Why move to one cloud, if you can move to a multi cloud?

Scality Zenko multi cloudMoving to the cloud comes with many advantages. There’s the obvious advantages: if you put all your servers or services in the public cloud, you do not need your own datacenter. Provisioning rates are typically pretty fast, so this improves the time needed to spin up a new service. Plus pretty much every cloud is based on a “pay as you use/grow” billing model, giving you predictable costs.

Different public cloud providers charge different prices for services. So what if you could use the best value components from each cloud provider? Say hello to the multi cloud.

Cost of cloud

In the “pay as you use” aspect of public cloud hides a disadvantage. Many folks underestimate how literally that “pay as you use” is interpreted. Sure, you pay as you store data, but you will also pay for using that data. Which means: reading from or writing to a dataset. This can be charged based on object accessed, IO or MB transferred for example.

As said, there’s no single price: cloud providers charge differently. Provider 1 might have the cheapest cold storage but charges a lot if you access the data. Provider 2 might not have the lowest per-TB price, but could have more relaxed usage pricing. And for the very heavy usage apps that are constantly reading, analyzing and writing data, on-premises systems might offer the lowest TCO.

If you’ve got good insight into your data lifecycle, you might want to place the very cold data at provider 1, the medium usage data at provider 2, and keep the newest of data in your own datacenter on a private cloud. And this is just the storage aspect; how about compute?

Scality Zenko Multi Cloud Controller

Say hello to Scality’s Zenko Multi Cloud Controller! It’s a multi cloud data management controller, running as a bunch of Docker services. You can place Zenko either in the cloud or in your own datacenter. In essence, it’s an intelligent metadata manager, with four key capabilities:

  • It uses a single Amazon S3 interface for any “back-end” cloud, whether on-premises (on Scality RING devices or otherwise) or public. This makes it very simple to access.
  • It maintains the native cloud data format, avoiding a vendor lock-in and enabling you to run as many provider-specific public cloud services against your data as available.
  • Data is moved based on business policies. This might mean a demotion to lower cost storage, or it could mean a relocation to a new zone/area in the cloud to bring the data closer to its consumers.
  • You can search across clouds. This way, multi-cloud does not immediately become a “find the needle in the multicloud haystacks”-exercise.

Licensing is free for now, in the open source edition. Licensing for the enterprise model is still TBD.

Improving availability with the multi cloud

Cloud outages are real. The AWS S3 outage of February 2017 had many popular applications down, including Slack, Giphy and IoT devices such as thermostats.

Cloud providers allow you to replicate data across multiple availability zones (e.g. AWS US East and West), but you’re still in the AWS cloud. Wouldn’t it be more reliable to have one part in cloud 1 (e.g. AWS), and another in cloud 2 (e.g. Azure)?

It turns out, bandwidth isn’t really a big cost factor in clouds: roughly 0-5%. With Zenko, you can store your data in two completely independent clouds. This helps increase resiliency, and if you pick the right providers, could potentially result in cost savings as well.

Mileage of course varies, so do the math for your own use case. But in the above diagram you can see that multi cloud, replicated storage across two cloud providers can actually be very close to the total cost of a single copy. Free additional redundancy!

My thoughts on Zenko Multi Cloud

I’m hesitant to trust a single public cloud provider with all my services and data. Mainly for three reasons:

  • I don’t like to lock myself into a single vendor. Out of experience, it’s very easy to start with a service, but very hard to get all your data and services away from a provider.
  • Cloud can be expensive. Maybe because you didn’t do the proper homework upfront, checking the total cost of a cloud service. Or because you didn’t rightsize your applications. Or simply because the cloud provider is raising prices.
  • If the cloud with all your data goes down, then what?

With the Zenko multi cloud controller, you can move your data from one cloud to another if you wish to. Public AND private. It makes you more flexible and can also help you save costs. Sure, the product is still fairly new. But if it lives up to the expectations, it sounds like a product to follow.