IBM’s proposed acquisition of Red Hat for $34 billion will have an immediate impact in raising awareness for a programmatic approach to managing hybrid clouds based on best DevOps practices.
A recent survey published by International Data Corp. (IDC) finds most organizations (64 percent) have already embraced multiple clouds to varying degrees. Only 7 percent of respondents said they have built a truly hybrid cloud. Another 24 percent, however, said they have achieved a high degree of interoperability across multiple clouds. IBM made it clear this week that its primary motivation for acquiring Red Hat was to tap into a trillion-dollar opportunity that will manifest itself as hybrid cloud computing continues to evolve. In fact, IBM is betting that Kubernetes clusters will play a key role in advancing the state of hybrid cloud computing.
But for hybrid cloud computing to take hold, it’s also clear the level of mastery over DevOps within enterprise IT organizations will need to improve substantially. In fact, hybrid cloud computing might not even be the ultimate destination, said CloudBees CEO Sacha Labourey. Enterprise IT is increasingly being defined by programmatic services rather than platforms, he noted, and those services need to be weaved together to drive modern applications. But where each of those services resides is becoming less relevant as organizations become more DevOps proficient, Labourey said, noting the rise of hybrid cloud computing will drive more organizations to embrace DevOps to bring order to the services being consumed.
“Within a hybrid cloud DevOps will be required,” said Labourey.
While platforms are still relevant, they increasingly are being hidden behind services that expose an application programming interface (API), added Chip Childers, CTO of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, which oversees the development of the open source Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment. A developer consuming a service might have little to no idea what platform that service runs on.
“IT teams are building on the abstractions that have gone before,” Childers said.
The ability of one organization to differentiate itself will come down to the maturity of the DevOps processes they rely on to most efficient consume a service, he added.
Demand for that level of DevOps expertise is already starting to accelerate, said Tim Beerman, CTO of Ensono, a provider of managed IT services. As IT continues to transform into microservices enabled by containers and serverless computing frameworks, the complexity of the overall IT environment requires a more sophisticated approach to managing the overall environment, he said.
But, he added, “A lot of organizations simply don’t have the talent.”
Of course, IBM is betting that once it owns Red Hat, more organizations will look to IBM Services for that expertise. But as always, competition across the IT services space remains fierce. IBM is also betting that it will provide the management plane through which hybrid cloud services will be unified. But even there, competition from rivals small and large will be significant. Vendors such as Rackware are already providing frameworks for managing hybrid clouds.
While hybrid cloud computing is still relatively immature, organizations that embrace DevOps will be much further down that path than others, said Todd Matters, chief architect at Rackware.
“DevOps will absolutely be a critical part of hybrid clouds,” he said.
IT has always been about striking a balance between people, process and products. It’s too early to say whether IBM will recoup its $34 billion investment to acquire Red Hat. But the deal inevitably will lead to a greater awareness for a more comprehensive approach to DevOps capable of spanning a hybrid cloud computing environment that includes multiple platforms.