Ecosystem

PaaS in a Hybrid Cloud World

By Sinclair Schuller

It may seem that much of the public/private cloud debate has died down in the past year or so, but I still find that many people are passionately supportive of one or the other. I’m fortunate enough to speak with hundreds of enterprise IT end-users every year, and I can assure, neither of the polar absolutes is the right answer. In fact, the right answer is that the end state of this industry will be hybrid.

To really understand why the end state is hybrid, we need to look at two issues: classification of workloads and current state of datacenter infrastructure in enterprise IT.

Let’s start with workload classification. Applications, at the highest level, can be put into one of two buckets: applications that have zero sensitivity when it comes to leaving an organization’s logical boundaries and those that do (and at a finer grain, those where some components may leave the logical boundaries of an organization while other components of the same application may not). Stating that “everything should be public cloud” is dismissing this workload classification. Some apps simply cannot or will not be put outside of the logical boundaries of the enterprise that owns it. Period. How many apps are like this? Who knows. Maybe 5% maybe 50% – only time will help us understand. Conversely, stating “we’ll never use public cloud” is an error in the opposite direction – a claim that no workload is suitable for running outside of an organization. This is equally silly. The fact is that enterprises looking to save time and money will look for ways to offload applications that need not be self-hosted to a public cloud infrastructure, and those that can’t, they’ll keep in house. The next question becomes “what does keep in house” look like? Does enterprise IT simply continue to look the way it has for the past 10 years or does it transform into something better?

Next, let’s take a look at the current state of datacenter infrastructure in enterprise IT. We’re at an interesting point in computing where incumbent IT infrastructures like those found in many Global 2000 organizations have fallen behind the datacenter infrastructures established by service providers like Amazon with Web Services and Microsoft with Azure. These service providers have really pushed the boundaries when it comes to what can be done with a datacenter and the sorts of efficiencies that can be extracted. If enterprises plan on keeping some workloads in house, they would surely prefer that it those applications be dealt with in a highly efficient way. Private cloud technologies essentially promise enterprises that they can transform their datacenter assets into low friction computing environments similar to public cloud, allowing them to gain tremendous hard dollar and soft dollar savings when dealing with their existing workloads. Essentially, get cloud like behavior from your IT assets in a “plug and play” way.

As enterprises transform their datacenters to look more like public cloud providers, they also start achieving a certain level of fidelity match with vendors like Microsoft and Amazon.  As this happens, the next logical conclusion is that enterprises want a seamless interaction between resources they own and resources they consume from cloud providers – a bona fide hybrid model.

As things evolve in cloud computing, this becomes the natural end state – not a forced state, but rather one that caters to the specific intricacies of enterprise IT.

Recognizing this, we have done something amazing at Apprenda. We feel that PaaS, much like IaaS, is a natural vehicle for achieving hybrid cloud. Apprenda was purpose built to “stitch together” disparate resources into a logical single runtime. We’re happy to announce that we are leveraging this architecture to achieve a world’s first: providing enterprises with hybrid PaaS for .NET! Hybrid PaaS means that a single instance of Apprenda can seamlessly straddle resources from within an enterprises datacenter as well as from cloud providers, and create from it a single operating PaaS. Policies and rules help drive things like application placement and routing, giving developers the ability to write apps that can span and migrate to and from providers with *no code changes*.

Given our alignment with .NET and the Microsoft world, we have invested R&D resources in achieving hybrid PaaS with Azure . Our initial GA release, due in the coming months, will allow anyone to stand up an Apprenda instance and pool their own resources and Azure resources under the Apprenda PaaS. This means pure symmetry between the two environments and seamless interaction of resources. This is very exciting for Apprenda because it means we are leapfrogging existing momentum to ensure that we can help the industry achieve the end state of hybrid sooner rather than later, and through PaaS rather than virtualization.

In the future, we plan on offering hybrid linking to other cloud providers, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted as this happens.

Do you agree that hybrid cloud is the end state? How do you view PaaS’ role in helping achieving hybrid cloud?

Post your thoughts.

Sinclair Schuller

Sinclair Schuller is the CEO of Apprenda. Before Apprenda, Sinclair held positions at Morgan Stanley, Eden Communications, and consulted for the State University of New York’s (SUNY) vast IT systems. Sinclair holds dual Bachelor of Science degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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