Organizations that aren’t able to move quickly to address customer needs or competitive threats, risk customer and business loss to more agile competitors. Examples of digital disruptors replacing long standing business models usually include companies like Uber taking on Taxis or Netflix taking on video rentals, but it really transcends industries. For example, in banking, customers are shifting increasingly to using mobile apps instead of visiting local branch offices so having a strong digital and mobile presence is critical to attracting new customers.
Today, nearly all disruptive transformation is driven through software change, whether in the form of new applications and services or new features and capabilities that solve customers’ problems or provide another competitive edge. The key to accelerating software change is to streamline processes to get from idea to delivery faster. A big part of this challenge can be addressed by removing environmental obstacles for developers, such as automating the creation of full stack development environments that give them quick access to the resources they need to experiment.
Application-centric clouds are focused on providing self-service access to full application environments that can be replicated across development, QA/Test and production. This makes it easier for each role in the DevOps pipeline to get the resources that they need to be productive. It also ensures that environments are consistent across the stages, which helps to improve the quality and stability of releases.
With an application-centric cloud, development teams can quickly access infrastructure and application environments (without relying on “shadow IT”—or purchasing applications outside of IT). IT Ops can ensure that changes and releases follow specific processes to ensure quality, performance, and availability. An application-centric cloud helps deploy applications to production with proper security, management and control.
The pitfalls of infrastructure focused clouds
Many cloud environments, whether private clouds, public Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) clouds or even hybrid environments tend to focus on providing basic resources, such as compute, storage and networking. However, in order to get an application ready for development or testing, much of the deployment and configuration work remains and must be done manually. With IaaS focused clouds, businesses might encounter many issues such as:
- Possible errors and long timeframes when working with scripts
- Lack of compliance with government or industry regulations
- Different configurations used for development, test and production environments
- Hoarding of resources to avoid rebuilding environments
- Complicated integrations with third-party management tools for change management and IT governance
- Limited policy-based auto-scaling that can help ensure performance and cost objectives
Managing applications in an application-centric cloud
A healthy and innovative application-centric cloud is about more than just deployment, it’s about managing across the full lifecycle of an application. Applications often go through the following lifecycle:
- Design: Designing the application and the environment where it will reside. This includes the approval processes and deployment choices.
- Deploy: Depending on the type of application, the organization may choose to deploy simple or complex cloud services across hybrid environments. The important point is to give users the choice and access to the services that they need to get their job done most efficiently and effectively.
- Manage: Once deployed, cloud applications and services need to be monitored to ensure that they are performing and scaling to meet capacity needs. Additionally, operations will need to ensure that the services are compliant with rules and regulations as well as cost effective.
- Repurpose: Often forgotten is the ever important decommissioning process. By identifying and repurposing idle or underutilized resources the organization can reduce costs and the risks of zombie servers.
BMC Cloud Lifecycle Management helped several customers achieve success with an application-centric cloud approach. Let’s take a look at a few stories:
- BNY Mellon increased innovation through the self-service model. Dr. Swamy Kocherlakota at BYN Mellon stated, “The ability to try a new idea and fail fast has increased. If it works, we will proceed; otherwise we…repurpose.” The company increased its dynamic virtualization optimization from 20 VMs per server to 60 per server! Through an application-centric cloud, BNY Mellon also achieved consistent IT service management and tight change control across traditional and cloud environments.
- Morningstar, Incorporated, uses an application-centric cloud to build full application environments hosting their applications. They have managed to reduce the time to build a new environment from 520 hours to 32 hours, making it feasible to build separate, optimized environments for Development, QA, staging, and production. They also now have built-in compliance checks to maintain alignment with Sarbanes-Oxley and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
- Orange Business Services, a company that offers cloud and communications services around the world, can now provision 95% of service requests in minutes. They can quickly onboard new customers, keeping costs down and services competitive. Through intelligent placement, Orange can maintain performance while shifting workloads from one system to another.
Through an application-centric cloud with BMC Cloud Lifecycle Management, you can heighten innovation by enabling self-service and fast access to public and private cloud infrastructure and application environments. This enables developers to get the resources they need to innovate.
Application-centric clouds with BMC Cloud Lifecycle Management also allow organizations to retain control through integrated change management, policy based workload placement and automated scaling. Furthermore, blueprints simplify creation of repeatable and consistent full-stack deployments across stages of the application delivery pipeline. Finally, you can operationalize security with built-in hardening, pre- and post-deployment compliance scans to help ensure that new changes and existing deployments comply with specifications.
Application-centric clouds enable enterprises to deliver quickly, run with agility, and remain secure and compliant. The old “virtual machine” cloud paradigm is no longer sufficient; application-centric clouds are what enterprises need to accelerate digital transformation today.
These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.