Hybrid cloud, as best defined by industry analysts, is a combination of multiple public cloud services, as well as private cloud and/or non-cloud infrastructure resources. If we look at the industry trends or go by the predictions from the likes of leading market research organizations, above 85% of enterprise IT organizations will adopt hybrid-cloud architectures by the end of 2020.
However, every enterprise today has a different state and those who are implementing hybrid-cloud architectures either by design or by default are often surprised when the outcomes do not match the expectations. The biggest reason for failure to achieve the desired outcomes is the lack of right DevOps enablement capabilities that are essential for realizing the true potential of digital transformation.
Essential Capabilities for Digital Transformation:
- More frequent deployments
- Fewer failures
- Faster recovery and shorter lead times
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to managing DevOps in the hybrid cloud. However, by following the below industry-wide key best practices, enterprises can convert this theoretical approach into a reality.
Making On-premise Infrastructure Deployment Cloud Enabled
It’s true that hybrid-cloud initiatives face challenges, such as increased complexity, management of multiple technologies, and enablement of DevOps methodologies. However, it is imperative to ensure that the choice of platform for on-premise deployment has the software-defined construct. An agile infrastructure as delivered by the integrated appliances, such as HCI (Hyperconverged Infrastructure) offers both tightly integrated—server, storage, and security, and are flexible enough to meet the changing demands as per the requirement. Software-defined infrastructure stack offers faster a resource provisioning and proactive ‘Day 2’ operations along with predictive analytics.
Bringing agility to your underlying infrastructure is often regarded as the key principle for reducing cycle time and maximizing the flow in continuous delivery and DevOps. Public cloud, on the other hand, offers flexibility in the form of elastic compute. Developers can spin up new virtual machines quickly and provide more storage. What is required there are the standardization and transparent access to resources via APIs, which promise to break down the silos between different applications and back-end services.
Putting Containers at the Heart
One must be thinking of what containers have to do with DevOps? The answer is that containers make DevOps easier. Containers offer several key benefits that help in the enablement of DevOps solution workflows, including:
- Containers Make Development, Testing, and Production Environments Consistent: When we write, test, and deploy applications inside containers, the containerized environment does not change at different parts of the software delivery cycle. This makes collaboration between different teams, especially developers and IT operations easier because they all are working with the same containerized environment.
- Simple Updates: Continuous software delivery requires rolling out application updates on a constant basis. With containers, it’s easy to apply updates to applications. Unlike monolithic applications, your application is distributed across multiple microservices—each one hosted in a separate container, teams can update one part of the application by restarting the container without interrupting the rest of the application.
- Support for Multiple Frameworks: By and large, containers are relatively agnostic toward programming languages and underlying deployment platforms. Enterprises can run almost any type of application inside a container, regardless of the programming language used. Containers can easily be moved between different types of host systems. For example, if you want to switch from Red Hat to Ubuntu or vice versa—you can do that very quickly with containers. But you can’t move a containerized application from a Linux to a Windows server.
Yes, you heard it right! Automation in DevOps delivers speed, accuracy, consistency, and reliability while increasing the number of software deliveries. Traditionally, in the software development cycle, it was just the development-specific activities that used to get automated, specifically testing. And for an enterprise, automation would often stand for testing and automating test cases, that too only functional test cases.
However, without end-to-end automation at scale, the hybrid-cloud organizations will not be able to realize the full benefit of DevOps. Therefore, it’s essential to automate the entire DevOps pipeline involving continuous integration, continuous testing, and continuous deployment, including application performance monitoring. In addition to development activities, the enterprise needs to automate all their operations activities as well—such as provisioning of virtual machines, configuring the servers, networks, firewalls, and monitoring of application in the production environments. In recent years, several software vendors, such as Chef, Puppet Labs, and Ansible have emerged. These vendors are allowing organizations to bring in automation across all the available infrastructure with the DevOps automation tools stack. Ultimately, automation in the DevOps process should cover everything right from building, deploying, and monitoring.
Bringing the Cultural Change
As rightly pointed by a leading analyst, 90% of the organizations that attempt DevOps without first addressing the cultural foundation will fail. We all agree to the fact that DevOps is more of a practice, a set of cultural practices related to software development. It emphasizes collaboration between all parts of the IT ecosystem and the ‘continuous delivery’ of software. The truth is that the entire organization needs to be agile for a business to realize its true value and requires a change in culture, which can be achieved by re-inventing operations team as a developer service team.
For example, expanding the scope of the operations team from just managing and lowering the costs of running, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure to providing on-demand, self-service infrastructure, and services tailored to developer needs.
Fostering more collaboration by enabling full-stack transparency and management capability with clear segregation of duties instead of just delivering configured infrastructure and handing over responsibility to development teams shall help.
Fundamentally, organizations of all sizes are embracing hybrid cloud and multi-cloud infrastructures to experience the many benefits of a more agile, distributed, and high-speed environment, where new applications and services can be built and delivered in days and weeks, rather than months and years. A robust DevOps platform is a critical element to make hybrid-cloud adoption successful.