What To Look For In A Cloud Management Platform
Take a casual browse around the websites of various cloud management platform (CMP) vendors, and it’s easy to be wowed. Bold claims abound, along with pages stuffed with the logos of partners and integrations across the cloud ecosystem.
Don’t be fooled.
This remains a fractured market, where CMPs and other technology vendors struggle to overcome the critical issues around multi-cloud environments. It’s old news now that a majority of enterprises are shifting applications and workloads to the cloud and doing so by engaging with multiple cloud providers to find the best combination of services, flexibility, and cost.
For any one enterprise, cost-effectively managing a multi-cloud environment is a nightmare. The ease and convenience of clicking this and clicking that to access additional resources and capacity make it all too easy for costs to skyrocket. Real-time insight into what resources are being used, where and by whom across the enterprise remains a huge hurdle.
Red flags to watch for
What the market needs are an automated platform that is truly agnostic, purposely designed to scale as needed for today’s multi-cloud environment. A platform any MSP can adopt to provide the single point of data its enterprise customers so desperately need.
We are not quite there, and yet, to browse the sites of some of these CMPs, it’s easy to believe they have it already figured out.
Dig deeper, and cracks begin to appear in their armor. Many of those integrations which a CMP touts may only be relevant to web-hosting companies that tend to be down-market from mainstream IaaS providers and MSPs.
Take a close look at the CMP’s pricing. See if the services listed are all based around a single cloud provider (for example, Microsoft Azure and Office 365). This may indicate that, despite all the logos on the CMP’s integrations web page, it is only a reseller for that single cloud provider.
Connecting data dots still labor intensive
If this is the case, the CMP isn’t multi-cloud capable. As we have written before, each cloud provider has its own API that has to be written to by a development team, or cost monitoring and optimization services specific to that one cloud. These are not supportive of a multi-cloud environment.
Some of the larger and older CMPs that target larger enterprises as core customers do market themselves as experts in automation and orchestration and talk about “cost optimization.” Cloud providers do offer toolsets meant to help analyze cloud utilization and costs and make recommendations (aka predictive analysis) on the data to save the enterprise money.
What remains lacking in both these cases is the capability to pull the real-time data that is needed by an MSP’s billing system to provide the enterprise client at month end with a detailed and accurate tally of service usage and cost.
Beware the one-trick ponies
Cost optimization reports as they are commonly done focus on just one cloud at a time. Resulting recommendations are limited to what services should be scaled up, scaled down or turned off. Carrying out those changes still rests on the back of the MSP, or its client’s IT department, which may still require development time spent with the API of the cloud in question.
So, don’t be fooled by CMPs that claim to deliver the sun, the moon and the stars, too. Many are just a one-trick pony – a reseller for a single cloud provider.
Data-driven and automated usage monitoring that is truly vendor-agnostic and purpose-built for a multi-cloud environment is coming, soon, but it’s not here yet.