Multi-cloud Is Enterprise Computing

Enterprise computing is entering its fourth evolution. The large enterprise market has adopted mainframe, client-server, internet and now multicloud computing. And just like the previous computing cycles, multi-cloud is driven by business unit developers. That is, developers use the best tools available to write applications that create business value. They are not wed to any one cloud service provider (CSP), as they will switch development to the CSP that offers them the best application development tools. But as these decentralized decisions go unchecked, cost and complexity run up, thanks to lack of governance and controls across the enterprise. To get complexity and cost under control, IT responds with a build-and-run plan and in the process, realizes it needs a new operating model. This time around is no different; multi-cloud is hard and complex, but it’s worth it. It offers options, choice and control and is on the critical path of a corporation as it transforms into a digital enterprise. With AWS, GCP, Azure, Oracle Cloud and IBM Cloud all getting bigger and more powerful, enterprise IT needs a multi-cloud plan.

Multi-cloud is the consumption of multiple cloud computing services and product offerings. When the ONUG Community is polled about how many CSPs (IaaS + PaaS) companies use to deliver value, the dominant answer is between 2 and 3. In fact, nearly 50% say 2, with 25% saying 3; less than 12% say 1. When we add SaaS to the poll question, the answer is at least a factor of ten times higher. When we ask about the biggest challenges facing multi-cloud deployment, we get this graphic:

This is why multi-cloud is hard. It’s not just one issue that designers are seeking solutions for; it’s an enterprise architecture or approach to multi-cloud. Complexity further increases significantly when considering application and data workload placements. In short, the ONUG Community and the industry at large need a multi-cloud architecture that spans connectivity, security, observability and automation. Not only is a technical architecture needed, but also an operational model.

In the previous generations of enterprise computing, operational groups were siloed and organized as a mirror image of the industry. That is, there were networking security, application developers, storage teams etc., trained by the vendors supplying solutions. Two of the biggest teams were, and remain, NetOps and SoCs (Security Operations Centers). How might these operational groups change in the multi-cloud era?

During the past three computing cycles, developers would talk to infrastructure teams to build and run the services their applications required. This would involve special networking and security requirements, such as firewalls, load balancing, VPNs, VLANs and so on. In the cloud computing era, the CSPs integrated infrastructure into CI/CD pipelines via APIs or services. No longer did developers necessarily need to talk with infrastructure and operations teams to orchestrate the services needed to support their applications. Instead, the application’s dependency map became automated.

In modern enterprise computing, these two operational models now co-exist. The cloud providers did a great job of shortening the time to market – is equivalent to the time to value. CSPs don’t offer cost advantage; what they offer instead is convenience and quicker time to value. There lies the rub. Legacy infrastructure teams are now required to offer the same type of experience as the CSPs – that is, to integrate their infrastructure offerings into their developers’ CI/CD pipelines.

This is the area of focus for ONUG Spring. DevSecOps and DevNetOPs approaches will be explored to deliver a multi-cloud operational model that delivers the orchestration and automation of infrastructure services to developers as tools in their CI/CD pipelines. In addition, ONUG’s Cloud Security Notification Framework (CSNF) and DevSecOps will be explored to integrate cloud security into an organization’s pipelines to operationalize cloud security. These solutions will be available as live demonstrations on the digital transformation show floor.

Multi-cloud is hard and complex, but it’s the only way to enable corporate application developers with a robust and expansive application development environment. It’s also the path toward becoming a digital enterprise where time to value is shortened, and developers can tap the greatest tools available across the CSPs to create digital corporate value at speed and scale.

ONUG Spring will be our best gathering and first in-person meeting in two years.  Join the community in NJ on April 27th and 28th, hosted by Target Inc.


Author's Bio

Nick Lippis

Co-Founder and Co-Chair, ONUG

Co-Founder & Co-Chair ONUG