The multi-cloud and hybrid cloud are now mainstream. Enterprises are increasingly seeking ways to manage and deploy cloud resources across multiple environments. Third-party cloud management tools are helping enterprises solve this problem. But the industry is still in its nascent stage, and there are too many players with varying offerings. So, choosing cloud management vendors is not a process you’d wish to rush.
The prudent thing to do would be to take time to map out your requirements before going in for a tool. These requirements should touch on cost optimization, user access, resource provisioning, and other critical cloud management features. Here’s how to go about it:
1. Start by Defining Your Goals
Before you can start evaluating cloud management vendors, you should ask the following questions:
- What do you want to achieve?
- How do you plan to achieve it?
- What are the reasons for pursuing this goal?
Write down what you’re looking to achieve with the cloud management platform. You don’t have to have figured everything out at this point. Start with what you have in mind. For instance, your organization might be looking to implement self-service capabilities in its cloud environment. A cloud management tool can help with this. You can use templates that users can access to launch cloud resources.
Is the goal to reduce deployment overhead and increase consistency across your multi-cloud infrastructure? Then you can start with self-service options for VMs. Users will gradually become familiar with this model. You can, then, build it up from there.
2. Put in Place Access Management Policies
Before rolling out a multi-cloud management tool, you should define who gets access and what he or she can access. This is not always a straightforward process. Many organizations have many groups that need to access cloud resources for a myriad of reasons. To overcome this challenge, you should breakdown your requirements into the following areas for each of the groups that need access:
- Consumers: Project managers, end-users, and developers who access cloud resources fall within this group.
- Managers: This refers to the people who manage and approve requests by consumers. In some organizations, the IT admin or other technical staff members can take up the business admin role.
- Business admins: This refers to those who provide access to the organization’s cloud resources. They also manage access to resource templates. This ensures that consumers are using the right configurations.
It’s important to create groups for each business unit to make management much simpler. Assigning direct roles to users is usually not a good idea. It makes it harder to manage access as the cloud environment grows. To make it more manageable, admins should place users into groups and remove them from the groups as the need arises. Ideally, you want to make the resource authorization workflow mimic the organizational structure of the business. You can use the same resource templates as many times as possible. But it’s important to note that templates aren’t shareable between cloud tenants.
3. Management of Resource Consumption and Workflows
Enterprises need to monitor resource consumption in the cloud. As you evaluate multi-cloud management vendors, it’s important to establish how their tools handle resource monitoring. Ideally, you want tools that can determine the amount of memory, disk, and CPU users and their workloads can consume. Admins, then, need a way to keep track of this consumption. Admins also need to make sure business units aren’t consuming more resources than they should.
A cloud management platform can help admins to build workflows for resource deployments with a wizard or a drag-and-drop user interface. A typical workflow consists of the following actions:
- A user checks in. He or she selects a blueprint that includes VM details and the required configuration data.
- The manager receives an email containing an approval request. Some cloud management platforms allow admins to customize this process. The admin may choose to skip this stage or apply it selectively.
- At this point, a customized approval process takes place. The outcome is a VM the user can access.
4. Cost Optimization and Monitoring
Multi-cloud management vendors understand the need for cost management in the multi-cloud environment. If left unchecked, costs can quickly get out of control. The layers of complexity associated with the multi-cloud don’t make things any easier.
Consequently, most vendors have in-build cost tracking and management tools to help admins stay within budget. A good tool should also allow the admin to attribute ownership to individuals and groups whenever a VM runs in the cloud.
The admin’s role would be to set up the right configurations and alerts. He or she would also have to use the tools at his or her disposal for baselining and forecasting to anticipate costs.
Spend some time selecting multi-cloud management vendors. You should work with partners that fit your specific needs and budget. Do some due diligence to figure out if the tools are compatible with your deployments.