Often lost amid the talk of cloud deployment models and hybrid hosting efficiencies is the actual task of properly deploying enterprise applications. Deploying applications touches so many aspects of IT systems and business processes, and requires ongoing updates and management, that only enterprise IT staff can really do the job.
So if cloud is a way of doing an end-run around IT — yet, IT is integral to proper applications deployment and care — how exactly do these disparate propositions co-exist?
Not too well, it turns out, especially as the pace that apps development and deployment — and the skyrocketing need to bring more mobile apps into production — complicates the already tough task of overall applications management.
HP Software today announced four products that aim to tackle this thorny reality: That traditional apps deployment was already broken, and that the new requirements make automation and comprehensive management an inescapable necessity.
HP is also banking on the role it can play as a neutral party to better orchestrate the apps lifecycle, because — unlike most other large enterprise software vendors — it doesn't have a legacy application, operating system, hypervisor, database, and/or middleware heritage (and cash cows) to favor and protect. That means supporting heterogeneity in total is the imperative, not the exception, for HP.
The next generation of HP's datacenter automation, orchestration, and cloud management software scales in terms of volume, supports all the installed enterprise kit, and allows for unprecedented simplicity, so that IT can get control before it's too late, said Manoj Raisinghani, senior director of Worldwide Product Marketing for Cloud Automation Software and software as a service (SaaS) at HP Software.
It's not enough to solve parts of the enterprise IT complexity problem, said Raisinghani. The management of the server deployment and management has an impact on the database and middleware management, which then need to be orchestrated as a whole, and then need to apply to the cloud services deployment options. So, server, data, middleware, cloud, and orchestration all need to be part of the management solution for the scale, simplicity, and automation to be impactful and practical, he said.
And that's why HP has bundled these four major products under a common release, with a common version number: 10.
Key to cloud
"Server automation is key to the cloud path," said Raisinghani. He said the announcements were a "10" on a scale of 1 to 10 for HP Software.
Managing complex distributed systems and heterogeneous environments is so time consuming and complex — hindering business agility and innovation — that IT has relied on systems integrators, and is now being tempted to hand over more process orchestration to the cloud providers. But the trends around mobility, big data, and SaaS services mean that IT needs to be more in control, not less. And IT staff members need the means to deploy the answer themselves, and rely on the software orchestration they control to move the workloads to where the model works best, said Raisinghani.
Therefore, whether it's routine datacenter maintenance to the delivery of extended enterprise business processes, automation and cloud management software reduces automating repetitive, manual and time-consuming operations, and makes the entire approach more secure and more easily tracked for intrusions, according to HP.
Even deploying the HP Server Automation (SA) 10 product itself is being streamlined via a virtual appliance, said Raisinghani. IT users can do it themselves, he said. Thanks to the virtual appliance model, the suite is "customer installable", said Raisinghani.
HP Database and Middleware Automation (DMA) 10 further automates manual database management tasks. HP Cloud Service Automation 3.2 provides service life cycle automation and IT assets management capabilities to scale to cloud services safely. HP Operations Orchestration (OO) 10 automates up to 15,000 simultaneous operations to track all of the above products, processes, and services.
HP SA 10, the life cycle management platform, enables IT to manage more than 100,000 physical and virtual servers from a single pane of glass, and improves operational economics by reducing the administrator-to-server ratio by up to 60 percent, said Raisinghani.
This HP Software approach has been long in the making — from the acquisition of Mercury and Opsware to the business service management emphasis to the early recognition that hybrid cloud was the long-term IT model.
And while the total management approach — supporting all the major OSes, hypervisors, RDBs, apps, and clouds — makes HP a services management company, there are some advantages for HP. By focusing on the automation and orchestration, it is building a default capability to the HP public cloud for those organizations seeing an integrated advantage over the efforts required for other public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services, said Raisinghani.
"You can go agile, to where the applications can be best deployed," said Raisinghani. "But this is seamless to the user. It just gets deployed. IT can automate how the services are pre-packaged and cloud burst."
Up and running
And HP is determined to make the HP public cloud the best way to get those services up and running, although the customer will have choice on which cloud or clouds to target, said Raisinghani. "The user gets choice — but the default is the HP cloud," he said. "HP on HP is going to work better. We'll be making them an offer that's very attractive."
So, think about it. Would you, as a vendor, rather be in a race to the bottom on hypervisor price? On public cloud price? On database price? On storage price? Or would you rather be building market at being the best at enabling the automation, speed, and security of the workloads and processes that IT needs to navigate the new IT landscape?
Management, orchestration, and automation may well be the killer apps of the cloud era. Management, orchestration, and automation from apps and data cradle to grave is the sticky value that locks in based on productivity, not technology. HP has clearly got its eyes on this prize, and the latest releases this week are a major salvo in the cloud enablement as a function of IT — not outside of IT. Because, like it or not, enterprise IT is the ultimate cloud broker to win over.
In other cloud applications automation news, ServiceNow on Monday announced its ServiceNow App Creator, designed to enable "citizen developers" to rapidly create enterprise and mobile applications on the ServiceNow Service Automation Platform.
Originally targeting the ITSM function, ServiceNow is broadening the use of its tools and platform for apps outside the IT management domain, but with IT as the driver as to what platforms the developers will use. The App Creator technology itself is now included in the platform.
"This arms IT to provide developers with a rich RAD platform, and puts those apps on a single platform in a single place," said Arne Josefsberg, CTO at ServiceNow.
Leveraging a forms-based workflow on making and deploying apps and process flows, App Creator ensures "best practice" development of custom applications without requiring coding or technology expertise, said Josefsberg.
Applications that the enterprise builds on the platform are then separately licensed on a per-user basis. The ServiceNow App Creator is available today to all current ServiceNow customers.