Multi-Cloud Orchestration

Multi-cloud is a strategy for organizations seeking to prevent vendor lock-in, improve performance, reliability and reduce costs.  However, managing traffic among heterogeneous cloud providers, deploying applications and handling auto-scaling requirements requires an automated and intelligent DNS orchestration layer.   

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DNS in a Multi-Cloud Environment

DNS plays a critical role in multi-cloud environments. It provides the traffic management layer that brings end user traffic into the cloud, and enables services within the cloud to interconnect. To do this effectively in a multi-cloud environment, the DNS needs to be automated and deliver traffic management capabilities that work both within and across different cloud environments. 

This page will help you understand:

  • What is multi-cloud vs hybrid cloud
  • Benefits of multi-cloud
  • Traffic management in multi-cloud set-ups

DNS strategies for Multi-Cloud:

  • Cloud provider DNS
  • DNS Appliances
  • NS1 Managed and Private DNS 

What is Multi-Cloud?

A multi-cloud strategy is the use of two or more Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) or SaaS providers to run enterprise workloads. We’ll focus on the use of multiple IaaS providers, such as AWS and Microsoft Azure. Combining clouds is technically complex, but can provide economic benefits, and additional flexibility for managing workloads on the cloud.

Multi-Cloud vs. Hybrid Cloud

Multi-cloud is a cloud infrastructure based on more than one public clouds, and may also include private clouds. Hybrid cloud is a “bridge” between private and public cloud infrastructure, uniting them into one system that can exchange workloads and traffic.


A multi-cloud configuration could include a hybrid cloud -- for example, if it includes private cloud infrastructure tightly integrated with one of the IaaS cloud providers. However, in many cases multi-cloud setups are siloed, with little or no communication between applications running on different cloud providers. In this case multi-cloud diverges from the hybrid cloud model.

Four Multi-Cloud Benefits

1. Prevent vendor lock-in

Cloud providers offer different proprietary features and management capabilities. If you build your application for just one cloud provider, you’ll be locked into that provider and will need to rip-and-replace parts of your applications to switch providers. You also have no price leverage over your provider because of the difficulty of moving away. In a multi-cloud setup, applications are designed from the outset to work on multiple clouds, and you are, at least in theory, free to move workloads to the cloud that gives you the best value for money.

3. Reliability

Nobody likes a Single Point of Failure (SPOF). While the major cloud providers offer multi-zone high availability to shield you from disaster in a specific data center, there are smaller issues and errors that could bring your systems down. When running on two cloud providers with redundancy, if anything goes wrong with one, you can divert traffic to the other.


2. Better cost and performance

Any cloud provider, even the biggest ones, sometimes experience downtime and inefficiencies. Performance problems with cloud instances are very common; guaranteed performance comes at a premium cost. Running on more than one provider lets you evaluate the cost and performance provided by each, and moving workloads to optimize your cost/performance ratio.


4. Flexibility

Each cloud provider provides different capabilities and have different limitations in their cloud instances and value-added services. Using multiple cloud providers, and gearing your applications to work with all of them, allows you to leverage the capabilities you need for new projects or new user requirements.

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Traffic Management for Multi-Cloud Environments

Managing multi-cloud environments is complex. You must carefully match applications to cloud capabilities, monitor performance and costs, automate low-level maintenance tasks like replication and instance provisioning, and cater for integrated management of services between on-premise and public clouds.

One piece that is often overlooked, yet has critical significance, is traffic distribution. How do you distribute traffic between on-premise and multiple cloud resources? When workloads move from one cloud to another, who makes sure that users move over with them? When you dynamically add capacity to a cloud application, who ensures extra loads are routed to that application?

Leveraging DNS for Multi-Cloud Traffic Management

Process of routing user requests to resources in a multi-cloud:

  1. A user accesses www.example.com, which is hosted in two or more clouds managed by your organization.
  2. A DNS resolver contacts the authoritative name server to get an IP for www.example.com.
  3. At this point there are several options:
  4. The name server might be deployed inside one of the clouds.

    If necessary, it can use DNS records to reroute the user to another cloud.

    The name server might be external to the multi-cloud.

    It uses its DNS records to route the user to one of the cloud instances.

  5. DNS routing can be based on simple round robin, static geo based rules (send users in the UK to a UK cloud data center), or it can be based on dynamic logic that factors in real time conditions on the network and in the cloud facilities.
  6. The DNS name server returns an answer and end user is directed to the cloud resource.

Three Advanced Traffic Routing Benefits Next-Generation DNS Delivers to Multi-Cloud

1. Quickly leverage spare capacity

Running extra capacity on the cloud is wasteful, but not having enough capacity can lead to performance issues and downtime. Advanced DNS routing lets you reroute traffic dynamically based on real time network and application metrics. This makes it possible to utilize spare capacity during peak times, or reduce capacity during slower times, resulting in significant cost savings. It can enable businesses to take advantage of "spot pricing" in which cloud vendors adjust their prices according to demand.

2. Reliable failover and redundancy

Advanced DNS routing lets you quickly detect failure and perform smart failover to resources that will provide a good experience for users. A DNS infrastructure that is external and independent of the cloud IaaS improves reliability and resilience in cases where the IaaS provider has problems. 

3. Infrastructure as Code and continuous delivery 

Today’s development environments require ways to quickly and automatically spin up infrastructure. For many organizations, DNS remains a manual step in this process. The DNS should support automation and integration with the infrastructure and application deployment tools used in multi cloud. 

Strategy #1 for Multi-Cloud

Use Cloud Provider DNS

All major cloud providers offer DNS services as part of their offering. For example, AWS offers the Route 53 DNS service. These services can be used to accept user requests and route them to cloud resources within that cloud environment. 

The DNS services offered by the cloud providers are designed to support their infrastructure. They often do a good job of intelligently steering traffic to their own cloud data centers but are unable to intelligently manage traffic across clouds -  which is a must for multi-cloud workloads.

Managing DNS within multi-cloud can get complex as well. With each cloud provider having its own DNS platform, application deployment teams need to work with different DNS systems to bring new applications online and to make updates. This multiplies IT overhead and can lead to multiple, fragmented DNS namespaces. 

Strategy #2 

DNS Appliances

DNS appliances are usually hardware based but now generally come in virtualized versions as well. These virtual versions can be deployed in the cloud but they are managed from centralized, hardware based platforms that cannot be deployed in the cloud. The deployment model can be complex to set up and maintain, and the limitation of having just one, centralized API end point can create unacceptable delays when DNS changes need to take place in seconds. 

The traffic management capabilities of DNS appliances are often not well suited to cloud environments. They typically lack the ability to do effective traffic management across clouds because they are unable to ingest real time telemetry from the network and cloud based load balancers. Without using real time knowledge of load and traffic conditions, the DNS cannot optimally manage traffic across a multi-cloud environment.



Strategy #3

NS1 Managed and Private DNS for Multi-Cloud

Multi-cloud environments often require both a public, internet facing DNS and an internal DNS. NS1 addresses both these requirements with Managed DNS for internet facing applications and with Private DNS for the internal network. Both are based on the same DNS software platform, so they present a consistent user interface and set of APIs. This makes it much easier for teams to integrate and automate the DNS in support of both the internet facing requirements of their cloud based applications and the back-end internal requirements. 

NS1 Managed DNS is a cloud based, globally anycasted network. It delivers faster DNS resolution times than from the cloud provider DNS, and improved reliability by having a DNS that is separate from your cloud IaaS vendor. 

Private DNS is a software only, containerized DNS that can be deployed in any cloud environment as well as in branch offices, headquarters and data centers. Its flexible deployment model allows for DNS serving nodes to reside in the cloud and on prem, with containerized web and API end points located where ever they are needed. The ability to have one centrally managed DNS platform across multi-cloud VPCs and on prem simplifies and streamlines the complex task of managing DNS across a hybrid infrastructure.

Both Managed and Private DNS deliver next-generation DNS traffic management that gives you the flexibility to manage traffic across a multi-cloud environment to meet your business goals. These  powerful DNS traffic routing capabilities include:

Geotargeting and Geofencing

Monitoring and Active Failover

Network Latency based routing

Capacity based routing (server load, concurrent connections, percent utilization

Cost-based routing

Bandwidth-based routing

DNS should not be a barrier to multi-cloud success. It should facilitate it. The DNS solutions from NS1 are designed to streamline DNS management, enable deployment automation and leverage traffic management to control and optimize multi-cloud environments.

NS1: DNS Solutions for Multi-Cloud Environments

NS1 is a first choice for organizations implementing multi-cloud strategies. NS1 DNS technology is cloud and vendor neutral so it can intelligently and dynamically route traffic across clouds, without specific provider dependencies. Its API first architecture and extensive toolkit integrations makes it easy for deployment teams to integrate and automate DNS across a diverse infrastructure.



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