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Managing the Multi-Cloud Environment: Understanding the Options

A true holistic multi-cloud management solution should include cloud management and cloud service broker functionality.

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As diverse requirements and the accelerated pace of innovation orchestrate a shift to multi-cloud, management of the environment becomes a complex exercise. In fact, many organizations struggle to achieve end-to-end visibility across an increasingly disparate landscape.

The reason? Most IT organizations stick with the status quo and manage their complex multi-cloud environments using the native tools and services from each cloud provider. While those tools are designed to support a specific cloud, they provide little in the way of visibility and governance across platforms. This creates gaps in control and limits the ability to optimize workloads and application performance across multiple clouds. According to an exclusive IDG/IBM survey, managing complexity is one of the top challenges of a multi-cloud environment, cited by 10% of respondents.

“It’s not that native tools fall short, it’s that the original design of the native tool was meant to handle a single cloud environment—not multiple clouds,” says Rene Bostic, technical vice president, IBM Cloud, North America.

Companies pioneering the multi-cloud journey are pursuing a different course, trading up siloed management tools for platforms that deliver a single pane of glass for all assets under a holistic management platform. By treating all cloud services as a unified environment, organizations can achieve the highest levels of agility and flexibility for their infrastructure.

They can also eliminate redundant tools and deliver that elusive end-to-end visibility. Moreover, developers can rapidly and securely innovate, maintain, and operate applications that run efficiently across multiple clouds while adhering to enterprise policies—another critical benefit of a management platform specifically optimized for multi-cloud.

Two Pieces to the Puzzle

To fully mask the complexity and ensure speed and agility, a true holistic multi-cloud management solution should encompass both cloud management and cloud service broker functionality.

On the cloud management side, the gold standard is a solution that delivers automatic provisioning capabilities and workflow management. This should include the ability to quickly automate manual or scripted tasks to request, change, or deploy standardized cloud services across a range of cloud platforms. “Think of this as a dashboard for the IT operations staff, enabling them to build apps that meet enterprise policies, deploy and configure infrastructure quickly with templates, and manage and control apps at scale using intelligent insights,” Bostic explains.

In fact, automation, orchestration, and cognitive capabilities should lie at the heart of a multi-cloud management solution. IDC predicts that 65% of companies will have a cloud management platform that supports developer self-service automation by 2018. The addition of cognitive capabilities fosters operational analytics across multiple cloud providers, fueling intelligent insights that direct optimization based on workloads and costs, enforce governance policies, and ensure a safe and compliant IT environment.

Enabling self-service is another important aspect of a holistic multi-cloud management solution. Cloud brokerage capabilities let everyone across the enterprise easily access the services they need through a self-service catalog. Such an approach provides an easy way for business users to consume IT services while ensuring interoperability and security of enterprise data between systems. Here, cognitive capabilities can deliver additional benefits, assessing the best cloud provider for the workload, optimizing cost structures, and setting alerts when specific thresholds have been exceeded.

The journey to multi-cloud seems inevitable, but without a holistic management approach, organizations may be in for a bumpy ride.

To learn more about IBM’s approach to multi-cloud, click here