A quick guide to Cloud Management Platforms

A quick guide to Cloud Management Platforms

The Cloud has radically changed the way businesses set up their IT architecture and infrastructure, enabling them to open up to new opportunities. Yet, unavoidably, it has also brought forth certain challenges in IT operations. In an attempt to eliminate these challenges, businesses today are looking to cloud management platforms (CMPs) that promise to help manage their entire cloud operations, from a central point of action. 

9 Common challenges in IT operations

Challenges in IT operations, more often than not, result from adopting more and more tools and processes, along the way. However, the more is certainly not the better, when it increases variability, and thus, vulnerability. To make matters worse, keeping unstandardized stacks, can also jeopardize inter-team collaboration. In this unstable state, a minor issue may quickly escalate into a complex problem, negatively affecting other aspects of the company, as well. 

The most common warning signs that IT operations are on thin ice, include:

  1. Too many technologies and tools — too much data
  2. Siloed teams
  3. Complex applications that increase the chance for errors
  4. Unoptimized environments
  5. More teams involved in a task or project than necessary
  6. Issues not discovered promptly
  7. Increased downtime costs
  8. Too many experts required to resolve an emerging issue
  9. Difficulty adapting to changes

Thankfully, cloud management platforms provide a simplified and unified management approach through their versatile capabilities, helping address most challenges in IT operations.

How can cloud management platforms help address operational challenges? 

Although this varies among different platforms, well-rounded self-service cloud management platforms offer a variety of features that not only help address the aforementioned challenges, but also efficiently outline and manage cloud operations. Utilizing such software, modern managers — CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, IT Infrastructure managers —  can:

  • Help reduce variability
  • Promote and expand DevOps practices and processes
  • Offer their teams a common pool of tools and applications
  • Overlook whole sets of services (e.g., databases)
  • Automate their teams’ workflows
  • Allow teams gain control over application deployments, and configurations
  • Facilitate the rapid release of new features
  • Enable and supervise compliance
  • Cut down on cloud expenses

What functionality to look for in Cloud Management Platforms?

As mentioned, cloud management platforms propose an effective way to manage cloud assets and services; as well as elaborate, ever-changing cloud-based environments. What’s more, they help IT teams collaborate under the Agile umbrella, and streamline the process of building, deploying, testing, and monitoring applications in the Cloud. 

All in all, cloud management systems should enable visibility, simplify management and optimize a company’s cloud strategy. That’s why, when evaluating cloud management platforms and their functionality, it’s important to consider the company’s technical requirements, and, of course, business goals. Also, it’s good to keep in mind that cloud management platforms are still evolving; meaning, more advanced and sophisticated capabilities are in the works. 

For now, though, the core functionality required to help achieve a scalable cloud computing ecosystem, includes:

1. Fostering DevOps automation

Indeed, cloud management platforms can provide real value to a company when they support DevOps automation and speed up the CI/CD pipeline. Utilizing the capabilities of a CMP, IT teams can minimize operational burdens by automatically managing cloud resources; rather than spending valuable time executing tasks and processes manually, every time.

2. Streamlining team collaboration

Effective cloud management systems encourage team collaboration by automating workflows, and eliminating learning curves. That’s because all employees use the same technology and follow the same processes; therefore, everybody is on the same page. As a result, CMPs can save valuable time; while, boosting team productivity and creativity.

3. Managing resources across environments

Since operating in multiple environments is essential for a diversified and competitive cloud strategy, 

cloud management platforms need to provide easy access to — and management of — the company’s resources and applications across those environments. 

4. Offering self-service capabilities

A good cloud management platform should be able to offer a centralized, self-service delivery system with integrated, ready-to-use services and tools. Simply by logging in to the platform’s interface, authorized teams can easily manage the IT infrastructure and request service consumption. By extension, they can configure and deploy applications based on the requirements of each project.

5. Providing service catalogs

If a CMP is to provide self‐service infrastructure, applications, and services, naturally, it has to come with a unified inventory and service catalog — accessible to teams through the dashboard. This single-point asset collection helps standardize the company’s environments, and enables teams to build and deploy at the click of a button.

6. Ensuring compliance

Compliance is a complex issue for businesses, especially if they maintain an unstructured application ecosystem; that is, consisting of too many workflows, tools, data architectures, deployment strategies, etc. As a result, managers find it hard to gain visibility into performance — with everything this entails.  

That’s why it’s important to utilize a sophisticated cloud management platform, with an aggregated dashboard, that allows easy access to compliance information. Such a system will allow for collecting, and processing data, as well as analyzing performance; along with other compliance-related data. 

7. Reducing infrastructure complexity

By all means, infrastructure provisioning should be a basic capability in a cloud management system; not only for operations visibility and effective SLA management but also for improving the productivity of the IT teams involved. In other words, any cloud management software worth its salt, helps reduce infrastructure complexity, by assembling all the different components of infrastructure required, for each project.

8. Enabling interoperability

In the highly competitive software industry, it’s crucial for applications built with one environment in mind, to be able to run on another, without changing or rewriting the code. To that end, a cloud management platform should enable application interoperability across different cloud providers.

9. Supporting the application lifecycle

An application is a dynamic product that goes beyond its launch, to end-users. Put under the microscope, a typical application breaks down into several evolutionary stages. From its development, testing and configuration to its deployment, delivery, and optimization; and, finally, its end-of-life. Considering the above, comprehensive cloud management platforms should include all the tools necessary to help successfully manage every stage of the application lifecycle.

10. Eliminating security issues

Given the large number of targeted data breaches every year, companies need to implement best practices for security patches, when operating in the Cloud. A sound cloud management software should make locating and remediating vulnerabilities almost effortless, thanks to its governance capabilities. Hence, the administrator can manage, automate, and control workflows, in accordance with the company’s rules and policies, while monitoring overall cloud activity, at all times. 

11. Keeping cloud expenses under control

Unpredictable expenses have long been troubling companies that operate in the Cloud. Having the right cloud management platform in place, allows managers to pinpoint resource requirements — by project or department — and helps them allocate resources properly. What’s more, using the platform’s consolidated dashboard, enables them to track usage, and even predict future cloud consumption and spend; which can go a long way towards minimizing costs. 

12. Allowing for advanced monitoring

Last but not least, cloud management platforms should allow for advanced monitoring — which is key, both for the security and the scalability of a cloud product. Well-rounded platforms help assess the state of the infrastructure, track the availability of cloud resources, monitor safety, provide metrics and insights for optimizing application performance.

TL;DR — Cloud Management Platforms driving digital business transformation 

Companies of all types and sizes, today, embrace cloud management platforms as an essential component of their overall cloud management strategy. After all, this type of software is the easiest way for managers and IT teams to manage and control the company’s cloud assets. Cloud management platform technology — going hand in hand with best DevOps practices — is becoming a catalyst towards a successful digital business transformation and, thus, growth.