Agencies that aren’t planning now for a single, open source platform to manage their hybrid IT environments are painting themselves into a virtual corner, a cloud technologist argued at the Brocade Federal Forum Wednesday.
The advent of private and public cloud computing services — and the Obama’s administration’s four year-old cloud-first mandate — have led agencies to migrate a variety of computing work to the cloud. But that has resulted in a complex mix of traditional IT along with private and public cloud systems, each with their own management tools and service level agreements.
“What’s critical to understand is that multiple cloud providers and deployment models require things to be managed separately,” said HP Cloud Chief Technologist James Bond during a forum breakout session. “Every provider requires separate portals, SLAs, and [operating systems]. Go to [Microsoft] Azure, AWS or Dropbox, and you have yet another management console. There’s no incentive for vendors to make their console work with other providers,” he said.
Without having a hybrid cloud management platform, or the proverbial single plane of glass in place, it will become increasingly difficult for IT administrators to orchestrate the provisioning and management of computing, storage and application development across these systems, he said.
“You can put a hybrid cloud management platform in later, but better to do it now,” he said.
One key reason, Bond said, is the time and investment involved in migrating and managing applications as agencies expand the number of private and public cloud systems they use — or opt to move those applications from one system to another.
“You don’t want to be rewriting those applications [for new systems] two years from now. Make sure you write your applications so they’re agnostic to the cloud providers,” he advised.
Bond also made the case for using open source standards — and open source cloud orchestration tools, such as OpenStack. (There are other tools available, such as VCloud Director and CloudStack.) OpenStack was developed by NASA and Rackspace in 2010. It simplifies the provisioning, management and orchestration of cloud computing services. It now has support from many OEMs, hundreds of companies and thousands of developers worldwide, Bond said.
“If you want to have an application that’s capable of moving from one cloud to another, you need industry standards,” he said.
Open source platforms have their drawbacks. With so many voices contributing to their development, users often don’t get the specific features they need, or as soon as they’d like. That’s given companies such as HP, IBM and RedHat the opportunity to build and offer features on top of the open standards, making it easier for enterprises to provision and operate cloud operations.
But longer term, OpenStack will also make it easier for users to automate that work, he said. “The industry is not there yet, but that’s the ultimate goal,” said Bond.
He also cautioned that OpenStack isn’t so much a cloud operating system as it is an “orchestration engine,” that should make brokering computing work to and from different cloud providers easier, he said.
“It’s not the world’s best engine, but its getting there,” he said, adding the OpenStack is still “maybe two years away from having the ability to automate moving applications” from one cloud to another.
But more fundamentally, it is enabling developers to speed up the development of what he called “cloud-native” applications for enterprise users.
Additional reporting from the Federal Forum 2015:
Government needs agile networks, federal CIOs say – At Brocade’s Federal Forum, produced by FedScoop, IT leaders emphasized the need for flexible computing networks as the U.S. faces a mounting cyber threats.
Federal IT isn’t keeping up with new technology – Brocade CEO – CEO Lloyd Carney argues the federal government must modernize its legacy IT systems to create stronger defenses against countries using newer technologies.
How the ‘New IP’ can help federal agencies –Brocade said federal agencies that use software-defined networks will get the fast and flexible systems that they have wanted for years.
CIOs turn focus to business outcomes and mission – As they update their IT infrastructure, federal CIOs are beginning to focus on how technology can impact business and mission.
Tony Scott’s plan for restoring confidence in federal cybersecurity – The new U.S. chief information officer outlined his strategy for improving the government’s cybersecurity posture — faster, newer, better.
Federal, industry leaders recognized for ‘Breaking the Status Quo’ – At Brocade’s 2015 Federal Forum, four federal and industry leaders were recognized for their innovative work in government information technology.