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Reining In the Cloud

Reining In the Cloud

In order for a business of any size to get a proper grip on its cloud computing initiatives, it will need more than just the ability to see what's going on; it also needs ways to adjust and control systems down to a fine-tuning level. If that sounds like a major headache, that's because it very well can be. However, cloud service automation tools can help.

By Dana Gardner
07/03/10 5:00 AM PT

As cloud computing in its many forms gains traction, higher levels of management complexity are inevitable for large enterprises, managed service providers (MSPs), and small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Gaining and keeping control becomes even more critical for all these organizations, as applications are virtualized and as services and data sourcing options proliferate, both inside and outside of enterprise boundaries.

More than just retaining visibility, however, IT departments and business leaders need the means to fine-tune and govern services use, business processes, and the participants accessing them across the entire services ecosystem. The problem is how to move beyond traditional manual management methods, while being inclusive of legacy systems to automate, standardize, and control the way services are used.

We're here with Mark Shoemaker, executive program manager of BTO Software for Cloud at HP, to examine an expanding set of CSA products, services and methods designed to help enterprises exploit cloud and services values while reducing risks and working toward total management of all systems and services. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.


Listen to the podcast (22:46 minutes).

Here are some excerpts:

Mark Shoemaker: When we talk about management, it starts with visibility and control. You have to be able to see everything. Whether it's physical or virtual or in a cloud, you have to be able to see it, and at some point, you have to be able to control its behavior to really benefit.

Once you marry that with standards and automation, you start reaping the benefits of what cloud and virtualization promise us. To get to the new levels of management, we've got to do a better job.

Up until a few years ago, everything in the data center and infrastructure had a physical home, for the most part. Then virtualization came along. While we still have all the physical elements, now we have a virtual and a cloud strata that actually require the same level of diligence in management and monitoring, but it moves around.

Where we're used to having things connected to physical switches, servers and storage, those things are actually virtualized and moved into the cloud or virtualization layer, which makes the services more critical to manage and monitor.

Another Layer

Cloud doesn't get rid of all the physical things that still sit in data centers and are plugged in and run. It actually runs on top of that. It actually adds a layer, and companies want to be able to manage the public and private side of that, as well as the physical and virtual. It just improves productivity and gets better utilization out of the whole infrastructure footprint.

I don't know many IT shops that have added people and resources to keep up with the amount of technology they have deployed over the last few years. Now, we're making that more complex.

They aren't going to get more heads. There has to be a system to manage it. The businesses are going to be more productive, the people are going to be happier, and the services are going to run better.

We're looking at a more holistic and integrated approach in the way we manage. A lot of the things we're bringing to bear -- CSA, for example -- are built on years of expertise around managing infrastructures, because it's the same task and functions.

What's Going On?

We've expanded these [products and services] to take into account the public cloud ... . We've been able to point these same tools back into a public cloud to see what's going on and making sure you are getting what you are paying for, and getting what the business expects.

CSA products and services are the product of several years of actually delivering cloud. Some of the largest cloud installations out there run on HP software right now. We listened to what our customers would tell us and took a hard look at the reference architecture that we created over those years that encompassed all these different elements that you could bring to bear in a cloud and started looking, how to bring that to market and bring it to a point where the customer can gain benefit from it quicker.

We want to be able to come in, understand the need, plug in the solution, and get the customer up and running and managing the cloud or virtualization inside that cloud as quickly as possible, so they can focus on the business value of the application.

The great thing is that we've got the experience. We've got the expertise. We've got the portfolio. And we've got the ability to manage all kinds of clouds, whether, as I said, it's Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) that your software's developed on, or even a hybrid solution, where you are using a private cloud along with a public cloud that actually bursts up, if you don't want to outlay capital to buy new hardware.

We have the ability, at this point, to tap into Amazon's cloud and actually let you extend your data center to provide additional capacity and then pull it back in on a per-use basis, connected with the rest of your infrastructure that we manage today.

Control It, Build It, Manage It

A lot of customers that we talk to today are already engaged in a virtualization play and in bringing virtualization into their data centers and putting on top of the physical.

We announced CSA on May 11, and we're really excited about what it brings to our customers ..., industry-leading products together with solutions that allow you to control, build, and manage a cloud.

We've taken the core elements. If you think about a cloud and all the different pieces, there is that engine in the middle, resource management, system management, and provisioning. All those things that make up the central pieces are what we're starting with in CSA.

Then, depending on what the customer needs, we bolt on everything around that. We can even use the customers' investments in their own third-party applications, if necessary and if desired.

As the landscape changes, we're looking at how to change our applications as well. We have a very large footprint in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) arena right now where we actually provide a lot of our applications for management, monitoring, development, and test as SaaS. So, this becomes more prevalent as public cloud takes off.


Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, which tracks trends, delivers forecasts and interprets the competitive landscape of enterprise applications and software infrastructure markets for clients. He also produces BriefingsDirect sponsored podcasts. Follow Dana Gardner on Twitter. Disclosure: HP sponsored this podcast.


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