Hybrid Cloud Management – Then, Now and Next

By: Brad Parks

It’s that time of year when analysts and tech vendors alike pontificate, prognosticate, and try to predict what’s going to be a big deal in the coming 12 months. 

This year, I find myself in a particularly reflective mood, having hit my five-year work anniversary here at Morpheus just this past fall. With that, let’s do a quick look back ‘ and forward.

There and back again

When I joined Morpheus in 2017, I was coming from a large global IT infrastructure provider (HPE) to a small and scrappy software startup. At the time, I wrote about this decision being akin to my skydiving experience complete with being attached to a large ex-marine wearing an adult-size BabyBj rn.

I’m happy to report that I landed on my feet and that the rocket ship that is Morpheus has not disappointed. With over 40% average YoY growth since 2017, we’re hitting our stride and did more business in December 2022 than we did the entirety of 2015-to-2018.

One of the reasons I made the jump was to get closer to the product, the market, and the customers. In my first months at Morpheus, I spent time with our founding team, our product engineers, our channel partners, and our customers to really immerse myself in what we do and why it mattered to customers. 

Since those early days, I’ve traveled hundreds of thousands of miles and talked to hundreds of prospects and partners. I have to say that I’m even more excited about our unified approach to hybrid cloud now than I was then!

The market ‘ and our customers ‘ have moved forward

When I talked to senior IT leaders five years ago, most would agree that their organization needed self-service, needed to help dev teams move faster, and needed to get IT ‘out of the way’ ‘ all in the quest to better manage their public and private cloud environments.

The challenge was that these infrastructure and operations leaders would agree on the vision but quickly acknowledged that their enterprise organization did not have the prerequisites in place to execute on that vision. 

They had complex siloed ecosystems when it came to technology, people, and process. They didn’t have a defined budget for the kind of self-service platform Morpheus was offering, and they didn’t have the right skillsets around automation. The goal was in sight just on the horizon but still very much a work in progress.’

For many companies back in 2018, cloud management was focused on cost management and FinOps, often dealing with failed ‘lift-and-shift’ exercises. This was when companies like CloudCheckr and Cloudability made a name for themselves.

Fast forward to today and I’m meeting with and presenting to these same senior IT leaders who are very ready to talk about developer self-service and platform engineering. In fact, many now have a dedicated platform operations team focused on enabling internal developers and product groups to move faster with more consistency.  

The truth is the problems that Morpheus solves have not fundamentally changed but they’re even more relevant today than they were five years ago. You could say that the market has evolved and come to Morpheus. I’ll reference here that overused corporate clich attributed to ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky about skating to where the puck is going. 

Morpheus has been waiting here on the ice all along and we’ve found the puck at our feet. In my early Morpheus days, I built on the hockey theme in a blog comparing how Morpheus orchestrates frictionless cloud and DevOps to a Zamboni at the ice rink. I’d say the analogy still holds true and is perhaps even more appropriate, given our color scheme is aligned with the Quebec Nordiques turned Colorado Avalanche hockey team! 

Morpheus is never standing still 

Momentum continues full speed ahead here at Morpheus. When I joined, I was employee #11 but now we now have 85 employees around the world with customers and partners in every geography.

I’m excited to see relationships with global companies like Dell, HPE, Lenovo, and others expand as we work together to help our joint customers bring the public cloud experience on-prem while extending on-prem control to the public cloud.

From the get-go, as I mentioned in a recent Authority Magazine article on digital transformation, Morpheus was created by a group of developers who were tasked with the digital transformation of dozens of companies within a private equity portfolio. They built a flexible and agnostic self-service developer platform architected to fulfil that mission. They weren’t thinking about how to sell something or get rich. They just wanted to get their job done and that required simplifying the consumption of IT.

At its core, Morpheus is a powerful self-service engine providing enterprise agility, control, and efficiency. We can enable on-prem private clouds, centralize public cloud access, and orchestrate change with cost analytics, governance policy, and automation. Over the last 18 months, we’ve expanded to help our customers bring that same well-governed self-service approach to Kubernetes and HashiCorp Terraform.

The greatest adventure is what lies ahead 

I believe over the next 12 months we’ll witness a critical mass of senior leaders ready to start focusing more on what I call ‘the forest problem‘ in hybrid cloud starting with the creation of  platform operations teams.

These teams will tackle a long-standing question: How do you make self-service for developers a repeatable, consistent well-run process versus independent Rube Goldberg machines created to navigate organizational silos. We already see senior IT leaders acknowledging the need, obtaining funding, and kicking off projects. Here’s how I see this shaping up in terms of tools, technology, people, and processes. 

Tools and technology

Customers have been on their cloud transformation journey for quite a while now. They’ve solved some problems and learned from their experiences. Two things they’ve come to realize: You can’t just throw humans at a problem and have them solve it manually. And building self-service platforms from scratch just piles new technical debt on top of old. 

So what is the go-forward strategy around tools and technology? It’s not buy-versus-build. It’s about buying for acceleration and sustainability without sacrificing fit for purpose.

We at Morpheus clearly believe that there is no one vendor that offers a magic bullet or a true single pane of glass. But there is something in between buying a one-size-fits-all platform that doesn’t meet your needs and spending thousands of wasted hours trying to script your way to nirvana.

The trend will move toward finding that perfect technology balance that starts with a commercial off-the-shelf offering to find value fast but one that can be customized with your unique people, skills, and processes to get what you need today and in the future. 

People and Process

Companies will continue to get better at platform operations. Gartner weighed in on this in its Infrastructure, Operations. and Cloud Management Primer for 2022, positioning platform operations as the core of cloud management, infrastructure and operations (I&O) automation, technology performance monitoring, reliability and resilience, platform engineering, and IT server management ‘ all combining to support business requirements, foster seamless workload and data access, and consistent end-user experiences. 

Gartner surmised that ‘digital platforms and products are critical for supporting organizational missions at all levels, yet most current IT ops processes can’t support their requirements ‘ and I&O leaders must respond by evolving their core competencies, methodologies, and technologies or risk irrelevance to the business.’

Focus is needed on strategies and technology that enable IT to deliver value today and tomorrow, knowing that the future is constantly changing horizon. Involvement is needed from not only business and IT but also from finance, security, app-dev, and more.

Certainly not every developer will care about ops and not every IT ops person will want to learn code. But at the same time, we see a need for platform operations specialists who have the right mix of development knowledge IT operations experience. Over the past decade, what I’m talking about here is what’s become known as DevOps. For better and worse, some organizations have been more successful with DevOps initiatives than others, but this always involves a mixture of people with different skill sets as the team underpinning. 

So in the next year, I believe that the platform operations team ‘ and its functions ‘ may in fact be a good landing zone for hybrid roles to flourish as they are increasingly needed in today’s enterprise. 

The key to success is to bring on board individuals with both technical ability and the ability to think beyond any given silo. The understanding and insight that comes from having walked a mile ‘ or at least 100 yards ‘ in someone else’s enterprise shoes translates into greater trust, collaboration, and communication. 

When a company gets the underpinning technology right and has the right people on board to support it, process is the scaffolding where these other key elements hang. What’s different today is that I think companies are at a point where they’re more willing to blow up existing processes (or make necessary changes) as part of their cloud management journey. 

What I’ve learned so far

Any way you look at it, digital transformation is hard. The big difference I’ve observed between large enterprises and smaller startups is the importance of experimentation ‘ the ability to start small, grow, and fail faster and more often. It’s speed that’s so vital, because the faster you can experiment, learn, and get better, the better you’re going to be as a business that much sooner. 

If you can experiment, learn something, and experiment again, you’ll inevitably find more value and keeps your competitive edge sharp compared to a monolith happy to do things the way they’ve always done them. This is true in business, software development, and life in general. 


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