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The Emerging Ugly Issue in the Public Cloud: Enterprise Management

By Kyle Hilgendorf | August 06, 2014 | 2 Comments


Cloud surveys almost always cite security concerns as the top issue impacting public cloud adoption.  I am not debating this finding but I feel it is now prudent for me to highlight the emerging ugly item that may pass security as the top issue before too long – Enterprise Management.

Public cloud adoption continues to push forward with almost all of Gartner’s clients.  In the midst of this happening, I now have an increasing number of phone inquiries with clients that claim to be entering “significant adoption”.  This has variable meaning but in essence it means using many providers (SaaS, PaaS and IaaS) and deploying many assets per provider (applications, VMs, storage volumes, accounts, policies, etc).

I now have many calls about how to manage “all of this stuff”.  In small cloud deployments, tiger teams can typically manage the relationships and the assets at those providers.  But as widespread adoption sets in, things quickly spiral out of control.

All parts of ITIL or ITOM tend to impacted.  Clients cite management frustrations such as asset, deployment, configure, change, financial or lifecycle to mention a few.  Creating even more complexity is the fact that no two cloud providers are created equal.  What a client might be able to manage at cloud provider X with native services might not be an option with cloud provider Y.  Or a client might have a plugin for their enterprise management tool to cloud provider A but not cloud provider B.  This creates islands of management where the cloud buyer has no other choice but to create management processes uniquely at each cloud provider or forego professional management altogether.  This may be acceptable with limited deployments or for non-production systems, but move into large scale and for critical systems and this quickly becomes a show stopper.

A market exists for cloud services brokers that offer management capabilities and the industry is seeing improvement.  Furthermore, existing enterprise management tools are expanding their plugins to support more cloud providers.  But, most cloud brokers only support a handful of cloud platforms or providers and the majority of plugins for enterprise management tools only support a subset of functionality at the provider they “support”.  The cloud buyer must then perform a gap analysis of what comes out of the box and what must be built custom to professionally manage operations.

I believe we are approaching a critical state in the next year whereby most cloud buyers will start to experience significant frustrations with cloud management.  These cloud buyers must create centers of excellence within IT to build professional cloud management organizations, and these organizations must get comfortable with having multiple toolsets in play.  The alternative is running out of control in the cloud or not running in the cloud at all.  Gartner provides assistance with the Solution Path for Public Cloud Adoption Maturity Plan.

Next week at Gartner Catalyst I will be presenting a high level assessment of how four major IaaS providers (AWS, Azure, Google and vCHS) do at providing capabilities for Asset Management, Deployment Management and Financial Management.  If you are attending Catalyst in San Diego, please stop in and engage in the session.

What do you find to be your biggest problems in managing cloud providers or deployments within the public cloud?

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  • I am always searching for informative information like this. This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for sharing this great article

  • Terence Ngai says:

    Great post, Kyle. There’s no doubt that without the right guidelines in place, cloud projects can rapidly spin out of control. I advise my clients to think of themselves as hybrid IT service providers, whether they’re managing external clouds or internal resources. That way you have the procedures in place to keep track of all IT services, no matter who the supplier is or how many suppliers you have.