How hybrid cloud platform operations can provide an evolutionary jump in how the enterprise thinks about IT service delivery
An Intellyx BrainBlog by Jason English, for Morpheus Data
“To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go…”
– “The Impossible Dream (The Quest)” from Man of La Mancha
Enterprise IT leaders have long dreamt of delivering self-service application environments that are easy to maintain and monitor within budget constraints, yet are as agile as the DevOps teams they support.
Perhaps this quest is no longer as quixotic as it used to be, thanks to the advance of elastic computing resources atop hybrid cloud platforms and hyperscalers, driven by cloud-native technology, infrastructure-as-code, and delivery automation.
Even if dev and ops teams sally forth with the bravest of automated cloud provisioning efforts, without a good connection to the business and organizational realities represented within service management, observability and FinOps platforms, they might as well be tilting at windmills.
There’s a lot of excitement today around platform engineering, and moving away from classic, sequential delivery processes by setting up self-service provisioning atop hybrid cloud infrastructure.
By comparison, hybrid cloud platform operations is an equally if not more important superset of tooling and processes which surround modern IT. We want to offer developer self-service, yes, but we also need to monitor and unify the ongoing operations of the cloud resources we spin up today into the future, in a manner that is embedded into the everyday process engineers participate in.
Embedding service management
in modern practices
In the classic model of provisioning, a centralized IT Ops team took in dev team requests from a system like ServiceNow or Jira as a front door.
Each request ticket—hopefully, accompanied by thorough documentation—would then go through a number of resource, budgeting, quality control, and security approval processes and system checks from there, until the Ops team finally built and deployed the requested system a few weeks later.
Modern development teams can ill afford to wait for such cycles within tight timelines. Self-service automation is a core tenet of the DevOps movement, and without it, provisioning and maintaining environments will become the primary bottleneck to productivity.
Unless a course correction is made quickly, teams will ‘go rogue’ and do their own thing without the blessing of IT. In fact, many frustrated teams did just that, which resulted in a rash outbreak of ‘shadow IT’ over the last several years. Ungoverned cloud usage can cause even worse problems when cloud costs spin out of control and deployed applications are breached or fall down in front of customers.
Internal developer platforms are a more modern way to address the need for speed with safety, though we must deal with the underlying reality of populating and updating configuration management databases and tools, and interfacing with ITSM systems that have become critical for servicing customer needs.
ITSM tools and platforms still have an important role to play in a hybrid cloud platform operations framework. Now they are simply a layer of the cake, baked into the system rather than bogging it down.
Stretching the limitations of
discovery and observability
IT operations management (ITOM) has traditionally represented the discovery, planning, and management of IT resources on the heels of a service management delivery approach. Still, just like with ITSM, the tooling has evolved.
New DevOps approaches ask us to move quickly, but before we run off and start stamping out new automated environments using platform engineering, we must recognize that there is no such thing as a true greenfield estate.
Being able to conduct a thorough discovery process, and wrap your arms around the enterprise’s resources, relationships, and costs that are already in play is the best starting point for enabling hybrid cloud platform operations. More importantly, that information can guide the guardrails and policies that get put in place to manage costs going forward.
Once we’ve properly discovered the resources and automated how new environments are provisioned, organizations should unify how they leverage modern monitoring and observability platforms such as Datadog, ScienceLogic, or OpsRamp.
In an ideal world, the hybrid cloud platform operations process would populate and unify the enterprise’s ITSM, change management, monitoring, financial and compliance data in parallel, rather than asking a case manager to shepherd each change ticket through separate tools and teams.
Collapsing weeks into minutes
AstraZeneca, one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies, depends upon continuous innovation within its highly regulated international application estate to support the design and production of life-saving treatments.
The company’s global information services (GIS) organization oversees more than 16,000 virtual and physical servers and 2,700 applications across 15 global locations spanning on-prem VMware infrastructure and multiple public cloud providers including AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.
With sensitive IP and clinical data on the line, compliance comes first. So the process for requesting new deployments passed through several departmental and system review checks, adding costly delays to each build and release cycle.
Using Morpheus to enable hybrid cloud platform operations, they went from an end-to-end service fulfillment cycle that took 80 hours, to automation that provisioned as many as 30 servers at a time in just minutes.
With the right guardrails in place, they could let development and product teams move forward on their own, while still pushing cost metrics to financial models, config updates to change management records, anomalies to monitoring dashboards, and incidents into ServiceNow.
The Intellyx Take
In this series, we’ve traversed the rise of hybrid cloud platform operations by looking at the divide between DevOps and CloudOps, exploring the frontier of wrangling containers and clusters in cloud-native environments, and challenging the limits of infrastructure-as-code with a self-service platform.
As it turns out, the lesson of our hero’s journey is one of simplicity. Doing more work with fewer tools and less friction between teams is the end game and it’s closer to reality with the help of hybrid cloud platform operations.
Making self-service environments sustainable over the long haul is not just about installing another provisioning tool in the cloud. It’s about transforming the way the business thinks about its operating model and the tooling that it uses to realize that vision.
Companies don’t need a tight command and control doctrine. With visibility and the right management approach, development teams get the agility they want on demand, while the operations organization can still set the policies and get the oversight needed to continuously sustain the business.
Copyright ©2023 Intellyx LLC. Intellyx is solely responsible for the content of this article. As of the time of writing, Morpheus Data is an Intellyx customer. No AI chatbots were used to write this article.