I just completed attending my third Hashiconf, Hashicorp’s user conference. I’ve followed the company from the beginning, Terraform, its first open source project. Terraform is a viral infrastructure orchestration tool with over 2.1 billion downloads of the integrating connector for Amazon Web Services (AWS) and nearly a billion downloads for Azure and Google Cloud (GCP). However, the company’s remaining portfolio is fairly off the radar. What problem is the company trying to solve?
The Growing Complexity of Cloud
The public cloud initially aimed to solve a fairly simple problem – hosting web services via a simple pay-as-you-go model. S3 object storage is a great example of one of the simple services offered by AWS. Today, S3 itself is extremely complicated. As my industry peer Corey Quinn would jest, S3 is now one of over 200 database services AWS offers. Amazon competes with traditional infrastructure hardware OEM, independent software vendors (ISV), network, and security vendors. Couple AWS with any competing cloud service providers (CSP) or on-premises data centers, and you end up with operational complexity few CIOs could have predicted.
Consider a simple collaboration challenge. Your marketing department has built an application running on native cloud services that include AWS RDS and Lambda. After an extremely successful campaign, the marketing team wants to collaborate with your business-critical application team and create a workflow that generates dynamic generative AI chatbots with data from your on-premises SAP instance and publicly available data sources.
Most CIOs will realize intuitively there’s an impedance mismatch. The first thought is to go to SAP for a solution. However, the challenges are limited to native cloud and SAP integration. It extends to multi-cloud services and various on-premises technology governance.
People, Process, and Technology
Hashicorp’s tooling seeks to address these challenges more than any vendor’s portfolio I’ve encountered. If VMware operates at the speed of the enterprise CIO Hashicorp is outpacing most CIOs.
The industry is handling the unfulfilled universal migration to the public cloud. CIOs realize that on-premises technologies will remain a large part of their portfolio for much longer than expected. Many organizations have built enough public cloud technical debt to realize that repatriating workloads to co-location facilities offers a significant value proposition.
Again, Hashicorp has a strong story around the tools needed to deal with the technical challenges. However, enterprise IT doesn’t move at that pace. CIOs must drive the organizational-level change needed to take advantage of the tools.
Where to Start
A conversation with your enterprise architect or CTO is a great place to start the conversation. Frame some of the business challenges. I suspect many early cloud adopters suffer the same challenges. Innovation and developer productivity may have slowed compared to early cloud-based projects. The slowdown is likely due to complexity and technical debt due to the scale of your cloud adoption.
Your CTO may discuss micro-services sprawl, the need to re-platform legacy applications, and the lack of trained cloud-native resources. You may need to bring in a global system integrator or a management consultant to help you identify or think through these organizational challenges.
The outcome of these discussions will lead you to tools such as Hashicorp’s platform. However, the tool isn’t the place you start this journey. It’s simply too complex of a problem set.