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The Cloud Stack: How Abstraction and Automation can Accelerate Digital Innovation

Stephen_Spector

Guest Author: Johan den Haan, CTO, Mendix

mendix.png

 

In a world where every company needs to become a software company in order to survive and thrive, we need to become smarter in how we deliver that software. We must ensure that cloud-native applications can be built quickly, deployed instantly and upgraded easily, while scaling automatically to meet the peak demands of our digital economy.

 

Cloud: An Increasing Number of Layers of Abstraction

 

To facilitate this process, we see a lot of innovation in each layer of the cloud technology stack, with higher levels of abstraction and automation in one layer paving the way for the next. By a layer of abstraction, I mean an additional layer of software that hides (part of) the details and complexity of the underlying system through automation.

 

Let’s consider an example that you’re likely familiar with: HP Helion.

 

PaaS

HP Development Platform (based on Cloud Foundry)

IaaS

HP Helion OpenStack

Hardware

Any hardware

 

HP Helion Cloud addresses two main layers of the cloud stack.

 

  • HP Helion OpenStack: This focuses on software-defined infrastructure, abstracting the logical view of servers and pooling them into universal compute resources users buy on-demand. This simplifies infrastructure procurement, reduces ongoing maintenance and enables greater scalability and flexibility.

 

  • HP Helion Development Platform: This abstracts away from infrastructure, shifting the focus to application deployment and operations. Deployment is a self-service experience; developers can upload their code without having to worry about setting up appropriate test or production environments through some other IT team. This eliminates hand-offs and improves the productivity and scalability of the engineering team.

 

While a lot of attention is going to the afore mentioned cloud layers, it shouldn’t stop there. PaaS has simplified how we deploy and manage applications--but it doesn’t make it radically easier and faster to build them in the first place. We need another layer of abstraction and automation to streamline application development and realize the speed and agility gains needed to keep pace with growing business demands.

 

Different Cloud Platforms Serve Different Developer Personas

 

In “The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Public Cloud Platforms, Q4 2014,” Forrester Research outlines the unique needs of three developer personas: DevOps pros, Coders and Rapid Devs. The “DevOps” persona is served by IaaS or the Software-Defined Datacenter. The “Coders” mostly interact with the PaaS layer, and then there is a third layer for “Rapid Devs”.

 

According to Forrester, “Rapid devs prefer not to code; coding takes too long. They value graphical, automated tools for creating applications… Rapid devs want to deliver major applications in weeks — days if possible. They see public cloud platforms as a fresh start with the potential to yield massive gains in the quantity, velocity, and quality of application delivery. They rarely desire — and often lack the skills necessary — to write infrastructure code, and control virtual infrastructure, middleware configuration, and application deployment and management.”

 

Thus, the layer that focuses on “Rapid Devs” adds an additional abstraction layer on top of PaaS, streamlining not just development but big parts of the entire application lifecycle. This layer goes by different names, including Model-Driven PaaS, High Productivity aPaaS, Rapid Application Delivery (RAD) PaaS, or low-code development platforms.

 

Regardless of the exact term, it’s clear there is growing interest—and business need—for this cloud layer. Gartner states that “by 2018, more than half of all business-to-employee mobile apps will be created by enterprise business analysts using codeless tools.”

 

Mendix for HP Helion

 

Through our partnership with HP, developers can visually model web and mobile apps in Mendix and then deploy them with just one click to HP Helion for robust, elastic and scalable applications. This means that HP Helion now serves all three of the developer personas as depicted in the table below.

 

Target Persona

Product

Rapid Devs

Mendix

Coders

HP Development Platform

DevOps

HP Helion OpenStack

 

Why is this important?

 

Coming back to my introduction, the accelerating pace of change driven by cloud, mobile and big data requires application delivery pipelines to be faster and more agile than ever. IT teams that rely on traditional methods alone find they’re unable to keep pace with demand, resulting in growing backlogs and missed opportunities.

 

Mendix enhances the HP Helion Development Platform with visual, rapid application development capabilities that enable a wider population of users—from pro developers to less-technical rapid developers—to build cloud-native apps without needing to code. And independent benchmarks have found they’re able to do so 6-10 times faster than using traditional programming methods.

 

Thus, the combination of Mendix and HP Helion enables enterprises to embrace the New Style of IT and accelerate digital innovation by removing technical barriers through abstraction and automation. For a glimpse into the power of Mendix for HP Helion, check out the video below.

 

 

Don’t forget to watch our joint webinar on “Rapid App Development with Mendix for HP Helion” recorded on July 9, 2015. Click here to register for free

 

More of a reader? Then download the HP Helion-Mendix Deployment Guide to learn more about rapid app delivery for the digital enterprise

 

Senior Manager, Cloud Online Marketing
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About the Author

Stephen_Spector

I manage the HPE Helion social media and website teams promoting the enterprise cloud solutions at HPE for hybrid, public, and private clouds. I was previously at Dell promoting their Cloud solutions and was the open source community manager for OpenStack and Xen.org at Rackspace and Citrix Systems. While at Citrix Systems, I founded the Citrix Developer Network, developed global alliance and licensing programs, and even once added audio to the DOS ICA client with assembler. Follow me at @SpectorID

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