Monday, March 02, 2015

Adopting private clouds the right way

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A post by Gartner’s Tom Bittman noting that a poll of attendees at the Gartner Datacenter conference last December found that "95% of the 140 respondents (who had private clouds in place) said something was wrong with their private cloud” has been making the rounds. Predictably some of the headlines have been a bit overly dramatic. (Gartner did not, in fact, find that 95 percent of private clouds “fail.”) Nonetheless, it’s true that—as with IT projects more broadly—a lot of private clouds aren’t as successful as they could or should be.

I encourage you to read Bittman’s post, as well as his Gartner research if you have access. One of the things you’ll see is that many of the reasons are more about organization and process than they are about technology. The same theme repeats in Andy Patrizio’s "Seven Reasons Your Cloud Deployment Might be Delayed” in which I’m quoted along with CA’s Andi Mann and Pund-IT’s Charles King. It’s also consistent with what we’ve seen at Red Hat. Below, I’ve expanded on some of the thoughts that I shared with Andy when he interviewed me for his story and noted a few of the ways that Red Hat can help you do better.

Skills

Enterprises often cite lack of in-house skills as an impediment to doing private cloud deployments. As a result, making use of training programs and/or partners who do possess the skills and real-word experience can significantly accelerate cloud deployments. This is a big part of why last year Red Hat acquired eNovance, which is focused on meeting growing demand for enterprise OpenStack consulting, design, and deployment. We also offer a variety of training and certification programs for OpenStack.

New infrastructure management approaches needed

Enterprises often approached their "Cloud 1.0" projects as if they were just an extension to their existing virtualization infrastructure. This is a mistake. While clouds often use virtualization, they require new approaches and new technologies. For example, in a recent InfoBrief and survey sponsored by Red Hat, IDC found that "74% expect to buy new management solutions to support open hybrid clouds and next-generation application architectures.” Requirements included unified application, middleware, and infrastructure automation; advanced analytics; full OpenStack support; and integration with existing systems and management tools. Red Hat has been active in the cloud management platform space with Red Hat CloudForms based on the upstream ManageIQ project.

DevOps and software-defined services cut across silos

Aligning the organization to cloud infrastructures and new processes such as DevOps--and instituting the right incentives in that organization--is as important as technology. Software-defined services cut across many different operational silos such as servers, storage, networking, and database administration while DevOps requires greater alignment of application development and system administration. Cloud technologies can actually help different groups within an organization work cooperatively but they need to want to do so.

Failure to account for bi-modal IT

Some cloud deployments fail to appreciate that there are two basic modes of applications and infrastructures in the typical enterprises and try to straddle the two without recognizing the essential differences. Cloud deployments should focus on new cloud-native workloads while bridging back to existing classic IT services, workflows, and datastores and providing unified management. They should not however try to be all things to all applications. As Bryan Che noted in a recent post: "VMware’s vision for One Cloud and OpenStack sounds appealing--one unified cloud for running both cloud-native and traditional applications--but it is fundamentally flawed in implementation because these two classes of workloads have quite different requirements for infrastructure. And, by attempting to mash these two worlds together, all One Cloud provides is one limited cloud that is not optimized to run any workload.” By contrast, Red Hat is taking an approach that recognizes the essential differences between “classic IT" workloads and cloud-native ones.

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