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The Application-Defined Advantage

The Application-Defined technology delivered by CliQr CloudCenter offers a powerful alternative for those enabling a digital enterprise. Here’s how…

With our recent CloudCenter 4.0 release, we continue to deliver on the vision Tenry Fu and I had when we co-founded CliQr Technologies in 2010. That vision is to eliminate the obstacles IT organizations face in deploying and managing applications in datacenter, private and public cloud environment.

As digital services drive more and more business processes, cloud technology is proving to be a critical addition to an agile services portfolio. It’s far more flexible, scalable, and and in many cases cost-effective than its predecessors.

Cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software-defined datacenter technologies (virtualized compute, network, and storage) have helped IT move forward in meeting the cloud challenge. But they don’t go far enough.

Software-defined is not enough

Software-defined is not enough

 

CliQr’s application-defined technology is the next major step in the evolution of cloud technology. It streamlines and simplifies the deployment and management of applications in the cloud and enables enterprises to realize the full potential of cloud computing.

More Apps, More Releases, More Execution Venues

Starbucks’ founder Howard Schultz was spot on when he characterized Starbucks as a software company that happens to serve coffee. Did you know that in 2013, 90 percent all mobile payments in US were at a Starbucks store?There are many other examples of how software has become the foundation of many businesses.

Uber, the largest taxi company in the world, owns software but no taxis. Airbnb owns no hotels but is on track to become the largest hotelier in the world. Maybe these are extreme examples of how digital services are disrupting traditional industries. But as a member of the Silicon Valley startup community, I can assure you that at this very moment there young entrepreneurs sitting around a kitchen table – or at a Starbucks – working on software that is designed to disrupt your industry.

In most industries today, digital services have become essential to developing and maintaining a competitive edge. Businesses are responding by rolling out more applications. The customers I work with are rolling out twice as many applications a year as they did just a few years ago.

And they are using agile development methodology to get new software releases into users’ hands as quickly as possible. The result is rapid-fire releases that come out about five times faster than was possible with traditional development methodologies.

Let’s do the math. Twice as many apps are rolling out and the application update rate has increased five times. That results in a tenfold increase in the number of release events each year.

That order of magnitude increase in feature velocity has a huge impact on IT. IT professionals can’t keep up with the volume of requests to deploy VMs and other infrastructure resources using manual, ticket-based processes. And scaling headcount linearly with the increase in request volume isn’t a viable option. Yet enterprises can’t wait weeks for IT to support each release.

The situation gets even more unwieldy when you factor in the number of execution venue options, which is already large and continues to grow. Today’s architectural options provide a broader mix of venues than just a few years ago, including virtualized datacenters, both on premises and hosted private clouds, and public clouds. IT needs the flexibility to deploy applications to optimum venues based on such considerations as cost, performance, and security. Both the applications and the venues are complex. So deploying and managing applications is by no means a trivial task.

Software-defined Datacenter, a Necessary but Insufficient Step

Infrastructure automation was a significant step forward in recent IT evolution. Infrastructure on demand through cloud APIs and in the datacenter through software-defined technology (compute virtualization, software-defined networking, and software-defined storage) have increased IT agility. But the step doesn’t go far enough. Three major issues remain with an infrastructure-focused cloud strategy.

  1. Infrastructure automation and application automation are separate. Separate infrastructure and application automation tools and processes result in much back-and-forth among teams as they attempt to align infrastructure with the needs of the applications. Additionally, although infrastructure automation is fairly mature, application deployment automation is still evolving. The overall result is reduced business agility and increased costs.
  2. Software-defined APIs and best practices differ across execution venues. The software-defined layer and cloud APIs are cloud specific. So both the infrastructure and application teams have to create scripts or workflows specific to each execution venue. And the teams need separate tools and skill sets for different infrastructure technologies such as Amazon Web Services, Azure, OpenStack, VMware, and Cisco. These differences put a further drag on business agility and drive up costs even more.
  3. Applications are bound to specific execution venues. Because the scripts and workflows are cloud specific, the application is locked into a specific cloud environment. Moving the application to another environment means developing a different set of scripts or workflows. Again reducing flexibility and increasing costs.

The end result is a strategic mismatch. Enterprises pursue cloud to increase agility, scale rapidly, and lower costs. However, the three issues just discussed undermine these benefits.

Application developers remain the primary end users for enterprise cloud deployments. There will be continual focus on development, as more applications are being developed for the cloud to support digital business. The ability to automatically provision infrastructure and application infrastructure for developers so they can focus only on business logic is key to providing organizations the agility they seek.

Market Guide for Cloud Management Platforms, Gartner, April 2015.

CliQr CloudCenter – The Application-Defined Alternative

When Tenry and I launched CliQr, we knew that cloud was here to stay. We also saw that traditional cloud strategies were infrastructure focused, that is, geared to accelerating infrastructure velocity. We agree that infrastructure velocity is a key advantage of cloud. However, it’s only part of the value that cloud is capable of delivering. To tap cloud’s full potential, IT needs a way to also accelerate application velocity.

When we founded CliQr, we set out to combine infrastructure provisioning, application deployment, and lifecycle management in a single automated process that isn’t hardwired to any execution venue. The CliQr CloudCenter application-defined management platform turns that vision into reality. CloudCenter provides a business logic layer that leverages the capabilities of the software-defined datacenter (which includes hybrid/public cloud) and optimizes the underlying infrastructure resources to the needs of the application.

What makes CloudCenter powerful and unique is its ability to abstract the application from the cloud infrastructure via a patented combination of two components:

  • Application Profile – An application-defined model of an application’s stack topology, dependencies, and infrastructure requirements in a cloud-agnostic format. The profile is modeled once and can be deployed once for a cloud migration scenario, or deployed on demand for DevOps, capacity augmentation, or IT as a service use cases.
  • Orchestrator – A cloud-specific, multitenant orchestration tier that coordinates deployment and monitoring of an application profile in any data center, private cloud, or public cloud environment. The Orchestrator abstracts the application deployment from the software-defined infrastructure APIs and best practices that are unique to each datacenter or cloud environment.

Now IT can quickly and easily model and migrate applications to the optimum execution venues and manage them over their entire lifecycles, all from one platform. With CloudCenter, IT can rev up application deployment velocity while maintaining visibility and control across the expanding mix of applications, clouds, and users.

CliQr Customers have an application-defined advantage that allows them to excel in today’s digital business environment.

Here are some additional resources that explain the benefits of CliQr’s Application-defined Advantage.

White paper– The CliQr CloudCenter Application-defined Advantage

Videos – 3 part series “Day in life” of user, application architect, and IT or cloud admin.

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