A cloud management platform (CMP) is a suite of software tools that organizations use to gain visibility into their cloud deployments. IT admins use these tools to control and monitor cloud computing resources. This allows for better control of cloud environments, optimization of costs and performance, and enhancement of security.
Cloud management platform architecture varies widely. While some CMPs are on-premises applications, others are software-as-service (SaaS) products. These tools vary widely based on their features, flexibility, ease of use, and cost. There are those offered by public cloud providers, such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. These only work for the company that made them, and, in some cases, for on-premise deployments. You can also find third-party CMPs. Such CMPs offer a wide range of cloud management tools and tend to work with multiple cloud providers.
With each type of CMP, you’re bound to find many features. Some come packed with every kind of capability imaginable. Others are more niched and only provide a broad range of tools needed for the specific industry. The reason for the variance in cloud management platform architecture is that each vendor starts with its own design philosophy. This philosophy evolves with changes in the market.
The Modular Architecture of a Cloud Management Platform
A well-designed CMP provides a cloud portal, orchestration, automated provisioning, workflow, and resource metering/integrated billing capabilities. CMPs have three functional layers. Each layer integrates with the layer above it.
Layer 1: Cloud Portal and Self-Service Portal
This is the top layer. It represents the web user interface with which the client interacts. Clients can place orders, track, and manage their cloud service subscriptions.
Layer 2: Automated Provisioning, Orchestration and Service Design
This is the middle layer. It represents the orchestrating, automation, workflow, and resource management functionality.
Layer 3: Network Operations and Management Suite
This is the bottom later. It’s responsible for network management. This is where security, systems monitoring, and capacity management functionality monitor cloud infrastructure. It also integrates with existing data center operations management tools.
Cloud Management Platform Capabilities
Your operational objectives and technical requirements will determine which CMP you choose. However, whatever CMP you go for should have the following key capabilities according to the CSCC (Cloud Standards Customer Council):
1. General Services
The user should have access to self-service capabilities, analytics, and reporting. The user can get insights into the enterprise-wide consumption patterns of the cloud deployments.
2. Service Management
The IT team should be able to monitor services in the cloud. This will help the team with workload deployment, planning, and management of cloud performance and availability.
3. Resource Management
IT teams should be able to manage cloud computing resources, such as storage, networks, and virtual machines. The cloud management platform should come with features, such as discovery, provisioning, tagging, orchestration, and automation, to help with this. It would be a nice touch if the cloud management platform included the capabilities to migrate resources between clouds.
4. Financial Management
This refers to the ability to automatically keep track and allocate cloud spend to users and departments. Financial management capabilities should make it possible to generate chargeback reports and forecast cloud costs.
5. Governance and Security
This enables the administrator to implement policy-based controls of resources in the cloud. It also offers security features, such as identity and encryption, as well as access management.
This is another key feature of a cloud management platform. The tool should be able to access internal and external IT systems programmatically. It should support APIs and customization. This makes it possible for the cloud management platform to bring together disparate cloud environments to create centralized control. Some of the key areas where integration is necessary include:
- On-premises private cloud: This refers to the cloud environments that exist within the organization. CMPs should include platforms, such as OpenStack, Apache CloudStack, and VMWare, to help with the management of private cloud resources. The platform should also integrate with container orchestrators, such as Kubernetes.
- CSP-hosted private cloud: Also referred to as a dedicated cloud, these are private cloud environments managed through APIs. Enterprises host these deployments with a private cloud provider.
- Public cloud service: The CMP should integrate with public cloud providers, such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform. This makes it possible for IT admins to manage the resources residing in the public cloud.
- Enterprise management: The cloud management platform should be able to integrate with existing enterprise systems. This will enable it to provide capabilities, such as configuration management, incident management, financial management, and asset management.
- Service automation: Your organization may consider integration with existing automation tools to make resource management easier. Consider integration with configuration management tools, such as Puppet and Chef, as well as deployment tools, such as Terraform.
Cloud computing has gone mainstream. The demand for tools that help with cloud management is growing. Understanding cloud management platform architecture gives you a snapshot of the capabilities and limitations of these tools.