How an Enterprise Successfully Addresses Complex Integration Challenges



“To succeed in the new normal, enterprises need to stay agile and competitive and not be bogged down by bloated budgets or preventable security incidents,” says Grant Ho, Chief Marketing Officer, CloudBolt in an exclusive interview with EnterpriseTalk.




ET Bureau: What advantages does a hybrid cloud deployment bring for digital transformation?

 Grant Ho: As enterprises digitally transform themselves, they have to support and develop more and more software. They need the agility to continuously make changes and improvements to it quickly and easily. To stay competitive in a digital-first economy, enterprises have to rapidly innovate and bring products and services to market. The underlying infrastructure that supports this has to be flexible enough to quickly evolve as they adopt new tools and solutions to keep up with technological advances and changing customers’ demands. Hybrid cloud is the best possible choice that provides enterprises flexibility and enables agility.

ET Bureau: In a multi-cloud environment, what are the red flags enterprises need to watch out for?

 Grant Ho: Hybrid clouds bring tremendous benefits, such as agility, flexibility, operational efficiency, and cost control. However, hybrid cloud infrastructures also create complexity. This complexity results in key challenges around integration, visibility, and governance.

Core to hybrid cloud is automation. And core to accelerating infrastructure automation is a good integration strategy. However, when it comes to integration, a major red flag has to pay the “custom code tax.” Essentially this means IT teams have to spend a lot of time and use a lot of resources to write tedious custom code for every new tool enterprises want to integrate into their stack—or pay expensive third-party integrators to do it.

As enterprises invest in more tools to advance their automation initiatives, many conclude that the custom code tax is worth paying. But by adopting a software-defined approach with tools that enable policy-based, codeless integrations through abstraction, IT teams can eliminate the need to custom-code and free up significant time, budget, and resources for enterprises.

Another red flag is having ongoing visibility challenges. Enterprises can’t effectively manage the hybrid cloud infrastructure without end-to-end, 360-degree visibility into all clouds and systems. But the more tools they continue to add, the harder this will become. Over time, the growing number of integrations can become dispersed.

If IT teams are combing through multiple logs from multiple systems to locate and fix misconfigurations–brought about by, say, custom coding errors– then they have a visibility issue. Having a centralized view of integrations is never more important.

One of the biggest red flags of all is “shadow IT.” This is where developers and end-users, in their quest for greater agility, procure their own cloud resources outside of IT’s purview.

Developers and engineers grow impatient waiting on IT tickets to be resolved, so they provide what they need on their own, whether IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS. This can create issues.

Gartner estimates shadow IT accounts for 30-40% of all IT spend in large enterprises. The best way to prevent them is through guardrails. Intelligent self-service IT gives end-users one-click access to resources they need while ensuring that they have proper fences around user roles and permission, configurations, usage rates, and resource quotas set by IT. The ability to balance the agility that end-users demand with the control that IT wants is important.

ET Bureau: Cloud security is not a big question anymore, but what do you think of its efficacy today?

Grant Ho: Cloud security’s efficacy depends on visualization tools and the internal culture of an enterprise around security awareness. The old way of managing security in cloud environments was reactive. Essentially, IT teams would log in cloud by cloud or build complex diagrams of cloud infrastructure, and reactively fix any security issues they saw. But cloud environments change quickly, making configuration tracking increasingly difficult, so this simply won’t suffice going forward. As mentioned before, the more tools an enterprise decides to add, the more complicated things get. And that includes security.

The new way employs dynamic visualization tools and automation to secure cloud environments, both up and downstream. These tools give full visibility into all cloud resources and configurations, so enterprise leaders can clearly see everything in their application stacks in real-time via intuitive diagrams. They can also overlay hundreds of security and compliance checks, such as AWS Well-architected, CID, PCI-DSS, and so on, so any misconfigurations are automatically detected.

Furthermore, automated alert systems can now be implemented so everyone on the team can see the impact of the decisions they make, when they make them. If a developer writes some code, for example, and the code inadvertently contains security vulnerability, the developer automatically receives a notification and potentially an alternative option that would eliminate the vulnerability. Awareness needs to be embedded into decision-making processes across the organization, and the role of technology will be in guiding and reinforcing this cultural change.

ET Bureau: What advantages does hybrid cloud deployment bring to an enterprise that is planning to succeed in the new normal?

Grant Ho: Since 80% of enterprises are adopting hybrid cloud, I think it’s safe to say that hybrid cloud is the go-to infrastructure for the foreseeable future. Hybrid cloud enables them to optimally use the technology for business objectives while continuously adapting and improving IT infrastructure and keeping costs under control.

Hybrid cloud also allows applications and workloads to run on whatever system or resource is optimal. Many apps should be hosted on public clouds, such as those that contain publicly viewable data or those that operate on a pay-as-you-go model. But on-premises or private cloud resources will make more sense for some applications and workloads, particularly those with sensitive data requiring high security and compliance levels. It also may be much cheaper to continue running simple, low-latency workloads in legacy systems because public cloud resource use can get very expensive.

Once again, having the tools that provide deep visibility and insight into all systems is critical. It would be very difficult – probably impossible – to manually calculate which app or process to run on which system and continually keep all of them optimized. The right hybrid cloud management tools do this automatically, so enterprises can always run things most efficiently and cost-effectively.

To succeed in the new normal, enterprises need to stay agile and competitive and not be bogged down by bloated budgets or preventable security incidents. They need to be able to accelerate automation initiatives quickly without long, expensive integration processes. They also need to keep everything secure, maintained, updated and in compliance. Hybrid cloud is the way forward in the new digital economy, but it will come with these challenges, and solving them is key for competitive enterprises.

Grant Ho joined CloudBolt as Chief Marketing Officer in April 2019. In this role, he leads the company’s marketing strategy and execution to drive CloudBolt’s category leadership in the cloud management platform market. Specializing in cloud computing and B2B technologies, Grant brings over 15 years of experience championing market adoption for high-growth software companies. Most recently, Grant served as Senior Vice President, Global Marketing at NetBrain Technologies, the leader in network automation solutions, where he helped to double company revenue within two years. He graduated with his S.B., M.Eng, and MBA degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.