages of multi-cloud usage, if not all.
Pros of multi-cloud
- Minimizes vendor lock-in: It’s also known as the vendor-agnostic approach, where a company’s IT systems don’t rely on a single vendor. Since moving to the cloud means that you rely on external cloud providers, it might turn into a challenge to move away from them. Multi-cloud adoption makes it easy to migrate using one of your vendors because the majority of your infrastructure remains in place. One word: flexibility.
- Reduces costs (potentially): Businesses that don’t rely on a single cloud provider can potentially save costs. As there will be no commitment, they can choose the most affordable services from different vendors.
- Simplifies data residency compliance: Countries typically have different data residency requirements. In a multi-cloud infrastructure, it’s easier for organizations to meet those requirements as they have access to cloud service providers in respective regions and zones.
Cons of multi-cloud
- The difficulty of management: Deploying on multi-cloud requires going through different technologies and processes for each vendor. It also causes a visibility challenge, making it harder to have complete visibility of your data and technology stack spread across different cloud environments.
- Expanded attack surface: Multi-cloud deployment quintessentially leads to a greater attack surface. The more data sprawled across multiple clouds, the more room for vulnerabilities.
- Difficulty in tracking costs: While there’s a chance of saving costs by using multi-cloud, it might also complicate the cost tracking process. Consider that the costs are divided between different vendors.
Multi-cloud vs. hybrid cloud - what’s the difference?
Both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud refer to cloud deployments on multiple clouds. They primarily differ in the kinds of cloud services they integrate. A hybrid cloud infrastructure incorporates different types of clouds, such as private and public clouds working in concert.
A multi-cloud, on the other hand, combines clouds of the same type. If a multi-cloud deployment involves an on-premise data center or private cloud as well as a public cloud, then it’s considered a hybrid.
The most common multi-cloud security challenges
Visibility is a critical challenge for general cloud security, let alone multiple clouds. You may not have access to every layer in your stack when using a third-party cloud provider. As a result, the lack of complete visibility may cause vulnerabilities and security gaps in your infrastructure to go unnoticed. Cloud providers often offer native monitoring services, which may not provide granular logging or visibility. On top of that, managing multiple monitoring tools can quickly become a nightmare when using multi-cloud.
To gain visibility into a multi-cloud architecture, you need a centralized monitoring tool that covers all cloud providers.
2. Attack Surface Growth
Attack surfaces are potential threat frontiers where malicious actors can attack your cyber assets and environments, should they find a gap. Therefore, safeguarding your cloud attack surfaces is critical for protecting your organization’s and customers’ data stored in the cloud.
This requires continuous vulnerability management so that you can remediate risks before attackers exploit them. The process in itself is complex, and it only gets more complicated with the number of cloud providers you use.
3. Security and Privacy Configurations
Making errors in security and privacy configurations in the cloud is more common than you’d think. The complex nature of the cloud renders it error-prone for misconfigurations. Even the best IT teams and administrators might make configuration errors. The key here is to automate configuration management processes with the right tools. To err is human; to automate is divine.
4. Data Governance
Considering the amount of data processed by today’s companies, data governance is a colossal challenge for any environment. When you adopt a multi-cloud strategy, the challenge grows exponentially. Multi-cloud data monitoring tools can help you track where your data is, who can access it, and who is modifying it across all your cloud environments.
Gain centralized visibility across multi-cloud
As a continuous cloud and SaaS asset visibility, security, and compliance solution, Resmo helps tackle the multi-cloud security challenges. IT and security teams can use Resmo to:
- Monitor all resources in each cloud provider on a single platform
- Continuously assess multi-cloud assets for vulnerabilities
- Query cloud assets and resource changes to get instant answers
- Detect configuration changes and misconfigurations with their actors
- Accelerate response times and remediation processes
Do these sound like something your team needs? You can give it a try with our free trial.