Several years ago, analysts were predicting that hybrid cloud architectures would become the predominant approach to cloud computing.
For once, the analysts were right: Today, nearly three-quarters of organizations have adopted hybrid cloud environments, which combine public cloud resources with resources that are hosted in colocation centers or on premises.
It’s easy enough to understand why businesses are moving to hybrid cloud, which can enhance security and save money.
But how are companies managing their hybrid clouds? Which tools and platforms are they using to keep track of hybrid environments that are becoming increasingly complex? Those are the questions that more and more cloud architects and CTOs will be vying to answer to ensure they adopt hybrid clouds that can be efficiently managed over the long term.
To gain insight into how businesses are approaching hybrid cloud management, ITPro Today has compiled a buyers guide that compares the key hybrid and multicloud management features from leading vendors. (Because the line separating hybrid cloud and multicloud is blurry, we assessed tools that cater to both types of architectures.) Our guide is based in part on the Omdia Universe: Hybrid and Multicloud Management report (which was written by Omdia analyst Roy Illsley), enhanced with the latest data from the hybrid cloud market.
Here’s a summary of the guide’s major conclusions, along with notes on our methodology.
As a whole, the hybrid and multicloud management buyers guide reveals several notable trends about this market segment:
- Kubernetes and edge computing are increasingly important. About half of the platforms we compared offer first-class support for managing hybrid cloud architectures that are based on Kubernetes and/or that include an edge component. While it’s possible to build hybrid clouds without using Kubernetes or extending workloads to the edge, it’s clear that vendors are increasingly focused on hybrid use cases that involve one or both of these components.
- Public cloud vendors are investing in hybrid cloud features. As the buyers guide shows, many of the vendors with the most robust hybrid cloud management tools are themselves the owners of major public cloud platforms. This finding suggests that vendors like Google, Microsoft and IBM now see hybrid support as a must-have for attracting customers to their public clouds. The days when public cloud vendors hoped to keep workloads squarely inside their own clouds, and out of a hybrid model, are over. (AWS, which we discuss in more detail below, may be the exception here.)
- Smaller vendors are important for comparing hybrid cloud costs. There is a bifurcation among vendors when it comes to comparing cloud computing costs across different types of hybrid cloud configurations. For the most part, the major public cloud vendors don’t offer tools for helping businesses identify the most cost-effective hybrid architecture. But smaller vendors, like ServiceNow and ManageEngine, excel in this area.
- Vendors are investing in hybrid cloud marketplaces. Almost all of the vendors we evaluated have extensive lists of extensions and add-ons that customers can use to integrate hybrid cloud management tooling with a variety of third-party services and platforms. It appears that most vendors are following a model where the scope of their core hybrid management platforms is limited, but can be extended significantly using an add-on marketplace.
Hybrid and Multicloud Management Features
The buyers guide compares hybrid cloud management vendors and platforms based on a number of major features.
We assessed the functionality that each vendor offers for monitoring and observing resources running within a multicloud or hybrid cloud environment.
Managing Other Public Clouds
While most hybrid cloud management platforms can work with any public cloud, we evaluated how extensively they support multiple public clouds. In some cases, such as that of Microsoft, there are limitations when it comes to third-party public cloud support (only some of Microsoft’s products, in particular Azure Arc, are compatible with public clouds other than Azure). In others, vendors have a relatively cloud-agnostic policy.
As noted above, most vendors now offer support for monitoring and managing hybrid cloud workloads deployed using Kubernetes. In some cases, such as that of Google Anthos, vendors even use Kubernetes as the foundation for their hybrid cloud tooling.
We assessed how well the vendors can manage workloads running at the edge, meaning in data centers or other locations that they do not directly control.
Most vendors provide tools for estimating costs within their own clouds, but some can also help customers compare the costs for deploying workloads on other platforms. Cross-platform cost comparison is an important feature for customers seeking to determine which mix of public and private infrastructure will prove the most cost-effective for their workloads.
This is a broad category of functionality that covers how well vendors support the setup, deployment and scaling of workloads across hybrid cloud environments.
Backup and Resiliency
While it’s possible to back up virtually any type of hybrid cloud if you try hard enough, some vendors offer native backup and recovery features that simplify the process.
Reporting and Data Integration
In this category, we compared the functionality that vendors offer for generating audits and other reports for hybrid cloud environments, including how well their reporting features can assimilate data from multiple segments of a hybrid environment.
Cloud marketplaces are important resources for customers seeking extensions or add-ons that make it easy to integrate management tools with various cloud platforms, as well as with third-party tools that offer functionality like reporting and incident management.
How We Selected Hybrid Cloud Management Vendors
The definition of a hybrid cloud management platform can vary widely.
Some vendors, like Microsoft and Google, offer tools that can be used to deploy or monitor workloads running across a variety of clouds, although they don’t typically market these tools as hybrid cloud solutions per se.
In other cases, vendors such as ManageEngine provide platforms that are purpose-built for helping companies assess hybrid cloud or multicloud environments. However, the feature sets of these solutions tend to be limited. They may only offer monitoring and cost comparison functionality, for example.
The way that vendors package their management solutions also varies. In some cases, vendors provide just one or two tools or platforms for managing hybrid clouds. Others offer a broad portfolio of tools that could be used for hybrid cloud management, although that may not be their primary focus. For instance, businesses could leverage a variety of services in Microsoft’s Azure cloud to help deploy or monitor workloads on other clouds or private data centers, but most of those services are not designed specifically for hybrid cloud management. Their primary use case is for working with workloads hosted in Azure itself.
All of the above is to say that drawing apples-to-apples comparisons between hybrid cloud management platforms is difficult, due to the varying ways in which vendors brand and package their solutions.
To simplify matters, our buyer’s guide compares vendors, rather than attempting to compare solutions on a platform-by-platform basis. In the current market, buyers will typically want to build their hybrid cloud management strategies by selecting a particular vendor and using multiple services within that vendor’s portfolio, instead of selecting a specific tool or platform.
What About AWS?
Readers may note that one big name in the world of cloud computing is missing from our guide: Amazon Web Services, or AWS.
We didn’t include AWS among hybrid cloud management vendors because, unlike the other major public cloud vendors, AWS currently provides very little tooling for hybrid cloud deployment or management. Although products like AWS Outposts and EKS Anywhere can support certain types of hybrid cloud use cases, AWS has so far not invested in a broad portfolio of platform-agnostic hybrid solutions that are comparable to services like Google Anthos or Azure Arc.
Download our free buyers guide for hybrid and multicloud management tools (registration required).