From the 2016 State-of-the-Cloud Report SMEs denote that they use, on average, up to 6 different clouds (including private clouds) and 1 out of 5 SMEs features deployments comprised of more than 1000 virtual machines (VMs) to distribute their services with the hybrid cloud establishing itself as the most popular deployment model for SMEs (77% up 14% from 2015).
Nonetheless, while the cloud promises to automate application and infrastructure management, participants denote that hybrid deployments raise the complexity of monitoring, managing and effectively projecting cost budgets of their services and core products distributed across multiple clouds with unbearable engineering required to overcome these challenges in order to cope and not perish.
Although designing secure software and ensuring customer data privacy is a hard enough task by itself, resource scaling (dubbed as elasticity) introduces another challenge that must be tackled as well.
As a result, new categories of tools and solutions are in need to support challenges holding back SME growth.
Nowadays, a number of application management frameworks claim to address the above challenges facilitating the design and deployment of cloud applications and services. Some of hese frameworks are proprietary (e.g., AWS CloudFormation Oracle Exalogic), locking their users to specific providers, while others are generic (e.g., CAMF, Juju, ServishMesh) allowing management of applications on different infrastructures with adapters for popular cloud offering providers (e.g., AWS, Google Compute Cloud and Microsoft Azure).
A common denominator in all aforementioned frameworks is that none provide the ability to manage the lifecycle of a cloud service distributed across multiple availability zones and/or cloud sites. In turn, no framework currently tackles data protection privacy constraints and restrictions due to national and EU directives for data movement across application tiers, availability regions or multiple cloud sites.
Also, elastic techniques are not well supported to deal with multi-dimensional elastic properties covering resources, costs and quality. Most importantly, these tools tackle the challenges of managing cloud applications after application development, resulting, in many cases, to more iterations in the application development cycle as policy definition for elasticity and deployment constraints for different cloud providers were not foreseen at the development phase, delaying time-to-market which impacts negatively SMEs and startups comprised of small development teams.
The Unicorn vision can be considered two-fold: