Home Depot, IHG and the 5 Principles of IT Management in a Multi-Cloud World
Proliferation of hybrid and multi-cloud architectures has resulted in rapid and remarkable technological advances. But it has also introduced monumental, multi-faceted complexities into IT infrastructure management, including:
- Managing multiple on-premises, private and public cloud resources
- Complicated and lengthy provisioning processes for resource deployment
- Continually evolving challenges maintaining visibility into multi-cloud ecosystems
- Ongoing concerns around governance, cost control and security
In the face of these challenges, enterprise IT must enable innovation and digital transformation. Whether through self-service and intelligent automation, or through building a base of continuous insights driven by AI, machine learning, and deep learning, adopting these new paradigms has never been more critical. Simultaneously, IT needs to stay operationally vigilant regarding visibility, governance and cost control as organizations accelerate their hybrid cloud growth.
Unfortunately, many IT leaders are struggling to successfully adapt to these challenges. According to ESG’s 2019 Technology Spending Intention Survey, most executives view IT as a drag on — not a driver of — innovation. Specifically, a mere 6 percent consider IT a competitive differentiator, and a full quarter of executives actually see IT as a business inhibitor. In a rapidly changing world of cloud, there has to be a better way.
By adopting these five core principles of IT infrastructure management, IT leaders can become strategic business drivers and better meet end users where they are:
To prevent bottlenecks, IT must institute a self-service delivery model enabling developers to access resources when they need them. When end users are able to quickly and easily access the resources they need – storage, compute, networking and more – without having to go through IT, organizations can reach a whole new level of agility and productivity.
2. Intelligent automation
Self-service depends on automation – intelligent automation. It must ensure the orchestrated delivery of IT resources — whether that’s infrastructure or advanced services such as IoT, blockchain and developer tools — fit the end user’s role and responsibilities as well as the needs of the business. With intelligent automation, IT teams can build security and cost guardrails into provisioning those resources, covering everything from access privileges to how long provisioned resources remain available in the cloud. The result? Better governance and cost control.
3. Comprehensive visibility
Business and IT leaders don’t need visibility into some of their infrastructure; they need visibility into all of their infrastructure — whether that’s virtual machines on-prem, to private cloud networks, or multi-tier, load balanced applications in AWS, Azure, GCP and others. And they need this visibility consolidated into a single view, the proverbial “single pane of glass.” Unified visibility enables modern IT leaders to always know where and how resources have been deployed, monitoring all usage from a single platform.
4. Modular extensibility
To swiftly adopt new technologies and leverage existing IT investments, modern IT leaders embrace modular, extensible frameworks. You need such frameworks — for example, modular plug-in in the form of scripts, web hooks and email notifications – to support a rapidly evolving array of development tools, paradigms and priorities. For example, the world of hybrid cloud can mean using a mashup of existing tools, whether that’s Terraform for provisioning, Ansible for configuration, Veeam for cloud migration and many more. IT teams need to go beyond the API and leverage extensibility that makes plug-and-play painless. The result? Less vendor-locking and the ability to build your hybrid cloud, your way.
5. Continuous insight
Unified visibility into IT resource deployment and usage depends on the capture of data across workloads, clouds and teams. This allows IT teams to quickly identify areas of risk, sprawl and inefficiency. More impactfully, it also enables IT to pursue data-driven resource planning. With increased accuracy in rate estimation, up-to-date views of inventory and predictive provisioning based on recognized patterns of usage, IT can proactively anticipate the needs of the business and application development teams, becoming the innovation enabler it should be.
Real-world examples: The Home Depot
The Home Depot had its sights set on continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD), but getting a machine provisioned took anywhere from several days to a week, causing major bottlenecks in business productivity. Also, the company lacked an effective way to track and manage resources, particularly in its hybrid cloud environment.
The company developed a self-service model, providing developers with front-facing infrastructure services. The IT team now allows thousands of users to provision cloud-based resources without submitting a ticket. What once took one to two weeks now takes 20 minutes.
Furthermore, by implementing a more flexible framework built on modular extensibility for orchestration, Home Depot made integration with existing infrastructure easy. This extensibility supports Home Depot’s evolving IT strategy and facilitates the adoption and integration of Kubernetes, Docker, Terraform and other emerging technologies.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)
IHG owns over 5,000 hotels and utilizes four different public clouds. They wanted the flexibility of multiple public clouds in order to use the platform that provides the optimal environment for each workload, as well as to protect the organization from price increases and instabilities from any one public cloud. As a result, administrators needed to understand and use four different interfaces to locate, manage and provision compute resources.
IHG moved all managed resources from VMware vRA to a cloud management platform that provided a single user interface and API, through which they could deploy complex apps to VMware and any of the four public clouds they used. This enabled them to manage these apps and their servers over the course of their lifecycle, allowing for business policy automation as well as adoption of best practices around server deployment and management.
IHG now also uses comprehensive visibility and intelligent automation to control VM sprawl and protect against unexpectedly large bills from vendors. Through the use of expiration dates for servers, configurable expiration behavior, visibility into all VMs across all technologies, quotas, cost tracking and easy de-provisioning of servers and services, IHG ensures that organizations only pay for what they need and use.
The 5 principles and your organization
To tame enterprise IT infrastructure complexity, IT leaders must adopt a flexible and extensible model for IT infrastructure management that relieves pressure on IT while freeing both the enterprise and developer teams to take advantage of emerging technologies. By adopting the five core principles of IT infrastructure management, your organization can improve time-to-value for your hybrid cloud and multi-cloud management strategy.
Grant Ho is chief marketing officer of CloudBolt, a hybrid cloud management platform.