Introduction

With the proliferation of cloud technology, more and more businesses are looking at expanding into the cloud, either partially adopting it or completely moving to cloud. First and foremost you need a well-planned strategy before you take the plunge.

Although the benefits of the cloud are sweet with cost savings, flexibility, scalability and all, migration to the cloud was and is considered the biggest challenge. Now with many businesses have adopted the cloud, they were found trying to figure out the best way to optimize their cloud infrastructure, trying out various strategies. So it is clear before you take the plunge you need to be having a well thought out strategy. Cloud Management Platforms, fit very well into the role of transitioning your infrastructure to the cloud, helping you plan your every move with one to one mapping of your current infrastructure over to the cloud. 

CMP is used by your administrators to optimize resource and service usage and keep your cloud costs at an optimum level.A CMP allows administrators to manage their cloud resources by orchestrating various automated tasks resulting in consolidated process or workflow. Granular visibility to every cloud environment that the business is running on, be it public or private, gives the administrators more leverage on resource usage and optimization. CMP will help identify resource usage patterns in the cloud and suggest changes to make best use of them.

According to Gartner, a leading research and advisory firm, which coined the term Cloud Management Platform, for a suite of tools to qualify as CMP are products that incorporate self-service interfaces, provision system images, enable metering and billing, and provide for some degree of workload optimization through established policies. Based on these requirements here are a few essential features that any CMP is expected of.

  • Insights            

With insights into resource utilization at a granular level, and across all cloud resources, a CMP will help you visualize usage, utilization and cost of your infrastructure on cloud.

  • Logs Monitoring

A CMP is expected to provide granular monitoring by way of logs on all major resources.

  • Compliance

A CMP is expected to implement regulatory compliance , continuously monitoring the cloud infrastructure for conformance.

  • Savings

Total Cost of Ownership is an important aspect that every business digs into and CMP is no exception. CMP is expected to highlight any unused resources and pool them for reallocation or make them available for de-commissioning after careful review.

  • Best Practices

CMP is also expected to bring in best practices in the industry at various levels of Cost, Reliability, Operations and Performance.

  • Metering and Billing

Analytical reports on resource utilization and consumption across the cloud infrastructure is a feature that a CMP cannot do without in today’s world.

Over the years CMP has brought in significant benefits to businesses; some of them are,

  1. Self-service management
  2. Cloud cost management
  3. Enhanced control of resources
  4. Automated management policies
  5. Choosing the right CMP.

1) Self-service management

With most of the CMP solutions on offer in the marketplace today offering self-service resource management, this seems to be more of a must have feature than a niche one. With this feature, you have the power of allocating what you really need than requesting and waiting for the allocation of resources. 

2) Cloud cost management

With cloud computing, resources that are not optimally allocated will erode all the prospective benefits that cloud can offer. A CMP will ensure all resources are put to good use and any unused resources are brought to the attention of business, so appropriate adjustments can be made in time.

3) Enhanced control of resources

CMP offers granular visibility and control over the resources in use over multiple clouds architectures. In a multi cloud setup, the CMP can provide analytical reports on cost of resources across clouds making way for further optimizing resource usage and cut costs.

4) Automated management policies

CMPs deliver automated cloud management policies and tasks to help utilize resources. A CMP platform is based on automatic orchestration; for example, it automates the process of finding spare resources on your network whenever you need them. Rather than waiting until your IT team discovers wasted resources, the CMP automatically fixes resource usage problems.

5) Choosing the right CMP.

Apart from the feature set that has been discussed above, let’s look at what questions you should find answers to before settling on a particular CMP.

  1. How long or steep is the learning curve?
  2. What is the granularity of governance of cloud resources ?
  3. Does it detect unused resources and is it intelligent enough to suggest an optimal usage plan?
  4. What level of analytical reporting does it provide on cloud usage?
  5. Is support available and how good is that support?
  6. How well does it Integrate with other tools and dashboards?

 Based on customer feedback and reviews by early industry adopters, here is a list of top 10 players in no particular order in the CMP marketplace, which tick most of the boxes in the above list.

  1. VMware Vsphere

A proprietary CMP, features like automation, log insight, Lifecycle management, Orchestrator among others, suited best for medium to large businesses. VMware is a brand that identifies itself with virtualization and cloud even before the term CMP was even coined.

  1. IBM Cloud Orchestrator

IBM a major player in the public and private cloud marketplace offers its customizable CMP solution covering AI, IOT and BlockChain with advanced analytical AI based tools suitable for medium to large scale enterprises.

This offering also features app development and testing, change management automation, customizable self-service portal and more. 

  1. Flexera Rightscale

One suitable for small to medium scale enterprises, this offering features orchestration engine that automates activities across all cloud services.

  1. Apache CloudStack

An open source, free option, suitable for small to large businesses with immense scalability and availability features. An easy to use interface offering a host of RESTful APIs, enabling further connectivity to third party services.

  1. BMC Cloud Lifecycle Management

A proprietary CMP that boasts a self-service portal, automated ITSM governance, full stack provisioning and platform neutrality. With a not so steep and a short learning curve, this offering, suitable for small to large scale enterprises, also has great global support.

  1. Scalr

Marketed as a hybrid cloud management solution, this proprietary CMP scores well on the security and compliance scale. With its simplicity and great support, the learning curve is a short one.

  1. Embotics

Again a hybrid CMP offering suitable for small to medium scale enterprises, is known for its low cost installation.

  1. OpenStack

Another project from Apache, free of cost and open source, suitable for heterogeneous infrastructures. Features that add in value include, container orchestration engine, Big data processing framework provisioning, bare metal provisioning, RCA and support for multi-region deployments.

  1. RedHat CloudForms

Another big name in this marketplace, RedHat comes with self-service portal, full lifecycle management, security that RedHat is known for and additional performance enhancements, suitable for small to large enterprises. RedHat CloudForms is a powerful CMP solution offering high levels of customization requiring good scripting knowledge. It does have it’s advantages, but comes with a steep learning curve.

  1. CloudHealth

Another offering from VMware, this CMP offers a user-friendly interface helping you setup custom policies and workflows for control over your clouds environment, gets you up and running in no time, with its widespread compatibility and straight out of the box features.

Conclusion

Your decision to move to a cloud based setup should be a strategic move and not a tactical decision. It should be a long thought out strategy with robust planning. Hiring a top talent to reap all the benefits of the cloud setup will only help you in the long run.

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