What to Look for in a Cloud Management Platform

The multi-cloud model has become the norm. According to the RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud Report, organizations are using 1.8 public clouds while experimenting with 1.8 more, and leveraging 2.3 private clouds while experimenting with 2.1 more. That’s a total of eight different clouds. Organizations are embracing multiple clouds to gain the flexibility to choose the right cloud service for each workload.

However, problems often arise when it comes to managing a multi-cloud environment. Without an overarching cloud management platform, organizations must use each service provider’s toolset, making it difficult to ensure performance and security, provision resources, and optimize costs. Few organizations have the in-house IT resources or expertise to manage each cloud service.

Organizations that have implemented a multi-cloud model need a cloud management platform. As the name implies, a cloud management platform is software that helps IT teams efficiently deploy and operate public, private and hybrid cloud environments. At a minimum, a cloud management platform should “incorporate self-service interfaces, provision system images, enable metering and billing, and provide for some degree of workload optimization through established policies,” according to Gartner.

In selecting a cloud management platform, the most important criterion is what you are trying to manage. Which public clouds does the platform support? Which private cloud and on-premises technologies? Does it handle virtual machines and containers as well as cloud infrastructure?

Because standards have not been established for cloud computing, features vary significantly from solution to solution. When evaluating solutions, organizations should look for these key capabilities:

  • Integration of multiple cloud services and interoperability across cloud infrastructure providers
  • A centralized dashboard that provides single-pane-of-glass visibility into all cloud services
  • Self-service provisioning for end-users, with policy-based governance capabilities
  • A service catalog that presents all of the cloud services available to the organization
  • Automation and orchestration of certain administrative tasks and workflows
  • Management of Identities, access and data encryption
  • Tools for monitoring and managing service levels and resource utilization
  • Financial tools such as metering, cost allocation, chargeback and budgeting
  • The ability to integrate with existing on-premises management tools

Some legacy cloud management platforms require the installation of a software agent within each cloud environment to collect data related to configurations, utilization, security and other metrics. The latest tools, however, talk directly to the various cloud services through APIs. Agent-less solutions eliminate the need to install, manage and update software, reducing operational overhead.

Similarly, the cloud management software can be purchased and installed within the data center or utilized in a Software-as-a-Service delivery model. Organizations should evaluate the total cost of ownership (TCO) of each scenario, as well as the skills required to implement and maintain the solution. It’s also important to ask what integration services and training the vendor offers.

If your organization has deployed multiple clouds, a cloud management platform can ease the operational burden and help to maximize the value of your cloud investments. Sequel’s cloud computing experts can help you evaluate the various options and implement the right solution to support your cloud environment now and in the future.