According to Dell Technologies's Digital Transformation Index 2019, 40% of Singaporean businesses are planning to invest in multi-cloud frameworks over the next three years.
This mixed cloud strategy – one that uses public, private cloud and on-premise data centers –allows businesses to leverage and benefit from the accessibility, privacy and performance that each platform offers.
However, as this multi-cloud environment grows more complex with time, application traffic management needs to evolve from a technology function into a business function that adds value to the entire organisation.
This application traffic management, or load balancing, distributes the workload across multiple servers to ensure application availability, distribution of smooth network traffic, and health management of the entire system.
There are five key elements for effective load balancing to ensure that your multi-cloud architecture is sound.
1. Visibility and analytics into how your apps are performing
Instead of having multiple teams reporting to you about what applications are performing well and which aren’t, the “visibility” capability gives you the power to see everything in one go. It allows you to see which applications are seeing more users than others, the ones that are on the fringe of becoming a money loss – everything you need to know in order to maximise your revenue opportunities.
Businesses moving into multi-cloud environment also use advanced load balancing to inform their decision-making and prioritise their development and infrastructure investments. Visibility, analytics, and insights allows decision-makers to take the guesswork out of their application strategy.
2. Integrated security
In a time when the scale and scope of attacks are increasing, especially with global 5G rollouts and IoT growth, you need a solution that is able to differentiate malicious threat actors from legitimate users. Simply put, a traffic controller that stops a suspicious car from crashing into a building.
Here, businesses are responsible for the security of their applications and data. To do so, the implementation of a full-stack security at both the infrastructure and application levels is essential to prevent DDoS attacks or malware from entering the system. The load balancer plays a key role in security because it sits in the best place to reveal patterns around the behaviour of clients. It also allows your operations teams to use those patterns to differentiate between legitimate and malicious traffic.
Technological breakthroughs in everything from cloud systems to IoT are emerging at a pace faster than ever before. It is essential that your application delivery, security, and load balancing solutions are adaptable.
Having an advanced load balancing solution with automation and strong integration capabilities helps organisations stay agile and refresh legacy IT stacks from time to time.
4. Centralised management
In a multi-cloud environment, you need more control than ever due to the different policies of that public cloud, private cloud and data centers require.
Centralised management capabilities allow you to have one control point to avoid the chaos of distributed management system. With this single source of truth, businesses can drive efficiency by understanding application performance better, detecting anomalies more accurately, and troubleshooting issues faster.
5. Integration with containers
The final piece of the puzzle ties in with the ultimate application organisation solution: containerisation.
If you’re unfamiliar with containers, think shipping containers on a cargo ship. Without them, the goods inside would simply be dumped in a huge pile that would take an absurd amount of time to sort through and organise. However, with containers, their contents (in this case, applications) can be easily identified and moved in a fraction of the time. Containers have certainly proven themselves useful in practice as containerised apps are viewed as being more portable across environments.
This idea of containers isn’t new, but businesses have been adopting it at a rapid rate. Which means, not all businesses are sure how their current solutions work in tangent with containers.
An advanced load balancer that integrates with containers means that you can have everything (traffic management, security, automation, visibility) working for the container platform as well.
The future of business is here
Multi-cloud infrastructures present businesses with an exciting future ahead. Companies today are able to grow beyond the physical borders whilst discovering new methods to lower operating expenditure through the cloud, containerisation and on-demand applications.
The first step towards this goal is a long term multi-cloud strategy to ensure that your business stays agile.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Song Tang Yih is the vice president for Asia Pacific at A10.
Song brings to A10 Networks over 20 years of infocommunications experience and knowledge in setting the strategy, direction and growth for companies in the region. Starting his career at companies including IBM and Lotus Development, he went on to serve as VP of Asia Pacific for Palo Alto Networks as well as F5 Networks, where he played a key role in accelerating both companies’ global sales, shareholder value and industry recognition. Most recently, Song held key management roles at Metech International Limited and Advance SCT Limited. Song also has a wealth of experience in bringing businesses to market across Asia Pacific through the expansion of offices and partners, as well as increasing their customer bases and profitability. Song graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Science degree.