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Cloud's new rules promise old-school satisfaction

Common ground for IT groups

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Open... and Shut Cloud computing is big business, in part because companies are happy to shell out lots of cash to buy themselves time and development flexibility.

In this quest to displace the operations bottleneck that exists within enterprises, developers are taking on more of the operations role for themselves and to reduce this new burden have started a mad rush to run anything and everything in the cloud.

We've long talked about the need to outsource everything but one's core business, but it's developers who are doing this far more than any other group within the enterprise.

Now we have databases in the cloud, logging in the cloud, and even network monitoring, thanks to Boundary's new service, in the cloud.

In this way the rising generation of cloud developers has managed to have its cake (writing code) and eat it, too (without being overwhelmed by Operations-induced bureaucracy). This hasn't been without pain. As Forrester analyst James Staten points out, old-school infrastructure and operations professionals have a very different attitude toward public cloud computing than developers do. The former group is willing to accept the cloud, but wants it on their terms when it comes to security, control and other things.

But Staten points out this hope is in vain, given that developers just want to move forward writing code with minimal friction. As a result: "If you can’t meet [developers'] demands with a public cloud solution – forget about meeting their needs with a private cloud or other capabilities."

Developers want the agility the public cloud offers, and given that they're the kingmakers, as Redmonk analyst Stephen O'Grady highlights, resistance from operations is somewhat futile.

Nor is it all that helpful. After all, it's striking how similar the two groups are in terms of desired outcomes, as two recent developer surveys call out. The first survey (warning: PDF) of more than 700 IT professionals was commissioned by Puppet Labs, a server management start-up behind the hugely popular Puppet server configuration management tool. The second survey of over 4,000 IT professionals was sponsored by IBM. The two companies couldn't be more different, but the results are surprisingly similar.

Given that Puppet provides an IT automation tool, it's not surprising that 55 per cent of respondents identified Automation as the top expected benefit of embracing the DevOps approach, with 68 per cent ranking it in their top three responses. This is, after all, what they get paid to do.

But consider the IBM survey data. The IBM survey took a different slant on the topic, but found that business analytics is the most-adopted technology area among respondents, with a full 59 per cent embracing analytics to increase automation and 46 per cent citing it as a way to streamline processes.

It's very possible that these survey respondents reflect the same demographics. Puppet Labs is a new kid on the block, while IBM's hoary head has been around the industry for decades, but Puppet as a tool tends to be used by those with a sprawling infrastructure.

But that's kind of my point. The survey demographics skew toward traditional system administrators, yet these "old school" IT professionals want the same thing from their IT as "new school" cloud developers do: automation. They want more of their operational busy work taking care of for them so that they can focus on writing applications or other code.

Given this common goal, it's hard to see the public cloud not winning out over time. It may take IT more time to get comfortable with the public cloud than their more agile developer cousins, but it's going to happen for the reasons cited above and for a range of others. Private clouds may well prevail in the short term as enterprises seek a middle ground between slow paths to automation and fast paths to automation, but long term the public cloud will win.

Morgan Stanley Research pegs (warning: PDF) public cloud adoption as 50 per cent within the next three years. Given that enterprise IT and its developers have a common goal, I suspect the different time horizons ("now" versus "later") will iron themselves out and we'll see even more workloads moved to the public cloud than Morgan Stanley predicts. The need for development speed demands it. ®

Matt Asay is senior vice president of business development at Nodeable, offering systems management for managing and analyzing cloud-based data. He was formerly SVP of biz dev at HTML5 start-up Strobe and chief operating officer of Ubuntu commercial operation Canonical. With more than a decade spent in open source, Asay served as Alfresco's general manager for the Americas and vice president of business development, and he helped put Novell on its open source track. Asay is an emeritus board member of the Open Source Initiative (OSI). His column, Open...and Shut, appears three times a week on The Register.

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