Going beyond server virtualisation

Next-generation virtualisation goes way beyond server virtualisation and provides the platform for virtualised storage, virtualised networking and cloud orchestration tools that are essential elements of a software-defined data centre. Cloud-native architectures, containerised data and hyperconvergence are some of the technology approaches that a next generation, software-defined data centre can enable and the benefits of these are huge. Businesses are more agile, flexible and dynamic. Administrators can centrally control their infrastructure, regardless of where it is situated and applications move to centre stage, repositioning technology as a business enabler, not a separate department.

One huge trend in the data centre is hyperconvergence, which relies on software-defined storage, whereby the hypervisor dynamically allocates the right amount of storage to the applications that are running in the data centre. Additional compute, storage and management resources are delivered by adding additional server hardware, which is then viewed as shared storage and allocated to the apps as they need it, via the hypervisor. Without this level of next-generation virtualisation, achieving a hyperconverged infrastructure is not possible.

Virtualised networks work in a similar fashion, using the hypervisor to pool the network resources and attach them to individual virtual machines based on the defined policies for each application. The underlying network acts as a simple packet forwarding mechanism, whilst the management, provisioning and security features are all dealt with by the hypervisor. Because virtualised networks completely decouple the network functionality from the network hardware, they differ from software-defined networks, which use clever software to manage networking hardware rather than separating it entirely. The benefits of this hardware decoupling are realised when moving virtual machines between logical domains, as there is no network reconfiguration required and the administration overhead savings can be immense.

Likewise cloud orchestration is a buzz word right now and a next generation virtualisation platform really does provide the right foundation for a cloud-native environment, where different cloud services can be combined and managed simply. Making tangible reductions in administration overheads once again becomes a reality if you have a platform that can help you to manage all of your cloud services. The use of cloud services is growing massively, especially those in the public cloud market, as concerns around security and privacy are allayed and confidence in the public cloud providers grows. Indeed, Gartner predicts that globally, public cloud usage will grow by 17.3% in 2019 to total $206.2bn and many of the businesses using public cloud will also have a mix of SaaS applications, private cloud services and on-premises, physical infrastructure. What is already and will be even more important for customers is a platform where everything can be managed, without dipping in and out of interfaces and requiring different accreditations and skills.

In short, a next generation virtualised environment is much more than virtual machines. As hardware becomes almost irrelevant, the hypervisor is the powerful tool of choice, and the applications dictate what resources are needed, where and when. The application really does become king.U

Gartner Forecasts Public Cloud Revenue to Grow 17.3 Percent in 2019

Understanding the benefits of selecting a cloud-native development platform

“Cloud-native” is a big trend in software development right now, but what does it mean and how do you adopt a cloud-native approach in your organisation?

It’s not about simply moving legacy applications to the cloud, it goes much deeper than that. IDG states that cloud-native is about how applications are developed, not where. Cloud-native can be described as an approach to application development and deployment that is takes full advantage of the benefits of cloud, which results in applications that are fully optimised for distributed, cloud-based deployments. In comparison, typical on-premise, legacy apps are built to run on a centralised system, as a single piece of code, which doesn’t necessarily translate well in a distributed cloud environment. Nor is it easy to bring these applications to market quickly, or fix issues, or roll out a new release regularly.

What then are the main components of a cloud-native development approach?

The cloud-native approach uses a services-based architecture to develop applications. A service in this case is a process or activity that is self-contained and presented in a container to isolate and package just the right amount of resources that service needs. A collection of these loosely coupled, self-contained services makes up the application. Any service can be tested, released, replaced or updated independently of the overall application, making it much more agile and flexible. In addition, the containers not only isolate the service, but they make it more portable.

Cloud-native apps use DevOps automation for speed, quality and agility. By automating DevOps processes, releasing more frequently, monitoring the performance and user experience then making adjustments before deploying another release, developers can bring applications to market quicker and improve the user experience each time. By doing this at the microservice level too, the speed to market is even greater and disruption can be contained and minimised.

It’s a tricky leap to make however, everything is different in a cloud-native environment. With so many microservices being developed independently, on different platforms, sometimes in different languages, with multiple different release schedules, all requiring development, test and production environments, things can spiral out of control quite quickly.

In addition, it’s a rare business that doesn’t have some legacy applications that they need to modernise. They may have decided to adopt a cloud-native approach to all new applications but struggle to know what to do with their legacy applications.

The organisation may also want to maintain a hybrid environment, where they have some infrastructure on premises, some in private cloud and some in public cloud services. The prospect of changing applications to suit different platforms, the potential for different monitoring and operational tools for each platform, can seem daunting.

Looking at a platform like Red Hat OpenShift, a self-service platform where developers can build and run containerised applications, is a great place to start. OpenShift has been built specifically for cloud-native application development and allows automated, continuous integration and delivery build and development pipelines at the click of a button.
In addition, Red Hat OpenShift Application Runtimes provides a number of prescriptive, guided paths for developers to move through the development process with ease. When developers use these runtimes on the development platform, they can develop and deploy faster and with less risk. From microservices development to migrating existing applications to the cloud, there is a runtime to guide you through.

Read more about Red Hat’s developer platform and runtimes here.

Useful Links

Why Developers and Business Leaders Are Going Cloud Native

What is cloud native?