Managing the Hybrid Application Stack

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    The best part about moving data operations to the cloud is that you no longer have to worry about provisioning and managing infrastructure. The drawback, of course, is that you have to shift to a service/application-centric approach to management and then somehow integrate that with all of your legacy management systems.

    Fortunately, hybrid data management is gaining a fair bit of traction in the development community as vendors seek to get the jump on what is likely to be the dominant enterprise data architecture going forward. According to BlueStripe’s Vic Nyman, the hybrid data center is likely to contain a broad mix of virtualized infrastructure, operating systems and container platforms, as well as a variety of database formats, third-party web services and distributed applications. To manage such diversity, the enterprise will need to deploy key functions such as dynamic application mapping and updating, seamless multi-platform visibility, real-time response time measurement and reporting – and this is before we can even think about expanding to microservices and application component aggregation.

    While developers like BlueStripe are undoubtedly working to integrate all of these functions, so are the top cloud providers. Amazon recently updated its OpsWorks management platform to support Windows Server and allow the creation of “spot instances” that enable easy provisioning of short-term applications and services. As PC World’s Mikael Ricknäs notes, the company has made no secret of its desire to expand into more lucrative enterprise-class deployments, and providing a common management solution with legacy platforms like Windows is one of the best ways to ease the migration and integration challenges that many enterprises face.

    Of course, it isn’t hard to see how service-based software can be applied to distributed service and application management as well. Fluke Networks recently released the TruView Live platform, a SaaS-based solution aimed at real-time network and application performance management. The idea is to shed the traditional point-solution approach to management in favor of a “borderless enterprise” through end-to-end visibility and control of the entire distributed architecture. This encompasses a focus on app performance and the user experience, rather than infrastructure optimization, regardless of the application, access device or location of either the user or the application host. The platform is available as a free trial now, with additional enhancements scheduled for later this year.

    Enterprise Application Management

    At the same time, a company called Ikoula has teamed up with template and migration specialist UShareSoft to create the Hybrid Cloud Toolbox, an online version of the company’s native toolbox designed to provision and migrate applications to the Ikoula public cloud or third-party public and private platforms. Powered by UShareSoft’s UForge AppCenter, the system features rapid application templating and virtual machine provisioning, as well as self-service migration and a range of server auditing, updating, patching and customization services. In this way, the enterprise gains life-cycle management and governance of their application stacks, plus cross-platform consistency within multi-hypervisor and multi-cloud deployments.

    The need for extensive application and service management in the cloud is not driven solely by the elevation of the data environment onto virtual, abstract architectures, but by the way modern environments are gravitating toward self-service provisioning and deployment rather than traditional IT-centric approaches. As users increasingly take it upon themselves to craft their own data stacks, the enterprise will need to focus on the apps themselves in order to maintain a cohesive data ecosystem.

    This will require new skill sets on the part of IT staff, to be sure, but if all goes as planned, it will lead to much more vibrant and dynamic data operations than anything we’ve seen in the past.

    Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata, Carpathia and NetMagic.

    Arthur Cole
    Arthur Cole
    With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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