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My 2013 tweets about cloud management platforms and private cloud computing: how much will it change in 2014?

by Alessandro Perilli  |  January 18, 2014  |  4 Comments

My first client interaction for 2014  was with a large enterprise busy building a private cloud. Like hundreds of customers I talked to in last three years, this organization is struggling to enforce service catalog standardization, to the point that I sarcastically commented on Twitter: “Hello 2011…I mean 2014

My own comment triggered the urgency to look back at all observations on cloud management platforms and private cloud computing that that I publicly shared on Twitter (@giano) in 2013. The full list is below*.

How much of what I said last year will still be true in 2014? How the CMP market will evolve and solve some of the issues that I highlighted in last 12 months?

January:
  • Unsurprisingly (and unfortunately), selecting a cloud management platform is often a matter of perception.
  • Only during an in-depth assessment of a CMP you realize how much a vendor wants you to do in a manual/custom way. And it usually is too much
  • In the race to build the perfect CMP, acquisitions will focus more & more on configuration and lifecycle mgmt, performance and capacity mgmt
  • “Support for multiple hypervisors” in CMPs must go beyond feature parity on basic life cycle mgmt. Example: what about scalability limits?
  • Dear vendors: “multi-tenancy support” should mean support at all layers of your cloud management platform, and for all supported hypervisors
  • Believe or not, one of the many challenges in evaluating a CMP is understanding exactly what it does/doesn’t. Fear poor documentation.
  • Be careful with products included in a CMP bundle. Some editions may lack the features you assume available and there may be no upgrade path
  • Most CMPs from major vendors are evolving from a bundle of repurposed apps. For some, it may work over time. Others should consider a reboot
February:
  • How cloud management platforms sell: 99% perception, 1% features.
  • Always investigate customer references. Always interpret customer references. What you assume can be far from reality.
  • Another two clients struggling to move from VM provisioning to application provisioning in their private cloud. Almost on daily basis now.
  • “cloud platform” and “cloud management platform” are not the same. Not a matter of terminology. What ppl mean with those terms is different.
  • Reviewing notes from our ongoing field research study. Orchestration engines in cloud mgmt platforms are not as sophisticated as they should
  • Inquiries on multi-hypervisor private clouds keep growing. Awareness that multiple hypervisors must be supported at all CMP layers doesn’t.
  • The more I assess cloud management platforms the more I wonder: are startups focusing their differentiation effort in the right direction?
  • Question from client: “Which cloud management platforms match these RFP requirements?” Me: “How many days do you have for this answer?”
  • Pleasing changes: more and more when I visit clients to discuss CMPs, at the table sit together guys from arch, infra & ops, apps, and sec.
  • Clients keep asking about managed private clouds. I keep answering that lack of expertise and transparency are key aspects to consider.
  • Venerable enterprise org, you didn’t know but you actually invested in a false cloud. Sorry. Oh, does it work well for you? Never mind then.
  • This whole idea that there is a “true cloud” is always entertaining.
  • The more I do it the more I’m convinced that reviewing cloud management platforms’ doc is close to legal doc review in patent litigation…

March:

  • I see IaaS, PaaS and SaaS definitions are more confused than ever in 2013. Great progress.
  • Flash news: there are plenty of orgs considering or implementing multiple virtual infrastructures and/or multiple CMPs. Business as usual.
  • A mostly undifferentiated crowd of CMP startups only generates confusion. In a confused landscape orgs step back and go for trusted vendors.
  • Without an early, well defined private cloud strategy, orgs can end up with multiple CMPs, followed by an expensive, complex consolidation.
  • Choose your early adopters carefully because much of your CMP success depends on how their feature requests impact your product roadmap.

April:

  • CMPs offering multiVM catalog objects must support them at all layers: performance/capacity/lifecycle mgmt, etc. Provisioning is not enough.
  • I reviewed over 4K pages documentation for just 3 cloud management platforms since Jan 2013. Reset expectations about Zero to Cloud in 20min
  • Impressed by the growing number of orgs asking for a cloud management platform able to support both VMware VMs and IBM Power LPARs
  • Many underestimated VMware Lab Manager popularity (and how big the demand for virtual lab automation features is). A big missed opportunity.
  • Designing a cloud management platform for large scale deployment should influence product architecture, features, API, and UI. All of them.
  • OpenStack distro sprawl, and their common characteristics, should tell something about the project.
  • With a growing focus on orchestration and software-defined networks, I wonder when we’ll start talking about self-defending clouds.
  • After ongoing market consolidation, at some point, new startups entering CMP market will have to come up with new ideas, not AWS/vCD clones
  • Despite top down mandate, not all organizations need a private cloud. Really.
  • Many orgs recognize need for process gov in private cloud too late, when dealing with cat obj sprawl & uncertain forecast for capacity usage
  • Year 2013. Still this sneaky suspicion that “private cloud” is “virtualization” and “public cloud” is “hosting”. Nobody finds courage to ask
  • 3 out of 4 clients -just today- said they want to build a private cloud to automate application provisioning, not just OS. Growing trend.
  • Typical sign of CMP immaturity: extended feature overlap across its management modules. From mktg bundle to converged product = huge effort.

May:

  • The implementation of multi-tenancy in today’s cloud management platforms is entertaining in most cases.
  • Eventually, people will realize that provisioning is just part of catalog object life cycle in the cloud. You have to govern those objects.
  • Yet another org looking for a Cloud Mgmt Plat able to support both x86 and Power virtual infrastructures and dissatisfied by market maturity
  • Many orgs would prefer a managed private cloud to building their own. Challenge is assessing claimed expertise and get proper env visibility
  • Another day, another call with a client preferring to consume a managed private cloud rather than building its own private cloud.
June:
  • While virtualization vendors were busy killing their virtual lab automation tools, app owners were busy installing Vagrant, Chef, and Puppet
  • Fascinating how our US and EU clients have same burning questions about cloud. I am glad we have plenty of written research to address them.
  • Top Qs from clients in Spain: how to build a private cloud, who is best MSP for a managed private cloud, how to become a service broker.
  • I thought that keeping an up to date list of CMP vendors was hard. I see that keeping a list of OpenStack distros is even more challenging.
  • Who’ll be faster? Next gen config mgmt tools at becoming CMPs, or CMPs at swallowing next gen config mgmt tools?
  • AWS blindsided too many cloud management vendors. All building same product. Not enough trying anticipate the imminent needs of large orgs.
  • Despite massive ongoing consolidation, the cloud management market still is a sea of opportunities. Missed opportunities, apparently.
  • Yet another large org complaining for VMware LabManager EOL. Amazing how many people used it as “just enough” cloud management platform.
  • I started advocating the use of automation in 2006. Sad to see in 2013 we are still far away from where we (orgs & vendors) would like to be
  • I love “we-manage-a-single-VM-with-a-wiki-which-is-thousands-miles-away-from-any-real-need-large-enterprise-prospects-we-target-have” demos.
  • Too many cloud management offerings look great on paper but disappointing at implementation time. For RH, it will be a matter of execution.
  • Unsurprisingly, orgs building private clouds find licensing a limiting issue in automated provisioning. Time to rethink your approach ISVs?
  • Once you enable perf monitor in your cloud env you’ll instantly have a big data problem.Can you easily scale your on-prem CMP to address it?
  • Cloud management platform vendors should seriously consider a SaaS delivery model. Today’s solutions too complex to deploy, scale, expand.
July:
  • “What cloud do you think is more secure? Private or public?” Audience overwhelming answer: private. 
  • eBay’s Chief Engineer: “OpenStack is Not Cloud” – goo.gl/GyLQ8f > Amen. I wrote 139 pages on what’s missing: goo.gl/j4MpBT
  • Most of the innovation we saw in cloud management so far was focused on provisioning. Can we innovate the remaining part of the life cycle?
  • In cloud management platforms, “multi-hypervisor” and “multi-tenancy” are two dangerous terms. Beware of what vendors actually mean by them.
  • From where I stand, given the cloud management market demand and evolution, I see at least 3 startups that have a remarkable opportunity.
August:
  • Fulfilling the promise of cloud computing requires a programmable infrastructure. HW that didn’t adapt rapidly enough is now virtualized.
  • Problem is automating (re)actions based on monitored performance and events occurring in the cloud.
  • Cloud success requires a lot of tweets.
  • Not enough ambitious startups in Europe. Plenty of untapped opportunities in cloud, virtualization, and enterprise management markets.
  • Typical inquiry of mine: Top management said we need a private cloud up and running in X months (where X is borderline surreal).
  • Private clouds are maturing at an incredibly slow pace. Most adopters are still stuck in the “building” or “re-building” phase.
  • When a vendor’s customer reference *just* implemented a tech you never know the outcome. In 6 months it could be replaced because inadequate
  • These days the “de facto standard” status is achieved by ubiquity in press, not implementations. Especially in cloud computing.
  • Can a technology be considered a “de facto platform” when everybody is talking about it but very few actually implement it in production?
  • Dear mainstream vendors: you better simplify and cut features overlap in your CMP *now*. Your clients are losing faith. You won’t recover it
  • More than ever, complexity and cost plaguing CMPs from mainstream vendors is driving clients’ attention towards startups’ alternatives.
  • Inquires about skilled and trustworthy consulting firms to build a private cloud, and best providers for a managed private cloud skyrocketed
  • During evaluations, always ask to your customer references how often they used PSO, and to the vendor how many fixes went back into product.
  • Don’t confuse *interest* with *adoption*. A lot of people talking about a product/tech doesn’t mean they are actually using it.
  • Ask your vendor (and yourself): what’s the difference between virtual infrastructure mgmt and cloud mgmt? You’ll be amazed by dance activity
  • From where I stand, the opportunity for outsourcers to build managed private clouds remains massive. But they have to hire & retain talents.
  • Dear cloud management vendor, your internal IT is your best ally to develop features you need to win enterprise prospects. Listen to them.
September:
  • Why do commercial cloud infrastructure solutions based on open source projects (e.g., OpenStack) change their product name every few months?
  • The *very few* orgs that calculated the ROI for the cloud orchestration effort *know* how expensive it is. Others underestimate it.
  • On average, a complex brownfield app will take 6 weeks min. to be converted in a catalog object with correlated automation workflow
  • Starting onboarding from brownfield, complex, legacy apps is a recipe for disaster (as the many FG2000 I talk to regularly confirm)
  • Building a cloud mgmt platform through best of breed approach is great in theory. In practice I have a line of clients that tried and failed
  • Double check case studies. I keep hearing clients replacing their cloud mgmt platforms for technical, organizational, or political reasons.
October:
  • Listen. It’s the sound of the cloud management platform market shrinking. Very few valid CMPs left to be bought. I can see the next ones.
  • I’ll never stop to be amazed by how badly cloud management startups know their competition and what large enterprise orgs actually want.
  • Calls with clients about how they replaced a cloud management platform with another are always fascinating. So many failed expectations.
  • Clients building private clouds continue to expect the automation of a full LoB app stack provisioning without anticipating complexity.
  • Ironically, it seems like the more crowded a market segment gets the least vendors try to differentiate.
  • Yet another client planning to build a private cloud but actually wanting simple virtual lab automation. I’m sounding like a broken record.
  • Once again: CMP multi-tenancy support is not even close as robust as vendors suggest. My post on the subject: goo.gl/LFubiv
  • Yet another org considering a private cloud on top of VMware ESX and Power VM. This is the multi-hypervisor demand vendors should focus on.
  • The fact that PayPal -not a vendor- adapted Netflix Asgard to support OpenStack tells how inadequate current CMPs are to address mkt demand.
November:
  • Too many dashboards, not enough execution plans. And not enough automated execution plans.
  • The assumption that provided appropriate insights humans will execute a remediation plan (or the best possible remediation plan) is wrong.
  • Who has the most to lose if OpenStack successfully penetrates the enterprise market? The one that has the most adopted virtual resource mgr.
December:
  • Yet another org looking for a virtual lab automation tool. CMP vendors: are you waiting for me to set up an online petition before you act?
*Before you come to any conclusion by reading the above Twitter activity, keep in mind that tweets force brevity, remove context, and don’t reflect in full the opinion and analysis developed in my lengthy research documents.  Please refer to my Gartner for Technical Professionals research for in-depth coverage  of the private cloud market and the cloud management platform landscape.

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Alessandro Perilli
Research Director
3 years at Gartner
16 years IT industry

Alessandro Perilli is a research director for Data Center Strategies in the IT Professionals Research group at Gartner. Alessandro covers private cloud computing and cloud management platforms. Read Full Bio


Thoughts on My 2013 tweets about cloud management platforms and private cloud computing: how much will it change in 2014?


  1. Andy Morley says:

    Hi Alessandro.

    Cloud based systems are going to explode in 2014 in my opinion, as more and more companies look to the cloud.

    But as you said last year, companies struggle to make that jump.

    Andy.

  2. This was a great recap of market sentiments.
    Thanks for the advice.

  3. I like cloud computing solutions. Good 🙂



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