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DevOps and Hybrid Clouds By @EFeatherston | @DevOpsSummit [#DevOps]

The promise of DevOps is the ability to deliver quality, supportable, stable features & changes in order to meet business needs

DevOps and Hybrid Clouds: A Match Made in Heaven?

It seems today we are in a constant state of business and technology disruption. The convergence of the social, mobile, analytics, and cloud (SMAC) disruptions have both forced and enabled organizations to move at breakneck speeds addressing the needs and expectations of the lines of business/end users. This speed requires the development teams to be agile. They must be able to respond quickly to changing needs and demands of the organization. The quality assurance (QA) team still needs to ensure a quality product is being sent into production. Finally, the operations team needs to be able to adequately deploy and support these systems. Communication, collaboration, and streamlining of processes are key elements to the success of this rapidly changing environment. Out of that challenge was born the concept and term DevOps. Let's talk about how DevOps may be able to leverage one of those disrupting technologies, the cloud, to help them operate and deliver on the promise of DevOps.

The Promise of DevOps, What Exactly Is It Again?
DevOps is all the rage when having technology discussions. This is no surprise, as in the Gartner hype cycle it's approaching the peak of inflated expectations. DevOps grew out of the Agile methodology and development movement. Traditional development, QA testing, and deployment processes tended to be very linear and rigid. Development would do their work and then toss it over the wall to QA for testing. QA would then perform the test suite, and once completed, would throw it over the wall to operations for deployment and support. New changes/features in applications had to wait for scheduled build cycles. Each group tended to operate in their own silo.

In order to support the speed of change driven by today's business and technology disruptions, a new model - DevOps - emerged. The promise of DevOps is the ability to deliver quality, supportable, stable features and changes rapidly in order to meet the business needs. DevOps is not just technology, though technology is critical in supporting it. DevOps is also not just process, though fundamental changes are required in existing development, QA, and operations processes. Solving the technology and process challenges alone is not enough. DevOps requires a significant cultural change in most organizations to succeed. The visual model of DevOps highlights the organizational/culture changes. Each group is overlapping each other in communication, collaboration, and cross-over in functionality. This all sits on a foundation of technology and automation to support the people and processes.

Rise of the Hybrid Cloud
I don't think anyone can argue that Cloud, all hype aside, is a powerful technology and here to stay. IDC forecasts global public IT Cloud services spending to reach nearly $108B by 2017. Gartner expects that by 2016 the bulk of IT spend will be for the cloud. There is much discussion and debate over public versus private cloud. There are benefits, risks, and challenges associated with both. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the debate. Everything is a tradeoff and it's a matter of striking the balance based on individual business needs and value. One of the ways to strike that balance is the hybrid cloud.

Hybrid cloud, at its simplest, is having some combination of public cloud implementations (with providers such as Amazon or Microsoft) and private cloud platform leveraging internal infrastructure. This allows organizations to leverage the agility cloud technology provides on internal systems while being able to leverage the resource on-demand capabilities and scale available in the public cloud environment when needed. Many organizations are starting to move in that direction. Gartner predicts that nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud implementations by 2017.

This hybrid model of operation can be very useful in supporting the DevOps needs and processes. Some of those capabilities could include:

  • Give development (and QA) the ability to quickly stand up new environments and configurations needed for new features / functionality. Doing this through a public cloud provider also allows them to break these environments down when no longer needed. This also eliminates the need (and associated cost) to keep a variety of internal hardware and infrastructure available. This also mitigates the impact of hardware acquisition delays, should new hardware/configurations be required
  • Give all teams the ability to easily test out new deployment packages without having to impact production environment
  • When testing completely, the ability to easily move and deploy to the internal cloud implementation
  • Give operations the ability to augment resource capacities during periods of peak demand

No Technology Negates the Need for Good Design and Planning
The marriage of DevOps and hybrid cloud technology can definitely be beneficial to an organization. That being said, hybrid cloud technology does not guarantee implementation of a successful DevOps organization and process. As I have often said, no technology negates the need for good design and planning. Hybrid clouds are no different. How your organization can use and leverage hybrid clouds to facilitate your DevOps requires thought, design, and planning. If done well, then the marriage of DevOps and Hybrid Cloud will be successful and provide long term benefits to the business, allowing DevOps to deliver on its promise.

This post is sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP's Make It Matter.

More Stories By Ed Featherston

Ed Featherston is VP, Principal Architect at Cloud Technology Partners. He brings 35 years of technology experience in designing, building, and implementing large complex solutions. He has significant expertise in systems integration, Internet/intranet, and cloud technologies. He has delivered projects in various industries, including financial services, pharmacy, government and retail.

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