The latest player in this unfolding story of using technology to make the technology irrelevant in everyday use is HyperGrid. It has just launched what it calls a Software-Defined Cloud strategy, under the brand name HyperCloud.
The name, in my personal opinion, is one of the few things that is obviously wrong with what they are offering. If it had been called a 'Software-Defined Services' strategy, and maybe branded 'HyperService', it would sum up what is on offer here far more closely.
But setting that to one side for a while, what is on offer seems in practice to be pretty close to right-on-the-money in terms of where users are moving and how they are starting to think.
The company also joins those vendors that have moved on from suggesting that buying 'a cloud' is the important step. The real issue – what users are trying to achieve for their business – is actually what is important.
Plugging a gap
The bottom line for HyperGrid is that it aims to use HyperCloud to plug the management gap that is growing between the users’ needs and aspirations for working with multiple cloud services, and their ability to find a one-stop solution to fulfilling that need. As Chief Marketing Officer Jim Ensell says:
What we do is being done by many different tools today, but there’s no one tool that does all the things our tool does in one common single pane of glass.
The other important factor here is that it can provide this capability across 18 different public and private cloud service providers, including all the obvious names that one might expect to be the resource behind most of the services most businesses are likely to want to use.
The widely accepted estimate is that the typical enterprise is now using around five different cloud service providers, but that number is going to grow. One of the key capabilities that will make this happen is the users’ ability to define and build collaborative, easily managed services created from the capabilities of applications and services that are sourced from the service provider best suited to each application or service. At present, most users are still restricted in their flexibility and business agility by the fact that many applications are only available from specific service providers.
Part of the sales and marketing pitch here is actually aimed directly at that problem. There is a community that has, historically, a decent track record in managing those issues for customers – the Managed Service Providers (MSPs). According to Ensell, those MSPs now represent an important target for HyperGrid:
Our solution represents a new revenue source for them – a way for them to offer their customers multi-cloud capabilities and not only help them bring some workloads back from Amazon or other cloud providers which perhaps they lost, but also allow them to orchestrate their customers’ workloads whether they are on premise or across these public clouds. That is essentially where the value is. We’re getting tremendous traction with the MSP world.
The time of the MSP
MSPs can also help customers work with the reality of their current situations and start from what they have today, re-applying existing assets rather than assume the start position is one of rip-and-replace. In the view of Manoj Nair, HyperGrid’s Chief Product Officer, the starting point has to be their original on-premise infrastructure, to which services can be added. These can include self-service automation and the ability for users to create their own VMs without having to go through a long ticketing process with the IT Department:
These days, many enterprises have hundreds or even thousands of applications they have built over the years, and they are looking for ways to take them to a place where they have better ability to be managed. Could they be re-architected? Not all these apps are going to get re-written for the cloud so could they use things like micro-services and others without having to start from scratch?
It is fair to say there are a number of options available to users at this level, but for Nair the Holy Grail is to take customers from that start point through to the provision of management tools in a single place that allow those applications to describe their needs, find the right environment across a range of different cloud service providers and deploy themselves correctly in there.
Having done that, it can then continuously manage the space and make sure the applications continue to run correct in the right environment for each one of them, says Nair:
This is about app transformation, managing apps on any cloud, and intelligent workload placement. There are also key capabilities from app transformation, app self-service to multi-cloud governance, cloud brokerage analytics, networking and security automation in the context of the app. We do this across existing private clouds, existing public clouds and we also have our own on premise private cloud which is software defined infrastructure based, if customers want that.
Nair also said that the company is set to launch a SaaS offering aimed at small customers that just use public clouds and don’t require any of the on-premise services. They will just need to go to a SaaS portal, sign up and get help to manage their public cloud bills and recommendations on the best place to deploy their workload.
HyperCloud now separates out the control plane, so that it no longer matters what specific systems, such as routers, traffic passes through. Control is applied through policies and machine learning logic rather than controlling the specific functions of specific sub-systems.
The system monitors about a hundred main data points across the public cloud services. The same approach is also used when a private cloud comes under management. It can be benchmarked using a synthetic benchmark, and the system can gather all the policy, security, performance and price data about the new service, as decided by the user. All of those become factors that you can choose as you start deploying your workload.
The user specifies what compliance policies they have that apply to a workload, as well as the performance, security groups and settings that are required. HyperCloud will then pick only environments that suit all of those policies, coupled with a price comparison. Monitoring then continues once in production to ensure that the most appropriate service provider and resources continue to be employed.
This is one more step along the road of making cloud services delivery itself something of a no brainer, feeing up users the devote far more effort to innovating whatever it is they actually need to achieve their business goals.