We’ve been thinking about the maturing cloud a lot lately. In fact, we’re participating in a panel discussion on the topic at the upcoming OpenStack East in August in New York. As we’ve spoken with OpenStack users and vendors throughout the world we’re hearing a common theme about the maturation of OpenStack clouds—the results seldom look like what was originally planned. Disruptive technologies, changes in personnel, the evolution of business strategies … these are all unplanned events that can change what the mature cloud eventually will look like. The challenge for today’s DevOps teams is to how to maximize the opportunities for success, despite the likelihood of unanticipated changes. After all, as many DevOps folks know, between the design of an application or system and the completion of that project, they often are faced with a change in the initial business requirements of the project.
Lao Tzu famously said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” While that is true, we’d add that the journey will be much smoother if that one beginning step relies on careful consideration of the best shoes for the journey: shoes that are comfortable, durable and multi-purpose. Shoes that see you through any type of weather. The right shoes won’t necessarily get you to the right destination, but they certainly will make your journey easier and better ensure you complete your journey—even if you end up somewhere other than where you thought you would.
So what do shoes have to do with the OpenStack cloud? We liken choosing the right shoes to making the right architectural decisions at the beginning of your OpenStack journey. One of the most important architectural decisions DevOps can make early in the development of the OpenStack cloud is to include a comprehensive data protection strategy, accompanied by the appropriate tools to facilitate that. There are three primary reasons to include data protection from the start:
- It’s a “given” for VMWare and other enterprise applications for a reason. One might argue there’s no need for data protection, since everything lives in the cloud. But we all know files, applications and systems can fail for no apparent reason. It’s much easier to recover from a failure if you have a data protection strategy in place, rather than having to suddenly (and often quickly) re-create the lost resources.
- It will make it easier to manage OpenStack and cloud resources. As your OpenStack cloud grows, you may need to move workloads to different availability zones or data centers. While you may have a general idea of your resources needs at the beginning of the DevOps process, chances are things will change along the way.
- It makes for a smoother upgrade process. Chances are that you are not rolling out your OpenStack cloud with the exact OpenStack version you started with. For example, one of our customers started on Kilo and now is migrating to Mitaka for its rollout. Their migration is much easier because the customer knows everything is backed up, available to use and restored in its new, upgraded environment.
Sure, the OpenStack and the cloud paradigm is enabling DevOps and business users to upend many “traditional” approaches to IT. But that doesn’t mean you should toss out every strategy that’s considered “traditional.” After all, if you were buying your shoes for your thousand-mile journey, would you only buy one pair? Or make sure you have a spare just in case?