General Electric is on an aggressive pursuit to embrace cloud services, the company's CTO – IT Chris Drumgoogle told me recently.
GE has tens of thousands of apps; petabytes of storage and more than $100 billion in annual revenue. So it can’t rely on just a single vendor. Drumgoole says that GE’s highest value apps in the cloud straddle across at least two providers. Lower-priority apps can run in one cloud.
But managing that multi-cloud environment is really not as hard as vendors who sell cloud management tools would like you to believe. “There are a lot of vendors knocking on our door looking to solve that problem,” he says. “It’s a challenge, but it’s also way overblown in the market.”
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Good developers know how to follow the Application Programming Interface for a cloud provider. They may be trained on using AWS, but if they need to use to Azure, they can usually take a couple days and learn that API. “It’s not the hurdle that I think the vendor community would like us to believe it is,” he says.
There’s a large market of vendors who market hybrid cloud management tools; Forrester identified RighScale, Scalr and Cliqr (which Cisco bought) as some of the leading hybrid cloud management tools. Even vendors like Amazon, Microsoft and Google are supporting basic management of each others’ IaaS.
There are some legitimate challenges in hybrid cloud management though. Legacy, traditional, non-cloud native apps do not transport well to the cloud, Drumgoole says. Management platforms to help with those migrations can be useful.
But for any new, cloud-aware apps that are built, they should be designed in such a way that they can switch out the IaaS layer underneath with little fanfare.