A valentine’s day special I DevOps, take you Cloud, to be my happily ever after

By: Brad Parks

A ‘meet cute‘ for you non-Rom-Com fans is where the couple gets together for the first time. Just think of Harry and Sally in that first car-share sequence. If that means nothing to you then I can’t help you’. Google it.

What does any of that have to do with DevOps and Cloud? DevOps Is the key to a successful cloud-first strategy and in fact, these two are as inexorably linked as Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maquire. The DevOps shift is driving the demand for rapid provisioning of elastic resources and CloudOps is on the hook for delivering the infrastructure required to meet the business goals. In this plotline, our meet-cute started with digital transformation.

A recent survey cited by Chris Pope in a December 11, 2017, article on ITProPortal found that in 76 percent of enterprises, DevOps is the primary driver of the companies’ cloud-first initiatives. Even more telling, nearly all respondents — including IT and line-of-business managers — reported being involved in their firm’s DevOps program.

Any IT managers who feared the rise of cloud services would render them obsolete can rest assured, there’s great demand for their tech and business savvy. In 75 percent of the enterprises surveyed, a cloud-first approach made IT more relevant to the business and a DevOps mindset made them invaluable.

The challenge for CIOs is to bring their staff up to speed with the new skills required by the digital transformation: 90 percent of companies that have adopted a cloud-first strategy report their IT workers lacked skills needed to implement their plans. In addition to helping IT staff gain the skills required to keep a cloud-first infrastructure running smoothly, CIOs need to change the culture of the department to be more entrepreneurial and less risk-averse. This is the same fail-fast mantra of DevOps evangelists.

Communication is key to any relationship… Managing bottom-up adoption of cloud services

When the center of your IT universe moves from your own premises to the cloud, it becomes more difficult to get an end-to-end view of your operations and costs. Because cloud projects frequently begin from the bottom up, the IT department has less control over the process, yet IT is still responsible for security, compliance, performance, and reliability.

An application-centric organization benefits from the efficiencies of a bottom-up approach to infrastructure combined with the mature management capabilities of the top-down approach. Source: Deloitte Insights

The only way to track cloud efforts that originate in business units is to work directly with the people on the business side — not just once a month or once a week, but every day. The fundamental role of IT professionals changes, which means relationships between IT and business departments change as well. It can be challenging for IT pros to manage the transition from infrastructure builders to service brokers.

One of the primary groups they are brokering on behalf of is the development team. In a recent Gartner survey, 88% of respondents cited application developers as the largest consumer of infrastructure and operations resources. When IT shifts-left and becomes an integrated part of those development projects then cloud-first can start to be a reality and ops teams can help align the right resources both on-prem and off.

At Morpheus, we often find ourselves in discussions where both of these groups are at the table. I’m happy to play matchmaker and give both developers and operations the feeling that they are getting the best out of the relationship. It’s all about providing operations the control they need while allowing developers to maintain their own identity in a BYOT (bring your own toolchain) scenario.

Flexibility is important and in this case, the Application makes the rules

The inexorable march from Bare Metal to VM to Containers and now toward serverless infrastructure requires new ways of thinking about planning, deploying, and managing applications. In a December 8, 2017, article on Data Center Dynamics, Mark Baker describes serverless as “the ultimate layer of abstraction — write code, define a function, execute and get a return.” Among the challenges to be overcome are application portability, service predictability, and liability for failures.

Perhaps the greatest impediment to a successful cloud-first strategy is old-fashioned inertia. Much time and effort have been invested in the traditional data-center model and development pipeline and legacy platform modalities. In this case, it’s time to toss aside the baggage of your ex-girlfriend and embrace what’s new. The advantages of daily deployments compared to weekly or monthly is profound. To put it another way, cloud-first done right with end-to-end application automation and the ability to span multiple platforms can literally be the lynchpin in making digital transformation a reality. Doing it in such a way that helps you evolve current application libraries to a containerized and FaaS future is what long-term relationships are made of.

Baker points out that a common mistake of IT decisionmakers is conflating what is possible with what is optimal. He states that “[b]uilding infrastructure that works and building infrastructure that really makes a difference to the business are two entirely different things.”

Good relationships start with knowing yourself: Accurate analysis of workloads

A cloud-first approach requires that CIOs demonstrate more than mere cloud competence. Jyoti Lalchandani writes in a December 14, 2017, article on Gulf News Technology that CIOs must become masters of the cloud services model. The failure to do so will lead to more line-of-business managers “taking control of their own computing futures,” according to Lalchandani.

Digital transformation business initiatives have become CEO-level priorities as more development and production workloads migrate to cloud platforms. A primary role for IT departments is matching various types of workloads to the cloud services that will optimize performance while minimizing costs. Evaluating the needs of individual workloads entails comparing the cost, performance, security, and contract terms of different cloud services.

Mapping workloads in multi-cloud settings presents three scenarios: presentation and business logic (public cloud) are separated from data (private cloud), the entire app runs in the public cloud using data filtered and replicated in the private cloud, and cloud-native apps aggregate data from back-end systems hosted in the private cloud and on-premises data centers. Source: IBM

Kevin Casey claims in a December 28, 2017, article on the Enterprisers Project that 2018 will be the year enterprises shift their focus from cloud adoption to cloud optimization. Currently, managing multi-cloud environments entails “chair swiveling” from console to console, but Casey quotes cloud consultant Jeff Budge as saying that through 2018 more IT departments will turn to “single pane of glass” cloud-management tools such as the Morpheus unified ops orchestration tool. While I cringe at the SPOG reference I do think that minimizing pain by minimizing panes is a goal of every customer we talk to.

Morpheus started as a DevOps centric deployment engine across any cloud infrastructure. That infrastructure often included brownfield environments so being able to manage application requests and provisioning actions was a natural underpinning to what came next… the analysis of utilization related to those applications. Running in either an agentless or agent-assisted model we can accurately gather and aggregate workload data to help inform cloud optimization. When we turn that machine learning to DevOps we can help extend insight to the full development pipeline.

Make the cloud-first culture change one of growing together… not apart

The maxim “no pain, no gain” has been applied to all fundamental technology changes in the business world, and the cloud-first transition is no exception. When the U.S. Department of Homeland Security began its Cloud Factory project, its goal was to develop a cloud-services platform that would meet the needs of the entire organization. DHS CTO Michael Hermus writes in a December 13, 2017, article on the Enterprisers Project that the department’s cloud transformation entailed “a fair amount of cultural pain.”

The characteristics of a digitally maturing organization include a shift from no user focus to a central user focus, and from a risk-averse culture to “risk receptive” to encourage innovation and collaboration. Source: Deloitte Insights

The DHS’s Cloud Factory had four goals:

1. Create a single platform able to host all of the department’s applications and systems.

2. Make the platform flexible enough to meet the needs of individual missions.

3. Implement a tech stack that complies with federal mandates.

4. Use a common DevSecOps toolset.

Cloud Factory’s benefits include the use of best-of-breed tools, an agnostic integration framework, and access to the full gamut of cloud services and software components. However, the ultimate success of the project depends on DHS’s ability to transform the department’s culture in five ways:

1. Instill a mindset that change is more than “OK,” it’s necessary. Rather than waiting for change to happen, the agency will “continually drive change.”

2. Invite people to take a chance on occasion and “try something new.” Failure in an attempt to improve something should be recognized and even rewarded as a “good risk.”

3. Hire people who have a passion for what they do. Even those who have the skills you need today will need to learn new skills in the future, and a talented worker with passion can be taught the skills required to thrive.

4. Modernize your workplace to make it more aesthetically pleasing. Standing workstations and other amenities can improve the morale of workers at relatively little expense.

5. Learn from and contribute to your community. The best way to find out about innovations and new opportunities is by rubbing elbows with others in your industry, as well as with cloud services and other tech providers.

The digital transformation now underway is often seen as having two facets: one virtual (infrastructure) and one human (IT and business staff). The application layer is where cloud platforms meet knowledge workers. The focus in enterprises is shifting to multi-cloud optimization and cultural reinvention. Transparency about how well your workloads are running and how effective your multi-cloud approach is in achieving your business goals becomesimperative.

Relationships both personal and professional are always evolving. In the case of DevOps and CloudOps it’s clear that one completes the other and the folks at Morpheus are ready to help you make the love connection required to fulfill your digital. transformation dreams. Let us know if you’d like to have a discussion or schedule a demo to learn more.