Public or Private, Multi-Cloud is the Future. How Will You Manage It?

Any conversation about cloud services usually begins with AWS, but for most organizations, it won’t end there. Whether to fight vendor lock-in, increase the diversity of available services, arbitrage price disparities or maintain control over particularly sensitive information an increasing number are adopting multi-cloud strategies that include both public and private components. As I detail here, although it’s a sound strategy, they quickly run into another problem: managing applications and infrastructure configurations across cloud stacks that don’t share a common API and have very different service definitions and billing models. It’s a seemingly complex task, but hardly a showstopper, with a number of mature software and SaaS options available to automate deployments across a variety of cloud stacks. Yet all the automation tools rely on a common conceptual framework: treating cloud resources as abstract objects that can be configured, run and managed as software code. Hence, the overlap with DevOps methodologies and organizational models.

Source: RightScale State of Cloud 2015

Read the full column for plenty of statistics about why a multi-cloud future is inevitable for most enterprises and what they need to turn the vision into operational reality. Indeed, there are dozens of software and SaaS products designed to automate infrastructure and application management across multiple clouds. Some focus on specific needs or usage scenarios. For example, Cloudyn is designed for asset and cost management and includes a workload optimizer to identify the most efficient cost-performance deployment option for a particular workload, while CSC, using the former ServiceMesh product focus on cloud governance, security and lifecycle management. Others, like Cliqr, Cloudify and ElasticBox take an application-centric approach to cloud automation.

Yet the most popular multi-cloud products are generally those used by organizations embracing a DevOps approach to cloud management, a tact that extends application programming into the realm of infrastructure configuration and management. The article walks through the most popular options. Any will work on both private infrastructure and across all the major public clouds, however the integration details will vary widely. The choice of product should be dictated by the sophistication and scale of one’s infrastructure and expertise of the IT/DevOps team. I conclude with some other recommendations.

Originally published at on November 6, 2015.

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