Cloud Services make Clouds interesting! But can you manage them?

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve at least heard of “Cloud”. The Cloud was born out of the convergence of Internet, Broadband and Virtualization technologies. But it was only after you applied IT Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) principles and created “Services” from the Cloud that it started to revolutionize the way IT Services are consumed in our personal and business worlds. Cloud Services make Clouds interesting! Depending upon your level of comfort with technology, your understanding about Cloud Services will vary, however, among the Cloud literate I don’t think many would argue against what seems quite inevitable – that Cloud Services (in whatever form you currently understand them) will only increase in the future. Well let’s just say that I haven’t come across any market forecasts that point to a reduction in uptake or their eventual demise. Now there are a lot of arguments around what form they will take and which will have issues and which won’t, and exactly what or how the market will evolve. But that aside, every Cloud forecast I’ve come across predicts that Cloud Services will grow moderately to rapidly in the coming years.  There are, however, a few barriers to widespread adoption of Cloud Services. These include Security, Interoperability, Control, Performance, Reliability, and Platform or Language specificity, according to the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University. To address these barriers, the vendor community is making great strides but we still have a long way to go. We at Ambernet believe that the problem of Control (or lack thereof) can be effectively tackled by a strong “Management Solution” for Cloud Services.

 

Before we get into the details of Cloud Service Management, let’s first define Cloud Services. The National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) does a great job of defining Cloud computing and services and provides an architectural reference model for Cloud that we have adopted. To summarize, Cloud Services have five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models. The essential characteristics of Cloud Services include: on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured services. Service models include Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Deployment models include Private cloud, Community cloud, Public cloud, and Hybrid cloud. Further NIST outlines three major functional components of Cloud Service Management – Business Support, Provisioning & Configuration, and Portability & Interoperability. So a Cloud Service Management solution needs to address a very broad set of functional capabilities – from managing customer accounts, allowing customers to modify/change their services, allowing them to operate their services, reporting on the performance of their services, present a nice looking self-service portal,  reporting on their service usage, managing service catalogs, SLA management, pricing & rating; to automatic provisioning and configuration, order management, supporting IT business processes, integrations with multiple clouds and integrations with multiple cloud technologies; to resource discovery and pooling, automatic resource allocation;  to troubleshooting customer issues, managing and reporting on performance, managing and reporting alarms; to supporting workload migrations, multi-cloud portability, etc., etc. It is indeed a very tall order to say the least! With such a broad functional scope it is no surprise that a single vendor solution isn’t readily available, and may not be available any time soon. Rather we predict that like other domains (principally the Telecom domain based on our experience), Cloud Service Management will very likely succeed in lowering the Control barrier when ISVs with complementary best-of-breed solutions come together to offer a pre-integrated solution to the market.

 

Ambernet Technologies has developed a Cloud Service Management product – Cloud Manager, that provides many of the functional capabilities required in a Cloud Service Management solution. Cloud Manager provides Single Pane of Glass management for your Private/Public/Hybrid Clouds! We excel in customer and provider facing management functions including Self-service Portals, Provisioning & Configuration, Service Catalog, Resource pooling & management, historical Performance & Alarm management, and integration with multi-vendor hypervisor and multi-vendor clouds. As a highly scalable, extensible (via SDK), easy to deploy (software appliance), and easy to integrate with (via published APIs) management platform, Cloud Manager can be used by Enterprise IT departments, Cloud Service Providers, or Cloud Brokers to offer Cloud Services to their customers, including the ability to white-label and re-sell services under a wholesale/retail model. In upcoming posts, I will detail many of these capabilities of Cloud Manager to help you understand our solution. Stay tuned!

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