5 Cloud Management Platforms for the Enterprise | AHEAD
5 Cloud Management Platforms for the Enterprise | AHEAD

5 Cloud Management Platforms for the Enterprise | AHEAD

These days, a fortune of the big enterprise IT shops that AHEAD works with have either purchased a Cloud Management Platform ( CMP ) or are taking a serious front at purchasing one soon. There is a short ton of sake in the CMP space correct now. As a adviser in our Cloud Management rehearse, I ’ thousand constantly talking to our customers about which of their business needs are driving all of this interest. I ’ m besides answering many questions about what CMP products are out in today ’ s market – which are the best or most common, and which one should “ my ” organization pluck. And I must say, I love all of these questions ! When an administration chooses the right CMP, it can be a huge game record changer for their business. It only makes sense that a commensurate flat of campaign and thinking should go into that decision process .
To that end, I thought I would dedicate this article to answering the interview of which CMP products are most common in today ’ mho market, equally well as what some of the samara decision points were for my customers who chose them. To be gain, this will not be an exhaustive number of all of the CMP products and all of their Pros and Cons. I ’ ll fair be talking about the products that I run into most frequently with my customers ( who tend to be bombastic enterprise organizations ), along with some of their most coarse reasons for choosing them .
besides, before I dive right into my list, let ’ s touch on some of the most coarse CMP clientele drivers .

Common CMP Business Drivers

First off, for IT shops who are chiefly focused on their exist secret clouds ( typically VMware vSphere-based ), I find that their number one reason for getting into a CMP normally revolves around quicker reversal clock time for VM and infrastructure requests. They ’ re typically looking at replacing their by and large manual, multi-week VM provision action, with a fully automated process that empowers users to request VMs through self-service, and receive those VMs within the hour – amply integrated with their IT infrastructure and ready-to-go. Once they successfully pass that hurdle, organizations often move on to solving more hybrid cloud kinds of challenges.

This takes us to IT shops who are focusing on expanding into the populace cloud. These shops seem to have a more diverse sic of needs, which often include things like managing their public cloud spend, controlling which mottle services are available and how they can be used, and architecting their app platforms to live happy, productive lives out in the mottle .
absolved as mud ? OK, I promise to summarize and keep it idle from hera on out. thus without far bustle, hera ’ randomness my list of most normally encountered Cloud Management Platforms :

1. VMware vRealize Automation (vRA)

Given VMware ’ s laterality of the on-prem virtualization marketplace, it ’ s not surprising that vRA is the CMP product that I run into most frequently. vRA customers frequently fall into the first base camp that I mentioned above, who are focused on trying to automate their multi-week VM provision work down to minutes. vRA includes an orchestration engine called vRealize Orchestrator ( vRO ), which serves as its conduit for integrating with all the other systems in the provision summons, such as IPAM, DNS, AD, CMDB, ticketing, firewalls, etc. I spend the majority of my workday on projects building respective CMP integrations with such systems, and from my perspective, vRO has the richest, most flexible, and most user-friendly development/debugging environment out of all the CMP products on this list .
vRO ’ south adulthood and market put have besides given it the biggest library of canned consolidation plug-ins on this list, many of which are free from vendors like Infoblox, BlueCat, and Puppet. These benefits not only minimize the execution time and upfront costs of vRO ’ mho integrations, but they besides make the integrations much easier to manage and maintain over time .
Another of vRA ’ s key betray points is its outstanding out-of-the-box integration with the other VMware products, like NSX, vRealize Operations Management ( vROps ), and vRealize Business ( vRB ). I ’ m a huge fan of vRA ’ s drag-and-drop blueprint canvas, which allows an architect to model their app platform with multiple VMs, networks, and seamless integration with NSX constructs like load balancers, virtual switches, and distributed firewall security tags, groups, and policies. If you ’ re an NSX customer, then that integration alone is worth the monetary value of entrance fee .
Whew. OK, now that I ’ ve gotten my personal worship for vRA out of the way, it ’ second time to get serious and talk about its competition…

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2. RedHat CloudForms

I worked on a Red Hat CloudForms project earlier this year, and I found a set to like about this product. The most interest aspect to me was that this unmarried intersection combined the main features of what would typically be two products on early platforms. It included the self-service portal vein and provisioning automation/orchestration of a CMP, with the VM analytics and report of a monitor instrument. To put that into more VMware-like terms, it included functionality along the lines of both vRA/vRO and vROps .
Another courteous aspect of CloudForms was that its populace cloud support included not lone the common Amazon EC2 instances and Azure VMs, but besides documentation for the native automation services of those cloud providers : Amazon CloudFormation templates and Azure Resource Manager templates. These native automation services allow customers to cursorily deploy existing and new services as the cloud supplier releases them. I found their consolidation to be fairly “ no-frills ” but impressive however, given that as of the time of this article, VMware has so far to include equivalent functionality in vRA 7.X .
alike to the vRA/VMware situation I mentioned above, most of the customers I see looking at Red Hat CloudForms are already big Red Hat customers.This product seems to be a estimable suit for customers who are looking at managing crimson Hat-centric secret clouds, and who besides want a decent entry point into public cloud.

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3. ServiceNow Cloud Management

My thoughts on ServiceNow ’ second CMP are based on their Helsinki and Istanbul releases .
correct now, ServiceNow is red hot in the ITSM quad. The majority of enterprise customers that I work with all seem to be either starting or finishing big ServiceNow initiatives. In fact, some of the most common CMP integrations that AHEAD does are with facets of ServiceNow. For an existing ServiceNow ITSM customer, one of the coolest prospects of choosing it for their CMP is that all the most park ITSM integrations, like CMDB, ticketing, and service catalog, are already done, right out of the box .
ServiceNow besides compares identical nicely with the early CMPs on this list. Its support for on-prem vSphere feels very mature – from my position, I ’ d say it ’ second actually on-par with vRA in that involve. ServiceNow ’ s Orchestration tool for build integrations is besides truly nice. I don ’ triiodothyronine think it ’ mho quite on par with vRO ( yet ? ), but I would say that it ’ s a very close second base, and building ServiceNow Orchestration workflows is very similar to building vRO workflows. I ’ ve besides been truly affect with its defend for not only Amazon EC2 instances and Azure VMs, but besides the more herculean Amazon CloudFormation templates and Azure Resource Manager templates .
last, the Jakarta release that merely came out has added the choice of using ServiceNow ’ s powerful new CMP engine from their learning of ITapp last year. This engine adds raw blueprinting capabilities, and a completely re-designed obscure management portal vein. AHEAD will be doing a blog in the future on ServiceNow ’ randomness Jakarta secrete and how all of the changes affect overall integration of ServiceNow ’ s platform as a CMP for both on and off-premises overcast management .

4. Cisco Cloud Center

prior to Cisco ’ sulfur skill of CliQr last class, UCS Director ( UCSD ) was their main CMP joyride, and AHEAD did a lot of cloud execution work on UCSD with Cisco customers. While UCSD is hush an excellent tool for automating on-prem physical infrastructure ( network, storehouse, calculate ), Cloud Center ( once CliQr Cloud Center ) is nowadays Cisco ’ s go-to for new CMP implementations .
Cloud Center has a truly interesting prize suggestion around its cloud-agnostic blueprint capabilities. Cisco calls their blueprints “ Application Profiles ”, and they allow customers to model an lotion platform with all of its ask network, calculate, and memory attributes, and then deploy that blueprint onto any of Cloud Center ’ s support clouds without any refactoring. traditionally, if you had created a blueprint in your CMP for a particular app platform for vSphere, when you wanted to deploy that blueprint to Amazon or Azure you would have to completely re-create it .
Cloud Center ’ mho hook is that it masks all the cloud-specific complexity, so you have ultimate portability. It besides allows you to do things like prompt the drug user for which cloud they want on the request shape, or use policies and tags to determine the cloud placement mechanically. For customers who ’ ve invested in a strategy that leverages multiple public and/or private clouds, these capabilities can be in truth compel .
much like how vRA lets you easily add VMware NSX constructs into its blueprints, Cisco Cloud Center allows you to well incorporate ACI services into its Application Profiles. Cloud Center besides has a detached, very mature integration with ServiceNow that allows you to publish Application Profiles to ServiceNow ’ mho catalog, and leverage ServiceNow to manage requests/approvals. It is certified by ServiceNow and is available in the ServiceNow store .

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5. RightScale

Being founded in 2006, RightScale is the most mature of all of the CMP products on this list. I find that RightScale has an interest blend of strengths, the combination of which can be very compelling to the right customer. For exemplar, RightScale is a cloud-based SaaS, alike to ServiceNow, which speeds up the initial implementation, and wipes away any of the operational complexities around managing its under-the-hood components or performing upgrades. RightScale lets you create blueprints that can either prompt a exploiter for which cloud to deploy to, or wholly automate that decision and hide if from the exploiter. It besides has the second-largest tilt of support public and private cloud providers on this list ( 6 ) – just behind Cisco Cloud Center.

Another actually compelling aspect of RightScale is its Optima component, which does an extensive cloud monetary value optimization assessment. Optima ’ s appraisal reports will make very particular recommendations, complete depressed to the dollar amounts, for how you can reduce your cloud spend. For case, it might recommend to put certain resources on a schedule, downsize instances, or migrate certain instances to newer, cheaper case types. A fortune of customers get into RightScale initially for this Optima part, but then end up expanding their manipulation into the entire CMP functionality .


While all of these products have some capital features and selling points, they besides have their caveats. Understanding that each business has unique needs and requirements in a cloud platform is critical to successfully matching up the right tools with the business. We work with many organizations to develop scorecards for a battalion of technologies. These independent scorecards leverage the cognition of the platforms that AHEAD has developed over time. They are weighed and scored for each constitution ’ randomness singular goals, including technical, business, fiscal, operational, and security. We find that developing a card with supporting analysis not only provides the due application needed to get projects off the footing and run, but besides sets the stage for cross-team collaboration as an organization builds its corporate goals and roadmap .
AHEAD provides guidance and 8 years of CMP experience to our clients during executive and technical briefings at our headquarters in Chicago. If you would like to learn more about these Cloud Management Platforms, please contact your AHEAD node director or leave a remark below .

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