Challenges of multi-cloud API management – Tyk API Gateway

Many organisations today find that multiple cloud regions, and even multiple cloud vendors, have become a necessity of business life. The reasons range from performance and cost optimisations to customer demand and data sovereignty concerns. But no matter what the driving reason(s) may be, there’s plenty to think about when it comes to multi-cloud API management. Thankfully, there are also API management companies out there who can help you achieve what you need.

Understanding the complexities of multi-cloud environments

API management across multiple regions and cloud providers isn’t easy. While infrastructure solutions such as containerisation are making it easier to deploy the same solution across multiple vendors with varying infrastructure resources, there remain several additional concerns. In this article, we will examine the challenges of multi-cloud API management and some approaches that can help ease deploying and managing your API across providers. We’ll also throw in some real-world examples of how an API management platform can support a successful multi-cloud approach. 

Unlocking the potential of multi-cloud APIs for customer satisfaction

To improve performance for customers in a specific region, it may be necessary to place APIs and data closer to them. Yet, not all cloud providers support regions in all parts of the world. This means you may need to deploy your APIs to multiple cloud providers to reach a particular market segment that lives within an unsupported region of your current cloud provider. Doing so can deliver both performance and resilience benefits – leading to heightened customer satisfaction – while using the right API gateway software to do so can make the whole task easier.

Adapting to new regions with multi-cloud APIs

In addition to the potential performance and resilience benefits, embracing the multi-cloud API approach means that you are well placed to adapt your business to the requirements of new regions. Multi-cloud solutions can make it easier to reach customers while also meeting regulatory requirements. As such, an open source API solution that enables you to adapt to new regions quickly and painlessly can deliver extensive operational benefits.

Achieving data sovereignty with multi-cloud APIs

Addressing data sovereignty, data residency and data localisation concerns is a challenge that is very real for many organisations. While these topics are complex, they can be briefly summarised as:

Data residency: Refers to where the organisation chooses to store its data (usually for regulatory or policy reasons).

Data sovereignty: Refers to a government’s rights of access to data found within its borders. These rights may differ widely from country to country and may extend beyond a country’s borders, depending on where the organisation resides.

Data localisation: Requires that data created within certain borders stay within them, or that a copy of the data is kept within the country.

As you examine each of these three factors, you may find that you need more than one cloud provider and associated data store to comply with the rules and regulations of the country or countries in which you do business. Proper API management requires factoring in these considerations while ensuring consistent behaviour through your API gateways.

Note: Data sovereignty is a complex subject that benefits from the proper legal counsel to ensure you understand and apply the rights of your company and your customers. Be sure to seek advice from appropriate professionals when it comes to the rules and regulations in the countries in which you conduct business.

Key factors for successful multi-cloud API management

When searching for an API management solution, it’s important to consider several factors:

Managing multiple API instances: Rather than a single cloud provider, your API instances will be scattered across multiple providers. Keeping your API routing rules, authorisation and rate-limiting quotas in sync across these multiple providers become extremely important. This includes the monitoring and reporting of API health across and within each provider and their regions you utilise.

Centralised control plane: Some API management solutions assume a single data centre by designing their APIM as if the control plane and data plane are the same, making it difficult to disconnect the management from the actual traffic management. When moving to multi-region and multi-cloud deployment architectures, this becomes even more challenging to keep in sync. Rate limiting may be incorrectly applied, costing you more in infrastructure resources. Worse, your authorization rules may become out-of-sync and result in improper access to data and API operations. Look for API management layers that separate the control plane (management) from the data plane (traffic enforcement) to make your transition to multi-cloud smoother.

GeoDNS and ingress routing: Incoming API traffic needs to be routed to the appropriate region based on who the consumer is, what data they need to access, and where it resides. This may require solutions such as GeoDNS to resolve DNS entries based on where the consumer is, internal data stores that map the data source to the appropriate data centre, the use of tenant subdomains in the API base URL to auto-route to the proper data centre, or perhaps a combination of these approaches. While this does not directly impact your API management solution, your APIM may make it easier or more difficult to get all of these components working.

The future of multi-cloud API management: staying ahead of the curve

The potential delivered by APIs and API third party integration is huge – and still expanding. APIs are connecting the world and they are here to stay. As such, international businesses that want to deliver an optimal user experience, while also neatly ticking their regulatory compliance boxes, need to stay ahead of the curve and seek out API software companies that support multi-cloud setups. Doing so is the sensible way of ensuring that API management companies’ solutions are able to grow and flex as your business scales, rather than clipping the wings of your international expansion plans.

Real-world examples of successful multi-cloud API management

Partnerships and business politics can have a major impact when it comes to multi-cloud API management. One example of this can be found in the retail space. Anyone delivering solutions in that space may have encountered challenges when using a competitor’s cloud. One example is Walmart, which prefers that hosted software as a service (SaaS) offerings not use AWS. The initial reaction to this demand may be concern about placing data on a competitor’s cloud. However, the real reason is simpler than that: Walmart doesn’t want operational revenue going to their competitor. This means that those with an existing relationship with AWS as their primary cloud provider may be required by retail companies to use another cloud provider, such as Azure.

A real-world solution to this is to use API gateway tools that enable you to control multiple API gateways across several cloud providers and their respective regions. Tyk, for example, provides this functionality through a single dashboard, meaning you can make use of compute, storage, cloud-based assets, software and applications from multiple cloud providers in a single heterogeneous architecture. Between gateway sharding and Tyk’s multi data centre bridge (MDCB), you can deploy gateways that selectively load APIs, using whichever mix of cloud vendors you wish.

Showcasing case studies of organisations that have effectively managed their multi-cloud APIs

Using an API manager capable of successfully supporting a multi-cloud setup can also be an excellent way to future-proof. One US-based Fortune 500 financial services organisation that used Tyk’s open source API management platform, for example, did so for the potential to lift and shift its existing Tyk deployment from AWS to an alternative cloud vendor in the future. Opting for the best open source API gateway to suit its needs meant that the business could change cloud providers, use multiple cloud providers or shape its future business any other way it needed in response to evolving demand for its services. 

Highlighting key takeaways and lessons learned from these examples

There’s no denying that multi-cloud API management adds complexity, compared to using a single cloud vendor. However, there are numerous reasons why it can be appropriate to go down the multi-cloud route, as well as plenty to be gained by doing so. The key takeaway is to think about multi-cloud API management when choosing between API management companies. Even if it’s not an immediate business need, it may become one in the future, so it’s best to be prepared for that eventuality. Being proactive in your choice of API gateway tools that support multi-cloud environments could mean happier customers, satisfied regulators and a growing bottom line for your future business.


No matter the reason, supporting a multi-cloud strategy requires evaluating your API management approach. This includes finding an API management solution that is capable of working in a multi-cloud, multi-region configuration while providing a centralised control plane that ensures all instances of the API are in sync with the latest authorisation and routing rules. For more insight into the challenges of multi-cloud API management, take a look at our cloud native API management whitepaper. You can, of course, always reach out to the Tyk team for a discussion centred around your specific organisational and technical needs