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VMblog's Expert Interviews: Shashi Kiran Talks VMware Cloud on AWS and Quali CloudShell 7.1

Interview Quali AWS 

VMware Cloud on AWS is the new cloud partnership that everyone is talking about.  But are there risks inherent to successful DevOps even with these two powerhouses?  Shashi Kiran, CMO of Quali answers that question and more. 

VMblog:  VMware Cloud on AWS announced a new cloud partnership, what are your thoughts?

Shashi Kiran: This is a positive announcement for customers that are exploring hybrid clouds. VMware was the virtualization pioneer and the technology leader for private clouds. AWS has been the de facto public cloud leader that is seeing tremendous adoption. It is good to see VMware keep the best interests of their customers in mind and strive for tighter integration with this partnership in a multi-cloud world.

VMblog:  What kind of opportunities does this create?

Kiran: This creates new opportunities not just for the two vendors, but for customers as hybrid clouds open up new possibilities with its flexibility. Public cloud economics and simplicity have made it very easy to get applications stood up on the fly without having to deal with the complexities of infrastructure purchase and maintenance. On the other hand, private clouds are preferred when data security and governance is key, by providing greater control. Hybrid clouds promise the best of both worlds, which is one of the reasons we see such rapid adoption of hybrid clouds with nearly 50-70% of enterprises moving in that direction.

VMblog:  Are there any risks associated with this?

Kiran: Obviously, everything has risks. For example, application architectures and dependencies can change significantly. Security postures can change. Cloud APIs and templates can be different for each public cloud provider. For most enterprises starting off with greenfield deployments, things are much easier. Complexity comes in with brownfield deployments, particularly when on-premise workloads need to move to public clouds temporarily or permanently. Likewise, it is historically very easy to get data and workloads into a public cloud. It is much harder to get it out. The public cloud vendors are also, at the end of the day, vendors that consequently have different approaches which can require the need for re-mapping, re-architecting, and even to move from one public cloud to another. With application architectures slowly evolving to containers and microservices, database-heavy applications need to be re-designed several times. Complexity with DevOps and fragmented toolsets can be a killer. Any compromise induces risk.

VMblog:  How can someone mitigate some of these risks?

Kiran: Well, one mechanism to reduce risk is in being able to replicate the production stacks on the public or private cloud and expose them early on to developers and testers. Hybrid cloud sandboxes can help with some of this as it allows developers and testers to create blue prints of architectures they are currently on, as well as what they'd want to migrate to. These blueprints can be modeled, orchestrated and deployed via sandboxes on-premise, or via public and hybrid deployments on AWS, giving them a fair idea of what the post-production behavior would be. Security behavior can also be tested along with application performance. All this helps in accelerating the public and hybrid cloud adoption while increasing the quality of the code deployed and reducing risks.

VMblog:  You recently announced new offerings with Quali's CloudShell to address this.  Could you elaborate on what it does?

Kiran:  For those unfamiliar with Quali or cloud sandboxes, CloudShell is our software platform that automates and accelerates the DevOps lifecycle by providing dev, test, QA and compliance teams with personal replicas of their production environments as software sandboxes.

Quali Hybrid Cloud 

We announced the general availability of CloudShell 7.1, which introduces application deployment for hybrid clouds with support for Amazon Web Services (AWS), among other technical advances. We did this out of our recognition that the rapid adoption of hybrid cloud deployments demanded enablement of hybrid sandboxes that straddle public-private clouds to accelerate cloud adoption with lower risk and increased quality.

VMblog:  What does the Quali CloudShell platform do?

Kiran: The latest CloudShell 7.1 release includes out-of-the-box support for AWS , along with existing support for VMware vCenter, and Docker. Support for Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and OpenStack are planned for future releases. The CloudShell Release 7.1 also allows the management of AWS EC2 instances directly via the same sandbox environment as on premise VM instances.

VMblog:  What's been the latest opinions from industry experts about the need for a solution like the one from Quali?

Kiran: We had a number of highly engaging discussions with Gartner, 451 and other leading research firms. William Fellows, the VP of Research and Founder of the 451 Research Group has noted that as enterprises shift to a "cloud-first" model, one of the biggest challenges is in bridging the operating models of old world IT with the new. Companies that want to do cloud must embrace DevOps. Quali's hybrid cloud sandboxes with public cloud support for providers like Amazon Web Services can be a very powerful tool to accelerate cloud adoption with reduced risk and lower cost. It's a DevOps-friendly way to reduce hybrid cloud speed bumps.

VMblog:  How have your customers reacted to the new offering?

Kiran: The response from our customers has been extremely positive. They really like the flexibility and elements of standardization the solution offers. Of course it helps that most of them are moving in this direction of hybrid clouds. The challenge with hybrid clouds is that it is a bit of a "wild-west" out there with not a lot of standardized toolsets. They really appreciate the fact that Quali brings standardization of their environments and allows them to integrate their existing toolsets and workflows in a non-disruptive manner. This provides considerable value in having consistent DevOps processes across private and public clouds. The ability to spin up sandboxes for hybrid cloud deployments with standardized environments and end-to-end visibility can allow development and test teams to make the best use of on-premise and public cloud resources, simplify workflows and rollout releases faster with higher quality and reduced risk. We're also getting interest from private cloud providers.

VMblog:  Who benefits from Quali CloudShell?

Kiran:  Any Enterprise considering a move to public or hybrid clouds can benefit from it. We've seen even traditional service providers benefitting. Eventually developers want consistency, ops wants control, and the sec teams want security, while business owners want speed. Sandboxes are a great way to address a lot of these issues in the non-production environments.

VMware talks about the software-defined data center (SDDC). Now this is being extended to the cloud. CloudSandboxes help bring elements of the SDDC vision to life and make this transition a bit easier.

VMblog:  What makes your product easy to use?

Kiran:  Quali's Cloudshell is designed for usage with an elegant GUI or can be accessed purely via APIs. There are a number of elements that come right out of the box, making it perhaps the richest full-stack environment to build blue-prints off of. These enable enterprises to define a uniform standard for new or complex environments very quickly via a "drag-and-drop" functionality. 

The CloudShell Sandbox Template is provided off-the-shelf with CloudShell. It is configured to run CloudShell's Setup and Teardown processes that perform the following important operations:

  • Deploy and de-provision apps from the CloudShell and the cloud provider
  • Enable the use of AWS EC2 Apps by running connectivity procedures that set up the AWS VPC and subnet for the reservation
  • Link connectivity routes between resources and/or apps

In addition, users can now easily add custom data from Sandboxes into the CloudShell Insight business intelligence (BI) module and immediately expose them for use in dashboards, without any programming.

Non-standard components can also be easily standardized and modeled through our open sourced shell standards available through the Quality community.

VMblog:  How are you helping customers and partners engage in this effort?

Kiran:  For on-premise data center or VMware vCenter-based private cloud deployments, the Quali Developer Community provides open standards for Shells, which are the building blocks for sandboxes. The new Shell standards make it easy for developers in our customer and partner community to create and share Shells within the community and open source them. The latest standards include updates to the Network Shell, along with standards for new Shells including Basic Shells, Firewall, Traffic, Power Distribution Units (PDU), and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) Shells. Advanced VLAN features in CloudShell 7.1 make it easier for developers to connect virtual and physical endpoints for on-premise VMware vCenter deployments.

VMblog:  What other things does Quali have coming up?

Kiran:  Quali will host an upcoming Webinar on Nov. 2 about moving datacenter workloads to hybrid clouds and public clouds. Quali CTO Joan Wrabetz and I will discuss how cloud sandboxes can speed up application roll-outs and make hybrid cloud deployments more successful. Webinar attendees will also receive a free ebook, Introduction to DevOps. Click here to learn more and register.

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Once again, thanks to Shashi Kiran of Quali for taking time out to answer questions from VMblog.com.

Published Tuesday, October 25, 2016 7:06 AM by David Marshall
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