Data Centers vs. Public Cloud – Where Do You Stand?
Since CloudBees was founded in 2010, we have been constantly engaged in debates opposing private cloud in favor of the public cloud, or more appropriately on-premise data centers vs. public cloud. Like in most technical debates, you are asked to take your side: are you an “old-guard” on-premise guy with no vision for what the future would hold, or a public cloud “punk” with no understanding of the enterprise requirements?
In the last two years, we have seen some midsize and large enterprises refuse that forced dichotomy and take an innovative stance: instead of opposing their data center with the public cloud, they position public cloud as a natural and powerful extension to their current IT infrastructure.
Core IT vs. Fast IT
These enterprises consider most of their current IT assets as “Core IT.” That is, assets such as SAP ERP, on-premise Oracle CRM and databases, etc. This is their core IT, their crown jewels, their IT assets they’ve been building for a decade or more – don’t mess with it/IT. One important side effect of this is that deploying any new Core IT workload typically involves quite a bit of delay, friction between development and production teams, etc. - and this, for a reason.
But is everything related to applications and services required to be part of “Core IT”? Certainly not. Take the surge in mobile applications that companies are facing today (“You’re either reaching your customers on mobile devices today, or you aren’t reaching them at all,” as Steve Harris says.) - this creates the need for lots of new applications, fast. Time-to-market as well as the ability to iterate fast on new and improved features are essential criteria. This is where public cloud PaaS solutions shine: you can onboard your developers and third-party consultants on a new project in a snap, do all of your building, testing and continuous integration in the cloud, with no need to provision any resources. You can even test your application end-to-end – from your on-premise back-end to your mobile application running on an emulator and then through your middle-tier running on the CloudBees PaaS - you can then push those applications to production, scale them, deploy them to multiple regions, set up failover, etc. - all of this in a snap.
Those enterprises characterize that type of environment as “Fast IT.” Fast IT provides a way to quickly create new online workloads with no IT friction, yet with the ability to leverage and securely access on-premise data and systems.
To illustrate this, one of CloudBees' customers, a French bank, had to release a new online service as soon as possible. This wasn’t a trivial application; the application had to expose an API to an ecosystem of service providers that could then access the bank’s customers’ account information. The bank’s development team was able to move from the initial whiteboard design to a first customer-facing production release in less than three months, which previously was the typical time they needed to…provision a new unconfigured server in their data center.
Criteria to define whether an application should be deployed in Core IT or in Fast IT will depend on each company to create, but certainly mobile, social and any online applications are likely to be great candidates for Fast IT.
So What is CloudBees Announcing?
This week, CloudBees is announcing additional features that will help companies get started on a Core and Fast IT strategy:
• VPN to Jenkins – This new capability allows users of the CloudBees-hosted Jenkins service to connect via VPN to on-premise resources, such as databases, source code repositories and other internal service endpoints. Fast IT projects can use cloud-based resources for development, testing and staging while securely accessing existing, on-premise enterprise investments. This feature already existed for live applications running on our RUN@cloud PaaS.
• Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) Support – Enterprises overwhelmingly use SAML-based identity and access management systems. To take advantage of cloud-based resources for Fast IT projects, they need to control access to their systems using their existing SAML investments. CloudBees now supports SAML 2.0-based authentication and authorization, which can be coupled with Role-based Access Control within the CloudBees hosted Jenkins service to restrict access to applications hosted on CloudBees.
• WEAVE@cloud AppCentric Integration – CloudBees new native data migration and synchronization service, WEAVE@cloud has been extended to further simplify how RUN@cloud applications publish and subscribe to events from data and SaaS services. Events from on-premise and hosted databases and services can trigger actions in applications hosted on RUN@cloud and vice-versa. CloudBees’ recent acquisition of FoxWeave established CloudBees as the first PaaS vendor to offer native services for SaaS application and data integration.
Now is the time
The cloud is a powerful opportunity to differentiate and unlock further value from your existing IT assets. But in order to succeed in the cloud, don’t onboard with a big bang approach or get caught in a sophisticated long-term cloud strategy that might never unfold: select one differentiating project where time-to-market matters and get started, use it as a learning experience. Your journey to the cloud starts now.
Sacha Labourey is the former CTO of JBoss, Inc. He was also co-general manager of middleware after the acquisition of JBoss by Red Hat. He ultimately left Red Hat in April 2009 and founded CloudBees in April 2010. Follow Sacha on Twitter.