A reference architecture for multicloud

Jeffrey Cuebas

Today’s definition of multicloud depends on who you ask. This is not a new trend. Whenever a new technology gets some hype, suddenly there is semantic confusion. 

My definition is a bit more holistic than most: Multicloud is a collection of public clouds, private clouds, and legacy systems (yes, I went there). Two or more public or private clouds must be present to be true multicloud. Legacy systems are optional but also good to include.

A charted representation of my definition looks like this: 

multicloud architecture David Linthicum

Something I’ve learned over the years is that frameworks of any kind have to be generic and applicable to different problem domains. My representation includes most of what you’ll find in common multicloud deployments I see today. 

If this seems complex, that’s the point. If the goal is to get a healthy multicloud deployment up and running, you’ll need most of these services. That list includes everything from cost governance, storage management, and cloud service brokers, as well as orchestration and process management—and those skills require qualified talent.

cio think tank 450x450 IDG

You’ll need a few more things, depending on your industry, such as compliance management. Figure on at least 20 percent to 30 percent more services to ultimately meet your business needs.

Note that my multicloud definition includes two core meta-layers: 

Data-focused multicloud deals with everything that’s stored inside and outside of the public clouds. Cloud-native databases exist here, as do legacy databases that still remain on-premises. The idea is to manage these systems using common layers, such as management and monitoring, security, and abstraction. 

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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