In 2015 AHEAD experienced tremendous growth in Hybrid Cloud consulting engagements and deployments. Our clients have matured, and the vendor tools available have finally reached a state of maturity that has been lacking in previous years. Cisco and VMware both have updated offerings, Microsoft is revamping their solution in 2016, and there are an increasing amount of startups and existing smaller players continuing to innovate in this space.
One thing is certain, and that is that no two hybrid clouds we have ever deployed have been the same. Nor should they be. There are definitely similarities, but it is important not to think of a Hybrid Cloud deployment as a project you finish and then move on. It is a change in how you operate IT. It requires dedication and support across the organization as these projects are certainly not the simplest to pull off, but if done correctly can yield great results.
The cloud you deliver to your customers of IT has to be personal and related to your business, not a simple, turnkey solution. This is a major reason for setting a strategy early on before designing a cloud. The true value is in the services that run in your cloud and the experience you can offer your IT customers so that they really feel like this is the place to go to consume IT. With that means removing all of the barriers and manual tasks that exist today. The reason we say “no two clouds are the same” is because those manual tasks and legacy processes you have are unique to your business, and there are often many reasons those processes are still in place. Wherever possible in our engagements we try to eliminate redundant items, but there are still key things which remain and will continue to remain whether you are running workloads on-premises or via one of the public cloud providers, like AWS or Azure.
What are all these unique components that make your cloud different?
- Customers of ITEvery business has different sets of customers and business requirements for IT. These vary considerably when we look at specific industries like Medical, Financial, Manufacturing, Energy, etc. Do you have home grown software that you develop in house or is it more off the shelf? What software development methodology do your teams embrace, and how does this affect the way they want to consume services?
- Infrastructure Automation and Application AutomationThis is a key point that often gets missed. As the DevOps movement continues to gain traction, it’s worth figuring out where the bottlenecks are. Is it the time it takes to get infrastructure? Is it the time it takes for security to give the green light for the new service you launched? Does it matter that the infrastructure is slow, if the application team still needs weeks once they get a bare OS? Optimizing the entire workflow is key.
- Legacy Infrastructure ProcessesIf the sole reason for building a Hybrid Cloud is to pool resources and spin up a Windows or Linux OS, I’m sure most teams would argue that they don’t see any major benefit or justification for the cost associated with the required tools.
This is precisely why automation and orchestration has become one of the most important parts of all our engagements. We spend most of the first three to six months working alongside our clients, helping prepare them for launch. While all that sounds fine, you still have security requirements, placement decisions, DR requirements, CMDB updates, Asset management, licensing and many other items to think about. Each one of those items plus the additional ones unique to your business need to be standardized, procedures created, and automated so they can be attached to the service you offer.
The Self Service Experience
By calling your solution a cloud, you have to truly think of the end-user experience. It’s not really a self service cloud if you still have to submit tickets back to IT to get the next X number of things done, especially if these are routine things that should be standardized. That’s not the experience that cloud promises and what we expect as consumers when we go to any of the numerous cloud services we use today. Users expect everything to be completed with a high degree of quality and as quickly as possible. They also need to be notified about where their server build is, when it’s complete, when their App is deployed and more.
Why did so many cloud projects fail in the past, and yet now they succeed?
We’ve seen many failed cloud projects, and in some cases we have worked with a business on their third attempt to get it right. Getting it right is key for us and that comes with understanding all of those integration points and the coding skills required to make sure the end-user does not have to feel the pain of a half-built cloud.
This is where the definitions of cloud fall so short. Many vendors advertise the deployment of a cloud management platform and consider automation, orchestration, and configuration management “things you can integrate with if you want”. Our belief is that all of these items and more HAVE to be considered to get the return on investment. Our Hybrid Cloud reference architecture is just the beginning of the conversation.
Cloud is a chance to simplify, optimize, and challenge the old way of doing things. New converged and hyperconverged solutions are making it even easier to simplify the underlying infrastructure. Public cloud options are real and we continue to see great adoption. The key is, with all this simplicity going on at the infrastructure layer, now’s the time to free your top engineers up to build what matters, the services and automation necessary to give that true cloud experience.
Your cloud is just that…”yours”, and it needs to be built around your business.