[Column] Andrew Cruise: Mastering the complexity of multicloud in 2020

As enterprises’ demands look set to continue maturing in 2020, they are better able to distinguish between cloud platforms and identify which ones work best for their applications. “It’s no longer about moving to cloud, it’s about which cloud,” says Andrew Cruise, managing director at Routed, Africa’s only vendor neutral cloud infrastructure provider.

“Now that market penetration of cloud, particularly internationally, has hit a critical mass, we see enterprises are much more confident about moving workloads than before when it appeared they would be on the bleeding edge. While there are still some concerns around uptime, performance and security, these are largely being addressed without any need to reinvent the wheel,” he says.

Multicloud is already broadly being achieved through SaaS applications like Salesforce.com and Office365, through utilising an enterprise’s own on-premise infrastructure, and via several other cloud platforms. “True multicloud however, involves IaaS from multiple providers across native hyperscale IaaS (or PaaS) as well as private cloud, both hosted and on-premise.” In order to successfully implement multicloud, Cruise notes that an enterprise would need to replace parts of their overall infrastructure estate, either by re-hosting workloads (lift and shift) into a hosted private cloud, or re-architecting applications in a cloud-native way to suit native hyperscale clouds. Secure connectivity, either through VPN, SD-WAN or private circuit, is also must.

He adds that because the biggest benefit of multicloud is the way in which it lends itself to a best of breed approach. “Not one single cloud can ever be the silver bullet to solve all an enterprise’s problems. Cloud only, hybrid cloud, or on-premise only solutions are already legacy and too restrictive. Utilising a hosted private cloud for traditional applications as an initial ‘lift-and-shift’ can make it easier to digitally transform by alleviating pressures on on-premise resources and allow them time to properly re-architect suitable applications in the native hyperscale cloud.”

While the benefits of multicloud are impossible to overlook, enterprises need to think carefully about the best strategies for managing the complexity of multicloud environments. It is not possible to manage multicloud effectively on-demand, manually, without automation, says Cruise. Similarly, human expertise will always be required.  Any kind of one-size-fits-all thinking is bound to fail. Further, workload migration between on-premise and cloud and between cloud and cloud is non-trivial and the difficulties should not be underestimated. Unless one standardises on a single platform across multiple clouds, for example, VMware ESXi (which is available on local VMware cloud providers and on all the major hyperscalers too), the ideal of frictionless migration between clouds is a pipedream,” he says.

Andrew Cruise is the managing director at Routed.

[Column] Simon McCullough: Multi-cloud is redefining app development

Let’s take a look at how multi-cloud is changing the app development game and bringing previously siloed teams closer together.

Multi-cloud has moved from tentative experiment to a fundamental component of IT strategies. From developers to security teams, workloads are migrating to the cloud in one way or another, whether you know it or not.

Significantly, cloud adoption has powered a fundamental shift in how organizations think about app development and delivery. This is particularly evident with SaaS-based cloud models, which give businesses the freedom to choose exactly where cloud operations are deployed while also minimizing cost.

Working in a multi-cloud context has clearly spurred more agile and holistic ways of doing business. Take for example the increasingly widespread adoption of DevOps, NetOps and SecOps.

As app development moves from on premises to cloud infrastructures, businesses must rethink how different functions engage with new approaches to software development. All teams have different requirements and ways of working, so it is critical to strike a balance that delivers results across the board without friction or compromise.

Delighting DevOps

A DevOps culture is all about velocity and continuous innovation. The cloud enables developers and DevOps to achieve exactly that by providing a standardised, efficient and centralised platform for testing, deployment and production.

It enables a more fluid development process that matches the pace at which DevOps can crank out applications, without sacrificing stability, scalability and security.

There is always wiggle room for any rapid, last-minute changes related to continuous integration and delivery.

DevOps teams should treat the cloud as the new norm and an extension of their network infrastructure. This means fully embracing public cloud native environments to manage application performance within the cloud, as well as leveraging SaaS models to keep costs low and support innovation scalability.

Keeping NetOps happy

The role of NetOps is changing from teams that own and monitor hardware and software assets, to those focused on building a multi-component network ecosystem supporting a variety of business objectives.

As more workloads move into the cloud, the pressure is mounting for NetOps teams to rapidly adapt and transition from manual tools and slower processes to more efficient systems compatible with agile DevOps models.

NetOps also face pressure to reach automated parity with app development teams. They will soon become an application development bottleneck if they cannot keep up with continuous application updates. Fortunately, the problem is eased with SaaS cloud services. NetOps can now address specific areas of the business where legacy networks limit innovation, and subsequently target more fluid, digital infrastructures to collaborate better with other teams.

Giving security teams confidence

IT operations have KPIs around security and service levels, which can explain their generally more conservative approaches to technology adoption. Given the choice, security teams would operate with zero-trust networks – and rightly so.

In fact, a recent F5 survey focusing on DevOps and NetOps behaviours discovered that security in the cloud was an ‘afterthought’ for many developers, as they prioritise speed over security and reliability concerns.

 It is important to understand that cloud services can work as an extension of security teams, equipping them with the insights and tools required to keep up with the changing threat landscape. They can also ensure the right governance so they can monitor and balance the needs of innovation and control (i.e. via dashboards and reports).

Better together

In today’s software-defined era, cloud adoption can only be positive for business-critical application development. The market not only demands more effective production process, but our application-centric world requires speed and stability of service.

It is important to remember that everyone is working towards the same end goal: supporting the continuous delivery of quality applications to market. Collaboration and partnerships are easier to establish when all parties share the platform that delivers the apps and have access to the underlying analytics to refine and shape objectives.

The right multi-cloud approach and support must be inclusive and treat infrastructure teams, developers, and business users as equals.

Multi-cloud’s cultural barriers are disappearing, and it is essential to collaborate in the cloud or risk falling behind the innovation curve. Make sure you are ready for both the implications and opportunities.

Simon McCullough is the senior channel account manager at F5 Networks