Cloud orchestration is relatively new. It’s a category of software tools meant to help enterprises manage interconnections and interactions between disparate systems in the multi-cloud. These tools help organizations to streamline resource allocation and coordinate workload distribution. They also organize the deployment of services on multiple cloud environments or servers.
In general, cloud orchestration tools operate in the same way across private, public, and hybrid clouds. But the nuanced differences might favor one tool over another for your specific use case. So, it makes sense to do some research before purchasing a cloud orchestration tool.
Evaluating cloud orchestration vendors is a critical part of your organization’s success in the cloud. Here are some of the considerations you should make.
Factors to Consider When Evaluating Cloud Orchestration Vendors
1. Multi-Cloud Support
An important feature you should look for when evaluating cloud orchestration vendors is the ability to support multiple cloud providers. It gives you the freedom to choose the best matching cloud offer for your apps from a multitude of cloud providers. Cloud providers usually use proprietary APIs that can easily lead to vendor lock-in. This is especially so if you depend entirely on the cloud provider’s native API. The cloud orchestration tools you choose should provide an abstraction layer that hides the differences between cloud providers. This negates the need for provider-specific customization when switching between cloud providers.
2. Cross-Cloud Compatibility
Cross-cloud support is a must-have if you have a multi-cloud setup. This enables you to deploy a single application that users can access through component instances distributed over multiple cloud providers. Cross-cloud compatibility enables data to move seamlessly across providers without technical hitches. You can deploy a database in a private cloud on-premises and have numerous instances of the application based in multiple public clouds. The application instances will be able to access the database seamlessly.
The advantages of cross-cloud compatibility include:
- It allows you to select the most favorable combination of cloud instances from a myriad of cloud providers.
- Cross-cloud compatibility allows you to build in resiliency and data recovery. If one of your cloud providers suffers a technical hitch, your applications can move to another provider. You can do all this without bringing your operations to a halt.
- Cross cloud compatibility allows you to manage privacy issues. You can host sensitive apps and data in a private cloud without compromising the operational efficiency of your cloud deployment.
3. External PaaS Support
Cloud orchestration vendors should not only support IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) clouds. They should also be able to support PaaS (Platform as a Service) clouds, such as GoogleApp Engine. PaaS is convenient because it offers ready-to-deploy application containers. It is far less complicated when compared with IaaS. It also reduces the amount of effort it takes to manage the cloud. The only downside to going with a PaaS provider is the fact that it reduces your flexibility. The PaaS provider defines the container configuration. You have very little control over the apps.
4. Support for Cloud Standards
As mentioned earlier, one concern voiced by many enterprises using the cloud is vendor lock-in. It stems from the inability to move resources seamlessly from one cloud provider to another. For example, you might want to move providers if the relationship with the vendor is not working. It may also be because of the violation of SLAs (service level agreements), or you received a better deal elsewhere.
The interoperability problem in the cloud largely has to do with the standards used by cloud vendors. There have been attempts to develop standards, but adoption has been poor. For this reason, you might want to go with a cloud orchestration vendor that supports multiple cloud standards. Examples include CIMI (Cloud Infrastructure Management Interface), CAMP (Cloud Application Management for Platforms), SCAP (Security Content Automation Protocol), and OpenStack. Ideally, you want to go with cloud orchestration vendors that support as many standards as possible.
5. Bring Your Own Node (BYON)
BYON refers to the ability to use already running servers for application deployment. This feature allows you to use servers that the cloud platform you’re using does not manage. It also allows you to plug in virtual machines on unsupported cloud providers.
You can find an orchestration solution from a myriad of cloud orchestration vendors. However, DevOps teams can also implement custom cloud orchestration through management tools and automation.
When evaluating cloud orchestration tools, you should first map out the workflows of the apps involved. This should help you visualize and understand the complexities of the internal workflows of the application. You will also get a clear picture of how information flows outside the set of app components. This can help you choose an orchestration tool that will best meet the needs of your organization.