Complex clouds must be managed with automation

Native cloud interfaces don't scale in real-world business deployments -- so spring for a cloud management system

Many enterprises end up with more than a few types of clouds when they round out their final enterprise cloud computing solution. This typically means a few types of private clouds, a few types of public clouds, and perhaps other development and configuration management systems. As a result, these complex, multicloud deployments are now more the rule than the exception.

There are two basic ways to manage such complex cloud platforms, such for provisioning and deprovisioning storage and compute.

[ From Amazon Web Services to Windows Azure, see how the elite 8 public clouds compare in the InfoWorld Test Center's review. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]

First, you can manage these cloud resources using the native interfaces and consoles offered by the cloud providers. Taking this approach means you deal with the complexity of your cloud deployment head-on. This approach won't scale, and it won't be operationally effective over the long term. There are too many moving parts to consider, and people must manage the complications without the advantage of automation -- a no-win situation.

Second, you can remove yourself from having to deal with these intricate interfaces through the use of a cloud management platform (CMP), such as those offered by Rightscale, ServiceMesh, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, BMC, and Cisco Systems. Taking this CMP approach means that:

  • You place an abstraction layer between yourself and the many different interfaces into the public and private clouds, as well as other automation services such as Puppet and Chef.
  • You automate the use of those resources via policy-based approaches that can work with many back-end cloud-based technologies as a single, unified system. As a result, you can more easily provision across many types of clouds to manage heterogeneous information systems. Perhaps you will use one cloud for data, another for compute, and yet another for storage.

The ability of the CMP approach to place these resources behind a single pane of glass allows you to place complexity into a single domain with good automation and good controls. This approach trumps the approach of just dealing with the native interfaces, which quickly reaches the tipping point of overcomplexity and disorder.

Be sure to go the CMP route -- you'll need to do so eventually anyhow.

This article, "Complex clouds must be managed with automation," originally appeared at Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

How to choose a low-code development platform