Enterprises that have recently adopted the cloud face new challenges around how to ensure the same visibility into cloud applications as they have with their on-premises apps. Cloud management platform vendors have addressed this to varying degrees of success through tools that combine monitoring, policy enforcement, cost management and other capabilities.
Over the years, enterprise IT had developed ways of managing environments with the goal of constant availability, relying on software applications that oversee the IT environment, John Webster, senior partner and analyst for Evaluator Group, said. Cloud management is a level up from that, and many legacy vendors and startups compete in this space. Webster, whose research area is hybrid cloud and big data, worked with ITPro Today on this top 10 list of cloud management platform tools, considering which factors would be most important from the perspective of IT operations.
“As enterprise IT operations start to expand our capabilities and resources into the cloud, we now want to manage cloud resources with the same policy, procedure, guidance and expectations that we have over our existing IT environment,” Webster said.
Cloud management platform solutions should include lifecycle management (the ability to track resources devoted to cloud over time) and data protection, along with the ability to orchestrate and automate various processes, he said.
While orchestration and automation of management processes are available across the board, data protection was a surprisingly underserved area by vendors in the cloud management platform space.
“Data protection and disaster recovery is an IT responsibility, a bedrock function, and I think that the vendors in this space have to really start looking at that seriously,” Webster said. Vendors will likely provide these capabilities through extensions to data protection and disaster recovery applications that are already available in the market.
In selecting which cloud management platform vendors to include in this top 10 list, Webster weighed factors including how well they interface with users and how they allow IT management to manage user populations they have.
“As time goes on people will be more and more pressed to do cost accounting, cost management and cost control. I thought that’s the first thing that every vendor would try to come up with, but it turns out that’s not really the case,” he said. “Yet when I talk to cloud enterprise users, that’s one of the things that are top of mind, from public cloud particularly.”
“That’s a big deal because it goes to try to figure out where you’re going to site applications over time and how you’re going to prove to senior IT management and senior executive management that you’re running more or less a tight ship, particularly when it comes to the use of the cloud. So that’s just got to be there.”
Webster acknowledged that cloud cost control is complex for vendors to master because cloud service providers are constantly adding to their portfolios and attaching different pricing models to new services.
“Complexity coupled with the fast pace of change could be a reason that startups choose to emphasize other functionality first as they approach the market,” he said.
In the near future, capabilities around artificial intelligence, support for cloud-native including Kubernetes, and application migration will be key functions in cloud management platform tools.
“AI assistance, or the assistance of artificial intelligence, will become more and more important as time goes on,” Webster said.
Webster notes a dichotomy in the marketplace with vendors that have traditional IT operations management practices and are building out to support cloud management as extensions to what they already have, versus new startups that are essentially starting from scratch.
“Startups are emphasizing various aspects of these platforms that they think will resonate in the marketplace immediately so they can get immediate customer response and start building a customer base,” he said. “It’s interesting to see what they emphasize. Some vendors emphasize cost; others don’t. Some emphasize orchestration and provisioning; other vendors less so.”
In selecting a cloud management platform vendor, Webster recommends that enterprises look at the vendor’s road map to see where they are going and how they are going to price their extensions into the cloud. He said that this space may see a change to support per-module pricing, where customers can pick and choose which capabilities they want, which is different from the pre-configured packages that are sold now.
If customers have a management platform from a large vendor that they are using to control an IT environment, “that’s the first place you’re going to look to see if you can do what you need to do on the basis of that platform not only today, but going forward,” he said.
What follows is our list of the 10 leading cloud management platforms, presented in alphabetical order.
BMC's Cloud Lifecycle Management
BMC’s Cloud Lifecycle Management platform provides automated provisioning, governance and management through self-service access. The platform controls and secures application and infrastructure services across hybrid environments, offering integration with IT management processes.
The platform can automatically apply policies to services at the time of provisioning and deliver services across any platform or public cloud. Cloud Lifecycle Management also provides support for application container technologies.
BMC boasts faster provisioning of IT services and cost savings with its platform, along with a reduction in security risk with automated cloud governance and compliance. Policies for compliance requirements can be applied automatically at the time of provisioning, and the platform offers ongoing automation of patching, configuration management and remediation.
CloudBolt Software's CloudBolt
Founded in 2011, CloudBolt provides management capabilities from a single console with end-to-end automation for orchestration and workflows.
Administrators can deliver access control based on role and establish usage quotas. The platform enables admins to manage configurations across multiple technology stacks and provides cost transparency and lifecycle management.
CloudBolt allows users to import and sync management of legacy deployments as they build out new cloud environments, and APIs enable admins to use existing automation workflows and scripts.
CloudHealth by VMware
CloudHealth offers multicloud management capabilities including cost management. The service enables users to group resource usage, costs and performance. It also facilitates viewing and sorting of information based on dynamic parameters it calls Perspectives, which are used throughout its platform to define data set analyses, cost allocation, reports, alerts, budgets and reserved instance management.
CloudHealth makes recommendations based on constant analysis, and admins can execute changes based on these recommendations with one click.
CloudHealth was acquired by VMware in August 2018. Webster said, “VMware will position CloudHealth for new cloud-native use cases while [VMware’s] vRealize [hybrid cloud management platform] will continue to address established VMware environments that are adding hybrid cloud extensions.”
Embotics vCommander is a cloud management platform that brings automation, deployment and configuration of IT services across cloud environments.
The platform offers an extensible orchestration engine, cloud governance and expense management. Administrators can utilize the platform to ensure application workloads are automatically deployed to optimal locations based on custom-defined criteria. The platform also offers provisioning for container-based applications to both new and existing Kubernetes clusters.
vCommander also includes cost visibility and optimization for private and public cloud environments.
Flexera (formerly RightScale)’s Cloud Management Platform
Flexera Cloud Management Platform (CMP) provides capabilities for provisioning, orchestration, automation, monitoring, governance and cost optimization.
Customers can use CMP to manage multiple clouds and cloud services including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and more. Customers can extend orchestration capabilities to any API-enabled service.
In September 2018, Flexera announced that it acquired RightScale, a multicloud management and cost optimization vendor. With the acquisition, Flexera extended its cloud cost management features with a solution called Optima, which combines billing data and detailed usage information and allows users to forecast future costs with its Scenario Builder feature.
HyperGrid’s HyperCloud Intelligent Cloud Platform is powered by a predictive analytics engine that supports organizations in making informed cloud decisions on automation, lifecycle management and proactive policy enforcement.
In addition to detailed analytics and reporting, HyperCloud offers capabilities for cloud cost management, performance optimization, and security and governance.
The platform also offers integrations with Zerto for disaster recovery in the cloud, as well as support for AWS Lambda so customers can optimize allocation of serverless resources and costs.
The latest version of the platform enables organizations to manage Azure Reserved Instances and uses predictive analytics and automation to help VMware users optimize VMware environments. The platform also includes the ability to automate assessment and remediation of AWS and Azure for security and compliance issues including PCI-DSS and HIPAA.
Morpheus Data's Morpheus
Morpheus Data launched its cloud management platform Morpheus in 2015 after five years as an agnostic cloud management solution private equity firm Bertram Capital used internally.
Morpheus has a range of built-in features, including analytics, automation and integration with more than 50 applications.
“Keeping up with new technologies is virtually impossible for organizations already drowning in technical debt,” Brad Parks, vice president of business development for the company, said in a statement. “Our API integration leadership means customers can focus more on service delivery and less on maintaining brittle DIY automation projects.”
The platform allows users to optimize resources, enable governance and modernize applications through built-in logging, monitoring, and backup. Morpheus customers can provision services and multitier apps across multiple clouds and platforms.
Recently, Morpheus launched enhancements to its cloud cost management capabilities, including the ability to predict future expenses with advanced analytics, an increasingly important function for cloud management platforms.
Last year, Morpheus was selected as the multicloud management platform for a strategic EU-wide project that supplies climate-related satellite data to EU member states. The project required instant access to resources and orchestration of technology components, which Morpheus was able to meet with its platform.
Red Hat's CloudForms
Red Hat CloudForms provides unified management for hybrid environments across virtualization, private cloud, public cloud and container-based environments.
Its features include provisioning, integration, resource management, operational management, financial reporting and policy enforcement. In addition, CloudForms offers complete lifecycle management, including reconfiguration, deprovisioning and retirement.
CloudForms provides native integration with Ansible Tower by Red Hat, the company’s IT automation platform. This support allows customers to automate provisioning processes and management policies through more than 10,000 Red Hat Ansible Automation playbooks and 1,000 integration modules.
The platform ensures compliance using automated remediation steps to safeguard against bypassing of defined rules.
Founded in 2007, Scalr launched its Scalr Enterprise-Grade Cloud Management Platform to help enterprises standardize application deployments across multicloud environments.
"With the Scalr platform, policies for management, orchestration, integrations, permissions, security and placement are applied to all provisioned services.. This ensures developers are operating within policy constraints.
Scalr said its cost management capability offers application-level visibility and tracking across cloud platforms so customers can predict how terminating an instance or making capacity changes will impact the application.
The company recently extended its support for Kubernetes after growing interest from its customer base in using Kubernetes to manage clusters of containers.
Its customers include Samsung, Expedia, NASA JPL, Gannett and U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
ServiceNow Cloud Management
ServiceNow Cloud Management allows customers to manage cloud service operations through a single platform.
IT operations staff can establish policies and rules consistent with the rest of the enterprise environment, automating service requests, approvals and governance while meeting security requirements.
The platform supports multiple cloud provider-specific templates, including Microsoft Azure and AWS.
Customers can monitor public cloud spending through the billing dashboard, which brings together details on application services, compute utilization, data usage and network loads.