Spotting elephants in the room
Digital transformation drives new, exciting, and affluent opportunities for organizations looking to improve the way they develop and launch new applications and products. The structural underpinnings for these transformations are often the agile, elastic, and optimistic clouds from AWS, Azure, and GCP. Even vendors like Oracle are embracing digital strategies by migrating thousands of customers from local installs to OCI.
Navigating this promising, yet complicated, landscape requires new ways of thinking, agile strategies, and toolsets that enable real-time knowledge of the state of all your clouds, from how you operate when it comes to financial management and security, to where you stand on governance, automation, and interconnectivity.
While increased challenges in security and costs are a normal part of digital transformation, customers often speak of the alarms and fire drills C-suite leaders declare when recalibrating and redeveloping their plans around business transformation initiatives. Cost, security, governance, and ROI become large elephants in the room, with everyone from the C-suite to individual contributors suddenly scrambling to track, measure, and analyze these important metrics. When these questions come up, the management process requires we use intelligent tools and platforms to establish benchmarks that measure KPIs across the cloud maturity curve, and ensure we’re integrating our cloud and business strategies together to reach success.
Control equals less risk
The ease and speed of provisioning new computing resources are what makes the cloud so agile, elastic, and ultimately advantageous to organizations. Every day, engineers, developers, and other IT professionals are spinning up new instances several times per day to support the digital transformation mantra. If cloud stewards are not monitoring usage on a frequent basis, they can easily get blindsided by unexpectedly high charges. That's why most experienced cloud stewards recommend using a KPI dashboard that allows you to monitor cloud usage and cloud vulnerability daily.
Organizations of material size choose to invest in third-party tools to measure cost and security, while some enterprises will also use monitoring tools native to cloud vendors themselves. AWS has a Cost and Usage Report that tracks usage on an hourly or daily basis, and offers tools like Cost Explorer and Trusted Advisor to help businesses optimize their costs, as well as improve performance and security. Microsoft Azure offers Azure Monitor, Cloudyn, and other Cost Management services, and GCP has offered similar services through Stackdriver Monitoring.
A thought about AWS, Azure and GCP tools
It may come as a surprise to readers, but I support and applaud the work each of the cloud vendors invests in creating free native tools to monitor things like cloud costs and security (just to name a few). The marketplace we service is still nascent, and all of us struggle to get our management software out to each and every prospect and customer. The addition of these free, native tools serves as an effective educational process that enables cloud stewards to make better decisions around financial models, security awareness, and overall resource planning.
As organizations mature in their cloud journey, the need for more granular visibility, operational efficiency, and security management becomes too overwhelming for individuals and teams. It’s here that the appreciation for cloud management platforms like CloudHealth starts, and enterprises with cloud operational models that show no signs of slowing down must look into software to help manage it all.
Understanding the true costs
The free tools from the native cloud vendors follow the same model we've seen in all tech evolutions—they provide a baseline by which you can react to data. To understand the true cost of any software package, you need to consider your interactions with it, from the moment you begin using it to the moment you stop using it. SaaS software can provide a powerful way to increase an organization’s efficiency, flexibility, communication potential, and ability to reach its full potential—but to take advantage of these benefits, you’ll need to invest time, as well as money.
If you’re investing time and money, the two most precious commodities any business has, your return on investment must be clear. With solutions like CloudHealth and CloudHealth Secure State, interactions with your cloud data will be less about reacting and far more about proactive management, where data becomes intelligence that your business can make strategic decisions around.
We became a multicloud world yesterday
Choosing the right cloud environment can be as personal as the kind of smartphone you choose or car you drive, and the same goes for choosing cloud management tools. Enterprises choosing combinations of AWS, Azure, or GCP native tools to manage visibility into cloud costs and security will find management of all their cloud resources, spread across different public clouds, extremely difficult.
AWS Cost Explorer, for example, isn’t capable of providing cost management assistance for Azure and GCP environments, Cloudyn from Azure isn’t capable of providing any security recommendations for AWS or GCP environments, and StackDriver from Google Cloud has nothing to say about AWS Reserved Instances—and neither AWS Cost Explorer, Cloudyn, nor StackDriver can assist you with your private and hybrid cloud ecosystems.
Ultimately, as a cloud steward, the decision before you is as simple as do you choose to live in excel spreadsheets to manage complex, heterogeneous environments, or are you ready to step into the drivers seat and make use of a cloud management platform that collects, classifies, and provides total visibility into all of your hybrid and public clouds?
CloudHealth and VMware Secure State will ensure that your security and governance mandates are handled with pro-active mapping of all potential security vulnerabilities, allowing you to pro-actively manage your cloud assets instead of reacting to them.
Reporting from a single cloud-native tool will provide good insight into each provider’s respective cloud, but what you’ll ultimately need is a platform that provides comprehensive reporting that now only educates cloud stewards on cost, security, and governance, but also enables strong collaboration across and up and down the organization and across cloud environments.
The cloud represents a monumental pivot in how a decentralized IT model can enable and foster collaboration between DevOps, Finance, and every business line in-between, and you need a cloud management platform to help control it all.
How CloudHealth differentiates itself from native tools
There are important functions I urge you to consider as you determine how you will manage your environment.
As you provision instances and storage to match to workloads, it’s true that you can use tools like AWS Cost Explorer to make recommendations based on CPU and disk, but they aren’t always pulling the most comprehensive list of metrics. CloudHealth integrates with third-party tools like WaveFront, New Relic, and Data Dog to add information around memory and network to ensure every recommendation is all-encompassing.
The CloudHealth platform also extends the cloud stewards from what is available in native tools and includes actions related to cost and security:
- The ability to identify and terminate zombie assets
- The ability to better manage Reserved Instance purchases
- The ability to identify resources suitable for scheduling
- The ability to identify and upgrade old instance types
- The ability to migrate older data to lower tiers of storage
AWS has EKS, Azure has AKS, and GCP offers an equivalent managed container offering that makes it easier for IT staff to provision and deploy containers, but none of the cloud vendors do a great job educating and reporting on how utilization compares to provisioning—which is unfortunate considering containers represent a huge cost liability if not managed well. The CloudHealth platform enables you to gain visibility into your Kubernetes-based containers.
The CloudHealth platform provides a business view around cost, usage, and governance that no cloud vendor has been able to duplicate. CloudHealth collects and maintains a historical record of all the resources you provision to operate your clouds. The platform proactively discovers assets, then lets you track them over their lifecycle. Perspectives are used throughout the CloudHealth platform to define data set analyses, cost allocation, reports, alerts, budgets, and reserved instance management. They can be combined to create specific data intersections such as: Environment by Customer or Product Line by Environment.
If you’re an MSP looking to provide cloud services to your customers, the CloudHealth platform provides a robust partner platform that enables you to bring the cloud management benefits discussed above to your customers to take full advantage of. The limited partner functions from the cloud vendors are not enough to provide any partner worth her salt the ability to segment and classify cost and usage data and invoicing processes.
To learn more about the differences between CloudHealth and cloud service providers' native tools, please don't hesitate to set up a conversation with one of our experts here.
And for more in-depth information and best practices for choosing a cloud management platform, see our buyer's guide: The Cloud Management Platform Buyer's Guide