Integrating classic IT with cloud-native

This is the fifth and final in a series of posts that delves deeper into the questions that IDC’s Mary Johnston Turner and Gary Chen considered in a recent IDC Analyst Connection. The fifth question asked:

What types of technologies are available to facilitate the integration of multiple generations of infrastructure and applications as hybrid cloud-native and conventional architectures evolve?

Mary and Gary write that “We expect that as these next-generation environments evolve, conventional and cloud-native infrastructure and development platforms will extend support for each other. As an example, OpenStack was built as a next-generation cloud-native solution, but it is now adding support for some enterprise features.”

This is the one aspect of integration. Today, it’s useful to draw a distinction between conventional and cloud-native infrastructures in part because they often use different technologies and those technologies are changing at different rates. However, as projects/products that are important for many enterprise cloud-native deployments–such as OpenStack–mature, they’re starting to adopt features associated with enterprise virtualization and enterprise management.

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Why cloud-native depends on modernization

This is the fourth in a series of posts that delves deeper into the questions that IDC’s Mary Johnston Turner and Gary Chen considered in a recent IDC Analyst Connection. The fourth question asked:

question asked:

What about existing conventional applications and infrastructure? Is it worth the time and effort to continue to modernize and upgrade conventional systems?

In an earlier post in this series, I discussed how both the economics and disruption associated with the wholesale replacement of existing IT systems makes it infeasible under most circumstances. In their answer to this question, Mary and Gary highlight the need for these existing systems to work together with new applications. As they put it: “Much of the success of cloud-native applications will depend on how well conventional systems can integrate with modern applications and support the integration and performance requirements of cloud-native developers.”

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How cloud-native needs cultural change

This is the third in a series of posts that delves deeper into the questions that IDC’s Mary Johnston Turner and Gary Chen considered in a recent IDC Analyst Connection. The third question asked:

How will IT management skills, tools, and processes need to change [with the introduction of cloud-native architectures]?

Mary and Gary note that the move to hybrid architectures “switches the IT operations team’s priorities from maintaining specific components to ensuring the delivery of end-to-end services measured in terms of service-level agreements (SLAs).” They also note that there’s a huge cultural element. For example, “Line-of-business stakeholders will have to partner with IT operations and development staff, either individually or as part of collaborative DevOps groups, to ensure that services are implemented as expected and that test-and-release cycles are well integrated.

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Evolving IT architectures: It can be hard

This is the second in a series of posts that delves deeper into the questions that IDC’s Mary Johnston Turner and Gary Chen considered in a recent IDC Analyst Connection. The second question asked:

What are the typical challenges that organizations need to address as part of this evolution [to IT that at least includes a strong cloud-native component]?

In their response, Mary and Gary note the challenges associated with “having to integrate with conventional systems can slow down the entire process and work against the agile, continuous integration/continuous delivery methodologies these DevOps teams often employ.” At the same time, this integration can’t be dispensed with; they add that “IDC expects cloud-native and conventional applications to become more connected and interdependent over time.” (Check out the recent webinar discussing this and other topics: Next-generation IT strategies: Mixing conventional and cloud-native infrastructure–based on a recent IDC survey.)

So, where does that leave us? Is traditional IT destined to just be a boat anchor when it’s integrated with cloud-native IT? (And make no mistake, integration is an inevitability.)

Variations of this question also come up as part of critiques to the bimodal or two-speed IT idea.

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Does cloud-native have to mean all-in?

This is the first in a series of posts that delves deeper into the questions that IDC’s Mary Johnston Turner and Gary Chen considered in a recent IDC Analyst Connection. The first question asked:

Cloud-native application architectures promise improved business agility and the ability to innovate more rapidly than ever before. However, many existing conventional applications will provide important business value for many years. Does an organization have to commit 100% to one architecture versus another to realize true business benefits?

As Mary and Gary write, there are indeed “cost and performance benefits of greenfield, extreme scale cloud-native applications running on highly standardized, automated infrastructure.” However, as they also note, bringing in the bulldozers to replace all existing infrastructure and applications isn’t an option for very many businesses. There’s too much investment and, even if it were an option financially, the disruption involved in wholesale replacement would likely offset any efficiency gains.

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Survey: OpenStack users value portability, support, and complementary open source tools

75 percent of the respondents in a recent survey [1] conducted for Red Hat said that being able to move OpenStack workloads to different providers or platforms was important (ranked 4 or 5 out of 5)–and a mere 5 percent said that this question was of least importance. This was just one of the answers that highlighted a general desire to avoid proprietary solutions and lock-in.

For example, a minority (47 percent) said that differentiated vendor-specific management and other tooling was important while a full 75 percent said that support for complementary open source cloud management, operating system, and development tools was. With respect to management specifically, only 22 percent plan to use vendor-specific tools to manage their OpenStack environments. By contrast, a majority (51 percent) plan to use the tools built into OpenStack–in many cases complemented by open source configuration management (31 percent) and cloud management platforms (21 percent). It’s worth noting though that 42 percent of those asked about OpenStack management tools said that they were unsure/undecided, indicating that there’s still a lot of learning to go on with respect to cloud implementations in general.

This last point was reinforced by the fact that 68 percent said that the availability of training and services from the vendor to on-ramp their OpenStack project was important. (Red Hat offers a Certified System Administrator in Red Hat OpenStack certification as well as a variety of solutions to build clouds through eNovance by Red Hat.) 45 percent also cited lack of internal IT skills as a barrier to adopting OpenStack. Other aspects of commercial support were valued as well. For example, 60 percent said that hardware and software certifications are important and a full 82 percent said that production-level technical support was.

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7 Ways in which OpenStack Adoption Parallels Linux

By, Gordon Haff, Cloud Evangelist, Red Hat
January 27, 2014

In spite of its considerable momentum, there are still skeptics about whether OpenStack will ultimately succeed. My colleague Bryan Che tackled some of that skepticism in a blog post late last year and I’m not going to rehash his arguments here. Rather, I’m going to make some observations about how OpenStack is paralleling and will likely continue to parallel the adoption of another open source project that I think we can all agree has become popular and successful—namely Linux.[1]

OpenStack Parallel Linux

1. Part and parcel of a new approach to computing
Linux came about at a time when computing was changing. It had become distributed and the rise of the Web was leading to new functions and new requirements. Much of Linux’ early-on growth came from powering new Internet infrastructure.  It was from that beachhead that Linux branched out into more traditional enterprise operating system roles. Similarly, OpenStack is part of the cloud computing wave which is characterized by new levels of standardization and automation combined with an on-demand and self-service approach to delivering computing resources to users.

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Why You Need a Cloud Management Platform

By, Gordon Haff, Cloud Evangelist, Red Hat
January 7, 2014

Cloud infrastructure and cloud management. As an industry, we conflate these two things far too often.

This is understandable up to a point. Cloud computing architectures are relatively new and new architectural approaches often involve figuring out how functions are best partitioned and how they relate to each other. The process tends to be pragmatic; that’s how the networking stack first developed. That terminology is often morphing and inconsistently applied (innocently or otherwise) doesn’t help matters.

The overall building blocks of the private and hybrid cloud stack have now crystallized to a significant degree. The boundaries of these blocks aren’t hard-edged of course; there’s always overlap in the management space given that basic functions tend to come built-in even if they’re superseded at scale or for more complex requirements. But we’re at a point where we can describe the relationship of a cloud platform such as OpenStack to cloud management platforms (CMP)s like CloudForms that shouldn’t be too controversial.

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