By Eric Hanselman, Principal Research Analyst, 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence
Are there any organizations that don’t face challenges in making their technology teams more productive? It’s tempting to speculate about the ideal environments that seem to exist at hyperscalers or cutting-edge startups, but the reality is that there are always challenges in any operational pattern, and even the loftiest struggle to do better. That doesn’t mean that dramatic improvements aren’t achievable. The recent past has been a strong reminder that the infrastructure needs of any business can change rapidly, and infrastructure has to respond. Significant gains are within reach for any organization, and treating infrastructure as code (IaC) is a great example. It’s an approach that can simplify infrastructure operations by delivering the same consumption model for on- and off-premises resources.
Infrastructure as Code is Achievable
In conversations about IaC, some clients write it off as something that would take wholesale transformation to get to, but it doesn’t have to. Any organization that’s using public cloud – and that’s the vast majority according to our data – is already grasping the fundamental ideas of IaC. More importantly, most application development teams are already using tooling that could leverage IaC capabilities. They don’t have to be in full DevOps mode to put it to work. The change that’s involved is primarily greater use of automation for infrastructure provisioning.
More Automation Required
Automation use in most organizations is still low. While most have some level of automation in place today, it’s often brittle and task-based. An IaC approach looks to orchestrate infrastructure provisioning more comprehensively and more fully automate the process. Tools like Terraform have found wide use in cloud environments and can work well in on-premises environments, too. In a recent 451 Research Voice of the Enterprise study on DevOps, infrastructure automation was identified as the most important initiative for DevOps success. There is a strong desire to build more automation capacity, with respondents indicating that they expect to double the amount of automation in use in the following year. This isn’t surprising; organizations are looking to increase the velocity and scale of application development efforts and operations teams are moving to keep pace with the speed of cloud. Using a common set of tools for deployment not only can improve pace, but it can also reduce deployment risk due to configuration differences and cut toil through simplification.
Putting Infrastructure as Code to Work
Open source tools like Terraform are a great way to gain IaC capabilities. Working directly with project distributions can be challenging for organizations that don’t have significant open source fluency, though. For code that’s going to be running core infrastructure, it can be worth the investment to work with a commercial distribution that has long-term support from a vendor. An even more attractive option is to look at ways to extend existing on-premises orchestration tools to support cloud interfaces. That’s a path that can deliver the interfaces that development teams want to consume while minimizing the amount of new skills that operations teams need to master.
Whichever way an organization approaches IaC, the benefits of doing so can be significant. Having a common set of tools that development teams can use across development, test and production environments can save lots of effort and improve development pace. An integrated orchestration platform can make operations teams more productive without having to build new coding skills. Together, this is a set of improvements that organizations should consider putting in place to make them ready for whatever demands their businesses make of them in the future. If there’s one thing that the last year has proven, it’s that fortune favors those that can adapt quickly to capitalize on new opportunities.
To learn more about Cisco Infrastructure as Code solution for hybrid cloud visit Cisco Intersight Service for HashiCorp Terraform.