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A Focus on Cloud Management

In this post, I keep my focus on the management theme from the previous three weeks of posts with concentration on cloud. What is different with cloud as compared to system, network and application management? Don’t cloud services require system and network management? Don’t cloud services run an application so isn’t application management useful?

Time Keeps Rolling Along

One view of cloud computing is that it’s simply an extension of the management disciplines that came before it. It’s easy to see some truth in this view. After all, cloud services have servers that have to be managed, hence legacy systems management and cloud services have networks, too. If anything, due to the shared nature of cloud services, the network administration and management is more complicated that the typical network configuration. And, cloud services run applications with programs, databases and resources for interprogram communications so application management seems to apply. What’s missing from the historical-based discussion is all the other elements of cloud services that require management attention.

The Services in Cloud Services

Unlike many systems of the past, cloud services have new and advanced capabilities that require management, as they don’t simply run flawlessly by themselves. Cloud services—private or public—typically have a self-service portal supported by tools like configuration management as well as an administrative portal sustained by monitoring and analytical tools. In support of the cloud infrastructure, cloud services supply infrastructure templates, a function called provisioning, as well as configuration, migration and lifecycle management. In support of the cloud applications themselves, cloud services supply application templates, provisioning services, configuration, migration and lifecycle management as well. These services reach deeply into infrastructure and the applications it runs.

Products Fill the Function and Management Roles  

Because there are so many different layers of function and management required, there’s an opportunity for software companies to step up and provide one or more tools to fill the gap. IBM has a leading product called IBM Cloud Orchestrator 2.5 Enterprise Edition. What services and the associated management functions does this product supply? Here is a useful list of its capabilities:

  • Customizable Self Service Portal
  • Advanced Orchestration Platform
  • Automation of IT processes, via integration packs with many IBM and non-IBM tools
  • Makes use of OpenStack, an open cloud standard
  • Supports VMware, HyperV, KVM, Power and z/VM Infrastructure
  • Management support for Amazon EC2, IBM SoftLayer and Microsoft Azure clouds
  • Provides multi-tenant cloud usage reporting and executive cost dashboard
  • Offers Cost Management with Rating and Pricing Models. Tiered pricing.
  • Includes what-if capacity analysis to model changes and reduce risk
  • Supplies health dashboards for instant, consolidated glimpse into cloud health

This list of capabilities is a mix of cloud service functions and management tools. The self-service portal and orchestration platform are clearly cloud service functions whereas the management support for products like Amazon EC2 and IBM SoftLayer and reporting are in the management category. The broad support for diverse technologies like HyperV and KVM and diverse commercial products, like Microsoft Azure reflect the important of working within a diverse and multi-vendor software and hardware marketplace. Cloud services has evolved in an interesting way—functions that make cloud what it is like self services or pay for what you use combined with built-in management capabilities for internal and external use.

Next week, I’ll continue with the management theme with a focus on management of artificial intelligence (AI). There has been much written about jobs being lost to AI now and into the future. Now that AI is maturing rapidly, what management challenges are inherent with it?