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How to manage the cloud journey

Mon 4 Jul 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Article by Alessandro Perilli, GM management strategy, Red Hat

By now, it’s hopefully clear that Red Hat is very serious about Management, with a continual commitment and a constant look at the big picture.

OUR COMMITMENT
  • Over the years, we expressed our commitment to become a key IT management player in a number of ways:
  • Through M&A activities, with the acquisition of ManageIQ in 2012 and the acquisition of Ansible in 2015
  • Through organic growth, with the launch of Satellite (originally known as Red Hat Network) in the early days and Insights in 2015
  • Through cross-portfolio integration, by using CloudForms as the administrative backbone for OpenShift, our Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud engine, and by bundling CloudForms and Red Hat OpenStack Platform, our Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud engine

This week we further express our commitment in additional ways:

  • Through cross-product integration, by invoking, for example, Ansible automation engine to provision CloudForms catalog objects, and to automatically execute remediation plans generated by Insights. 

We plan to further progress down this path by integrating Ansible with [Satellite][I think that we generally refer to this as Red Hat Satellite] as well.

  • Through laser-focused support for specific use cases, like, for example, using Ansible to automate the provisioning of Linux containers from the development stage on developers’ machines all the way to the production stage on corporate datacenters.

We have grown and evolved our portfolio faithful to enable and support our customers in their march towards a Frictionless IT, shaping our offering after its core principles like ease of use. Three examples:

  • Our newest offering, Insights, features a Software-as-a-Service delivery model to reduce at its minimum the cost of entry.
  • Ansible, already considered one of the easiest product to use among IT automation and configuration management tools in the market, has grown in popularity as an easy way to manage containers.
  • CloudForms ships as single virtual appliance where some competitors still want you to setup and configure 6-12 systems to deploy their cloud management platform.

But what is the big picture? Why these specific products? What is guiding our decisions in terms of management portfolio growth?

THE BIG PICTURE

Part of the answer to the above questions is in the cloud maturity model below, shaped after the dimensions of scale and complexity.

If your cloud project is successful, it will likely grow in scale as more and more Lines of Business trust your IT organisation to host their applications. Not only guided by common sense, we saw the relationship between success and scale through first hand experience by working with many customers worldwide, and with further validation resulting from a highly detailed TCO analysis that we published recently.

Popularity has a side effect. As more LoBs approach the private or hybrid cloud you built, the business demand will also likely start to diversify and your IT organisation may be requested to host not just a great variety of greenfield applications, but also brownfield ones that were not designed to run on IaaS and PaaS clouds. We saw this over and over in conversations with clients, and we heard it even more on stage of industry events like the OpenStack Summit from now very experienced early adopters.

This diversification increases the complexity of the cloud environment, both in terms of complexity of applications to deploy and manage, and in terms of integration with IT systems outside the cloud environment.

So the question is: “How do you manage that growing complexity as you evolve in your cloud journey?”

You begin the cloud journey by asking yourself, “Can we move faster?” The first step to answering that question consists of deploying a cloud engine. Your decision to adopt a IaaS or PaaS cloud engine depends on many factors, including cultural fit, readiness to standardise the computing stack at a certain level, preference to work with virtual machines or containers, and much more.

Your cloud engine of choice comes with its own set of management tools, which are perfectly fine to address the needs of an IT organisation up to a certain level of complexity. After that level, which varies from organisation to organisation, your business likely will require more sophisticated support, just like a landlord that expands his/her real estate business, embracing services like Airbnb and beyond.

As you grow in scale, the first management solutions that you may want to consider are the ones that can preserve the health of your growing IT environment, enabling you to run at scale. For this stage of maturity, Red Hat offers Insights and Satellite. Insights can proactively identify configuration issues and security vulnerabilities before they become critical, generating an appropriate remediation plan. Satellite, conversely, can deploy trusted software content and security patches at scale, enabling IT Ops to fix whatever issue has been identified by Insights or by the IT organisation manually.

As the complexity increases along the way, and your cloud environment is requested to serve and host increasingly diverse applications, you may want to consider an IT automation solution to help maximise the efficiency of your cloud. For this stage of maturity, Red Hat offers Ansible. Ansible is capable of automating the provisioning and configuration of the components of a multi-tier application, including the underlying resources that serve the application, like networking.

As both scale and complexity reach their peak, at the most advanced stage of maturity in your cloud journey, you may want to consider a cloud management platform to govern the private cloud environment side by side with public clouds and pre-existing server virtualisation environments in a coherent way. For this stage of maturity, Red Hat offers CloudForms. CloudForms provides a single pane of glass to control, automate and keep compliant a truly hybrid IT environment composed of VMware, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Red Hat technologies.

In other words, we are investing in the Red Hat Management portfolio to support our customers at every stage of the maturity model described here, both when they follow the adoption path described so far and when they have more ad-hoc business needs to address (1).

There’s much more that we can do, and that we’ll do, to empower IT organisations in their digital transformation. So, as usual, stay tuned for more.

(1) - Do we expect all customers to follow the exact adoption path described in this blog post? No. In fact, multiple customers start adopting some of our management solutions much earlier in their cloud journey. Which is why we leverage CloudForms in both our IaaS and PaaS cloud engines, or why we launched theAnsible Container project, as a way to support IT organizations that want to work with containers from the earliest maturity stages.

Article by Alessandro Perilli, GM management strategy, Red Hat

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