Teams adopting Cloud strive for a perfect balance between high control, easy adoption, and economies of scale. Both private and public cloud options often do not overcome significant adoption barriers, and hybrid cloud today represents a fatalistic acceptance of sophisticated environment heterogeneity, increased integration burden, and fractured policy enforcement. Project owners desire a cloud flight path that does not require retraining team members, fulfills complex enterprise requirements, and delivers DevOps best practice with minimal investment. Managed clouds provide a straightforward transition path, cost effective adoption model, and expert implementation assistance.
A managed cloud delivers a private, off-premise, bespoke Cloud managed by a third-party service provider. By blending DevOps practices, policy-driven configuration, expert management, and Cloud infrastructure, a managed cloud environment exhibits high on-demand scalability, flexible self-service, and affordable pay-as-you go pricing.
While public cloud platforms deliver economies of scale and a straightforward adoption path, public clouds often do not meet complex project requirements without devolving into a common denominator of Infrastructure as a Service and extensive custom configuration. While many organizations rely on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for ready-made compute, storage, and network infrastructure services, configuring and managing a scalable, reliable, and cost effective application platform on AWS for every application project is a daunting task. Pre-built Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) assist with base server provisioning, but do not address cross-server integration. For example, connecting a web application server to a database, or connecting a new identity server instance to policy repositories and user directories. Managed cloud management services reduce manual provisioning tasks, automate environment configuration, and drive policy-based deployment decisions.
Private clouds enable flexible topology patterns, enterprise control, and reliable enterprise integration patterns. But while every team should be progressively transforming private data centers into private clouds, the learning curve and effort requires careful planning and effective change management. Teams tasked with running existing playbooks and continuously delivering business value are hard pressed to research and incorporate DevOps best practices and Cloud infrastructure components. Rather than hiring expensive DevOps Cloud talent, organizations can affordable extend their team with managed cloud experts, who will help with immediate managed cloud deployment and eventual private cloud migration (when required). Because a managed cloud extends traditional application platforms, when ready, teams can readily migrate off-premise, externally managed clouds into on-premise, internally managed private Cloud environments.
When evaluating managed cloud service providers (i.e. Rackspace, Softlayer, and WSO2), gauge provider familiarity with enterprise requirements; including policy-driven governance, security assurance, identity, access management, and legacy integration. Even managed cloud projects will span multiple data centers, cloud zones, SaaS applications, and IaaS providers. In addition to hosting traditional web applications, a managed cloud should offer integration, API management, and Big Data components. Application development and operational practices should conform to enterprise governance policies. In addition to expertly crafting a traditional enterprise application platform architecture experience, the provider should also be adept at augmenting the application project with Cloud-aware and Cloud-native capabilities. Providers should articulate their strategy for introducing DevOps automation, self-service provisioning, and policy-driven Cloud management techniques into your application architecture and also provide a training and migration path to both private and public clouds.