Microsoft warns of multicloud risk
Some enterprises worry about giving all their public cloud business to one provider and getting locked in. But multicloud has its own risks, says Microsoft Azure chief technology officer Mark Russinovich.
Enterprise Cloud News (Banking Technology’s sister publication) reports that enterprises pursue a multicloud strategy to help negotiate a better pricing, among other reasons. But then those enterprises have to develop expertise in two clouds, as well as managing divided workloads and data and moving them between could providers. Cloud providers have different APIs and abstractions. Virtual machines can’t simply be picked up and moved from one place to another, the Microsoft Azure CTO adds.
“Companies are saying, ‘I want to be as portable as possible,'” Russinovich said during a Q&A session at the Structure 2017 conference in San Francisco. Portability can be achieved using Docker containers, and orchestrated with Cloud Foundry, OpenShift and Kubernetes.
But what about cloud arbitrage – companies that allow enterprises to move workloads between cloud providers, as well as balancing loads between multiple clouds?
Russinovich says he sees some future in arbitrage, but only for some workloads. Users will pay egress charges for moving data, and integration will incur costs. “I’ve not seen [arbitrage] being deployed in practice,” he says.
Russinovich’s Q&A was short, but covered a lot of ground. Topics included:
‘Cloud consistent hybrid’
Russinovich discussed AzureStack, a hardware server running the Azure software stack on-premises in the customer location. Azure Stack shipped in September.
AzureStack is an example of a new category of cloud technology, in addition to the usual divisions of public, private, and hybrid, Russinovich says. He calls the new category “cloud consistent hybrid” – because it’s the same software platform, running both on the public cloud and private cloud, meaning it can run the same software as runs on Azure, and take advantage of the complete ecosystem of Azure developers and partners.
When public cloud might not be right
Dropbox pulled back from public cloud to go with a self-hosted private cloud early last year, and Snap is taking heat from Wall Street for high expenses on public cloud infrastructure. Does that suggest the public cloud might not be best for everyone?
Russinovich says that might be the case. Private cloud might be better for very sophisticated, large companies with specific optimisable workloads that are self-contained applications. But those are not typical cases. Typical cases are elastic, very diverse, and they need to take advantage of capabilities the cloud delivers, he adds.
Also, most companies want a global presence. Building out data centres and managing them across the world is a big cost, which public cloud providers are better suited to bear, Russinovich explains.
The traditional cloud and edge computing will work together, Russinovich says. The physics of network bandwidth and latency requirements will drive compute to the edge, where rich clients will process data with assist from the cloud.
Microsoft is already doing that with the Xbox, where a gaming physics engine runs in the cloud to calculate how buildings and the environment react to explosions, and then sends results to the Xbox, making the game more scalable and richer, Russinovich says,
Edge computing is important anywhere that lives are at stake, or when connections are intermittent, such as autonomous cars, factory floors, and hospitals. “If you’re dependent on the cloud and you lose connectivity on the factory floor, that can be millions of dollars in revenue,” Russinovich says.
User perceptions of the cloud have changed over the past seven years, according to Russinovich. Enterprises seven years ago needed education in cloud basics. “People didn’t understand what the cloud was seven years ago,” Russinovich says. They needed explanation of concepts such as Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service.
Later, users became concerned about security and reliability. But now, enterprises see the cloud as more secure than on-premises infrastructure, Russinovich says.
“The meme has become that the cloud has become more secure for infrastructure than what they can do on-prem,” he notes.