2018 was a great year for establishing VMware as a company committed to helping customers address the challenges of multi-cloud. Late in the year, we completed the acquisition of CloudHealth Technologies. CloudHealth is the focal point of our efforts to build out capabilities that help organizations manage, secure and operate in a multi-cloud world.
Over the next few blogs, we will outline the major challenges organizations face as they increase their use of the cloud – and how VMware can help address those challenges. Read on to discover how today’s multi-cloud world came about, and how to put your organization into pole position for what’s to come tomorrow.
A 30 Second History of Cloud Adoption
Many people recognize Line of Business application development teams were the first to embrace the public cloud, seeking the ability to produce better quality code at a faster rate than competitors. These teams found easy access to resources, infrastructure as code, and well-defined APIs. On-demand, pay as you go pricing, the easy availability of application building blocks and the ability to deploy across the globe were welcome benefits as well.
Since the launch of AWS in 2006, the importance of public cloud to the enterprise has steadily increased. For most companies, the portfolio of projects running in the cloud has moved from a few test and development and non-critical applications, to a large portfolio of revenue-generating, in-production applications. Not only has the number of projects in the cloud increased, so too has the number of clouds in use by each organization. According to multiple analyst studies, a majority of organizations now use two or more public clouds.
As the profile of applications running in the cloud has changed, as cloud spending has surged, and as the number of clouds in use by organizations has increased – business leaders have realized that public cloud usage can no longer be taken for granted. With this realization comes an understanding that multi-cloud operations involve substantial financial, operational, security and compliance risks – and any approach to building and running applications in the cloud must reflect this reality.
One thing that is clear to me, is that public cloud presents a complexity challenge unlike anything organizations have faced in the past. This complexity comes from the sheer number of teams, accounts and objects that must be managed, combined with the highly distributed nature of the cloud. Gone are the days where IT owned the front the door and could dictate the stack that was used, who could use that stack and where that stack would run.
The cloud is by its nature more egalitarian than that. Swipe a credit card and you are up and running. The distributed nature of the cloud also means that a resource, misconfigured by any of dozens of teams all striving to develop and deploy code in near real time, can completely cripple the revenue-generating ability of the entire enterprise. This was never the case in the data-center but it is the new face of risk in the cloud.
The complexity challenge is already evident in most organizations today. Most organizations with a significant presence in the public cloud are challenged to effectively manage cost, implement consistent security and compliance, govern the use of cloud resources and ensure their portfolio of SaaS applications meets the performance expectations of the business. As organizations begin to adopt multicloud operations, complexity is heightened further by the fact that each new cloud introduces another operating model and a unique set of semantics, APIs and services.
Cloud Centers of Excellence
In response to this complexity, and to free up application development teams to focus on code that differentiates, many organizations have created cloud operations teams that function as centers of excellence, helping the entire enterprise achieve better performance on the cloud. These new teams are taking on a range of cloud operations tasks, including cost optimization, security and compliance, troubleshooting application performance, resource governance and more.
These centralized teams are better positioned to handle the challenges associated with running cloud operations at scale. Challenges like knowing where resources are being used, how efficiently, by whom, and at what cost. They’re also better positioned to ensure resources are properly configured for security, compliance and performance, and to quickly identify and help resolve application-level issues that impact revenue-generating SaaS applications.
The Future of Cloud Optimization
This is a great first step toward dealing with the complexity challenge. However, it won’t be enough. The rate of complexity continues to move faster than the ability of people and current technologies to evolve. What is needed is a new approach. One that starts with data and insights and builds out capabilities that work to continuously optimize applications and environments based on policies that organizations have defined. This approach must also be capable of learning from both an organization’s own experience but also from that of other enterprises running in the cloud.
CloudHealth gives us the right foundation to build out capabilities that can help address operational challenges immediately. But even more importantly, it gives us the right starting point to build for the future.
It’s clear to me, and to every customer I speak with, that mastering the complexity of multi-cloud operations is a priority. The challenges are formidable but fully tractable. Getting this right will help organizations be both more cost-effective and more responsive to the needs of business. The hidden upside of getting this right is that it allows enterprises to take full advantage of any cloud to meet their business objectives, without incurring an additional complexity tax.