Jordi My Companys
Jordi is Product Marketing Director at Weaveworks. He is an open source product specialist, community builder and speaker. He is an OpenUK and PMM Alliance Ambassador and is based in London.
Sarah Wang and Martin Casado of Andreessen Horowitz wrote a thought-provoking article that cloud providers take a huge chunk of a company’s market value, leading many organizations to repatriate their infrastructure from the cloud to local. They conclude that there is an oligopoly that is not viable in the long term. The top three public cloud providers will either start dropping some of their current 30% margins or dropping workloads. I’m not a financial analyst for sure, so the part of this conclusion that interests me the most is the delivery and repatriation of the workload.
Whichever camp you find yourself in, the myriad of application delivery and continuous operations use cases currently applied by any software vendor will likely push organizations to take a hybrid cloud approach: not fully invested in the public cloud, not fully repatriated to on-premises machines or environments. Either way, hybrid and distributed approaches to compute, storage, and networking are causing the environment to spread, also known as total chaos. Without control over infrastructure, organizations cannot effectively integrate and manage their application deployments, hampering any value encapsulated in their code. Without control over configuration, organizations lose their developers and the ability to transform and adapt. Finally, without control over workloads, businesses completely miss the future.
Let’s take a look at the reasons for adopting a hybrid cloud model, the challenges that come with it, and how best to navigate these uncharted waters.
The myth of the cheap cloud
The cloud computing industry has grown very rapidly in recent years. The consensus is that cloud computing is much more convenient, and sometimes affordable, than on-premises options. However, the reality is, as always, a bit more complex. The costs of cloud computing are just hard to predict and include many phantom costs that end up dragging down your organization’s bottom line to the point that, as Sarah and Martin point out, they seriously hurt profits.
It’s cheap and easy to get started with the cloud, but it’s even easier to get lost in a sea of ââincreasing license costs, depending on your workload. For example, if you are running a fairly static website using the cloud, you don’t need to customize the server or operating system. You can just wake up knowing your website is up and running every day. However, this is not true for complex web applications or enterprise applications. They typically require a myriad of well-integrated cloud services, such as unique compute and memory requirements, different types of storage for different purposes, and a host of management tools throughout the software delivery process.
It’s a bit like owning a car or renting an Uber. Of course, Uber is cheaper if you only need a few rides a month. However, most people cannot imagine life without a car. That’s why most still prefer the peace of mind and long-term savings of owning a car rather than relying exclusively on Uber.
The charts below provide some interesting data on cloud spend for SaaS products.
Forecasting private clouds and data centers is spectacular. So it looks like, for a while, businesses will be stuck with a hybrid setup.
Remember, cloud computing really isn’t as cheap as it looks. If you compare the hourly cost of a cloud instance to an expensive hardware server, it looks like the cloud has an advantage. While the promise of convenience and full availability of the public cloud is still appealing, the growth of advanced computing and networking, as well as the private cloud, only compounds the idea that the hybrid is the way things are.
Security and management challenges
When moving to a hybrid cloud environment, there are mainly two challenges: security and environmental management.
Securing hybrid cloud environments isn’t easy. Hybrid clouds contain diverse infrastructure, making it difficult for security teams to monitor and protect. Malware is becoming extremely sophisticated, which means that security teams must constantly adapt to new types of threats. Businesses are spending more time and resources on security, but there are still vulnerabilities that lead to data loss, downtime, and reputation damage. Security protocols and controls should be reassessed and implemented to ensure that all security aspects are taken care of.
One of the primary concerns for IT departments when it comes to moving their data to the cloud is data sovereignty. Some companies are required to keep their data within national borders, while others just want to keep their data on their own servers. Whatever the reason, hybrid cloud is the only way to keep your data on premises while benefiting from cloud solutions.
Another challenge of hybrid cloud is the management of infrastructure and resources. Businesses want to optimize their use of hybrid cloud environments and identify opportunities to move workloads between environments without disrupting service delivery. The creation of automated processes is an additional goal. This allows them to spend less time on manual tasks and more time on strategic projects.
A hybrid cloud management solution
A hybrid cloud management tool should be independent of the environment – just as functional and efficient on-premises as it is on any cloud platform. GitOps is an approach that has established itself as a strong candidate for hybrid cloud management. GitOps is a relatively new (since 2017) approach to managing hybrid cloud infrastructure resources. GitOps is a set of practices that uses Git as a single source of truth to manage all parts of the system, from infrastructure to applications, from on-premises to the cloud. It uses Git to store and manage configuration items. These items include not only the configuration files used to monitor resources, but also the state of those resources and the events that triggered a change in that state.
Weave GitOps is our solution, which combines the principles of GitOps applied in major open source tools such as Flux, Flagger and service mesh tools like Istio and Linkerd to enable hybrid cloud management that can extend to both data center and cloud.
The cloud is touted as profitable, but behind this story are fictitious costs that can tip the scales in favor of local. Companies want to adopt hybrid cloud for regulatory reasons, to avoid vendor blockage or to adopt the best tools. Whatever the reasons, managing the hybrid cloud is not easy. The key is to have the right approach and the right solution for hybrid cloud management. A solution capable of handling the differences between on-premises and cloud environments.
Photo by Scott Webb of Pexels.