| Mar 16, 2021


Benefits of adopting cloud operating model at the infrastructure provisioning layer

Thriving in an era of multi-cloud architecture, driven by digital transformation, needs Enterprise IT to evolve from ITIL-based gatekeeping to shared self-service processes for DevOps excellence.
For most enterprises, digital transformation efforts mean delivering new business and customer value more quickly, and at a very large scale. The implication for Enterprise IT then is a shift from cost optimization to speed optimization. The cloud is an inevitable part of this shift as it presents the opportunity to rapidly deploy on-demand services with limitless scale.
To leverage and fasten cloud adoption, enterprises must consider how to industrialize the application delivery process across each layer of the cloud: embracing the cloud operating model, and tuning people, process, and tools to it.

Transitioning to a Multi-Cloud Datacentre

  • Have dynamic usage characteristics, needing to scale loads up and down by orders of magnitude during short time periods.
  • Be under pressure to quickly build and iterate. Many of these new systems may be ephemeral in nature, delivering a specific user experience around an event or campaign.

For most enterprises though, these systems of engagement must connect to existing “systems of record”- the core business databases and internal applications, which often continue to reside on infrastructure in existing data centres. As a result, enterprises end up with a hybrid – a mix of multiple public and private cloud environments.

Transitioning to a Multi-Cloud Datacentre

A common starting point for the Cloud Operating Model is to enable the operations team to shift their focus away from provisioning only dedicated servers based on homogenous sets of infrastructure to workflows with capacity on-demand from a variety of Cloud (and service) providers.
To address the core views affecting provisioning (volume and distribution of services, ephemerality and immutability, and deploying to multiple target environments), organizations are moving to an automation based operating model for cloud infrastructure.

Implications of the Cloud Operating Model

The essential implications of the transition to the cloud is the shift from “static” infrastructure to “dynamic” infrastructure: from a focus on configuration, and management of a static fleet of IT resources, to provisioning, securing, connecting, and running dynamic resources on demand.

Implications of the Cloud Operating Model

Additionally, each cloud provider has its own solution to these challenges. For enterprise IT teams, these shifts in approach are compounded by the realities of running on hybrid- and multi-cloud infrastructures and the varying tools each technology provides.

Cloud Operating Model

Unlocking the Cloud Operating Model

As the implications of the cloud operating model impact teams across infrastructure, security, networking, and applications, we see a repeating pattern amongst enterprises of establishing central shared services–centres of excellence–to deliver the dynamic infrastructure necessary at each layer for successful application delivery.
As teams deliver on each shared service to for the cloud operating model, IT velocity increases. The greater cloud maturity an organization has, the faster its velocity.

  • 1. Multi-Cloud Infrastructure Provisioning

The foundation for adopting the cloud is infrastructure provisioning. HashiCorp Terraform is the world’s most widely used cloud provisioning product and can be used to provision infrastructure for any application using an array of providers for any target platform.

HashiCorp Terraform

To achieve shared services for infrastructure provisioning, IT teams should start by implementing reproducible infrastructure as code practices, and then layering compliance and governance workflows to ensure appropriate controls.

  • 2. Reproducible Infrastructure as Code

The first goal of a shared service for infrastructure provisioning is to enable the delivery of reproducible infrastructure as code, providing DevOps teams a way to plan and provision resources inside CI/CD workflows using familiar tools throughout.
DevOps teams can create Terraform templates that express the configuration of services from one or more cloud platforms. Terraform integrates with all major configuration management tools to allow fine grained provisioning to be handled following the provisioning of the underlying resources. Finally, templates can be extended with services from many other ISV providers to include monitoring agents, application performance monitoring (APM) systems, security tooling, DNS, and Content Delivery Networks, and more. Once defined, the templates can be provisioned as required in an automated way. In doing so, Terraform becomes the lingua franca and common workflow for teams provisioning resources across public and private cloud.

  • 3. Compliance and Management

For most teams, there is also a need to enforce policies on the type of infrastructure created, how it is used, and which teams get to use it. HashiCorp’s Sentinel policy as code framework provides compliance and governance without requiring a shift in the overall team workflow, and is defined as code too, enabling collaboration and comprehension for DevSecOps.
Without policy as code, organizations resort to using a ticket based review process to approve changes. This results in developers waiting weeks or longer to provision infrastructure and becomes a bottleneck. Policy as code allows us to solve this by splitting the definition of the policy from the execution of the policy.
Centralized teams codify policies enforcing security, compliance, and operational best practices across all cloud provisioning. Automated enforcement of policies ensures changes are in compliance without creating a manual review bottleneck.
To summarize, a common cloud operating model is an inevitable shift for enterprises aiming to maximize their digital transformation efforts. The HashiCorp suite of tools seeks to provide solutions for each layer of the cloud to enable enterprises to make this shift to the cloud operating model.
Enterprise IT needs to evolve away from ITIL-based control points with its focus on cost optimization, toward becoming self-service enablers focused on speed optimization. It can do this by delivering shared services across each layer of the cloud designed to assist teams deliver new business and customer value at speed.
There’s an upcoming webinar if you want to know more about Terraform – The best approach for multi-cloud infrastructure provisioning. Sign up if you’re keen!
For support on Terraform services or subscription, talk to Ashnik.
*Article based on HashiCorp’s Terraform Whitepaper: ‘Unlocking the Cloud Operating Model: Provisioning