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We Live In The Multi-Cloud Era – HashiCorp Report


Guest: Jared Ruckle
Company: HashiCorp
Show: Let’s Talk

HashiCorp recently released the findings of its first State of Cloud Strategy report to get a pulse on the state of multi-cloud, its adoption, its challenges, and the success factors that folks were having. I sat down with Jared Ruckle, Director of Product Marketing at HashiCorp to deep dive into this report.

We’re really in the multi-cloud era, according to the survey respondents and 76% said they were already multi-cloud and this really kind of matches a lot of the anecdotal stories that we’ve seen in recent times where you have had the hyperscalers, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, all investing billions and billions of dollars in innovative services, new certifications, and new data center locations,” said Ruckle.

Here is the full transcript of the discussion:

Swapnil Bhartiya: Welcome to TFiR Newsroom. I’m your host Swapnil Bhartiya and my guest today is Jared Ruckle, Director of Product Marketing at HashiCorp. Jared, It’s great to have you on the show.

Jared Ruckle: Good to be with you.

Swapnil Bhartiya: . HashiCorp recently released its first State of Cloud Strategy report. So what was the goal or idea behind the survey? What insights are you trying to gain through the survey?

Jared Ruckle: I think there’s a couple of goals and objectives we had. I think that we’ve seen these surveys come out from various vendors, various foundations with a certain technology slant about the state of cloud, the state of DevOps or the state of a certain development framework. But we hadn’t quite seen anything about the state of multi-cloud, its adoption, its challenges, and the success factors that folks were having.

And we felt that we had a really unique kind of audience to draw from with our practitioner database. And so we sent out a survey that was really designed to capture the state of cloud adoption and kind of explore this idea of multi-cloud usage across the enterprise as well as small businesses. So we wanted to really poke at that angle to see if we could help the industry figure out what the state of play was there.

Swapnil Bhartiya: What is the percentage of people who are already on multi-cloud?

Jared Ruckle: Yes, I think at a basic level the headline is We’re really in the multi-cloud era, according to the survey respondents and 76% said they were already multi-cloud and this really kind of matches a lot of the anecdotal stories that we’ve seen in recent times where you have had the hyperscalers, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, all investing billions and billions of dollars in innovative services, new certifications, and new data center locations.

And there’s really something unique differentiating about all of these different clouds if you look at it from a certain use case perspective. So it’s really not surprising that people would want to take advantage of those hyperscalers as well as you think about what they’re currently doing with their on-premises footprint. That’s where a lot of really important data and applications already reside. So people are thinking about doing innovative things there as well. So it kind of matches what you would expect given all the innovation happening on-prem and in the hyperscaler arena.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Do you also try to explore what is driving people towards cloud or multi-cloud in general? We do know that last year, a lot of companies were rushing towards digital transformation and digital transformation in the cloud because of the pandemic. So what has been your observation based on the survey?
Jared Ruckle: I think when we dig into the respondents and kind of look at what some of the anecdotal feedback has been based on the survey, it really comes down to having custom software and being able to build custom software, run that custom software, and scale that custom software across cloud environments. That’s really something that is kind of the definition of digital transformation. So clearly people are trying to get fantastic at building and running that software.

So I think that’s a key thing that’s driving a lot of this. There’s also people that are looking at cloud as a way to increase the security posture of their organization, thinking that all these cloud providers have really expert security folks on staff providing incredible amounts of expertise and protecting infrastructure and applications in a way that just isn’t possible for a single organization.

There’s also people looking to the cloud for cost benefits as well…maybe some of that OPEX versus CAPEX kind of conversation.

Interestingly, security and costs were also key challenges, which again, you would expect kind of given the complexity of cloud is, and the wrinkles that brings in compared to how traditional IT has evolved.

Swapnil Bhartiya: You mentioned so many key points that I want to talk about. Let’s start with the cost for now. Okay. It’s very easy. You just put everything on a credit card and you’re done, but we also see a lot of things that are not cloud-based. The joke is that you can actually buy a mainframe for what will pay for the cloud. So from the cloud’s cost perspective, what does the service tell us?

Jared Ruckle: The one of the really big highlights there is that the larger the company, the larger your cloud budget tends to be and the larger your cloud budget, the more waste that you tend to see and the survey respondents had a lot more anxiety or concerns about costs the larger they were.

So because it’s quite early in the cloud, even though people are signing really big contracts with the hyperscalers, they may not be feeling confident about all those dollars being spent in the optimized way. That’s why you see a lot of the cloud providers really focusing on providing first-party services that are going to give customers that insight into billing and where their money is going.

I think there are still a fair amount of people that are provisioning environments that are way too large, or they’re kind of zombie environments that serve a great purpose for a few days but then never get spun down.

Lots of people are overprovisioning virtual machines as well. And of course, for our part at HashiCorp, we have tools that can help customers tighten up on those cost benefits. So it’s a really interesting thing that you come out and see. And clearly that’s something that people want to make sure they’re getting the most bang for their cloud dollar.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Another thing that I just want your insight into is talent. The Linux Foundation keeps coming up with surveys that there are not enough people there and some of these cloud-native technologies are so new. There were so many products that were just announced last week. So let’s talk about the skills shortage.

Jared Ruckle: Yes, you’re spot-on with that comment. And I think that that’s been born out in a lot of these types of surveys and just a lot of people… They really feel that their progress is being hindered based on the skills they can find out there in the marketplace.

And the survey says that the biggest challenge for folks in multi-cloud is skills shortage; 57% of respondents said that the skill shortage was the number one thing really holding them back.

And so it is a real issue there’s been a few of the job descriptions that we all kind of roll our eyes out about people wanting 10 years of Kubernetes experience. The project course hasn’t been around that long.

There’s also all these very high-bar requirements for people in InfoSec and among other kinds of roles.

So just hiring across the board is something that is really hindering folks and there’s probably a hard look that people need to do about what they’re doing in terms of hiring people and then in terms of recruiting and training up their own staff that already exists. And so this number just sort of points to the idea that maybe folks need to think creatively about how they’re finding talent and maybe need to think about consolidating some of the tool chains they use and trying to focus on a much tighter set of technologies.

Swapnil Bhartiya: One thing that I do like about the cloud and I may be totally wrong, it has kind of changed the way we used to look at security. Security used to be someone else’s problem. It was totally siloed but now it is kind of moving into the developer’s pipeline. We are talking about DevSecOps; even when you look at SRE, sometimes it’s bundling a lot of things. Any insights from the security’s perspective?

Jared Ruckle: Yes. And that’s one of the key areas people were moving to the cloud because of security. That was an interesting tidbit but then also security is a major point of anxiety for folks as they move into the cloud.

And of course, we’ve all seen the news headlines about ransomware about nation states becoming bad actors and in terms of launching cyber threats. And so this threat landscape is very quickly evolving and very dynamic.

And to your point, you have to think very differently about security in the cloud eras. So I think you make a great point about security being really more of a complicated kind of question. And there’s a really a shared security model that a lot of the folks have talked about. And I think that started to resonate with people based on what the survey data showed us and what the anecdotal feedback was, where you have perhaps the cloud provider responsible for securing the physical data center, securing parts of the infrastructure but then it’s very much on the cloud user to secure the application, to secure the data.

And then to your point about developers, thinking about security first, we see a big movement and shifting left, where you make security part of the development process. Before you get into the CI/CD kinds of pipelines, you have security be something that’s thought about. You’re very early and companies that are taking this progressive mindset are clearly able to sleep, maybe a little bit better at night than folks that are still looking at the traditional security model that’s out there but a lot of great data to unpack with respect to security in the cloud.

You know, the last thing I’d mentioned is related to this scale and the scale issue where just as companies that had large budgets were more concerned about waste, the larger companies also had a lot more anxiety about teams working in silos.

And clearly I think a lot of teams are excited about the progress they’ve made with multi-cloud. That speaks to some of the people that are really pleased with where they are in, in multi-cloud but big companies are so worried about new teams working in silos. They may have pockets of innovation happening with certain application teams in a few places, maybe they even have whole divisions that are doing the right thing with innovation, doing the right thing with security and compliance, doing the right thing in terms of operating efficiently.

But if you ask a lot of the survey respondents, they have a lot of concerns that they aren’t quite industrializing multi-cloud across their entire business, across their entire enterprise; even as they’re acquiring new companies, they haven’t been able to kind of scale that out and make teams immediately productive with these best practices and being able to plug and chug with those things over time.

So I think this is another really big thing for us as an industry to spend some time really talking about how you can make folks productive in accordance with your corporate best practices and really a bare minimum of time. And that’s a big part of what we focus on at HashiCorp with our tools.

Swapnil Bhartiya: One more thing is that when we look at multi-cloud, how much concern is there for data gravity?  Because one of the reasons people try to move to the cloud is that they feel that, hey, you can just walk around everywhere but sometimes you get vendor lock-in. Did you explore that? If not, then what have you observed there from Hashi’s perspective?

Jared Ruckle: Yes, I think there’s a little bit of some of that. There were people thinking about multi-cloud consciously to avoid vendor lock-in. And this was a phenomenon that we saw maybe vary by vertical industry as well with retailers. Maybe being a little bit wary about putting their data on AWS, for example, since Amazon has such a far-ranging retail business.

But I think really the key thing that we’ve seen, and this is more outside of the survey, is that multi-cloud is really something that should be thought about. You’re really thoughtful where… Multi-cloud doesn’t necessarily mean you’re running the same application on different clouds and having the same database and having this HA and DR kind of scenario across clouds, that can be a really useful scenario, but that shouldn’t be something that becomes the default.

It really becomes about thinking about the workflows, thinking about what’s going to make your team successful and tapping into those different capabilities, not necessarily trying to use a bunch of clouds for the same type of use case.

So multi-cloud is very popular. It’s become the default pattern according to the survey but you also need to be very thoughtful about how you employ it, because it can get very messy very quickly if you don’t have a really clear strategy about how to onboard teams in a really meaningful way to expose the API to those different cloud providers in a way that’s not disruptive. Another really big thing that folks are wrestling with is that the APIs are different, the workflows are different and so capitalizing on multi-cloud is a really big challenge from that point of view. And again, our tools at HashiCorphelp folks with that to a degree.

Swapnil Bhartiya: How would you define multi-cloud. 
Jared Ruckle: Yes, we picked the straightforward definition where multi-cloud is using more than one cloud; one private cloud, one public cloud, for example, would fit into this. Your multi-cloud definition, using two different public clouds, would fall into that same type of definition. So we picked the simplest example just to try and level set on that and use the survey just to explore it from that basic definition. And there’s all kinds of other ways you can slice and dice the information but that’s the definition we use for this one. And I think that’s really just kind of a pragmatic way to go, to get the broadest perspective about what’s actually happening with multi-cloud.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Jared, thank you so much for taking time out today to not only talk about the survey you folks conducted, but also share some of the insights from what you learned through the survey as well as sharing your own insights, which gives us a very clear picture of how multi-cloud is shaping up. And I would love to have you back on the show. Thank you for your time today.

Jared Ruckle: You’re very welcome. It was my pleasure and we’ll see you again soon.