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VMblog Expert Interview: Grant Ho Explores the CloudBolt Industry Insights Series and Its DevOps and HybridCloud Report Findings

Interview CloudBolt Grant Ho 

CloudBolt recently announced interesting findings from their latest industry report that revealed industry sentiment about the state of DevOps processes and tools.  This included continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD), infrastructure as code (IaC), and in particular Terraform - and the core elements enterprises are lacking to fully optimize application development and deployment.
The report came from the CloudBolt Industry Insights, a research division of CloudBolt Software.  To find out more about CloudBolt Industry Insights and the report findings, VMblog spoke with Grant Ho, CMO at CloudBolt Software.

VMblog:  What is CloudBolt Industry Insights (CII) and why did you decide to create this initiative? 

Grant Ho:  CloudBolt Industry Insights is a new series we created to deliver a different type of research. It gets beyond the hype and uncovers exactly what the market perceives about the many dimensions of hybrid cloud and their roles in digital transformation. The goal is to provide timely, usable insights and truths to make it easier for enterprise C-suites, IT admins, and developers to make educated decisions. We dig into specific trends, developments and challenges directly facing hybrid cloud leaders and practitioners, and seek the "wisdom of the crowd" to offer priorities for solving these challenges. And we do it nimbly in a way that broad, monolithic, annualized studies simply can't. 

VMblog:  It is my understanding that "The Truth About DevOps in the Hybrid Cloud Journey" is the second CII industry report.  Why did you decide to focus on this topic? 

Ho:  Conversations about hybrid cloud are usually centered around ITOps. However, DevOps is playing an ever more important role in hybrid cloud strategies and accelerating digital transformation. And the growing interplay between developers and ITOps is increasingly vital.  

CI/CD and IaC have tremendous potential to enhance application development and deployment, but most organizations are still struggling to leverage CI/CD processes and IaC tools to their fullest potential. 

Even though it's widely regarded as an optimal approach to DevOps, CI/CD has yet to reach full maturity. Additionally, the vision of IaC - using the same tools as any other software project so developers can rapidly deploy applications - has long been elusive. And lastly, despite Terraform's widespread adoption, the reality of using this leading IaC tool still lags behind expectations. 

We believed that digging into why such a stark divide between expectations and performance of CI/CD, IaC and Terraform exists, and what enterprises need to bridge that divide and make their DevOps all it can be, would create a timely and valuable report. Enterprises can use this information to create a roadmap for the improvements they need.

VMblog:  Can you summarize the report's key takeaways and why they matter to DevOps and ITOps professionals?

Ho:  In a nutshell, CI/CD advancement is hindered by unreliable testing and issue detection in pipeline infrastructures, and too many manual processes in application deployments. Only 11% of IT leaders consider their CI/CD infrastructure "reliable." Sixty-three percent say there are too many manual processes involved when setting pipeline infrastructure; 55% have difficulty creating consistent CI/CD pipeline environments across various developments; and 53% have difficulty proactively detecting infrastructure issues during testing in their CI/CD environments. 

As for IaC, challenges around governance, integrations, and visibility prevent users from gaining true competitive advantage. Most organizations use Terraform for IaC; it is rapidly becoming the de facto IaC standard. However, 62% percent report having difficulty integrating Terraform with multiple providers, and 90% say Terraform requires writing more custom-coded integrations to other critical tools and systems to work properly. Terraform also presents the majority of enterprises with visibility challenges: 59% cite a lack of cost visibility into infrastructure deployed by Terraform as a key shortcoming, and 53% lack visibility into who is using it.

VMblog:  What was the most "a-ha" finding uncovered by this report and why?

Ho:  Terraform is a fantastic technology and hands-down represents the go-to platform for IaC-88% of respondents said they are either using or considering using it. But surprisingly, only 5% said they are "truly satisfied." When a gap that size exists between adoption and satisfaction, it begs the obvious questions: Why is the gap so big, and how can enterprises complement their Terraform investments to better meet their cloud management needs? Everyone benefits tremendously from those questions being answered. 

VMblog:  Based on these findings, do you think processes like CI/CD and IaC tools will realistically be able to live up to their full promise, and what needs to happen for enterprises to maximize their value?

Ho:  Absolutely. While the data revealed a considerable divide between expectations and performance of CI/CD and IaC tools, it also revealed the answers to what it will take for these DevOps processes and tools to achieve their potential and meet the emerging needs of modern application development and hybrid cloud management. 

When asked about key ways to improve CI/CD pipeline reliability, respondents gave clear direction. Seventy percent said they needed more automated processes to make provisioning infrastructure faster; 62% said they needed continuous, reliable detection of infrastructure issues (e.g, unexpected changes to compute, storage, configurations, passwords, etc.) to reduce testing challenges and failures; and 56% said they needed more simplified remediation of infrastructure issues. 

When it came to IaC and Terraform progressing to the point where they can more holistically meet emerging needs, three capabilities tied for the top spot at 62%: 

  1. Enable non-Terraform experts to easily deploy infrastructure using Terraform
  2. Ensure only Terraform plans with defined IT guardrails are executed
  3. Provide full visibility into infrastructure deployed by Terraform for optimal cost optimization

Additionally, 35% say they want simpler integrations to existing tools and technologies in Terraform environments. 

This is the kind of knowledge our Industry Insights reports are designed to uncover and share. One of our most important missions as an organization is meeting enterprises wherever they are on their hybrid cloud journey and helping them to not only simplify and optimize cloud management, but also to future-proof their hybrid cloud infrastructures so they can nimbly adapt to rapid changes in technology and market dynamics. Knowing precisely what challenges organizations are having enables us to do that with the best results possible. 

VMblog:  What else is cooking in the CII lab?  What other exciting research initiatives can we expect next?

Ho:  We have some eye-opening research that we think is very important to know and we're excited to share. We just released another report about sustainability and the evolving role of IT in supporting organizational green initiatives. And our next report, due out early Q4, revolves  around vRealize Automation (vRA), which we think will be fascinating for your readers. 

The report will reveal vRA customers' attitudes and intentions regarding migration to vRA 8.0+. How many of those currently on version 7.6 or earlier will migrate to vRA 8.0+ prior to the sunsetting of support for vRA 7.x? For those who choose not to, why not? And what are they doing instead to adapt to the requirements of the new cloud order that has emerged? This is definitely a topic we feel needs more information and discussion in the hybrid cloud world. 

VMblog:  Anything exciting going on with your flagship CMP?

Ho:  Yes. We have a new Summer release that might just be the most consequential upgrade to the CloudBolt platform yet. Our codeless integration solution, OneFuse v1.4, now has two new downstream integration modules for Microsoft IPAM and F5 BIG-IP. There's new platform support for Ansible, ServiceNow, VMware vRA Cloud, and CloudBolt CMP. There are many other new features as well, including optimized management, visibility and cost optimization for GCP, and greatly enhanced budgeting capabilities for FinOps.  

VMblog:  This has been great information.  Where can VMblog readers go to get their hands on the report?

Ho:  All our Industry Insights reports can be downloaded free of charge at
Published Friday, September 24, 2021 7:32 AM by David Marshall
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