Cloud Management Platforms
IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Add in a Cloud Management Platform or CMP. There are grey areas between IaaS and PaaS and for multi-cloud, hybrid environments, which can be difficult to properly define in a RACI. For example, who should operationalise manage the OSes upon which the Infrastructure is dependent? The IaaS or PaaS teams?
Essentially, A Cloud Management Platform is a software platform which combines a set of features or modules which enable the management of different cloud environments. Public, private and hybrid cloud cannot be all handled with a simple virtualisation management console.
A CMP is useful when you have performance and IaaS Management issues. Though it is usually used in hybrid or multi-cloud estates, if you have a large, sprawling on-premise multi-Data Centre architecture, a CMP might also be useful and in this case would be used not as a Cloud MP (the cloud integration may indeed come later) but simply as an IaaS MP or IMP. A CMP or IMP targets enterprises with various IT demands and load fluctuations, those looking to industrialise their infrastructure and start dealing with requests from a “service” and not only “operations” point of view.
An infrastructure will contain hardware, network, network devices, storage, VMs, but also IT tools (monitoring, workflows, automation tool, etc). The value of a CMP is to gather your tools, process, technologies in a unique pane of glass to facilitate your cloud environment management. CMPs as mentioned can also play a role within complex on-Premise DC environments who are trying to mimic the virtualised and integrated platforms supplied by Public Cloud providers.
A Cloud Management Platform is a tool sitting above your IaaS to automatically organise and pilot your infrastructure. It’s aimed at IT administrators, Infrastructure Manager or CTO, giving them a global view and control on their entire infrastructure.
Some mandatory features for a CMP include the following:
Self-service: This is the portal, the interface through which you log on and manage your infrastructure from. From here, it must be easy to choose your configurations and execute deployments. You have access to a list of configuration templates that you can select and customise.
Provision system images: A CMP deploys system images on underlying infrastructures. Via the self-service feature, you can have access to different kind of system images that you can choose and deploy.
Metering and billing: Cloud Management Platforms provide information on your infrastructure consumption and can edit bills based on this data. This is a crucial feature for companies wanting to recharge costs to inside services (sales, marketing, HR, accounting, developers) or for service providers/cloud providers invoicing based on customer’s consumption. You can also track your infrastructure use trend: when was it most loaded? What time of the day? Which day of the month? What time of the year? Which client? You can then adapt your business and IT with all cards in hand.
Workload optimisation and policies: All CMP features are linked and work seamlessly with each other. CMP is a tool to optimise your infrastructure usage either automatically for some CMP or as a help to decision making for some others. The idea is to manage your resources better. You can also create management policies, with instructions such as: “provision a new server every time a physical server is used up to 65%” or “add 2GB of ram when my VM resources are used up to 75%. End result – use less energy and make your own management rules.
External tool management: CMP will centralise your data centre technologies in one interface. Companies already use IT tools for monitoring, workflow management, deployment automation. CMP can connect to those existing technologies. Either to collect their data or to pilot them directly, “ordering them” when to execute their operations.
Service catalogs: Via the self-service portal, you can choose service templates or configurations to apply them to the service you want to launch. You have access to a list of already “prepackaged service” or you can make them from scratch. Saved as templates you can then duplicate configurations to other services. For instance, you can start your new service (let’s call it service B) with the same elements than Service A, but want to customise it because your Service B answers to different set of user needs and security matters than Service A. Policies which can be good for your service A might not fit for your service B – for example you won’t want the same type of service for your sales departments as those for your software development team.
Network and storage resource configuration: CMP will aggregate your server’s management with your network and storage technologies. You can define which type of storage or network you want to use for your service. You can create management policies as well on those elements. You can set up your storage configuration (NAS, SAN, direct attached storage, Shared bloc level storage) for each service. With CMP everything can be customised so you can purpose your services exactly the way you want.
Service governors: A CMP is a smart tool which understands how your company’s IT works. Service governors will analyse requests in order to deploy them with the right configuration and guide the request where it must be. It will analyse which user made the request and for which service. Is it a sensitive service? What are the user rights? Are there any policies linked to this user or service? Must it be deployed on a physical or a virtual machine? Is there a special type of network that you indicated that must be used for this type of service? This feature makes sure your operations are made the way you want it to be.
High performance management: Gathering and correlating all your policies, from your services to your infrastructure pattern use, CMPs will provision, configure automatically and deploy your services using the right amount of resources. CMP intelligence gathers all the data points into one account to guarantee performance and SLAs, to make the best out of your user experience and satisfaction.
If we analyse the market, there are plenty of cloud management products, the most prevalent of which are BMC, Dell, Morph, Flexera & Scalr. Make sure all the features listed above are present in the CMP.
A CMP complements a virtualisation platform vendor and does not replace it.