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INDUSTRY INSIGHT

Top features of multicloud management tools

It’s clear that enterprise use of multiple cloud providers is commonplace.  A 2018 McAfee report stated that 60% of enterprises use 21 or more public cloud services.  Another 2018 survey, by Forrester, found that 86% of those surveyed were multicloud users.  To manage this proliferation of cloud solutions, IT providers are creating increasingly clever management tools to interconnect cloud services.  These single-interface management tools, the so-called “single pane of glass,” do more than help manage multicloud solutions -- they enable heightened security as well.  That’s because cloud managers are finally able to access tools to bring the public cloud experience into their own private cloud environment -- securely behind their firewalls.  

Cloud managers can readily configure several  existing infrastructure interfaces in one view, but with a range of tools hitting the market, users should look for these four top features in a multicloud management tool.

1. Broad applicability. Cloud managers should look for a tool that offers management capabilities for a variety of cloud types.  This is increasingly essential given the proliferation of cloud providers; any interface management tool must allow users, through a unified dashboard, to manage the following:

  • Existing infrastructure
  • As-a-service offerings
  • Hyperconverged infrastructure
  • Private cloud and public cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM and Oracle Cloud 

For private cloud management, the interface tool should be able to manage private clouds even in co-located facilities.

2. Workload management. As workloads change and cloud resources are expended to accommodate dynamic compute and storage needs, it’s common for a network to experience occasional episodes of extraordinary demand.  Any multicloud interface management tool must be able to manage and shift workloads to meet demands -- even in rapid-response scenarios. 

A sub-feature of workload management is data partitioning.  Some clients, especially in the government space, will require that data be held in a particular location.  A multicloud interface management tool must be able to accomplish walling-off and demonstrate compliance with the requirements through its reporting.

3. Reporting. The single interface management tool should include robust reporting, at a minimum providing a comprehensive asset inventory and budgetary reports.  

The asset inventory should offer a dashboard view of where problems occur, how long they took to fix, the causes and the equipment involved.  Crucially, in the government market, the reporting should demonstrate that government and private assets have not been co-mingled.

The budgetary reports should show how much money has been obligated to the compute and storage functions, how much has been spent, how much will be spent over time at various workload projections, when new money will be required and what budget projections look like for the life of the various provider contracts.  That’s standard operating procedure for any network administration, but in a multicloud environment, it must be visible in a comprehensive, cross-network view. 

4. Governance. Effective asset governance, especially in government, is absolutely crucial, and there is an impressive list of acronyms that show the rules and regulations put in place to ensure compliance, security and risk assessment.  That means system governance should be part of any multicloud management tool, and it should work in tandem with the reporting features.  For instance, a report on how money is spent and at what pace must be integrated with the governance of the system, while the expenditure is tied to the contract spending authority using workflow tracking features.  

When agencies have 30 or more contracts and multiple OEMs with overlapping services, support teams, and SLAs, the governance and reporting features of a single-pane-of-glass multicloud management tool become not just convenient, but essential.  Increasingly, it is required.  If a multicloud management tool somehow distributed overarching governance to each system node rather than centralizing it, agencies would be living a nightmare. 

Multicloud use is not the wave of the future; it is the present and will continue to proliferate.  The prudent choice of the right multicloud management tool is crucial not only for convenience but also for compliance, reporting, workload management, governance and budgetary management as well.  

About the Author

Rob Davies is executive vice president of operations at ViON.

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