A big part of the CIO role today entails hashing out a cloud computing strategy. Deciding whether to build a private cloud or to offload some workloads to a public cloud system while keeping others on-premises is just a start. Then there is the often painful haggling over service-level agreements (SLAs), those crucial contracts regarding the level of service you can expect to receive for your money. But the true test of cloud success begins when it comes time to manage your cloud environment.
The reality is there are far more than a few permutations at play, with enterprises growing particularly omnivorous in their consumption of cloud services, opting to mix and match services in hybrid or multicloud environments. Over 85 percent of enterprises will commit to multicloud architectures encompassing a mix of public cloud services, private clouds, community clouds, and hosted clouds, according to IDC. Moreover, the research firm says that more than 50 percent of enterprises will subscribe to more than five different public cloud services and will continually add, expand, contract, and drop subscriptions based on business needs by 2018. The resulting complexity will make it all the more important to get cloud management right from the start.
The case for cloud management
The pay-as-you-go nature of the public cloud offers the promise to set it and forget it. But if you’re not continually managing how your company is leveraging the public cloud, you’re liable to get bit.
“A big mistake that many companies make is that they treat, particularly public cloud service, as though it is cable service, where you use it every month and pay a bill at the end of the month,” says Dennis Smith, a Gartner analyst who tracks the cloud management space. “Many find they’re spending more money than they did before [using their on-premises service]. Public cloud providers aren’t going to tell you there are more efficient ways of using their services. You need to manage it similar to the way you’d manage on-premises infrastructure."
CIOs need to learn to manage those cloud systems with regard to cost, capacity planning, security and other conditions. That need has spawned a modest but growing market for cloud management tools, which companies use to apply policy to as well as automate and orchestrate across public and private cloud services in a uniform way, according to Smith.
Cloud management tools span more than a dozen functional areas, with dozens of vendors in the market offering various applications. But no single vendor offers a silver bullet software system to manage every need. Smith says that by 2022, 80 percent of enterprises will require four to six cloud management tools to rein in their hybrid and multicloud strategies.