Like it or not the future of enterprise IT involves hybrid cloud computing in multiple forms. On the one hand, IT organizations will be trying to cope with deploying applications on private clouds that might be running in their own data center or in a third-party hosting facility. At the same time, a large number of applications are just as likely to be running on multiple public clouds.
Once deployed, those applications are not likely to move very often; but from a DevOps perspective the fact there are now so many platforms means IT organizations will increasingly need a DevOps framework that allows them to easily deploy applications across multiple cloud computing environments.
At the moment, most IT organizations are simply struggling with how to manage DevOps between their own on-premise systems and a single cloud.
“In terms of hybrid clouds today it still mostly involves a single external cloud,” says Donnie Berkholz, an industry analyst with RedMonk. “The important thing is to make sure to go about the right way to distribute data across those environments because they will wind up with multiple clouds.”
Once deployed on a particular cloud that application will tend to stay in that environment. But different cloud environments will be optimized for different types of applications. In addition, the minute a company moves to acquire another company, in all probability the company being acquired will be running applications on a cloud that is dissimilar to the cloud environments they already have.
In addition, having the processes in place that make it possible to move an application from one cloud to another helps prevent an IT organization from finding itself locked into just one cloud computing environment. That’s an especially critical capability to have at a time when it’s probable that many cloud computing service providers are likely to be acquired by one organization or another that for whatever reason an organization would prefer not to do business with.
For all these reasons providers of both IT operations tools and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environments are touting their cross-cloud platform capabilities.
In the case of IBM, for example, the company acquired UrbanCode to add the ability to automate the application release cycle across multiple platforms, including the IBM Bluemix PaaS environment.
“We see that DevOps will be hybrid,” says IBM Rational General Manager Kristof Kloeckner. “That is why we acquired UrbanCode.”
Meanwhile, Skytap, a provider of a rival cloud platform, just announced that it will make IBM UrbanCode Deploy available to its customers to make it easier to manage application deployment in the cloud.
“The primary goal right now is to help customers deploy applications in their environments and in our cloud,” says Brian White, vice president of products for Skytap. “IT organizations need a way to easily deploy cloud applications.”
Elsewhere, OutSystems, a provider of a PaaS environment, says the ability to easily deploy applications into any cloud is becoming a major product differentiator.
“Customers are going to need access to flexible deployment services,” says Sean Allen, director of product marketing for OutSystems. “There’s a sea change underway in terms of what people can do when it comes to automating the DevOps process.”
That sea change is forcing IT organizations to rethink the entire DevOps process.
“DevOps is a process,” says Kaylan Kumar, senior vice president and CTO for HCL Technologies, a provider of IT services. “Customers need to make sure they are building management tools that could work across six or seven types of clouds.”
Craig Wright, principal for Pace Harmon, an IT management consulting company adds that having those process in place ultimately gives the IT organizations the flexibility the business really wants.
“Companies won’t want to switch providers at will; they give serious consideration to the platform,” says Wright. “But they do want to have the flexibility to change as the business needs change.”
No matter the path to hybrid cloud it’s certain that IT organizations will be coping with multiple clouds made up of virtual machines from VMware, Microsoft, Citrix and other running on a range of clouds that span everything from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure to private clouds that may be running a half a world away. The challenge now is put the processes and tools in place today that will make managing DevOps across all those cloud computing environments a lot simpler tomorrow.