Different Product Approaches to Cloud Infrastructure Software - Page 2
Additionally, systems management companies have a hard time providing a complete cloud story since they generally integrate with infrastructure products and cannot provide their own infrastructure services. So, customers wind up spending a great deal as they acquire both for full-featured infrastructure components and top of the line higher level workflow and management products. There is no deal to be had by buying both from the same vendor.
Lastly, systems management tools also focus on the legacy IT space, spending a lot of effort around making service catalogs that take into account everything from infrastructure needs to application configuration. This is completely antithetical to the concepts of agile development, iterative self-service management of application image and configuration, and strict separation between infrastructure configuration and application management.
The recommendation here is like that for the virtualization vendors. For legacy applications that are hard to move to cloud and derive lesser benefit from the move, but that need this tight control and administrative oversight around configuration and placement, continue using traditional systems management as they climb the ITIL stack and provide value there. For more green field projects that truly need cloud flexibility and agility, go with a pure play cloud vendor. However, make sure that your pure play cloud vendor has a plan to partner with traditional systems management companies and/or a roadmap to add their own forms of compliance and policy, or else your cloud path may be blocked down the road.
Building a New Cloud System from Scratch
Emerging cloud software vendors may seem like a risk at first. While they are generally provided by younger and less established companies or even open source projects, they are building on a technology model that is now accepted and mature and that has been proven out in large cloud service providers. These pure play cloud software companies do not generally provide an evolutionary path to cloud and seem like a reset on the IT process and rather try to help you leapfrog certain intermediate steps you may have had with the other two approaches.
Being newer companies, early on, some parts of the management stack may be incomplete and may need augmentation from integrations and partnerships. These gaps will close over time through tighter partnerships, additional development, M&A, and OEM deals with partners that provide particularly good fits for certain gaps.
The pure play cloud systems come with tremendous advantages that for many projects are worth taking some risk early on. While quality of implementation for each of these characteristics widely varies between the pure play cloud vendors, these are the design points that pure play cloud vendors tend to strive for even in their initial releases:
- They are lightweight and designed for cloud from scratch. They have a simple management layer that overlays a simple partitioning product. They do not tend to give you layers and layers of software to integrate, configure, and manage. The end result is the simplicity necessary to truly be called cloud.
They are designed for the end user from the beginning. With the anticipation of use by thousands of end users, these vendors tend to:
- Build in self-service workflows for elastic consumption of IT resources.
- Architect for scalability of the management system from day one and have higher degrees of automation (with appropriate controls in the form of permissions and policies) so that end user activities avoid becoming a burden to the operations staff.
- When they provide key functionality like networking isolation for multi-tenancy, things that were considered additional value-add in a traditional datacenter but that are critical non-negotiable requirements for cloud, they tend to be a part of the core product, not an afterthought or pricey add-on.
Our recommendation with pure play cloud products is to bring them in-house and try them on deliberately selected projects. Use your experience in this pilot to come up with best practices for growing the cloud deployment over time. Bring in more applications in the order of the value they would get from cloud and their fit to cloud management practices. All the while, encourage the cloud software vendors to fill their functionality gaps and to integrate with existing players, including with server virtualization vendors and systems management vendors; who, as we discussed before, certainly have a great deal to add to the cloud world.
Hopefully this series has shed some light on the topic of cloud infrastructure – what it is good for, what applications to target, what the requirements are, and what sorts of vendors will get you there most quickly. The goal of this series has been to share a mindset and perspective that will get you up and running with cloud today. Cloud should not be seen as magic, far off, or something that requires a long and difficult journey. If you know what you are after, work with modern hardware, software and networking trends, and involve newer, more targeted infrastructure software partners then you can reap the immense benefits of cloud much sooner that you think.