Hybrid Clouds are the Backbone of DevOps

By Colby Dyess | February 05, 2014

Developers are becoming more involved in IT operations, taking on a greater role in deciding how infrastructure is set up to support applications. By tapping into a dev/test cloud, a DevOps-practicing team can iterate more efficiently, pushing code out quickly, testing it, and using versioning control and automation to reduce time to deployment. On top of that, by leveraging hybrid cloud infrastructure, teams can gain greater flexibility through access to both on-premises and public cloud resources, which drives down expenses. So why aren't more organizations investing in the tools needed to facilitate a functioning DevOps environment?

DevOps: What It Is, and How Companies Make It Work

Before tackling that question, it's worth going over how DevOps works at most organizations. Rather than have engineers work in isolation until they send code to the IT department for testing - perhaps not knowing beforehand if the application is even feasible for the environment - DevOps-practicing teams create a process that merges development and testing through the deployment of automation tools and flexible infrastructure, such as an AWS hybrid cloud.

Organizations accrue many benefits from a hybrid cloud infrastructure. The time to provision servers and configure software is typically reduced, plus it becomes more cost-effective to perform large-scale testing and easier to deploy applications across private and public cloud environments. On the technical side, a DevOps team typically uses an automation tool such as Chef or Puppet and deploys it to production on the public cloud.

While it's possible to try out DevOps in a traditional virtualized data center, a hybrid cloud infrastructure provides a unique combination of control, predictable pricing, and scalability through self-service, on-demand private and public cloud resources. Scripts can be shared between environments, upping the pace of application refinement.

Writing for ReadWrite, Adam Duro explains that companies have many incentives to implement DevOps processes. He argues that DevOps ensures more efficient use of time, increases the predictability and stability of code releases, and facilitates accumulation of reusable software and configuration specs. Automation helps to keep costs low, and it gets help from the combination of private and public cloud infrastructure.

"An investment in DevOps and infrastructure automation helps to keep resource costs low, while maintaining output at the desired velocity," explained Duro. "With the focus on automation, a single engineer can run an infrastructure of non-trivial size. For example, at Facebook, a team of four engineers is responsible for rolling out and maintaining a system of roughly 15,000+ individual machines using the Chef system automation platform."

Hybrid Cloud is More Economical Than Purely Public Cloud

While practicing DevOps is promising in theory, some organizations are missing out on its gains by exclusively leveraging the public cloud. The pay-as-you-go business model for public resources means that DevOps-practicing teams can lose sight of metered costs, especially if non-revenue generating instances continue to spin for long periods of time.

With a hybrid cloud deployment that bridges private and public cloud resources, teams get access to an on-premises development and quality assurance environment that has a fixed cost. As such, organizations can know what they're getting into when they use the cloud for critical workflows such as continuous integration and automated testing.

In addition to the private cloud perks, integration with public cloud resources means that these development and quality assurance clouds can mimic production environments. Teams can then move workloads seamlessly from dev and QA environments on private clouds to production on public. Moreover, the hybrid cloud ensures that teams can meet security and compliance requirements, capitalize on existing hardware and virtualization deployments, and benefit from the global scalability of public cloud resources.

Eucalyptus serves as an open source reference implementation for AWS compatibility and is the only vendor in the world that can transform a customer's IT infrastructure into a private cloud that behaves just like Amazon Web Services (AWS). By enabling on-demand resources and lowering fulfillment times as compared to traditional virtualized environments, Eucalyptus facilitates agile DevOps practices for teams and enables faster product innovation. More importantly, it achieves this at a lower cost for organizations.