There has been much buzz about the momentum being gained by infrastructure as a service (IaaS) now that most IT decision makers have their brains wrapped around Software as a Service (SaaS) and other basic cloud offerings. In fact, according to a recent article in Wired, Gartner says IaaS is already a $6 billion market and one that is growing nearly 50% per year.
Because of the way IaaS is delivered and managed, it is a high-resource endeavor, with nearly many folks involved, from individual business units with specific application needs to IT teams, software developers, and system administrators. That means an opportunity adjacent to the growing deployment of IaaS systems is cloud management. A cloud management platform allows solution providers (or their customers) to deploy, monitor and manage applications in the cloud (and some on-premise, if needed) in order to drive the agility cloud can deliver – if designed and then handled correctly.
The Wired article includes advice on six capabilities a customer should look for in a cloud management platform, and I think you will find value in the information even as solution providers. (Plus, it tells you a bit what to expect in terms of questions when you sit down with potential cloud/IaaS customers)
1. Simplify Complexity
With flexibility and choice – both empowered by IaaS – comes complexity. Just think about all those moving parts – operating systems, databases, application frameworks, configurations, boot sequences – you get the picture. Cloud management should resolve much of that management tangle.
2. Manage Multiple Clouds
Interoperability is the name of the game when it comes to cloud – between clouds and between on-premise and cloud. To achieve real payback on your customers’ cloud investments, make sure your management tool not only empowers that interoperability but monitors and identifies issues between multiple platform environments.
3. Build for the Future
Like any vendor partner, you want to find a cloud management platform supported by a vendor that is ready and willing to invest in the future, especially since nothing in the IT industry has moved as fast as cloud for a long time.
4. Support the Application Lifecycle
It is not news to any of you that managing applications can be messy and time consuming. Same goes with applications in the cloud, so be certain your management tool includes the monitoring, alerting, configuration management and disaster recovery tools necessary to take an application through refreshes, updates and service interruptions.
5. Automation: Set It and Forget It
Automation was the game-changer for managed services providers, providing them with the opportunity to do more with less. Look for the same functionality (and reporting) from your cloud management tool.
6. Manage and Control Costs
IaaS is priced by usage – nothing most organizations have monitored because if they owned the IT infrastructure, they wanted it used to its full extent. Adding to that lack of insight on usage is the fact that some cloud pricing can be complex given what and how much you consume. Don’t go for a cloud management platform doesn’t monitor, track, report and forecast on your customers’ usage.