How a DevOps culture can make the hybrid cloud work


21 Dec 20201.38k Views

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Red Hat’s Martin Percival discusses how bringing a DevOps culture into organisations could alleviate the challenges of a hybrid cloud future.

Today, many companies are facing a strong push towards the cloud, especially in light of this year’s events. However, organisations are often finding that the pure-play public cloud is not the panacea that they thought it would be.

In practice, they find that they have to juggle working across multiple public cloud providers, along with their own private cloud solutions. In particular, the growing need to put computational capacity near the edge has spurred many companies to realise that they require more than a simple pure-play public or private cloud and instead need to embrace a hybrid cloud environment.

The hybrid cloud is well suited for the complex and often messy world of today’s business operations, as it allows businesses to harness the benefits of public, private and on-premises capabilities.

However, in virtue of the fact that a hybrid environment potentially has to integrate and coordinate public, private and on-premise components, it also happens to be a much more complex infrastructure for teams to manage than a pure-play public or private cloud.

To ensure that the constituent parts of a hybrid cloud interface can communicate with one another, many IT teams will need technical training know-how. However, to make the hybrid cloud work in the long run, teams often also need to be trained in an entirely new way of thinking.

A DevOps culture may be essential to delivering on the promise of the hybrid cloud, and it’s crucial to cultivate it among a team and secure buy-in. So, what is a DevOps culture, how does it relate to the hybrid cloud, and what can you do to help educate and train your team in adopting it?

The DevOps paradigm

Adopting the hybrid cloud should coincide with a transition to DevOps. That is, the combining of development and operations teams within an organisation, and automating the processes that traditionally occur between these teams.

DevOps lends itself well to the hybrid cloud because it helps ensure IT teams can rapidly adapt and change their application delivery so as to reflect developments in hardware, software and best architectural practices that affect their public and private infrastructure and the way business applications are delivered.

The efficiency that comes with DevOps is particularly fitting for a hybrid cloud context. According to a 2016 report, DevOps teams experience 200 times more deployments, 2,555 times faster lead times, and spend 22pc less time redoing work.

These improvements drive a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline, which sees multiple teams of developers continually iterate on software in parallel, which cuts down on errors and further speeds up deployment time. And so, a virtuous cycle is created, where efficiencies among the team adopting DevOps drive up CI/CD, which in turn increases the team’s efficiency.

The transition to DevOps – including educating and securing buy-in for it – will be somewhat disruptive, as it means ending the siloed processes that some team members have grown accustomed to.

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However, the result is that you have a team that is much better prepared to deal with changes in the technology behind your public, private and on-premises facilities. This will bolster your resilience in the face of disruptions or sudden changes, while also meaning that iterations and improvements in your services and infrastructure are far more efficiently delivered.

Bringing in new technologies with DevOps

Transitioning to DevOps drives adoption of new technologies and architectural designs, such as microservices, to assist in the automation of processes and speed up the iteration time it takes to deliver new services.

Dismantling monolithic applications and breaking them down into constituent microservices helps create a common language and set of tools between development and operations teams, which will prove vital for handling the complex environment of the hybrid cloud.

This is in addition to all the other new technical know-how that has to be done to make a hybrid cloud transition work, so a well-developed training programme should be developed in conjunction with vendors that know the hybrid cloud and have worked with many other teams who’ve made this transition.

Approaching the culture of DevOps

As much as DevOps is a set of processes and systems, it’s also a new cultural paradigm. Taking culture seriously and changing it where appropriate is a virtual prerequisite for DevOps – many organisations that try to switch to DevOps without changing their culture and structure will fail.

Organisations need to open up communications between teams, and encourage them to harmonise their processes. This relies on encouraging the free flow of information among teams so they can break down their silos and adjust to frequent collaboration with one another.

When it comes to helping teams break down the silos for DevOps, the best place to start is encouraging your development and operations teams to see how the other works. Encourage your developers to spend a few days working with the operations team, learning the processes they go through and watching a production roll-out.

Then encourage your operations team to take stock of how many steps or service tickets it takes for a developer to request a new virtual system, so they have a realistic appraisal of how easy it is for developers to build or tweak new systems. This process will help both teams understand how the other works in situ and see outside of their particular silos.

When it comes to adopting the hybrid cloud, the DevOps transition is one that has to be approached through taking incremental steps. Throughout this process, educating and training your teams to make this change should always be framed in terms of the benefits it provides to them – quicker deployments, fewer errors and a more resilient infrastructure.

Securing buy-in throughout this process relies on making sure that they have the confidence that after the disruption of the transition, the infrastructure that they’re working on will be more robust than ever. When it comes to making the leap to the world of the hybrid cloud, your team will likely ultimately find that the DevOps culture that you’ve inculcated hasn’t just improved service delivery for end users, but it has also made the IT team’s lives much easier.

By Martin Percival

Martin Percival is a solutions architect manager at open-source software company Red Hat.