The cloud has fractured. Nowadays, it is nearly impossible to scale a cloud-agnostic digital transformation initiative. The reality is that most enterprises adopt a hybrid cloud arrangement. Whether designed strategically or throughout years of competing vendors and technology influences, hybrid cloud environments, and the problems therein, seem a mainstay for modern IT.
Many digital transformation efforts are culminating in hybrid cloud scenarios. 451 Research recently found 72% of enterprises are already using more than one cloud vendor. As one can surmise, competing standards and inconsistencies among cloud tooling can cause headaches for developers, security teams and potentially even end users.
3 Common Cloud Transformation Problems
I recently met with Jeff Kukowski, CEO, and Grant Ho, CMO at CloudBolt Software, to identify issues within today’s cloud transformations. According to CloudBolt, custom coding, governance concerns and cybersecurity incompatibilities are among the top problems that hold back cloud transformation (or make it very costly). Below, we’ll see what strategies they recommend to solve these problems.
1. Custom Coding
In 2020, a software-defined approach seems the obvious preferred choice for most IT professionals. Yet, custom code is still a significant struggle for hybrid clouds. The Standish Group research shows 19% of projects will be canceled before they ever get completed. Further results indicate 52% of projects will cost 189% of their original estimates. Custom code decreases reusability and creates redundancy.
2. Lack of Governance
With many disparate cloud applications, it can be difficult to set standards. There is not much control. This free-for-all can directly impact the business. Lack of visibility into resources, a related concern, could cost a business significant expenses. Citing a recent Gartner study, ParkMyCloud estimates that companies waste $8.8 billion on idle cloud resources each year.
3. No Role-Based Security Policies
Gartner found that 33% of enterprise security attacks are happening from people using resources in the cloud and not necessarily putting the proper governance and security parameters in place. Without role-based access control (RBAC) and a standards-based way to apply RBAC across all your resources, hackers can more easily penetrate a hybrid cloud.
How Hybrid Cloud Affects DevOps
These above problems are quite broad, but they reflect a culmination of many roadblocks along the development pipeline. In terms of DevOps, juggling the ever-growing variety of hybrid cloud tools could easily stunt deployment velocity.
Kukowski described how cloud IT faces a plethora of tooling styles. They include on-premises tooling, serverless, infrastructure as code, Terraform, Kubernetes and backup as a service. “Greater than 70% of organizations are not only multi-cloud, but they are multi-tool,” he estimated.
Naturally, supporting nuances between them becomes tricky. Not only must you recognize governance and security inconsistencies between platforms, but you must maintain them “into Day 2,” he said.
Solution: Policy-Based Automation
With hybrid cloud tooling now a reality for most enterprises, managing them becomes the next logical step. Solutions primarily revolve around better automation to increase self-service capabilities. For Kukowski, the answers lie in automated governance, heightened tooling visibility and implementing enterprisewide security policy services to automate security compliance and decrease custom coding.
One way to achieve these benefits is by utilizing a Cloud Management Platform (CMP). Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Management Platforms includes CMPs from CloudBolt, Embotics, Flexera (formerly RightScale), HyperGrid, Morpheus Data, Scalr, and VMware with vRealize Automation Cloud plus CloudHealth. A CMP layer could help automate self-service IT, assisting engineers to do their work with governance and security capabilities in place.
Using a CMP, companies could eliminate custom coding for things such as access control. Such increased visibility could, for example, significantly decrease AWS server cost by reducing unused deployments. A CMP can benefit CI/CD too. Home Depot, for example, uses a CMP to greatly improve efficiency, decreasing infrastructure deployment time from weeks to hours.
“Who is authorized to perform that action, on that K8s container, local VM, or cloud machine? We need visibility into that,” Kukowski said. “What is it doing? When is it running? Who has visibility to shut it down?” He recognizes that deep industry expertise is required to abstract complexity and standardize governance across all these situations.
Streamlining the Polymorphic Cloud
Saturated within an overabundance of cloud tooling, it’s easy to lose sight of your enterprise’s IT policies. Without global DevSecOps standards, security for hybrid cloud becomes risky.
Enterprises with multi-tool environments are also at risk of wasting development time and effort. “We want to make sure the market does not repeat the problems of the past,” Kukowski noted. “Why custom code the fundamentals that operate your business?”
Instead, companies should seek to reduce redundancy and eliminate custom code for each point to point integration. However, abstracting such complexity involves porting governance standards across all environments—a challenging feat for internal teams.
The solution could lie in utilizing an external CMP layer. Such a layer could offer a software-defined approach to eliminate custom coding, offering policy-based security controls that consider the organization’s needs.