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Over the last couple of years we have seen growing references to multi-cloud. That is to say, people are recognizing that organisations, particularly larger ones are ending up with cloud services for many different vendors. This at-least in part has come from where departments within an organization can by meaningful resources within their local budgets.

Whilst there is a competitive benefit of the recent partnership agreement between Microsoft and Oracle given the market margin AWS has in comparison to everyone else. Irrespective of the positioning with AWS, this agreement has arisen because of the adoption of multi-cloud. It also provides a solution to the problem of running highly resilient Oracle database setups using RAC, DataGuard etc can be made available to Azure without risk to security and the all important network performances that are essentially to DB operation. Likewise, Oracle’s SaaS offerings are sector leaders if not best in place, something Microsoft can’t compete with. But at the other end, regardless of Oracle’s offerings, often organisations will prefer Microsoft development ecosystem because of the alignment to office tooling, the ease of building solutions quickly.

Multi-cloud even with the agreements like the Microsoft and Oracle one (See herehere), doesn’t mean there won’t be higher costs in crossing clouds. Let’s see where the costs reside …

  • Data egress (and in some cases ingress as well) from clouds costs. Whilst the ingress costs have been eliminated because it can be seen as a barrier to selling services, particularly big data. Data egress can however be an issue. Oracle have made this cost very low to be almost negligible, but not necessarily others as the following comparison shows …
  • Establishing the high performance connections That the agreement supports needed between Azure and Oracle cloud is the same tech for cloud to ground do incur a cost. In Oracle’s case there is a fee for the connection (not a large cost, but one that exists none the less) plus any traffic fees the provider of the network connection spanning the data center locations. This is because you’re leasing capacity on someone’s dedicated fiber or MPLS services. Now, this should prove to be small as part of the enabler of this offering is that both Oracle and Microsoft cloud DCs are often actually physically provided by the same provider or at-least the centers a physically pretty close, as a result of both companies gravitating to locations close together because of the optimal highly available infrastructure (power, telecommunications) legal and commercial factors along with the specialist skills needed.

If data egress is the key challenge to costs, what drives the data egress beyond the obvious content for user interfaces? …

  • Obviously you have the business data flows, some of these flows will be understood by the business community. But not all, this is down to the way data from cloud can be exposed to another. For example inefficient services with APIs that requires frequent polling and not using expressing the request efficiently, rather than perhaps express the request using HTTP header attributes and other efficiencies or even utilize frameworks such as webhooks so data can be pushed.
  • High speed data access, often drives data replication having databases in multiple clouds with mirror image data in each location even if the majority of the data is not necessarily needed. This can happen with technologies such as Kafka which for non compacted topics will mean every event can be replicated even if that event has a short life time.
  • One of the hidden costs, is the operational tasks of gathering logs to a combined view so end to end insights can be obtained. A detailed log can actually yield more ‘data’ by volume than the business flows themselves because it is semi structured, and intended to be very readable and at the most granular level there to help debug and test.

In addition to the data flows, you need to consider how other linkages in addition to the Oracle-Azure connection are involved. In the detailed documentation it is not possible to get your on-premises location connected to one of the clouds (e.g. Oracle FastConnect, and then assume your traffic can hop to Azure via the bridge using FastConnect and Azure’s ExpressRoute.  To have have performance to your solution parts in both Azure and Oracle Cloud, you still need to have FastConnect and ExpressRoute configured to your on-premises location. This of course may impact how bulk data for lift and shift app use cases such as EBS maybe applied. For example, if you choose to regularly bulk data transfer between on-premise and EBS via the app/middleware tier rather than via direct DB, and that mid tier is running in Azure – you will need both routes established.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the Oracle-Azure cloud to cloud linkage is a step forward, but ‘the devil is in the details‘ as the saying goes. To optimize the benefits and savings we’d suggest that you;

  • you’ll need think through your use cases – understand data flow and volume (someone bulk syncing application data with a data warehouse?),
  • define a cloud data strategy – to layout principles, approaches and identify compliance needs, this is particularly helpful for custom solution development, so the right level of log data is consolidated with the important details, data retention addresses compliance requirements and doesn’t ratchet up unnecessary costs (there is a tendency to horde data just in case – if this is really wanted, think about how its stored),
  • based on business common usage models define a simple forecasting formula – being able to quantify data costs will always makes it easier to challenge back data hording tendency,
  • confirm the inter-cloud network vendor charges when working with multi-cloud.