You’d think we’d all be accustomed to the Cloud by now. After all we’ve been hearing about Cloud technologies, Cloud this and Cloud that for over five years. But this is quite far from the truth when it comes to the enterprise Cloud.
See, while consumers were first to embrace Cloud services, which for them were mostly just web apps (like Gmail) or something “out there” that backups their data (like Dropbox), for enterprises it was a much slower ride.
Most businesses, even now, have only relegated some secondary and mostly trivial services to the Cloud (e.g. adopting Google Apps for Work or collaboration tools like Jira or Asana). And while startups have eagerly adopted IaaS offerings like AWS and Azure, established enterprises have been much more reluctant.
The thing is that the new Cloud model is not just another option, but brings with it a whole new approach that requires a mindset shift — that is, if we want to take full advantage of what it has to offer.
Fully embracing the Cloud means changing how our organisation approaches IT resources, internal services, end-user software applications, and even development environments.
In the process we should also get rid of some misconceptions about the Cloud too.
A lot of managers for example (and even some engineers) believe that the Cloud is some kind of ultimate infrastructure technology that will magically solve any and all availability and performance issues.
That’s not what the Cloud offers. That’s not what any technology offers, to be frank: there’s no silver bullet.
What the Cloud does offer is increased abstraction, the closest thing to “magic” we have in IT. Increased abstraction is what enables your 15-year old nephew to program in an afternoon what would have take a team of IBM scientists several months in 1960.
This increased abstraction of the Cloud provides admins and dev ops with the tools to proactively manage, provision and deploy machines, with advanced monitoring, reproducibility, and freedom from vendor lock-ins.
I’m talking about features such as:
- abstraction of resources, that lets you handle heterogenous vendor-independent infrastructure and mixed architectures with ease,
- workload migration/evacuation, that enables you to handle updates and route around problems with minimal impact to the users while minimising maintenance windows
- centralised reporting, giving you insightful views of system health and performance that assists operations management and decision making
- systematic infrastructure design/blueprints through code, while enable standards-based know-how sharing among IT teams
- automated machine and software provisioning and maintenance, that eliminate error prone manual procedures
And while both high and low ends of the spectrum (Fortune-500 enterprises and agile startups) have already embraced the Cloud for all the above traits, there is an enormous amount of enterprises in between that are traditionally reluctant to embrace new technologies, going instead with what they believe to be tried-and-tested traditional IT procedures.
Well, it’s 2015 already. Those procedures have indeed been tried and tested ― and they have been found lacking.
The Cloud is not some novelty to be approached cautiously anymore, it’s the emerging new standard way of doing business. Of course there are a lot of things to be cautious still: not all Clouds are alike, and embracing the Cloud only to find yourself locked-in to some proprietary vendor Cloud platform kind of defeats the purpose.
That’s why we betted our company in OpenStack, the industry standard Cloud platform sponsored by world leading vendors like Cicso, IBM, HP, Dell, RedHat, Backspace and Canonical, that we believe to be the optimal solution for businesses of any size.
OpenStack is Open Source and has the support of multiple vendors, letting you have full control of your cloud, with broad support for enterprise level virtualisation (from KVM and VMWare to Docker) allowing you to leverage existing products and solutions used at your company.
OpenStack also eliminates perpetual licensing costs and is free of byzantine pricing schemes.
And with its simple and intuitive web management interface, makes provisioning, managing and operating your infrastructure a piece of cake and empowering scaling-out, allowing administrators and operators to respond quickly to any business demand.
As for support, an OpenStack solution hits all the right keys, as it’s both available as Open Source and based on an industry standard with huge support from vendors, consultants and enterprise support shops big and small ― not to mention the availability of a vibrant grassroots community.
As we already noted, companies of both huge and tiny scales have already embraced the Cloud. Large Fortune-500 companies use Cloud based services to streamline, simplify and empower their infrastructure. Small, agile, startups practically live in the Cloud, as it offers them the ability to tap resources on demand and compete with big, established, players.
It’s time for enterprises between those two extremes, small, medium and large, to reach for the Clouds.
After that, the sky is the limit.