Cloud technology: displaying the power to self-manage

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Cloud technology has already made a huge impact on the enterprise –  but it is about to take a giant leap forward and show that it has the power to manage itself via ‘autonomic platforms’, which could dramatically change the face of IT and software development departments.

Back in 2001, IBM forecast a software complexity emergency, triggered by difficulties in managing accelerated communication and IT growth.  IBM’s solution to the crisis was autonomic computing, designed to “help address complexity by using technology to manage technology”. The concept has lay dormant for some time, but with increasingly complex infrastructures it is now being revisited with the rapid adoption of cloud.

According to the 2016 Tech Trends report by Deloitte, “IT may soon become a self-managing service provider without technical limitations of capacity, performance, and scale”.  By utilizing a “build once, deploy anywhere” strategy, retooled IT workforces will be able to seamlessly move data between on-premises stacks, private cloud and public cloud services. This approach relies heavily on working with new architectures created on virtualized assets, containers and advanced management and monitoring tools. This combination of dynamic management with end-to-end processes incorporated into a single platform may help enterprises with increasingly complex IT tasks.

What can autonomic platforms bring to the table?
According to Deloitte, autonomic platforms combine two key IT movements: software defined everything across the technology stack, and DevOps operating and delivery models. Both of these are accelerated by robotics, process automation and cognitive technologies.

Deloitte believes that autonomic platforms have three core capabilities that single them out as a growing force for technological innovation.  The first is their ability to ‘self-heal’.  This basically means that they can continually monitor the health of an end-to-end solution, anticipate or prevent issues and proactively solve problems.  Secondly it can configure security requirements from user profiles to privacy controls.  Finally autonomic platforms have the potential to optimize performance, for example, by moving data between virtual ‘containers’, such as different cloud services, as required.

Autonomic platforms’ skill comes in their ability to dynamically manage resources while integrating and looking after more of the end-to-end activities required to create and run IT solutions.

How will autonomic platforms change the IT landscape?
Autonomic platforms cut down on the amount of time that is needed to carry out routine, policy driven or repetitive tasks by making them happen automatically.  An autonomic infrastructure enables the seamless flow of data between multiple different cloud platforms, public, private and on-premises.  This approach would dramatically change the way enterprises manage their data, requiring less information management.

With the recent move to managed services, where automated workflow has been adopted to reduce repetitive and recurring tasks, many enterprises are already using autonomic platforms to drive efficiency. According to Gartner, managed services offerings using autonomics and cognitive platforms will permanently remove headcount, making a 60% reduction in the cost of services. 

Self-managing cloud
Today, managing cloud infrastructures is more complicated than managing traditional data center infrastructure. Cloud comes with some major advantages.  Consumption-based pricing, for example, is a major boon, but it must be continually monitored and managed to make sure resources are not being wasted.

Cloud autonomic computing enables CIOs to more effectively utilize the power of cloud by automating management through business policies that outline how they want the infrastructure to be managed, allowing an autonomic solution to carry these out. 

In the future, cloud autonomics will manage and monitor an organization’s cloud environment and make changes where necessary to ensure it is running to plan, such as the automated migration of data to another region to comply with business service level agreements (SLAs).  A cloud autonomic system will be capable of managing single and multiple cloud environments.

The increasing complexity of IT infrastructures and cloud-based services will soon outstrip the abilities of the largest IT department. Soon clouds with autonomy capable of making rapid decisions about resource management will free up IT departments for other functions and help business further harness the power of cloud to expedite growth an increasingly dynamic environment. 

Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.