Increased enterprise use of hybrid-cloud infrastructure around the world is leading to increased deployment and operation of workloads on multiple cloud infrastructures. This makes the effective management of such workloads more important – and more difficult. Cloud management platforms (CMPs) offer a solution.
A CMP primarily needs to carry out the following functions: monitoring, orchestrating, automating, optimizing and governing resources and workloads across a cloud setup. A CMP also provides operations teams with visibility into cloud usage with the aid of a dashboard. An enterprise CMP needs to easily integrate with multiple cloud providers and on-premise systems. The CMP must not create another standalone system in an increasingly complex operational architecture. Instead, it needs to act as an aggregator across existing and new environments.
Ideally, CMPs should be able to accurately forecast costs and spending. They must be able to estimate cloud usage (based on recent usage patterns) and create reports of expected monthly expenses. This allows management to have a comprehensive perspective on capital expenditure so they can improve control of cloud resources.
We see no shortage of CMP offerings and providers. Cloudbolt, Rightscale, VMware (through its vRealize Suite), Redhat (CloudForms), Cisco (CloudCenter), Morpheus, embotics (vCommander), Unigma and Oracle (Enterprise Manager Cloud Control) are some of the leading vendors in the marketplace that have a CMP solution suited for most of the prominent cloud providers.
Because cloud services and CMPs are still evolving, it is highly unlikely that any one CMP can serve as a “one size fits all” solution. However, choosing a vendor that has a strategy aligned with your enterprise directions and goals will allow forward growth as the product matures.
Rapid developments in CMPs have pushed providers to innovate and develop mature solutions that work with top public cloud providers as well as on-premise virtual stacks. Here are four things to look for when selecting a CMP solution:
- Do not stick with one CMP solution provider, and avoid lock-in. Being dependent on one CMP is risky. Evaluate available and suitable CMPs. Then choose two or three solutions that are aligned with your requirements.
- The primary users must have access to infrastructure and services through a user-friendly self-service portal. This will promote DevOps best practices, which are core to the current and emerging digital business and IT environment.
- Every CMP has monitoring and cost-analysis tools that may or may not be relevant to an organization. For example, cloud consumption and metering will be more important to larger organizations with well-defined IT showback and IT chargeback practices, while new cloud users are more likely to need cloud cost-comparison tools.
- Starting on day one, support should be available for tool integration across IT service management and DevOps ecosystems, tools leveraging APIs, frameworks and software development kits. Enterprises must consider CMPs that provide out-of-the-box solutions that allow seamless integration and connectivity to other systems.