by Nick Lippis
ONUG offers, bar none, the best indicator of what’s real in the industry. At UBS headquarters in September of 2013, the ONUG Board met to define the major themes and narrative for ONUG Fall 2013 hosted by JPMorgan Chase. This was during the hype of OpenFlow, OpenDayLight and OpenStack. During that meeting, the ONUG Board realized that none of these projects would be game changers and that ONUG would chart a practical course that enabled the ONUG Community to embrace freedom, choice, and options in the various ways each community member company needed to build infrastructure to deliver business value. As we journeyed forward, ONUG Working Groups were established, based on use cases prioritized by the ONUG Community, and populated with hundreds of volunteers. In 2016, it became clear that all working groups were developing different aspects of hybrid cloud infrastructure. It was the ONUG Hybrid Cloud Working Group that provided the framework, which enjoyed contributions by IT executives from Cigna, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, FedEx, Fidelity, GE, Intuit, JPMorgan Chase, Kaiser Permanente, Morgan Stanley, Pfizer, and UBS.
From ONUG’s perspective, there is not just a private cloud or a public cloud, but both are needed and they must be connected at multiple levels. Native cloud refers to applications that are coded to natively utilizes services and infrastructure provided by cloud providers such as Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Force.com, etc. Progressive ONUG Community members are journeying into native cloud, while the majority are deploying a hybrid cloud strategy. ONUG views hybrid cloud infrastructure as a multi-layered construct that includes the submarkets below.
These submarkets make up the architectural components of building a hybrid cloud. They include Software-Defined Wide Area Networking and Security Services plus Monitoring and Analytics.
Open SD-WAN Exchange: At the network layer, a cloud connect or connectivity services to multiple cloud providers is a pressing use case problem as there is no consistency in route discovery and distribution between cloud providers. The ONUG Open SD-WAN Exchange Initiative is focusing on this problem as well as the broader hybrid cloud connect services from an SD-WAN perspective.
Software-Defined Security Services: Security is always a barrier of entry for moving enterprise workload into the cloud. The ONUG Software-Defined Security Services Working Group has developed an architecture that wraps security policy around workloads. The enforcement of that policy is local to the workload, independent upon it being on and off premises.
Monitoring and Analytics: It has become so clear that the enterprise market needs a comprehensive suite of tools that provide monitoring and analytic applications for workload that resides on and off premises – in other words, a hybrid cloud approach. The ONUG Monitoring and Analytics working group is focused on enabling this market to emerge.
Orchestration: Yes, Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) offer APIs for their own orchestration tools, but the enterprise market has embraced an Orchestration as a Service (OaaS) model, which may include a wide range of orchestration tools such as Ansible, Puppet, CFEngine, Vagrant, Kubernetes, Mesos, and others. There are no orchestration standards, be it industry, open sourced, or de facto, that are supported across CSPs and enterprises.
Full Stack Engineer/SRE Skills: One of the biggest barriers of entry for hybrid cloud infrastructure deployment and management is the lack of skill sets and a different IT culture that is needed. Once, vendor-defined certifications showed an employer that you could configure and manage IT equipment and were all that was needed to get a good paying job and long career. But hybrid cloud infrastructure today is being built via integration of open source solutions, CSPs, homegrown software, closed software, start-up products, and legacy hardware vendors. What is of high value now is the ability to engineer or integrate a set of disparate best-of-breed solutions to construct a hybrid cloud infrastructure. From a management point of view, the ONUG Community is quickly moving toward a Site Reliability Engineer or SRE model.
There is linkage between native and hybrid cloud. Hybrid cloud infrastructure that connects a corporation to multiple CSPs is a goal of many in the ONUG community. Many development teams would like to refactor enterprise applications to cloud native that run on multiple clouds. The only real choice today is to write an application that is native to a specific cloud provider. The long-term goal is for standards to emerge so that developers can write or refactor an application that can run in multiple clouds through a hybrid cloud infrastructure, thus providing a wide range of options and choices for enterprise IT to deliver on digital transformation of their business.
ONUG knows that workload will shift between on or off premises based upon a range of issues, some technical, some operational, some compliance/regulatory, some economic, some based on skills and culture, among others. The ONUG Board and Community have set up ONUG as the place where hybrid and native cloud will play out.
ONUG Spring exemplifies this narrative with the level of IT executive presentations, fireside chats, vendor and CSP proof of concept demonstrations, training, and social networking that will take place. The ONUG Board invited all the major cloud providers including Amazon, Microsoft, Google, IBM Softlayer, and cloud broker Equinix to ONUG Spring to address the top five barriers to enterprise workload on-boarding to the cloud. Google will be teaching courses at ONUG Academy, including a SRE course to assist ONUG’s effort to skill up for full-stack engineering and infrastructure DevOps positions.
The real focus for the ONUG Community in 2017, and perhaps beyond, is hybrid cloud. There will be many twists and turns during this journey, such as the role for service providers vs. CSPs, will IT operations or application development organizations gains influence and power, will margin pressure increase to established on premises infrastructure providers, which orchestration model will emerge as the industry standard, will a new security model emerge that enables sensitive enterprise workloads to move to public cloud, and many other questions. We don’t know the answers to these questions, but being part of the ONUG Community is the best way to increase your company’s chances of a successful hybrid and native cloud infrastructure experience.
Nick Lippis is an authority on corporate computer networking. He has designed some for the largest computer networks in the world. He has advised many Global 2000 firms on network strategy, architecture, equipment, services and implementation including Hughes Aerospace, Barclays Bank, Kaiser Permanente, Eastman Kodak Company, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Liberty Mutual, Schering-Plough, Sprint, WorldCom, Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks and a wide range of other equipment suppliers and service providers.
Mr. Lippis is uniquely positioned to comment, analyze and observe computer networking industry trends and developments. At Lippis Enterprises, Inc., Nick works with entrepreneurs evaluating new business opportunities in enterprise networking and serves as an independent investor and advisor.