Cloud Management 101

I work as an evangelist & strategist for the Cloud Management business unit within VMware. In this role I talk a lot to customers about what Cloud Management is and how it fits the customers needs when it comes to providing IT resources to the consumers of IT.

Depending on the maturity of the customer I talk about why of cloud management, but in general most of them are at the beginning or early start of looking into cloud management. And the perception of most customers is that cloud management is “just automation”.

Actually automation is just a part of the whole cloud management solution. Automation may be the first step because the transition to cloud requires stuff to be delivered “as-a-service”. For that we need to take as much of the manual labour out or delivery and “automate the manual process”.

If automation is just the first step, then what is the end goal? Well and that’s where we need to return to the name.It’s all about managing clouds. And if you see clouds as a collections of services that you can consume, then cloud management is the management of all those services.

And in today’s world customers are not consuming services from just one cloud. It could of course be a starting point. Today most enterprise customers have some form of private cloud. This is a starting point as most customers have evolved their IT infrastructure to a state where consumers can get their IT resources as a services.

But most customers I talk to foresee a world that embraces multiple clouds. Some customers are already using services from AWS or from Azure. Next to that see you other parties trailing these leaders in public cloud such as Google, Alicloud and Oracle. And let’s not forget the thousands of service providers out there that deliver services that need to be consumed. All of which provide services that need to be governed and that need to comply with the policies and regulations that the business needs to follow.

This is where we need to have to have a model that describes all the functionalities of a Cloud Management Platform. A description that can govern all aspects of managing multiple clouds and the applications that sit on top of it.

Luckily Gartner has created such a model. Below you will find a graphical representation of the model.


Courtesy of Gartner for more info click on the picture.

The model shows and envisions all aspects that a cloud management platform needs to address. Of course not everything needs to be in place when starting with cloud management. It’s a journey where most companies start small, but over time all areas will be addressed when moving into a multi-cloud, app-centric world.

The goal is to provide a cloud management system that enables internal IT departments to become a service broker to the business. It should not be a problem that the business wants to consume applications and infrastructure resources from multiple providers. Either internal, private cloud resources or public cloud resources should be consumable. As long as IT can govern those IT resources. In the end it’s all about staying in control and making sure that everything happens in accordance to the requirements and needs of the company and costs remain within budget. That’s the purpose of a Cloud Management Platform.

An IT Infrastructure Perspective on Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is all around us. Over the last couple of years we’ve moved into the age of digital experience. We’re more and more getting used to consuming our products as-a-service and consuming it digitally through apps on our computers and mobile phones.

This forces companies to change and rethink their current strategies. Innovation has to take place to keep competitors from taking more market share. Even worse is the possibility of being disrupted by either a new startup or a multi-billion dollar company that comes with a new innovative way to disrupt the market and gain a huge market share overnight. We all know the examples of Netflix, Uber, Amazon, etc. Companies that disrupt markets in new innovative way and have gained a solid position in the consumer market today.

All of this of course has an impact on how we consume IT infrastructure. The question then becomes: How do we relate this new way of doing business to IT infrastructure?

After all IT infrastructure is most of the time not the core business of most companies. But still we need to transform our infrastructure to accommodate digital transformation. Doesn’t matter what business your are in; banking, retail, government, whatever.

Every type of business is going through this digital transformation. Some industries are already in it, others are already starting. Either way consumers expect it and it will happen at some point in time.

The above picture I use to illustrate how infrastructure relates to digital transformation. It’s a simplification of what happens in the world of IT today.

Business consumes applications to deliver their services, applications run on infrastructure. Nothing new here, but as the introduction already said, things are changing rapidly and we are now coming into the area of digital transformation. The application becomes this central piece that makes this happen. Fundamentally making business “go digital”.

Crucial here is the interaction with which the applications can be build, changed and implemented in production. Application developers started to use more agile ways of making development happen, but that of course had an impact on infrastructure. A need to work more closely together led to the DevOps movement. A cultural shift to align the people and processes to provide developers with the right resources to get applications faster to production while keeping quality the same or better.

To accommodate all of this we also need to transform the infrastructure. The infrastructure need to become more agile to accommodate the needs of the applications that run on it. Taking into account that the infrastructure needs to be capable of running newly created applications, but also is capable of running the existing (sometimes legacy) applications.

Infrastructure agility is becoming a key piece of the digital transformation journey. Changing infrastructure capability demands, force IT operations to rethink their strategy and to become more app-centric.