IT professionals lack tools to get a handle on cloud performance, according to a blog by David Linthicum, CTO and founder of cloud consultancy Blue Mountain Labs.
That makes the newly minted position of cloud manager unenviable:
Cloud managers are going to war with few weapons. Although the cloud providers provide rudimentary tools for management... There should be stack of good technology sitting between the cloud managers and the cloud services, but I have yet to see it.
It's still tough to find tools to use a single interface to control user access to cloud services, to track cloud performance, and measure cloud use against costs -- even though he cites "a few innovators moving in the right direction," such as Rightscale, EnStratus, and Layer 7.
There are other cloud management suppliers Linthicum doesn't mention, such as Scalr, Kaavo, and Embotics -- all mostly startups, and all part of a growing roster of firms aiming to help IT manage cloud services.
Some of these suppliers, like Layer 7, offer sophisticated solutions based on service-oriented architecture principles. Others, like Embotics, claim to be more or less "off the shelf," easy to set up as front ends to a range of in-house and cloud services.
Companies that offer PaaS (platform as a service) solutions, including IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft, also tout management capabilities as part of their value propositions. Indeed, management is one reason development capabilities are putting PaaS cloud offerings on the market fast track.
Cloud management is also part of the open-source mission of OpenStack and similar efforts to standardize cloud design.
These cloud management tools are helping many firms get control over the services they use, as well as the services they offer. For example, educational publisher Pearson Education created a cloud for its courseware using RightScale software, which Andy West, Pearson's director of technology, says helped especially with provisioning servers for software delivery (as shown in the video below).
But more progress is needed to give enterprises a more consistent span of control over internal clouds as well as the use of external public cloud services. Currently, the spectrum of cloud management offerings is uneven. As Linthicum states:
The problem is that cloud management technology is still maturing. A few innovators such as Rightscale, EnStratus, and Layer 7 are moving in the right direction. But missing still is that one killer technology that turns the new cloud manager position into a job that people would want.
Hopefully, enterprises won't have to wait too long for better tools to manage their clouds.
Internet Evolution can help you learn to implement and manage cloud technology. Join us for 7 Days of Executive Education (7DEE), starting Oct. 30 and running for seven days over the following three weeks. Find out more here: Getting Cued In to the Cloud.
— Mary Jander , Executive Editor, Internet Evolution