The main advantage of going the Multi-Cloud way is that organizations can “put their eggs in different baskets” and be more versatile in their approach to how they do things. For example, they can mix it up and opt for a cloud-based Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solution when it comes to the database, while going the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) route for their application endeavors.

Related: SaaS vs PaaS for the Database

As per a recent survey, 49% of respondents made two or more changes to their database infrastructure in 2020 alone. Multi-Cloud is playing a big part in this.

What is a Multi-Cloud Database?

In a nutshell, a Multi-Cloud Database is a strategy that involves the engagement of multiple cloud vendors to create a more dynamic setup and boost operational versatility. This can be a series of public vendors (Amazon, Microsoft, Google, etc.) to address budget constraints or a blend of private and public setups for specific performance and operational requirements.

A quick clarification before we continue.

Multi-Cloud Databases are not to be confused with hybrid cloud setups, which are completely different things. A hybrid cloud setup creates one unified environment that is created with a combination of a private (on-prem) cloud with a public (external) cloud offering. Containers and microservices are often used to connect the dots and make everything work together seamlessly.

Besides the inherited benefits that we will cover in the upcoming section, technological flexibility is the biggest driver behind Multi-Cloud Database adoption. With every cloud vendor today operating differently with proprietary technologies, it only makes sense to segment the application and run it on multiple clouds to optimize compatibility and important performance metrics.

What does this mean for the database? Data can be partitioned and segmented, with no relationships or dependencies between the different clouds. Furthermore, all data is replicated. This means that only one cloud needs to have the primary data, while others operate with it’s replicas. Everything is typically orchestrated with a multi-master distributed database.

Disaster recovery is another aspect where Multi-Cloud Databases can be of help. Companies are striving to achieve the lowest Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO). These metrics can be minimized by replicating data to the backup (standup) cloud from the primary one. A synchronously replicated master-master database setup is another option.

Main Benefits of Multi-Cloud Databases

Now that we are more familiar with Multi-Cloud Databases, without further adieu, let’s dive into the biggest advantages of having one in your organization.

Avoid Vendor Lock-In
This is arguably the most compelling reason for making the move to Multi-Cloud Databases. Committing to one external cloud vendor used to be common practice, but with so many options out there today, do you really want to continue doing that? Technology is evolving all the time and you need to keep your options open and go with the market-leaders.

Optimize Costs with Minimal Expenses
Just like any other business, cloud vendors are looking to lock you in for the long-term. On the other hand, your goal as a DBA or CTO is to optimize expenses based on your usage patterns and requirements. Embracing the Multi-Cloud Database model will help you get the best deals and streamline your infrastructure budget for maximum operational profits and gains.

Achieve Data Resiliency
Needless to say, not relying on one cloud vendor will also make your data more resilient and less prone to human or third-party mishaps. For example, a cloud provider can face an unexpected outage or even downtimes resulting from technical reasons. Such scenarios have a direct effect on your database, application, and eventually your brand performance (and revenue).

Maximize Security and Compliance
Data privacy is being enforced across all continents. But not all regulations were created equal. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are going strong in the United States, while Europe is all about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Having a cross-cloud infrastructure can help you cover all bases.

Scalability with Optimal Performance
You basically get an “active-everywhere” solution that isn’t location-agnostic and can provide you with optimal data distribution and sharing capabilities. This is extremely crucial with devs and It teams working remotely from multiple locations. Having this cross-continent network of cloud options also means that performance will never suffer regardless of network and user fluctuations.

Related: Top 7 Cloud Database Vendors

Multi-Cloud Databases: The Top Challenges

Like with any methodology, the Multi-Cloud Database can be a double-edged sword if not implemented correctly with proper planning and monitoring.

Here are some of the challenges you will be facing off the bat:

  • Lack of Standardized Processes – Moving to a hybrid cloud is tough enough. Connecting your on-prem database to multiple vendors can be hard since there is no proper out-of-the-box process to implement.
  • No Data Sovereignty and Controls – Who is governing your data when it is sliding through multiple databases? Are you sure the right people are accessing the required data with the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP)?
  • Cross Department Collaboration Issues – Orchestrating Multi-Cloud Databases is not for everybody. Making this move can lead to communications issues due to lack of resources or skilled personnel.
  • No Abstract Layer – Even workers with good cloud-skills probably cannot deal with so many different vendors and technologies at one. This can become overwhelming with an abstract layer to simplify things.
  • Manual Processes – Multi-Cloud Databases need proper attention from the DBA and IT teams to work properly. Good luck if you are still managing tasks manually and implementing manual procedures.

The Multi-Cloud Database has some convincing advantages that more and more organizations are starting to utilize, but it’s implementation can backfire pretty fast if you do so without a sound strategy with automated processes to reduce stress on the DBA and IT teams. A sound database governance, monitoring, and automation can connect the dots and make everything click.

Database Delivery Automation for Multi-Cloud Infrastructures

The secret sauce lies in gaining a 360 view of the Multi-Cloud ecosystem. A database automation solution  can help you achieve just that:

Detect Deployment Issues Early
Once you are managing the delivery pipeline from one centralized dashboard, you can verify all code updates before the release. This helps detect nagging issues like configuration drifts, bad code, and other bottlenecks that can lead to deployment issues. This functionality is crucial if you want to shorten your time-to-market without sacrificing quality or time-to-market.

Seamless Integration Capabilities
Unlike other siloed tools, database delivery automation platforms are powering Multi-Cloud Databases by bringing delivery automation with a user-friendly solution that offers out-of-the-box compatibility with multiple cloud-based solutions. Not only does this reduce stress on DBAs, it also improves cross-department collaboration and reduces the training or onboarding time required for new stakeholders.

Policy, Roles, and Permissions
Another big advantage of having an automated and centralized database governance system is that you can easily create company policies and enforce them with no issues, even if you have remote teams and workers. Roles and permissions can be defined with just a few clicks. You can also modify or revoke them if needed. Needles to say, all trails are created automatically.

The same principles of traditional on-prem database automation apply to Multi-Cloud Databases. Once you have the version control aspect taken care of, you are eliminating human errors and enforcing a strong database policy, all in an automated and hassle-free manner. The automated history of database changes can also be used to optimize planning and design processes.

Related: Top 5 Advantages of Cloud Release Automation

Summing it Up

As per a cloud technology report published in 2020, 93% of organizations are already implementing Multi-Cloud Database strategies. However many are still facing roadblocks due to the traditional release management approaches they are still implementing. There is a clear need for a comprehensive governance solution that nullifies siloed monitoring environments and release issues.

The bottom line is clear. Release automation and real-time monitoring data will allow you to be proactive, rather than reactive, which can prove to be disastrous in today’s dynamic market. Only a comprehensive solution like DBmaestro can provide end-to-end visibility, while allowing you to practice dry-runs, rollbacks, and continuous testing, all with a Shift-Left mindset for best results.