2012 Prediction: Evolven
2012 is Going to be Dynamic on All Levels
In 2011, we saw a number of important trends. These developments will continue to influence and define IT developments for organizations in 2012, with particular impact on the space of change and configuration management and automation.
Cloud as the New IT Infrastructure
There's no denying it: practically every business is moving to the cloud. Just as we are seeing explosive growth in public cloud computing services, we will also be seeing IT revolutionized by such entities as private clouds, and moreover that the next-generation IT infrastructure will be defined in hybrid clouds. How do we manage multiple cloud services and internal infrastructure? This question highlights the new vision of Hybrid IT where a mix of physical and virtual services delivered on premises and remotely will be managed by individual groups and centrally.
Investment in existing infrastructure and applications together with current public cloud limitations will hold back the development of IT hybrid in the meanwhile, with on-premise virtual infrastructure growing the most, followed by private cloud platform expansion and experimentation in virtual private and public clouds.
The hybrid model will offer a sort of ‘cloud bridging’, creating the hybrid of physical and virtual data centers, allowing hosted applications to appear as though they are running within a single enterprise network.
While this should appear seamless to the user, this will raise some sticky issues for IT operations such as complexity, fragmentation and integration management, IT managers will need a unified way to manage everything they have - whether the resources are physical, virtual or cloud based. This means that managing the hybrid clouds will further complicate how to maintain transparency, flexibility and ensure a secure working environment.
So, as enterprise IT considers either an internal cloud-focused transformation or just using cloud as an additional IT asset, integrated with internal IT platforms, the process of how to move to cloud will have to be addressed. We expect organizations to start with the delivery of basic services such as OS provisioning, followed by higher software infrastructure elements transition. Unless rewritten to support cloud infrastructure or developed from scratch, enterprise applications are complex, with only the simplest of applications able to be migrated to the cloud within a single virtual machine. Most depend on shared services, including directories and databases, consolidated in a central location in the enterprise data center, making the relocation of an application out of the existing data center to be extremely difficult. Not only must every component of the application be identified, but every direct, indirect and environmental dependency must also be captured.
Companies must consider business criticality of the applications they want to move to the cloud, regulatory issues, required service levels, usage patterns for the workloads and how integrated the application must be with other enterprise functions.
To be able to successfully cloudify applications, IT will need detailed configuration information of their applications, and underlying software infrastructure. IT needs to be able to understand and identify what are the application's configuration parameters that will need to be updated in order to configure the application for making the move to the cloud.
Gathering the essential, configuration information critical for the creation of a cloud environment is a huge undertaking, with literally thousands of configuration parameters per technology – some critical and some not.