Pavel Kirillov
April 2, 2021

Business Continuity with Cloud Agnostic Architecture

Amazon Web Services’ recent suspension and expulsion of the Parler social media network sent shudders throughout the tech world. However, the reasons for this shock had little to do with politics. Essentially, it reveals the true power brokers in an increasingly interconnected marketplace are the cloud-vendors themselves. 

Because of this cold, hard fact, forward-thinking organizations need to take steps to avoid vendor lock-in when crafting their latest web application. Following a cloud agnostic architecture makes sense as part of this approach. It’s the best way to ensure your platform remains accessible no matter the decisions of any single cloud provider.

Ultimately, the cost of switching vendors combined with significant downtime is too great of a risk. With business continuity in mind, here’s a high-level overview of cloud agnostic architecture. Leveraging these concepts when designing your company’s next web application provides peace of mind.

Why a Single Cloud Strategy is Risky 

Some aspects of a single cloud architecture seem alluring on the surface. For example, implementing DevOps tools and managing your development team’s codebase becomes easier when using one cloud vendor. When the goal is developing code as quickly as possible, a single cloud approach helps achieve that high rate of velocity. 

However, the risks of this approach remain numerous. Developing your application to work on AWS, for example, makes it virtually impossible to switch to Azure or another cloud hosting provider without a complete rebuild.

We already talked about Parler being expelled from AWS. As a result, they spent significant resources finding a new host and subsequently re-deploying their applications and data. Of course, their user base suffered downtime and looked for alternate platforms, never to return. This essentially gives CSPs like AWS the power to completely shut down a company.

Additionally, companies that follow the single cloud approach lack a certain measure of flexibility. For instance, they are unable to deploy an application to a client’s private cloud without difficulty. Ultimately, they also remain beholden to their cloud provider’s choices for tools and other technologies supporting cloud development. You are even beholden to any price increases or additional charges because the alternative, moving to a new host, is so much more expensive. In short, vendor lock-in remains a risk worth avoiding for any company. 

The Advantages of Cloud Agnostic Architecture

Beyond avoiding the risks of the single cloud strategy, a cloud agnostic approach provides many other benefits to companies. Most notably, they can architect applications to run on any cloud platform. This also provides the flexibility for the team to choose the tools, databases, and SaaS hosts they want. 

Additionally, a cloud agnostic approach to web development is rapidly becoming a necessity. A recent study noted that 81% of enterprises leveraging the public cloud use multiple providers. Another report highlighted the fact that these companies use an average of five different cloud providers. Simply put, vendor lock-in is not a wise option in the current cloud market. 

Using multiple cloud hosts also provides a notable boost in website performance. Web applications simply switch between cloud providers to find the one currently boasting the fastest throughput. This approach also helps companies save significant money over time; especially ones with a high number of cloud workloads.

Technology Considerations for a Cloud Agnostic Approach 

Following a cloud agnostic architecture requires a few considerations when architecting a web application. First off, leveraging a microservices architecture makes sense, since it breaks the application into smaller components, making it easier to build, test, and maintain. Of course, this architectural approach also works for any web or mobile application. 

Containers are a relatively recent technology innovation that relies on virtualization to encapsulate an application and all its dependencies. Using containers helps the development team quickly deploy applications into build, test, and production environments. When used for cloud deployments, however, updating applications across all the different cloud hosts becomes a breeze. In short, containers are a must for any cloud agnostic project. 

When choosing the tools, services, and frameworks for a cloud agnostic project, ensure their compatibility across a wide range of cloud hosts. For example, Docker is a de facto industry standard for containers. Additionally, consider Kubernetes for organizing and orchestrating container deployments. In a similar manner, choose cloud providers based on their support for the services in your company’s toolbox. 

The tools mentioned earlier – Docker and Kubernetes – also play a big role in successfully adopting the DevOps methodology. Another major component in achieving the goals of DevOps involves the use of automation. Obviously, this needs to be a consideration in any cloud agnostic architecture project. Crafting a continuous integration (CI) pipeline where builds are tested and deployed in an automated fashion ensures updates and bug fixes happen as quickly as possible. 

Making a commitment to a cloud agnostic strategy requires some upfront effort, but its rewards remain numerous. When considering the myriad risks of vendor lock-in, however, it turns a smart strategic choice into an existential requirement. 

923 Digital helps corporations achieve their business goals by crafting state of the art digital ventures, including mobile apps and web-based interactive projects. We also follow cloud agnostic architecture principles when relevant. Our team boasts the talented professionals well versed in guiding companies through the entire product lifecycle. Connect with us to discuss your next venture. 

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