Recent virtualisation and cloud management announcements from companies as diverse as Microsoft, VMware, Cisco, UC4, BMC, IBM and others highlight a couple of important shifts that customers who are currently crafting cloud management software strategies need to consider:
- Increasing emphasis on private cloud and hybrid environments that span internal cloud and non cloud environments
- Increasing vertical integration of provisioning and monitoring of applications and workloads down through n-tier middleware, hypervisors and hardware infrastructure
- Increasing internal vendor funded development investment to supplement technology and IP acquired from start-ups, with the goal of enabling better integrated fuller service cloud management suites that include self service portals as just one of a number of capabilities
- Integration of lab and production lifecycle provisioning automation.
The convergence of these trends tells me that the self serve cloud provisioning software market segment is maturing rapidly. Not a day goes but another vendor wants to tell me their automated cloud self serve provisioning story. And more and more they start to sound the same - which is a sure sign that the market is commoditising.
The ability to provide a standalone self service portal to automate provisioning of standard VM and OS images has pretty much become table stakes among cloud management software providers. Looking to the future, customers should evaluate a vendor's full cloud management portfolio including the ability to open up self serve infrastructure cloud provisioning portals to business centric service catalogs that focus on applications and mission critical business workloads used by large numbers of end users.
The cloud vision (whether public, private or hybrid) calls for an end-to-end, top down view of the complex business processes and workloads in order to enable end users of all kinds to be more productive and agile day in and day out. Cloud environments will need to automate more than infrastructure deployment and VM sprawl reduction. They will also need to optimise real time composite application performance , capacity utilisation, information protection, security, compliance, and business productivity.
In designing cloud management strategies, look beyond simple infrastructure self serve provisioning. This capability is a good first step on your cloud journey but it is by no means the end.
Look for vendors that can grow with your organisation as your requirements mature and ask what a vendor's integrated solution can do for your business going forward. Many vendors are already hard at work on addressing this broader cloud management model, you may be surprised at what you hear.
Post by Mary Johnston Turner