Booming demand for IT services has led many companies to embrace cloud computing, augmenting their own private infrastructures with the on-demand resources of a public cloud. When it comes to managing the resulting hybrid environment, however, these same companies have simply fallen back on using different tools to manage different services.
Unfortunately, this sort of siloed approach to management can create enormous drag on IT, stifle innovation and compromise agility—essentially handicapping the company at a time when ever-changing business requirements demand precisely the opposite. In the face of unprecedented IT complexity and external pressures such as increased competition and marketplace uncertainty, a new approach is needed, one that is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of cloud computing.
HP has identified what we feel are the key features of the optimal cloud management solution:
Integral part of the cloud journey
Cloud is a journey, not an overnight transformation. As such, it can be divided into several distinct steps: consolidating and standardizing IT resources to free up both staff and funding for your cloud initiative; automation of manual tasks and processes, which is a prerequisite for moving to cloud; self-service requesting by line-of-business users; operating and managing the complete lifecycle of these cloud services, from service creation to retirement; and finally, brokering internally created and externally sourced services.
Support for heterogeneous environments
In the real world, no large-scale cloud service delivery environment is going to be purely one type or the other, but rather, a mix of multiple elements. Thus, the most effective management solution is a single, comprehensive tool that lets you build, operate, and manage services in a heterogeneous environment with multi-vendor hardware, multi-OS, and multiple hypervisors.
Open and extensible architecture
Your cloud environment should be capable of accommodating and adapting to your business needs as they change over time—thus it is important to avoid getting locked into a single-vendor solution by keeping your environment open and flexible. The optimal cloud management platform would help retain this sort of flexibility by supporting publicly exposed APIs to facilitate integration with other third-party products. When building cloud services, it is critical to design for workload portability across public and private cloud. A cloud management platform that supports open source cloud computing such as OpenStack, and open cloud standards such as TOSCA (Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications), can help you design for portable and interoperable services and avoid vendor lock-in.
Support for the entire stack
A solution that limits your management capabilities to the infrastructure only also limits your ability to fully exploit the potential of cloud computing. The most effective solution will allow you to manage the entire stack—infrastructure (IaaS), platform (PaaS), and applications (SaaS)—not just infrastructure services.
Cloud computing is a key cornerstone of your overall IT strategy, and the tools you use to manage that environment should reflect that importance. To support your mission-critical applications, your cloud solution should be secure, compliant, and built on a highly available architecture, with the ability to scale infinitely and support large-scale enterprise applications.
Simplified, seamless user experience
In recent years, simple design and a seamless user experience have become the hallmark of many new consumer-facing applications, masking the complexity of the application underneath a modern and simple user interface. Today, line-of-business users expect this same simplicity, ease of use, and aesthetic appeal with their own IT applications. Gone are the days when IT applications were skinned in visually unimpressive monotones—today’s user interfaces are colorful, playful, and eye-catching, rendering perfectly on any device regardless of screen size or device type.
Hazel Chin is the Singapore General Manager at HP Software