The benefits of using a cloud computing platform are now well understood by most businesses, but many are realising they can take their IT infrastructures even further. IDC expects that the foundational cloud services market in Asia and the Pacific (excluding Japan) will grow from US$20.1 billion in 2020 to US$80.9 billion in 2025, at a 32% CAGR.
In addition, IDC predicts, by 2024, nearly 60% of enterprises will utilise “as-a-service” (*aaS) private clouds to support meeting critical multi-cloud needs.
Increasingly, businesses are taking advantage of multiple cloud vendors, choosing platforms that best suit particular workloads to improve performance and lower operational costs.
Yet there is still another step that should be considered: The adoption of a cross-cloud strategy, which allows data to move easily between multiple public clouds without any additional work being required.
This means a business never has to be concerned about where its data and applications live, or where business and technical staff are located. However, a must-have feature for all cross-cloud strategies is robust security and governance framework technologies designed to address all channels and devices used to access sensitive assets. It ultimately supports a cross-cloud strategy that delivers a seamless experience and avoids a situation where a business is faced with a cloud version of insecure data silos.
Delivering business opportunity
Businesses will find that data on cloud platforms are no longer constrained by a cross-cloud strategy. Instead, it can be easily moved to other platforms as required.
While this concept is simple to understand, it is rather more complex to achieve. Each public cloud provider has developed its proprietary way of handling data, which makes it difficult to port data from one cloud to another.
A cross-cloud strategy solves this challenge by handling data appropriately with each provider while providing a seamless end-user experience no matter where that data and applications live.
Cross cloud is also important when it comes to ensuring business continuity in the event of a disruption. For example, enterprises in regulated industries require a high availability of mission-critical applications, which require data sovereignty and complete data availability that can only be provided through mission-critical fail over and fail back. The best way to create data replication for failover is by using multiple clouds.
In Asia, countries have specific guidelines for data sovereignty, oversight and technology risk governance. For instance, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) – through their Technology Risk Management Guidelines – has laid out a set of robust practices businesses within the financial sector can adopt for effective risk management and internal data controls.
With these guidelines, MAS aims to provide general guidance to financial institutions on how to achieve data confidentiality and integrity, ensure system security and reliability, as well as establish stability and resilience within the IT operating environment.
Considering the three states of data (i.e. data in motion, data at rest, and data in use), the MAS Guidelines encourage financial institutions to establish steps that can prevent and identify data theft, and implement comprehensive data loss prevention measures within the company’s network across all stages of data use.
However, a cross-cloud strategy can go much further and help an organisation achieve true data sharing on a global scale. Modern data sharing enables any two or more organisations to share data seamlessly, unlocking fresh insights and new business opportunities that were unimaginable just a few years ago.
Achieving a cross-cloud architecture
To reach a point where data can be seamlessly shared between multiple clouds, work must be undertaken at the platform level. To be truly cross cloud, a data cloud platform must also deliver abstraction at the data layer and be cloud agnostic. The user experience in the data platform should always be the same, regardless of which cloud provider hosts the data or the application.
This approach delivers a key business benefit: Freedom. This is the freedom to add, move, or change clouds with ease and as required. This choice becomes a business decision rather than a technical decision.
Organisations need this flexibility with data due to the environment in which they are operating. Customers and partners, as well as employees, are demanding this level of agility and responsiveness from businesses.
The impact for application development
Currently, a lot of software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers are multicloud but not cross cloud. This means that anytime a provider operates on more than one cloud, their customers might as well be buying two or three different products from the same SaaS provider. The experience will be different depending on where the customer accesses the app and which cloud is used to store the customer’s data.
With cross cloud, application development takes on a new life. SaaS providers can build applications on top of a cloud data platform and, by nature, access and use data from any public cloud. Also, when an application is developed on a cross-cloud data platform, it solves at least two issues:
- Data ownership: When SaaS providers want to take action on data, there’s often a problem as they need to take ownership of that data. However, with a cross-cloud data platform, application developers do not need to take ownership because the application is simply sitting on top of the data platform.
- Rapid deployment: Any time a native app is developed with a back-end database or open-source tool, that app needs to be ported from cloud to cloud, and from region to region. However, a data cloud platform allows a SaaS application to sit on any cloud and in any region without requiring additional work.
Solving both these issues demonstrates the unique value proposition that a data cloud platform can bring to next-gen SaaS app development. An organisation can simply develop an app and choose where to deploy it. Thanks to cross cloud, the customer experience will be the same on any cloud.
As the benefits of a cross-cloud strategy become more widely understood, businesses in Asia will quickly shift their infrastructure architectures. Just as cloud computing changed the game when it first arrived, so will cross-cloud take things to the next level.