Multi-Cloud Challenges with Security and Strategy

Published March 20, 2023
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In the 2023 State of Application Strategy Report, which surveyed more than 1,000 IT decision makers from around the world and across a broad mix of industries, two insights really stand out. First, hybrid and multi-cloud architectures are here to stay, despite the cost and complexity of managing and securing them. Second, multi-cloud networking is emerging as a promising strategy to help organizations successfully manage and mitigate the challenges of hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

The findings also show that cloud-native app development has not solved the problem of complexity. Although cloud-native approaches are popular, with more than 73% of businesses currently developing cloud-native apps based on microservice architectures, going cloud-native rarely represents an ideal solution.

Many organizations face complexity because they are unable to commit to a single cloud provider—sometimes due to regulatory constraints or because they don’t want to be locked in to one vendor. Among the individuals we surveyed, most are deploying workloads across multiple clouds, with 42% leveraging four or more cloud providers. Other organizations may find themselves unable to go fully cloud-native because their business hinges upon technology that must remain in an on-premises data center, making maintaining a hybrid cloud approach necessary. Still others have found that a cloud-native approach can cause unforeseen problems. Fully 43% of the businesses we surveyed said that they’ve recently reversed course from a cloud-native deployment, or plan to do so soon, moving key apps that they had previously migrated to the cloud back to an on-premises environment.

Unavoidable hybrid and multi-cloud challenges

Hybrid and multi-cloud application architectures are complex—there’s no way around that—but they’re also inevitable for most organizations today. While some parts of the business require an on-premises data center, many customer-facing services need the speed, flexibility, and efficiency the cloud provides. And organizations also want to be ready to take advantage of the enhanced performance and engagement that is possible at the edge as their business evolves. Traditional, or legacy, apps help preserve core business functionality while modern apps are easier to develop and deploy for newer capabilities and touchpoints. As a result, a growing number of applications and APIs are widely distributed in hybrid environments and across multiple clouds.

Currently, 85% of organizations operate both modern and traditional apps across multiple application architectures and locations, but 9 out of 10 companies that maintain multi-cloud infrastructures report challenges. The cost and complexity of managing hybrid and multi-cloud landscapes can create significant challenges in everything from app delivery and deployment to security and performance.

One problem is the lack of standardization and interoperability of tools used for different application deployment models. Another challenge is optimizing performance for distributed applications that run in multiple environments. The difficulty of ensuring consistent application security policies across different environments is also a significant problem.

Faced with these challenges, most organizations want to ease infrastructure complexity, consolidate their deployment environments and reduce the need for multiple point solutions. Yet, because cost, control, latency, business continuity, and the ability to scale are perennial concerns, there will always be good reasons to retain more than one deployment option and to distribute apps and APIs across multiple environments. Digital organizations want and need the flexibility to deploy apps, and app components, wherever it makes the most sense for their business. But the tradeoff for that flexibility is often greater complexity, which can undermine other business priorities.

F5’s solution to multi-cloud networking security and scalability

Multi-cloud networking is a critical component in easing the infrastructure complexity for multi-cloud application architectures—and one that is not always solved well. To that end, F5 is working with customers to deliver the capabilities to automate multi-cloud networking, including a truly scalable application fabric that extends software-defined networking and declarative security capabilities up to and including the application layer.

F5 is supporting thousands of leading digital enterprises worldwide, many embarking on the multi-cloud journey, so we understand the opportunity and value of simplifying your multi-cloud strategy. F5’s multi-cloud networking solutions have demonstrated the ability to:

  • Increase business agility by replacing manual processes with automation, reducing today’s timelines for setting up apps (i.e., connecting, deploying, and securing apps) in multi-cloud environments from weeks to hours
  • Improve security and reduce vulnerability to cyberattacks by creating a single fabric that allows organizations to apply and unify consistent security policies
  • Lower operational costs tenfold due to enhanced agility and efficiency in connecting, deploying, and securing applications in multi-cloud environments.

And all without needing to change the overarching structure of your business.

For example, a major managed service provider is facing a new challenge: their customers are modernizing their apps and adopting multiple clouds which results in security and operational challenges. It takes weeks to connect and secure apps across clouds and it is operationally complex. They need a solution for this new world. F5’s multi-cloud networking solutions based on F5 Distributed Cloud Services help the MSP solve their customers’ challenges via automated orchestration and consolidation to reduce the time to connect and secure apps from weeks to hours.

From the beginning, we knew we couldn’t approach a multi-cloud world with a legacy mindset. At every stage, we have focused on our customers’ needs. And because our customers' digital journeys involve the evolution from traditional data centers to cloud and edge architectures, we meet them where they are and invest in the capabilities that will give them the resilience and agility to grow with confidence. 

Approach hybrid, multi-cloud strategy with ease

Although hybrid and multi-cloud systems are complex, organizations can successfully manage them in a way that reduces complexity and improves security and performance for the business as a whole. The key to this is taking a thoughtful and strategic approach that focuses on identifying what they need for their business.

With multi-cloud networking and security solutions from F5, organizations automate today’s manual processes and connect and secure applications over multi-cloud environments. They get consistent policy enforcement that reduces complexity, which they can apply to any app and API anywhere: on-premises, across multiple public clouds, and at the edge. As customers scale their business and pursue their digital transformation journey from on-premises to the cloud to the edge, we work with them to enable comprehensive and consistent security, performance, adaptability, and resilience to help them continue to evolve, grow, and thrive.

Learn more about F5's multi-cloud networking solutions.