Abstract: The recent spat of acquisitions of cloud management and orchestration companies by large cloud providers could be taking away from the essence of the hybrid cloud, leading to increased risk of vendor/technology lock in.

Large cloud technology and service providers are swooping in to lock-up cloud management solutions at an astonishing rate. Earlier this week, ITapp was acquired by ServiceNow. Last month, Cisco scooped up CliQr. And Red Hat acquired Ansible in 2015.

Depending on who you are and where you stand, these acquisitions can be very good, or very concerning.

On one hand, this is exciting news for these newly acquired firms and others in the cloud management space. CliQr and its investors are taking home $260 million in cash from its deal with Cisco.  It is great validation of the market demand for technologies that help enterprises accelerate and get the most out of their cloud adoption.  But, on the other hand, these deals raise concerns in the marketplace for enterprises that want to pursue hybrid or multi-cloud strategies.

Hybrid cloud – at its core – is the ability to utilize a mix of public and private cloud platforms to meet specific requirements and manage risk.  We’re increasingly seeing enterprise clients migrate workloads from legacy VMware datacenter deployments into a primary public cloud – such as AWS – while utilizing a second public cloud – such as Azure – for disaster recovery or specific workloads.  There may also be a long-term strategy to migrate their private cloud to OpenStack from VMware.  So that’s four different cloud technologies across the enterprise – heading to three in the long term.

But this only works at production scale if you have cloud agnostic monitoring, management and automation tools to help address the complexity and risk.  And, as David Linthicum states in his article for InfoWorld:

“To be effective, cloud-management platforms need to be both technology- and cloud-agnostic. That independence ends once these platforms are purchased by large enterprise vendors that focus on their own cloud offerings, in a bid to steer customers to their offerings.”

With many independent solution providers being taken off the table, organizations looking for cloud solutions may lean towards working with a cloud provider that has bundled these offerings along with their cloud service. This leads to vendor lock-in – when sticking with one cloud provider becomes the only option because all of the orchestration and automation services that underpin an enterprise’s CloudOps are tied directly to that vendor.

But the problem goes beyond large cloud service providers locking customers in their grips. There are a number of benefits to hybrid computing that are lost.

For instance, spreading an enterprise’s infrastructure and applications across different clouds can prevent downtime if one cloud provider is experiencing performance issues.  Utilizing multiple clouds can also increase business agility – or the ability to quickly respond to market changes as they occur. One of the biggest reasons why enterprises need this kind of flexibility is for security purposes. Being able to quickly shift workloads from one cloud to another could be essential for protecting valuable customer information and maintaining critical services.

Locking an enterprise in to just one cloud provider effectively eliminates these benefits and leaves them vulnerable to outages and security threats.

At a time when enterprises desperately need solutions to their multi-cloud management and orchestration needs, the number of independent providers is shrinking as large cloud technology and service companies acquire solutions in order bolster their own offerings.  As David observes, “CliQr was already part of Cisco’s recommended suite for deploying InterCloud, and owning the technology will let Cisco control a key on-ramp to its InterCloud.”

It will be up to the remaining independent cloud optimization technology providers to pick up the slack.

For additional information on the benefits of a hybrid cloud environment, and the role that cloud automation and cloud management solutions can play in enabling hybrid cloud environments in the enterprise, download our eBook, “The Cloud Conundrum,” by clicking HERE.