Want Cloud Success? Roll Up Your Sleeves for the Hard Work of App Dev in a Multi-Cloud Environment

By Andi Mann

Accelerated software development has become a consistent refrain among many IT organizations. This is especially true for those leveraging next-generation technologies, such as mobility, big data, and cloud. Many organizations are making it happen, thanks to focused teams who have a number of application development tools at their disposal that are designed to streamline the creation and delivery of apps to their end users.

But the job gets increasingly difficult in what I call “the cloud of clouds”—a multi-cloud environment that features layers of clouds: some on-premise, some in public domains, and some hybrid. Each layer has its own access rules, provisioning requirements, application programming interfaces (APIs), data stores, etc., and each layer needs app development attention. There needs to be integration between cloud and non-cloud resources, such as the back-end database housing customer information that is vital to the function of a cloud-based sales app. And it’s not just about developing software for these cloud of clouds, it is also about testing the applications for production environments, and then securing and managing each of them during their lifecycles. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

There’s plenty of opportunity for the hard work of app dev in a multi-cloud environment. For example, service providers need to provide APIs for their public cloud services. This is so your internal development teams can more seamlessly and expeditiously evaluate, test, and perform quality assurance and manage those services, as well as develop custom applications to work with them. Security APIs need to be addressed. Access rights must be managed (and can be with the proper applications, such as CA Technologies’ CA CloudMinder, an identity and access management service for both cloud-based and on-premise applications in a multi-tenant environment).

Employing the methodologies and concepts of DevOps—the evolving integration between the developers who build and test IT capability and the organizations that are responsible for deploying and maintaining IT operations—is also critical to accelerating the development of successful applications in a cloud of clouds. DevOps is all about fostering the communication and collaboration between developers and IT operations. There’s also service virtualization, which decouples the entire software development life cycle (SDLC) from the constraints of infrastructure. This lets organizations simulate and evaluate the behavior of the applications and the behavior of other on-premise or cloud-based systems that the applications need to be able to work with, even if those come from third parties.

Another key component for accelerating application development in a cloud of clouds: IT leadership. Rogue IT — when business managers or others go out and buy cloud services themselves – is bound to happen in large organizations. However, the IT pros are the experts and need to demonstrate their leadership and ability to add real value. Not only can they shine the light on the best cloud services for the organization, they can also ensure that the cloud services mesh well with those that are already in use, and that the services dovetail with ongoing software development efforts, security, and management.

Even with attention to all these details, it doesn’t mean that the potential problems of application development in a multi-cloud environment will be solved right away. There’s hard work to be done, and this is an area where there’s still plenty to do. But that can’t be an excuse. Instead, let it serve as a challenge, and let IT roll up its sleeves and lead the way.

Andi Mann is vice president of Strategic Solutions at CA Technologies. With over 20 years’ experience across four continents, Andi has deep expertise of enterprise software on cloud, mainframe, midrange, server and desktop systems. Andi has worked within IT departments for governments and corporations, from small businesses to global multi-nationals; with several large enterprise software vendors; and as a leading industry analyst advising enterprises, governments, and IT vendors – from startups to the worlds’ largest companies. Andi is a co-author of the popular handbook, ‘Visible Ops – Private Cloud’

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