The cloud landscape is fractured with many players, large and small. What can be done to break down the walls separating on-premises, hybrid, and multicloud computing to make “on-prem cloud” work seamlessly? As someone who has used both Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure as well as other smaller cloud services, I’ve often struggled with this question and talked with customers who have been experiencing similar problems as they incorporate more and more cloud services into their on-premises enterprise environments. So to help me get a better handle on understanding the nature of the problem and how to approach it toward solving it, I reached out to Ariel Maislos to tap his expertise and experience to glean some insights that I can use myself and share with companies and organizations I interact with — and with you. Ariel is the CEO of Stratoscale, a company that delivers modernized private cloud with IaaS, DBaaS, and CaaS and a suite of open source platforms for developers to accelerate application delivery and enables hybrid multicloud applications using public cloud APIs. Ariel brings over 20 years of technology innovation and entrepreneurship to Stratoscale. He is a graduate of the prestigious IDF training program Talpiot, and holds a BSc from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in physics, mathematics and computer science (cum laude) and an MBA from Tel Aviv University. He also holds numerous patents in networking, signal processing, storage, and flash memory technologies. Let’s now listen and pay attention as Ariel explains in detail some of the challenges in this area and how his own company is trying to help customers deal with them.
Understanding the hybrid multicloud opportunity
The cloud has evolved to become an integral part of enterprise IT strategy. It’s come to symbolize a kind of operating system that enables speed, scale, reliability, and the agile development and deployment of modern enterprise applications. So, it’s no surprise that more and more workloads are developed for the cloud and run in the cloud.
Given the benefits, it also follows that organizations want to replicate the cloud paradigm in enterprise environments (datacenters, edge locations, etc.) and have the flexibility of choosing the optimal environment for each workload. This demand stems from the desire to save on cloud costs, which can be as much as $100 million a year. Also, keeping data and applications on-prem may be needed to satisfy regulations, policies, and to address security and performance considerations. David Bartoletti of Forrester Research told attendees of CloudHealth Connect 2018 that 74 percent of enterprises describe their strategy as hybrid or multicloud, with 62 percent of cloud adopters using more than two unique cloud environments or platforms.
Although this demand for hybrid and multicloud solutions has created opportunities for IT vendors, it’s not easy to break down the walls separating enterprise environments and the cloud, and to apply the cloud-native paradigm across all environments. Delivering operational agility for legacy applications and accelerating application development for new ones hinges on several compatibility, standardization and integration considerations.
The challenge of platform compatibility
The technology stacks for enterprise IT and public clouds differ. Further, each cloud provider has its own features, strengths and APIs. Even the tools for infrastructure-as-code (IaC) are cloud-specific. As a result, it can be difficult and complex to connect and interact across multiple platforms. In order to achieve a streamlined deployment, it is crucial that the hybrid model supports the features and APIs of multiple cloud platforms.
Data and storage as key factors in designing a hybrid strategy
Due to public cloud pricing, the cost of keeping data in the cloud quickly spirals. In addition, though moving data to the cloud is often free, moving data from the cloud is very expensive, which can be a disincentive. This cost consideration has led many enterprises to a new type of lock-in — data lock-in — which often leads to data silos.
This concern grows significantly when using multiple cloud solutions. Organizations can easily end up with disparate stores, which can be difficult to reconcile companywide for the purposes of analysis and storage.
Standardization across the board
One of the main motivations for enterprises to switch to a hybrid and multicloud approach is to better manage cloud costs, which begins with an understanding of the billing process. Unfortunately, cloud bills continue to be an enigma for most companies, including tech giants like Apple and Lyft. This is because costs depend on a number of dynamic factors, such as cloud instances, data and usage over a period of time. The cost is often very distributed, spanning across many lines-of-business and groups. Naturally, when dealing with multiple cloud bills versus one, this challenge can quickly multiply. By delivering a true hybrid infrastructure, and shifting some workloads to enterprise environments, enterprises can not only reduce the cost complexity but also significantly reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO).
DevOps is the new cloud culture
The cloud revolutionized not only the development process of applications, but also all operational aspects. The “pets vs. cattle” paradigm exponentially improved speed in setting up environments and scaling them to support high-velocity development and delivery of new applications.
But, the various isolation and lock-in concerns we mentioned above are also a significant pain for DevOps professionals, who are required to maintain different scripts and practices for each cloud, not to mention the difficulty of applying it for on-prem workloads. By creating platform compatibility between enterprise environments and the cloud, mainly by delivering cloud APIs on-prem, it will be possible for DevOps professionals to leverage the same scripts they run in the cloud across all environments, including on-prem.
Delivering on the hybrid, multicloud promise
A comprehensive hybrid multicloud model can enable unprecedented operational agility for legacy applications and accelerate the development of new ones, all without dependency on a single public cloud provider. However, this can only happen by employing a combination of cloud services and cloud-compatible APIs, along with the delivery of a compatible infrastructure stack for enterprise and public cloud. Only an architecture that is platform, hardware and cloud-agnostic can truly deliver on the hybrid multicloud promise.
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