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It's common for an enterprise IT operation to consist of a hybrid combination of public and private clouds topped with a healthy dose of software-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service subscriptions, with database as a service, mobile backend as a service, and perhaps analytics as a service thrown in for good measure. Consequently, it's no surprise that implementing a hybrid cloud management platform for managing multicloud environments is becoming a priority.
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Cloud growth, driven by both legacy migrations and new development, has resulted in a multicloud operating environment that needs to be managed with some degree of central control and unification. According to an October 2016 market research report from MarketsandMarkets, global spending on multicloud management is expected to grow from $939 million in 2016 to $3.4 billion by 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 29.6%.
Research firm Gartner, in its April 2016 market guide for cloud management platforms, noted that these products provide three tiers of service: access management, service management, and service optimization. It is the optimization tier that provides multisite federation and orchestration, along with infrastructure rightsizing, load balancing, and cost analytics. Authors Dennis Smith and Donna Scott note that the primary benefit of a hybrid cloud management platform is its ability to apply policies and automate operations across multiple public and private cloud services -- and do it in a consistent manner.
"If you have private clouds and you have public clouds, you should be able to manage that as a single resource pool," said Jim Ganthier, senior vice president of validated solutions and high performance computing at Dell EMC.
A complicating factor is that advancements in cloud technology are changing how they are used. The very concept of what constitutes a public or private cloud is becoming fuzzy. "We are seeing public cloud vendors beginning to offer their cloud services on premises," said Judith Hurwitz, president of cloud computing consultancy Hurwitz & Associates. The converse is equally true: private cloud vendors branching out to public clouds. "We expect to see a lot of change in hybrid cloud in 2017," Hurwitz said. That could turn out to be a profound understatement.
One of those changes, at least on the fringes for any hybrid cloud management platform, is cloud repatriation, the movement of applications previously migrated to the cloud back to an internal or on-premises private infrastructure. Reasons for doing so may be related to regulatory compliance or data sovereignty. Cost may also be a factor, according to Ganthier, who said while cloud provider and resource costs can climb unceasingly as data volumes and compute power requirements grow, they tend to reach a plateau in a private, on-premises scenario.
More cloud management options
Hurwitz expects to see a significant number of hybrid cloud management platform products hit the market in 2017. As businesses increase their reliance on cloud-based infrastructures, platforms, and application services, the need to have a clear understanding of how they are used is essential for operation that is simultaneously uninterrupted yet efficient and economical, she said. "Management will expand to include cost considerations."
That expectation is in line with the 2016 State of the Cloud survey from RightScale, one of several vendors providing hybrid cloud management platform products. Multicloud is central to the IT plans of 82% of survey respondents.
A year ago, Ganthier dubbed 2016 as the year of the multicloud. He was right. A year later, corralling and managing those assets in a consistent manner will continue to take on new importance.
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