Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) is a methodology for managing an application from the beginning stages of design through release, upkeep, and management of all versions of its lifecycle. ALM focuses on all the details in each stage of development and operations, which encourages communication and cooperation between all the IT groups that build and support a product.
As the lifecycle management process becomes more challenging due to the complexities of applications and their environments, a lot of Application Lifecycle Management software providers are driving a shift in migrating to cloud-based resources as a way to control costs and simplify operations. Many companies who use ALM are starting to shift their resources to public, private, and hybrid managed cloud operations as a way to free staff to focus on the outcomes — leveraging the application to drive business results. Focusing IT staff on what the application delivers means they can iterate and innovate on the application instead of spending time managing the backend details.
Application Lifecycle Management can be used with any project management method (Agile, Waterfall, Scrum, etc.), but because of it is focused on managing an application from inception to deconstruction, it supports many of the same motivations that drive DevOps (collaboration, continuous improvement, etc.). A company looking to transform their business into DevOps development should also look at the potential of cloud-native applications, which support developer productivity and drive simplicity in infrastructure design and architecture. If developers have access to the latest cloud-native applications for development, they can spend less time worrying about security, as most public and private clouds adopt industry best practices for security standards (such as PCI compliance, HIPAA compliance, etc.). The cloud can also dynamically respond and scale resource availability based on the needs of the moment, rather than expecting a business to know what it will use and when at all times. Many businesses take advantage of this fundamental cloud capability to ensure that their resources don't go off-line if they experience a surge in use.
Some organizations may not be ready for or want a DevOps transformation, but migration to the cloud also has benefits for those using Application Lifecycle Management in a more traditional fashion. New applications may run better in the cloud, or businesses may want to adopt a wider strategy around disaster recovery or failback plans for applications they are currently running. The cloud can adopt the more traditional architecture of the infrastructure, and still provide the benefits of more security and less back-end management with a more simplified management process. This is ideal for more mature applications and infrastructures that don't experience surges in use or demand a more static environment as opposed to a dynamic one. This strategy doesn't require a transformation — applications can be migrated and updated over time and the architecture already in place can stay put.
There may also be reasons a business decides not to migrate to the cloud. If business leaders don't support a migration and don't desire the business agility that the migration provides, there is little reason to migrate. They may not support this idea if the enterprise operates in a mostly static or non-virtualized environment that doesn't need new, optimized applications or if the applications are tied to on-premise infrastructure. If an organization has recently made a lot of investments in data center and hardware, the associated cost might be too much to then consider migration, especially if there are no good cloud providers in the area (or end-users in the area have a hard time with connectivity).
However, there are a lot of benefits of migration to consider as well. The agility of the cloud is one of the highlights — resources can be scaled up or down, and many providers such as CenturyLink Cloud now offer managed cloud services. Leveraging managed services allows organizations to adopt a multi-cloud policy, fostering even more agility and security (as there is less of a chance that multiple providers would ever be down at the same time). Many cloud providers also invest a lot of time and resources into maintaining compliance and regulatory standards such as HIPAA, PCI compliance, EU Data Protection Directive, etc. Users benefit from having that compliance baked-in, instead of regularly having to chase and update their systems as new regulatory standards are released by the governing bodies. Cloud also improves speed-to-market, as applications and the underlying infrastructure can be spun-up and released in a very short timeframe, supporting a continuous release cycle instead of relying on a big release that may or may not go well. And for those considering a DevOps transformation, the visibility and transparency of the cloud offers numerous benefits. DevOps is all about improving communications, so being able to see resource allocation throughout an organization, which many managed cloud providers do provide, can have huge benefits to the transformation of an organization.
Cloud Application Manager contains a complete feature set for automating Application Lifecycle Management — scaling, updating, migrating, and managing. Migrating to an ALM resource like Cloud Application Manager has many of the benefits listed above. Having speed and agility when it comes to cloud usage is a major benefit, and Cloud Application Manager's self-service portal provides the option to manage resources from multiple clouds, giving an organization a good edge on resource management. For example, you can view types of VMs, how much storage is being used, and the OS type, all helpful in determining what resources you have, so you can balance that against what you need.
You can save a lot of time using existing clouds and tools; another benefit of ALM is the upfront management and planning at the beginning of the lifecycle can reduce the time-to-market at the end. When a team or company knows what resources it already has, they have more time to innovate on new features and more access to the known resources, which can ultimately lead to less provisioning time. Having a cloud strategy is important, and a cloud management platform, or CMP, like Cloud Application Manager, can help an organization make sense of an often-complicated cloud picture. Many organizations are diversifying their cloud portfolios to support business continuity (using several clouds instead of one creates less chance of single-point-of-failure scenarios), which means there are more requirements to handle. Cloud Application Manager can help consolidate those requirements within the framework of ALM. It can help define resources (what is needed and where) and direct deployments and frequency of deployments. These automated processes can be a big part of the ALM cycle.
The Application Lifecycle Management methodology is designed to help innovation and speed time-to-market, and migrating resources to the cloud can help provide the flexibility and simplicity of infrastructure needed for innovation and growth. DevOps and Agile organizations focus on culture and communication, something ALM also encourages. Migrating to the cloud and using Cloud Application Manager can help improve communication, give an organization a broad view of resources, and reign in IT spend by reducing the number of errors through automation, as well as providing a powerful tool to manage resources and set spending limits.
Many businesses today are considering a multi-cloud strategy to encourage a more stable and safe IT environment. As they take stock of their resources, many organizations realize they need different strategies for different data requirements — some data may demand a private cloud, while others can be stored publicly. Different organizations may also have different business requirements for using multiple clouds — some are focused on reducing cost, while others need specific locations or features in their cloud services. For example, a medical company that stores HIPAA-protected information would need that specific data to sit in a cloud that meets HIPAA requirements. Yet that same organization may be able to store other non-protected information in a different cloud that costs less or provides different features needed to meet their business goals.
The complexity of managing multiple clouds and their features and functions also has many businesses turning to a cloud management platform (CMP). CMPs provide many benefits to organizations, from providing a single pane to view all resources, to automation abilities, simplified financial reporting, and improved efficiency.
This new way of doing business, with companies using CMPs and multiple clouds to manage resources, is also sometimes referred to as IT as a Service (ITaaS). In this model, managed IT services are provided to companies based on the requirements of the organizations, with the pricing based per-service, instead of organizations being on the hook to develop every service they use internally. Automation plays a big part in ITaaS offerings. The automated (and even non-automated) managed applications and platforms allow IT teams to streamline their processes and become more consistent in their delivery by managing much of the back-end work that can slow teams down.
With multi-cloud management platforms, ITaaS for each service or application is offered across platforms and data centers. Users can access resources from one environment and one self-service portal. Businesses can spin-up or spin-down resources in minutes, and monitor the activity and cost of all of their cloud resources across their organization. Users can model their entire IT delivery off of a continuous delivery and deployment (CI/CD) schedule, since CMPs inherently facilitate continuous deployment. When automation and continuous delivery are baked into a cloud management service, this frees up a team's time to innovate with new services and features, instead of spending time manually working on the back end. Organizations looking to balance cost with cloud performance can see all their instantly-scalable cloud resources that exist on their infrastructures, which reduces risks to the system and the business.
CenturyLink's CMP, Cloud Application Manager, provides a monitoring platform that is self-service, but also provides opportunities for managed services within the platform. It provides information for all cloud resources within a single pane of glass, making it easy to track usage and costs within the multi-cloud environment. When an organization can view all its resources in a single place, they can see the big picture when it comes to usage, trends, and pricing, and can then begin to make more informed decisions on their cloud strategy. Cloud Application Manager allows users to monitor trends in usage by team or project, by cloud, or across the board. It also provides recommendations for what resources might be a good fit for the platform, or where to run workloads for optimal return. Businesses can move loads from one cloud to another, view the latest prices of Linux and Windows VMs for multiple public clouds, and even set spending amounts for projects (with alerts when they come close to their quotas.) In addition to monitoring resources, Cloud Application Manager provides access to scale, move, and spin-up resources, set expectations and limits for IT spend and usage, and monitor the functioning of cloud components across an infrastructure.
IT sprawl is a growing problem for all businesses, particularly those where a premium is placed on agility and fast response to market demands. Organizations can easily find themselves with tens of thousands of VMs spread across multiple cloud providers. Different development teams and business units independently deploy infrastructure stacks to meet short term goals, then frequently forget about them and move on to other more immediate priorities. It's particularly easy to do this in a virtual world, where you're not sitting on physical machines. And this is often a very positive and necessary aspect of staying competitive, but it can mean tiny incremental waste adding up to a giant sink hole of wasted profits.
But how does and organization know which services are still being used? Or are actually delivering the most value? More importantly, how does the cost of these services map to revenue-generating activities? Cloud Application Manager is a powerful tool in managing this conundrum and answering these questions.
It's not unusual for a procurement team to push back when IT requests additional resources, demanding to audit and validate the current spend and infrastructure utilization before authorizing additional spend. Reining in IT sprawl is a constant effort. Because there are so many cloud providers offering self-service deployment, procurement and even IT management end up with little to no control and limited visibility into where and how cloud infrastructure is being used. Industry analysts at Gartner state: "Abstract hybrid cloud services require new roles, processes and technologies for cloud management." With Cloud Application Manager, Cloud Optimization is a key feature, offering the ability to identify, deploy and manage infrastructure deployed across multiple cloud providers — such as AWS and Azure.
Abstracting the underlying infrastructure to be managed via single control interface is just the start. The Holy Grail has always been to be able to distribute workloads cross any provider, but that has traditionally been difficult to achieve. The unique value of Cloud Application Manager its ability to identify cloud infrastructure and workloads across multiple providers, and to pair it with CenturyLink network capabilities to deploy SD WAN. Now customers can efficiently distribute those workloads across providers — AWS, Azure, CenturyLink Cloud, even on-premises or other hosting providers. So in addition to deciding where to put a workload, customers can scale into and out of different infrastrcture stacks and providers, based on business policies, cost models, geo availability, etc.
Now, beyond simply understanding where cloud services are deployed, organizations can ask some more critical questions. Are they using their IT spend the best way possible? Does it make sense to continue to use external providers, or should they build physical infrastructure? Are the right providers or even the right instances being used for the right workloads? How much is each department spending, and does it align with their budget and revenue goals? Cloud Application Manager allows customers to set up logical work groups with spend limits and monitoring, so they can gain visibility into how each line of business spends and how it correlates to revenue generation. This can provide businesses with key insights into the costs and benefits of workloads to make intelligent decisions about where those workloads should reside — on-premises, in the cloud, on bare-metal, etc.
Getting ahead of IT sprawl takes a massive effort, and it doesn't hurt to have the right tools. Enter Cloud Application Manager. It's more than just a CMP, and includes extensive capabilities supporting Application Lifecycle Management, Managed Services Anywhere and Cloud Optimization.