The pioneers of the American West were the cowboys—rugged individuals who didn’t care much for laws or process. Similarly, the pioneer users of cloud computing have been app developers looking for a quick way to get the resources they need to do their work. Rather than waiting around for IT to deploy the infrastructure resources they needed, they were able to whip out their credit cards and buy virtual machines on Amazon Web Services or other public cloud providers. Rules? Process? Who needed that?
While cloud was easy for app developers, it was a different story for mainstream IT. They couldn’t just buy cloud resources—they had to procure them. They couldn’t just run something in any arbitrary cloud—they had to worry about cost, security, SLAs. Developers can look like heroes for getting the app done quickly, but IT has to worry about the whole lifecycle of the app.
IT has to make sure the app stays running, consumers can access it easily, and also ensure the app is continuing to deliver the intended value. “Bare apps” aren’t good enough for IT—they have to construct complete solutions including all the ITSM services, back-up, disaster recovery, security. In other words, while cloud may simplify things for developers, it actually makes life more complicated for mainstream IT.
An effort to ease the transition between developers and IT is the mission of DevOps, the intersection of development and IT operations.
DevOps is a movement with the aim of improving alignment and reducing the handoffs between the developer and IT operations. In this model, operational factors including deployment scripts, load testing, diagnostics etc are incorporated into the process right from the start. The DevOps movement is gaining traction and new DevOps tools and PaaS platforms have further streamlined the interface between app dev and IT ops, significantly shortening the time for developing and deploying new applications.
These new PaaS platforms are at varying degrees of operational maturity and come with several risks: one of them is the issue of lock-in to a particular PaaS platform. This can be a problem as most enterprises would potentially need multiple development environments (e.g. one for dotNet based apps, another for Java apps, perhaps a third for mobile apps).
PaaS platforms have accelerated the process of app development, but the process to convert these apps to production level IT solutions (that include ITSM components, back up, disaster recovery, security, monitoring, load balancing, networking, access control, etc.) is still slow with quite a bit of work still needing to be done. Today this is largely a manual process supplemented in some places with a “bag-of-tools” approach—thus bottlenecks remain in taking these “bare” apps and creating production level IT solutions.
What’s needed is a tool set for mainstream IT. What’s needed is to go beyond DevOps automation into Solution Ops and Business Ops, effectively removing the bottlenecks, complexity and manual processes of sourcing, creating and delivering complete IT and business solutions.
At the heart of Solution Ops is the concept of the Solution Factory, which dramatically shortens the IT solution development and consumption process.
The solution factory contains three key elements:
- A cloud interoperability fabric powered by a highly scalable cloud service bus and cloud middleware platform that abstracts away the complexity of multiple cloud resources
- An aggregation engine that assembles a marketplace of IaaS, SaaS and PaaS services allowing the user choice of the optimal cloud service for their needs. The ability to interoperate with multiple PaaS platforms is important as it prevents PaaS lock-in.
- A solution designer tool that enables the composition of complete IT solutions from cloud elements, ITSM and managed services, thus providing the fastest path to a production cloud solution
Once the solution has been designed, it’s important to optimize the economics before production deployment. Business Ops functionality ensures the optimal economics and ongoing governance of your cloud solution. This includes:
- A Business Support System for all Cloud resources (including pricing, metering, billing and chargeback) enabling you to run financial operations with a single system of record
- Analytics to ensure the best economic match for your complete solution (including the app infrastructure, ITSM and managed services)
- Policy management and ongoing governance for continuous optimization
Cloud Broker and Management Platform
A Cloud Broker and Management platform brings together Solution Ops and Business Ops. It allows for the optimal design, matching, sourcing, and governance of cloud services and solutions. Such a platform enables Enterprise IT to effectively and efficiently get the most out of cloud computing. With such an automation platform, cloud won’t just be for the DevOps cowboys.