What is Cloud Management? Defined, Explained, and Trends
Chief Technology Evangelist
August 1, 2022
Cloud computing has revolutionized how we create, share, store, and manage data. By having on-demand access to servers and storage, businesses worldwide have been able to access fast, reliable, and innovative technology, support work from anywhere models, and take advantage of the economies of scale. As a result, the ‘cloud’ is now part of our everyday working, and home lives, and cloud uptake volumes continue to increase. We've teamed up with Arrow to break down what is cloud management and the trends you should know about.
Why is the cloud important?
Cloud providers deliver new working models to businesses of all sizes across all sectors. These models, based on internet-scale delivery of computing services, offer many advantages:
Reduced costs: Organizations have no hardware or software capital outlays. Cloud computing services are delivered using a monthly pricing model that scales with a business, adding or removing storage and bandwidth as needed.
Always-on support: Cloud providers maintain cloud infrastructure to ensure that it remains fully available.
Excellent performance: In addition to being regularly updated and maintained by cloud service providers, typical cloud services use an extensive network of data centers to reduce latency and provide economies of scale.
Improved access: Cloud computing demonstrated its effectiveness during the Covid-19 pandemic when working from home became commonplace. Remote work is a natural fit for cloud services, where access from any device, anywhere, is supported. Employees can easily and securely access files, apps, email, and other essential resources.
Improved security: Robust security measures such as encryption during transfer and storage, and support for advanced access control, have made cloud computing a safe option for access and sensitive data storage.
Technology Development: Cloud computing and big data have driven the development of data-related technologies. This includes the Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning that relies on massive amounts of data to generate actionable insights.
What type of cloud technologies are there?
Cloud computing is available via several models:
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS enables the delivery of IT infrastructure in the form of servers, virtual machines (VMs), storage, and networks. IaaS is typically paid for on a monthly basis and can be upgraded or downgraded as a business requires.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
A PaaS is designed for developers to test and run cloud applications as they are developed. A PaaS is an on-demand service that ushers the servers, storage, and databases being developed into production.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS delivers on-demand delivery of software applications, with the cloud provider providing the underlying infrastructure, management, and maintenance of these applications. Users access the applications via the internet. The cloud provider typically runs these applications over a secured infrastructure that conforms to standards such as ISO 27001.
Function as a Service (FaaS)
Several cloud providers offer FaaS, also known as serverless computing, to software developers to add capabilities to their applications. An example is Amazon’s AWS Lambda, which allows a developer to run code without having to provision or manage servers. FaaS runs as an event-driven execution model in stateless containers.
What is cloud management?
Cloud management refers to the practice of controlling public, private, and hybrid cloud resources, and services. As organizations move to the cloud to reap the benefits of flexibility, scalability, and cost savings, they also increase their need for visibility and control of these disparate systems and applications. Cloud management tools, such as cloud management platforms, are used to identify cloud assets, automate cloud configurations, monitor cloud services, provision cloud resources, optimize cloud costs and implement cloud security policies.
What are current cloud trends and disruptions within cloud management?
Cloud services such as AWS are over 15 years old, but innovations continue to disrupt the space. Some of the latest include:
Application Modernization and the move to cloud-native infrastructure
A cloud-native strategy has been shown to provide value and offer a framework to encourage innovation. Cloud-native approaches optimize the scalability, control, and flexibility inherent in cloud computing. A current trend in application modernization is to use a cloud-native model to move away from virtual machines and into containers. Containers offer a super-fast and controllable way for app developers to be agile and respond to market needs.
Increased demand for Cloud Security Solutions and Services
Planets are aligning in the cloud world and are driving a need for cloud security solutions and services. Factors pushing security adoption include:
The continued digitization of services
Increasing cyber-attacks on web-based components
The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and CYOD (Choose Your Own Device) movements
Controlling costs as organizations move to cloud
Cloud computing is a way to ameliorate costs, but these costs still need to be minimized. Various models, including the discipline of FinOps (Finance and DevOps), are emerging to help manage and control the costs of moving to the cloud. In addition, applying intelligence to cloud procurement and optimizing cloud capacity is also disrupting the space through cost reductions.
Application migration to the cloud
Different models are available for successfully migrating enterprise applications from on-premises to a cloud infrastructure, such as SaaS. The choice of model depends on the application, its functionality, and the userbase. Current models include
Lift-and-Shift: no significant changes to an app to move it from on-premise to a virtual machine running in a cloud environment.
Re-platform: make minor changes to some components that allow an app to run in a cloud environment.
Refactoring: significant changes to an app to allow it to scale and run in a cloud-native environment.
What are cloud optimization & FinOps trends?
Gartner. Inc. reports that by 2024, “60% of infrastructure and operations leaders will encounter public cloud cost overruns.” As budgets tighten due to fears of a global recession, keeping cloud costs down has become a priority. Optimization of cloud computing is supported by centralized management and automation of cloud instances. This is a key disruptive force in cloud computing that has led to the discipline of FinOps (Finance and DevOps), which maximizes business value by utilizing data-driven spending decisions.
Cloud cost optimization
Two vendors innovating in cloud cost optimization are Yotascale and Harness; both provide dynamic cost management of cloud assets and infrastructure. Yotascale offers insights into AWS cloud deployments and targets their platform to developers to help them contain costs as they develop. Harness provides broad coverage of cloud providers and can therefore support a multi-cloud environment. Harness also offers a FinOps Cloud Cost Management platform to control and automate cost management.
SaaS cost optimization
SaaS cost optimization focuses on individual app costs. This includes optimizing right-sizing licenses and entitlements and reducing expenses from automatic subscription renewal. Zylo and Torii are disrupters in this area. Zylo is a data-driven SaaS optimization tool that provides actionable insights to CIOs to drive sound business outcomes. Torii centralizes SaaS app management under one hood, highlighting Shadow IT and SaaS sprawl to optimize spending and keep costs at a minimum.
Kubernetes cost optimization
Kubernetes can quickly sprawl, and visibility can become difficult. Companies providing help in this area include Kubecost, which provide continuous monitoring of an enterprise’s Kubernetes environment, and Cast.ai, a platform that utilizes artificial intelligence to automate cloud infrastructure provisioning to optimize costs.
Snowflake cost monitoring
Snowflake delivers virtual warehouses that typically utilize per-second billing. Finout, and Cloudzero offer solutions to help manage and optimize this highly granular cost model. Finout provides tools that identify issues in usage patterns to help reduce costs. Cloudzero focuses on personalized cost saving using a code-driven approach that avoids tagging.
The multi-cloud - a mixture of a public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud infrastructure
The Flexera 2022 State of the Cloud Report found that 89% of companies use more than one type of cloud. Multi-cloud environments can be a mix of different public clouds, as well as private clouds. These cloud environments may comprise of multiple IaaS vendors or various PaaS and SaaS vendors. This mix-and-match approach, known as a multi-cloud strategy, is allowing innovation to occur in several areas:
Having a multi-cloud infrastructure may cause interoperability and policy orchestration issues for access across disparate apps, devices, and people. Solving this challenge are two innovators. The first is Silverfort, which offers an agentless authentication platform that sits on top of existing authentication protocols to weave multiple cloud access rights together. Strata is another innovator in multi-cloud identity management, offering a no-code abstraction layer to orchestrate multi-cloud identity and access rights.
A multi-cloud database needs global data distribution and mobility across all cloud providers. Yugabyte and Cockroach Labs are among the innovators helping companies accommodate these requirements. Yugabyte is a 100% open-source distributed SQL database designed to work across any cloud environment, while Cockroach Labs is a standard SQL database for use across multiple cloud environments.
To date, multi-cloud networking has been costly and slow. However, two disrupters are changing this. Alkira unifies clouds, sites, and users via a service-based platform. Aviatrix provides visibility and control across all layers of a multi-cloud environment.
Multi-cloud data protection
Multi-cloud environments require a multi-cloud security strategy. The vast volumes of cloud-focused cyber attacks require that multi-cloud ecosystems are equipped with tools that shield virtual servers, databases, machines, and apps. Two vendors that focus on multi-cloud data protection are Hycu and Druva. Hycu provides Backup-as-a-Service and one-click recovery across a multi-cloud environment. Druva's platform covers a multi-cloud environment's entire data and asset real estate. Druva secures, protects, and streamlines data governance via a SaaS platform.
What are the CXO priorities focused on cloud services and cloud management platforms?
Organizations worldwide are migrating to cloud or multi-cloud environments to digitize their operations and apps. As a result, it is vital that CXOs create priority lists that include:
Optimizing existing use of cloud resources
The discipline of FinOps is evolving as an essential support mechanism for cloud resource optimization. The 2022 Flexera report found that organizations expect cloud spending to increase by 29% in the next year. The report states that it is "more critical than ever to get a handle on forecasting and cost optimization." CXOs should look to deploy FinOps tools to optimize cloud resources and costs.
Migrating more workloads to cloud
Migrating more workloads to the cloud is a top priority for all business sizes as cloud uptake increases. Migrating workloads enables new ways to save money, provide for working anywhere, and support innovation: however, workload migration must be optimized. Making the right choices for a business regarding the type of cloud environments and multi-cloud options is a crucial priority for a CXO.
Moving from on-premise software to SaaS
The move to a SaaS model removes the need to maintain, manage, and ensure the security of on-premise software. Optimization when moving to a SaaS model brings challenges in terms of costs, access control across multi-cloud environments, and license management. CXOs should explore the choice of a robust and secure SaaS offering helped by SaaS optimization tools to manage licensing.
Pursuing a cloud-first strategy
A cloud-first strategy that is well thought out, optimized, and deliverable will save organizations money, deliver resilience, and provide secure, anywhere work. However, pursuing a cloud-first strategy requires a proactive approach. CXOs should work across their organization to understand the needs of each department in moving to the cloud. Include employees and IT administrators in the strategy through education on the benefits of migrating their workloads to a cloud environment. Progressing on a cloud-first strategy requires a holistic view of achieving workload and app migration while optimizing costs.
Better financial reporting on cloud costs
One of the key reasons to migrate to a cloud environment is the potential for cost savings. However, it is essential to have the right tools to optimize costs. CXOs should explore FinOps tools that provide easy-to-understand, configurable dashboards and reporting tools. Financial reporting on cloud costs can offer real-time reporting and identify usage-related problems before they interrupt business.