You’ve got your CMPs, brokerage services, expense managers, and policy and governance automators. But what does it all mean? Is that what you really need? Sure, solutions providers are great at listing tons of attributes that make migrating to the cloud seem easy and manageable with their product, but if you aren’t sure exactly why or how to use them, these promises just join the rest of the noise in the market space.

In a recent InfoWorld article by Brandon Butler, he lists and describes the many options that are available for cloud management software. And while his list is comprehensive, it is helpful to examine why each of these options would be the best choice for your specific virtual infrastructure needs. Let’s take a deeper dive into the key capabilities you might need your cloud provider to solve.

Total Visibility and Integration

In a multi- or hybrid cloud infrastructure, gaining visibility across all clouds on one platform is ideal when data and processes are operating with different cloud providers. As Butler mentioned, CMPs, or cloud management providers, offer various tools that allow integration and visibility between clouds. An IT department may want to see how many instances are spun up and where, organize and track resources and detect change across the infrastructure. The ideal CMP will present that in a single pane of glass, displaying the entire infrastructure in one place instead of across multiple screens and platforms.

Many cloud vendors do provide their own tools and solutions — a choice for enterprise that may only be working in one cloud. But there is a downside. Vendor lock-in can occur when a company chooses to use all of a vendor’s solutions and tools. This means when a company is ready to move on to another cloud vendor or solution, they find that the transition is too hard as the vendor’s tools and capabilities are specifically designed for that vendor. Enterprises will find the hassle unattractive and remain locked into that vendor’s offerings. Using alternative CMPs allows for more ease of use across clouds and tools.

Policy & Automation

Once you’re able to see your entire infrastructure, you will want to take action on those observations. For example, if you start to see that you have rogue resources popping up in another country you’ll probably want to prevent future instances from spinning up by setting a policy that prevents resources from operating in that region. You may also want an additional policy that prevents certain employees or teams from spinning up certain instances. With CMPs you can set alerts that will let management know when this or another other non-compliant action takes places so they can solve the problem.

Some platforms can take that one step further. With a list of non-compliant tickets, an IT team can begin tackling the issues one at a time. But that creates several issues. For one, staff could begin to grow numb from the alerts, ignoring them when they come or moving slowly to respond. Another problem is once policies are set there could be many non-compliant resources and the list can simply grow too large to deal with in a timely manner, further increasing costs and security risks. With policy automation, bots can be taught how to detect these issues and take immediate action, including shutting down that instance. Automation can turn off instances and turn them back on, saving money at night when no one is using them, and even assign permissions to particular people so only approved staff can complete certain tasks. A solution that focuses specifically on active policy enforcement is ideal to make these processes simple and effective.

Scaling

Whether or not scaling automatically in the cloud can happen is debatable, but the ability to respond quickly to sudden spikes in demand can be the difference between a wonderful or terrible customer experience. Scaling is the cloud’s ability to quickly shift resources when a workload is overwhelmed and has reach capacity. The human response to these changes could be too slow for the demand and an automated process is needed to adjust to the demand and increase or even decrease compute power as needed.

Security

Security breaches are the greatest deterrent from the cloud, and with reports stating that breaches will increase in the following year, enterprises are looking for solutions that guard their companies’ data from hackers.

Additionally, security breaches can also occur from non-compliances within the company. When developers find ways to go around central IT and spin up what they need for a task, they also may leave the company vulnerable with unintentional gaps in security. Policy enforcement is a major key in ensuring these vulnerabilities don’t happen, and if they do, they are shut down automatically and immediately.

Cost Control

One of the draws to cloud computing are the overall cost reductions. And while it is possible to reduce costs, it is also very easy to incur them. Cloud services brokers tend to help customers reduce costs upfront, helping them to determine which cloud vendors and solutions will be best for their overall needs. The front end cost savings are attractive, but it is the operational costs that take most tech teams by surprise and rack up the greatest costs in the long run.

Costs are hidden throughout the entire cloud, and even though the cost to run an operation in the cloud may only be fractions of a penny, if an organization is unaware that a process is operating non-stop for a year, they can see a bill increase in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Organizations need tools that will provide cost transparency and display exactly where the costs are coming from. But it is also beneficial to deploy and automate policies that will shut down instances, prevent shadow IT and ultimately keep an eye on the cloud to ensure unexpected costs are not incurred.

Making the Decision

With a maturing market and so many options, it can be hard to make a decision and even more difficult to figure out which solutions actually achieve the goals you have set for your cloud migration and operations. Enterprises should approach their shopping experience with a plan and with the knowledge of what they have, what they want to understand, and where they see their company and cloud in the future.

Enterprises should ask for opportunities to test drive software and platforms to see the work in action. A platform may answer one question or display certain data but create more work and costs in the long run.

Weighing all options and understanding their complete functionality will help enterprises make wiser decisions and have more a profitable future.

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