Tag Archives: PaaS

Moving Beyond Infrastructure as a Service to Platform as a Service

Brian MartinezBy Brian Martinez

What's Next - PaaSMy VMware colleague Josh Miller recently explored how companies are extending a DevOps model into their infrastructure organizations and what can be done to speed that essential transition.

I want to talk about the step after that. Where do you go after achieving infrastructure-as-a-service?

Here’s how I think of it. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) focuses on deploying infrastructure as quickly as possible and wrapping a service-oriented approach around it. That’s essential. But infrastructure in itself doesn’t add direct value to a business. Applications do that. In more and more industries the first company to release that new killer app is the one that wins or at least draws the most value.

So, while it’s essential that you deliver infrastructure quickly, it’s worth lies in helping deploy applications faster, build services around those applications, and speed time to market.

So you have IaaS, what’s next?  Enter the concept of the platform as a service (PaaS). PaaS can be realized in a variety of ways. It might be through second generation platforms such as database-as-a-service or middleware-as-a-service. Or it could be via third generation platforms based on unstructured PaaS like containers (think Docker) or structured PaaS (think Pivotal Cloud Foundry).

The flexibility you have in terms of options here is significant and your strategy should be based on the needs of your developers.   Many times we see strategies built around a tool name instead of the outcomes needed from that tool.  Listening to the developer’s needs should help determine what the requirements are.  Then build backwards from there.  Often we you won’t end up with the same tooling then you thought you would.

All the approaches to PaaS, though, share a key feature: they are driven by both a holistic and a life-cycle view of IT. In other words, it’s dangerous to view any IT function today as either separate from any other, or as a one-time deal. Instead, we need to be thinking of everything as connected and at the same time being constantly iterated and improved.

Work from that perspective and it’s easier to navigate the often daunting array of options you have when it comes to PaaS.

Certainly, as you move along this path, it’s very possible to end up with multiple, small cloud-native apps deployed on multiple platforms spread across multiple different data sets – so be aware of the lifecycle.

One other note: there are so many different tools coming to market so quickly in this space that what you pick now may not be what you use in a couple of years. A lot of our customers are nervous about that. So it’s worth remembering that these tools are designed so that you can move your code, and the work that you’re doing with the code, to whatever platform is best suited to deliver it to your customer.

The bottom line: Encourage your customers to try things out so they can create DevOps learning experiences.  Be responsive in enabling developers to access new tools, while setting the right boundaries on how they can use those tools (think service definition) and where they bring them to bear.  Approaching PaaS with a unified culture of continuous iteration and improvement will enable your developers with the tools they need to move fast, without losing the control and stability essential to IT operations.

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Brian Martinez is a Strategist with VMware Advisory Services and is based in New York.

Transforming IT into a Cloud Service Provider

Reg LoBy Reg Lo

Until recently, IT departments thought that all they needed to do was to provide a self-service portal to app dev to provision VMs with Linux or Windows, and they would have a private cloud that was comparable to the public cloud.

Today, in order for IT to become a cloud service provider, IT must not only embrace the public cloud in a service broker model, IT needs to provide a broader range of cloud services.  This 5 minute webinar, describes the future IT operating model as IT departments transform into cloud service providers.

Many IT organizations started their cloud journey by creating a new, separate cloud team to implement a Greenfield, private cloud.  Automation and proactive monitoring using a Cloud Management Platform was key to the success for their private cloud.  By utilizing VMWare’s vRealize Cloud Management Platform, IT could easily expand into the hybrid cloud, provisioning workloads to vCloud Air or other public clouds from a single interface.  Effectively, creating “one cloud” for the business to consume and “one cloud” for IT to manage.

However, the folks managing the brownfield weren’t staying still.  They too wanted to improve the service they were providing the business and they too wanted to become more efficient.  So they also invested in automation.  Without a coherent strategy, both Brownfield and Greenfield took their own separate forks down the automation path, confusing the business on which services they should be consuming.  We started this journey by creating a separate cloud team.  However, it may be time to re-think the boundaries of the private cloud and bring Greenfield and Brownfield together to provide consistency in the way we approach automation.

In order to be immediately productive, the app dev teams are looking for more than infrastructure-as-a-service.  They want platform-as-a-service.  These might be second generation platforms such as database-as-a-service (Oracle, MSSQL, MySQL, etc.) or middleware-as-a-service (such as Web Methods).  Or they need third generation platforms based on unstructured PaaS like containers or structured PaaS like cloud foundry.  The terms first, second and third generation map to the mainframe (1st generation), distributed computing (2nd generation), and cloud native applications (the 3rd generation).

Multiple cloud services can be bundled together to create environment-as-a-service.  For example, LAMP-stacks – Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (or Python).  These multi-VM application blueprints lets entire environments be provisioned at a click of a button.

A lot of emphasis has been placed on accessing these cloud services through a self-service portal.  However, DevOps best practices is moving towards infrastructure as code.  In order to support developer-defined infrastructure, IT organizations must also provide an API to their cloud.  Infrastructure-as-code lets you version the infrastructure scripts with the application source code together, ultimately enabling the same deployment process in every environment (dev, test, stage and prod) – improving deployment success rate.

Many companies are piloting DevOps with one or two application pipelines.  However, in order to scale, DevOps best practices must be shared across multiple app dev teams.  App dev teams are typically not familiar with architecting infrastructure or the tools that automate infrastructure provisioning.  Hence, a DevOps enablement team is useful for educating the app dev teams on DevOps best practices and providing the DevOps automation expertise.  This team can also provide feedback to the cloud team on where to expand cloud services.

This IT operating model addresses Gartner’s bimodal IT approach.  Mode 1 is traditional, sequential and used for systems of record.  Mode 2 is agile, non-linear, and used for systems of engagement.  Mode 1 is characterized by long cycle times measured in months whereas mode 2 has shorter cycle times measured in days and weeks.

It is important to note that the business needs both modes to exist.  It’s not one or the other.  Just like how the business needs both interfaces to the cloud: self-service portal and API.

What does this mean to you?  IT leaders must be able to articulate a clear picture of the future-state that encompasses both mode 1 and mode 2, that leverages both a self-service portal and API to the organization’s cloud services.  IT leaders need a roadmap to transform their organization into cloud service providers that traverse the hybrid cloud.  The biggest challenge to the transformation is changing people (the way they think, the culture) and processes (the way they work).  VMware can not only help you with the technology; VMware’s AccelerateTM Advisory Services can help you address the people and process transformation.

 


Reg Lo is the Director of VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in San Diego, CA.  You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

Increase the Speed of IT with DevOps and PaaS

Reg Lo By Reg Lo

How do you increase the speed of IT?

In this 5 minute video whiteboard session I will describe two key strategies for making IT more agile and improving time to market.  For your convenience there is also a transcript of the video below.

Two key strategies for increasing the speed of IT are:

  1. Deliver more applications using DevOps. Traditional waterfall methods are too slow.  Agile methodologies are an improvement but without accelerating both the infrastructure provisioning and application development, IT is still not responsive enough for the business.  Today, many organizations are experimenting with DevOps but to really move the needle, organizations must adopt DevOps at scale.
  2. Deliver new Platform-as-a-Service faster. Infrastructure-as-a-Service is the bare minimum for IT departments to remain relevant to the business.  If IT cannot provide self-service on-demand IaaS, the business will go directly to the public cloud.  To add more value to the IaaS baseline and accelerate application delivery, IT must deliver application platforms in a cloud model, i.e. self-service, on-demand, with elastic capacity.

Let’s start with this second key strategy: delivery new PaaS services faster.  PaaS services include second generation platforms (database-as-a-service, application server-as-a-service, web server-as-a-service) as well as third generation platforms for cloud native applications such as Hadoop-as-a-service, Docker-as-a-service or Cloud Foundary-as-a-service.

In order to launch these new PaaS services faster, IT must have a well-defined service lifecycle that it can use to quickly and repeatably create these new services.  What are the activities and what artifacts must be created in order to analyze, design, implement, operate and improve a service?

Once you have defined the service lifecycle, you can launch parallel teams to create the new service: platform-as-a-service, database-as-a-service, or X-as-a-service where X can be anything.  Each service can be requested via the self-service catalog, delivered on demand, and treated like “code” so it can be versioned with the application build.

Each service needs a single point of accountability – the Service Owner.  The service owner is responsible for the full lifecycle of the service.  They are part of the Cloud Services team, or also called the Cloud Tenant Operations team.  The Cloud Services Team also manages the service catalog, provides the capability to automate provisioning, and manages the operational health of the services.

The Cloud Services Team is underpinned by the Cloud Infrastructure Team. This team combines cross-functional expertise from compute, storage and network to create the profiles or resource pools that the cloud services are built on.  The Cloud Infrastructure Team is also responsible for capacity management and security management.  The team not only manages the internal private cloud, but also the enterprise’s consumption of the public cloud, transforming IT into a service broker.

Now that we’ve described the new cloud operating model, let’s return to the first key strategy for increasing the speed of IT: deliver more applications using DevOps.  Many organizations have tasks one or two applications teams to pilot DevOps practices such as continuous integration and continuous deployment.  This is a good starting point, however, in order to expand DevOps at scale so IT can provide a measurable time-to-market impact for the business, we need to make the adoption easier and more systematic.

The DevOps enablement team is a shared services team that provides consulting services to the other app dev teams; contains the expertise in automation so that other app dev teams do not need to become the expert in Puppet, Chef, or VMware CodeStream; and, this team drives a consistent approach across all app dev teams to avoid a fragmented approach to DevOps.

Remember how we talked about expanding PaaS?  With self-service on-demand PaaS provisioning, app dev teams can build environment-as-a-service: an application blue print that contains multiple VMs (the database server, application server, web server, etc.)  Environment-as-a-service lets app dev teams treat infrastructure like code, helping them adopt continuous deployment best practices by linking software versions to infrastructure versions.

By delivering more applications using DevOps and by delivering new PaaS services faster, you can increase the speed of IT.


Reg Lo is the Director of VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in San Diego, CA.  You can connect with him on LinkedIn.