by Kevin Fogarty

CA Ties Management Suites to Amazon’s Cloud

Aug 12, 20095 mins
Cloud ComputingVirtualization

What's needed to make cloud computing really manageable for enterprise IT? CA joins BMC, others in leap to Amazon EC2 bandwagon, but much work remains on the portability front.

There’s no question that cloud-computing infrastructures will become a significant part the IT plans of large corporations, according to analysts. The question, at least right now, is how well those hybrid internal/external infrastructures will be managed.

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CA’s announcement this morning that it has integrated its core data-center management suite to Amazon’s EC2 cloud service doesn’t shed much new light on that question, according to some analysts.

“The core value of having a cloud in the mix would be the ability to move elements easily from inside [the data center] to outside [based in the cloud], taking advantage of the scale the cloud can provide where you need it,” according to James Staten, data-center analyst for Forrester Research. “That’s not what’s going on here.”

What CA has done is modify its existing enterprise management suites — the Business-Driven Automation, Service Management, Application Performance Management and Database Management elements — to run within and report on applications and hardware within Amazon’s EC2.

That gives Amazon EC2 customers access to CA management capabilities to monitor performance of specific services or applications, do root-cause analysis on problems, and automate business processes that run using applications within EC2, according to Stephen Elliott, vice president of strategy, infrastructure management and automation at CA.

The goal is to help EC2 customers increase the efficiency and lower the cost of workloads they port into the cloud, as well as improve security and remove bottlenecks as, or even before, they occur, Elliott says.

It’s not the holy grail of cloud management, and doesn’t provide any real new technical capabilities other than to extend data-center visibility into the cloud, but it is exactly the kind of ability existing CA customers are looking for, Staten says.

“They’re claiming you can manage in-house and cloud instances from the same screen and manage them both, which could just mean it’s centralized monitoring and reporting, which isn’t that hard to do,” Staten says. “Amazon has exposed their APIs so everyone can take advantage of that, but it appears that’s as far as the relationship goes. There’s no special relationship or secret sauce, so it compares pretty evenly with what BMC and others are doing.

The real holy grail, at least as far as visibility within a cloud infrastructure, is RightScale, Staten says. RightScale’s management suite is designed to give customers full visibility and control over their applications and data on several cloud platforms, not just one, according to the company.

It includes resource reports and migration functions designed to help customers identify the best set of development languages, software, data storage and provider for specific workloads, and select a cloud provider based on those and other factors, such as cost and geographic location, according to the company.

It also includes lifecycle management, automation of provisioning and changes in scale and other critical controls, but lacks detailed integration and data-sharing with internal management applications, Staten says.

Rival data-center management vendor BMC announced in July it had modified its suite of management products to give customers better visibility and control over applications and data living on Amazon’s EC2.

Like BMC, CA is promising its integration will allow customers to set and monitor service levels, create policies that will trigger complex business-process responses to specific situations and control both costs and security by providing better reporting and control over virtual servers, data and applications based in the cloud.

Just having those capabilities available within the cloud is a significant benefit, according to Rich Mogull, a former Gartner analyst who now runs the Securosis, L.L.C security consultancy.

Earlier this month both CA and Novell demonstrated identity management products tweaked to be able to provide better security to both cloud- and SaaS-based applications.

That, plus the integration of core data-center management products into Amazon’s high-profile EC2 are early signs of the maturation of cloud-based services, which will take as long as seven years to mature into fully reliable data-center-quality resources, according to a recent report from Gartner.

Among the top requirements of customers, aside from the ability to link existing management applications to cloud infrastructures, is the ability to no rely on a single vendor or cloud provider for a specific function, another Gartner report says.

Real maturity in cloud computing will include not only standards that will enable customers to move data or applications from one cloud service to another, but also independent brokers that would allow customers to choose the best resources from among a variety of specialized-function providers, the report says.

Gartner predicts the cloud-computing market will grow at more than 20% per year, from $46.4 billion in 2008 to $150.1 billion in 2013. Business processes — which made up 83% of that market in 2008, will continue to make up its bulk. The most common cloud-based functions currently are advertising, e-commerce, human resources and payment processing applications, Gartner says.

“Really savvy developers can do just fine with EC2 the way it is, but sophisticated enterprise customers want more management capabilities to be built in,” Staten says. “This truly does provide a real opportunity for CA and BMC and other vendors that glom on to it, though.”