Systems management or cloud management?

Clouds in Calgary, Canada
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With the cloud computing market growing so rapidly there has been a rise of cloud computing management vendors like RightScale, Enomaly, Scalr, Elastra, and others.  These companies have developed solutions that work very well for the early adopters in the cloud computing market, but I wonder if these tools are getting an equally warm reception from the enterprise.  After all, most medium to large IT shops use systems management suites like Opsware, Tivoli, etc and don’t have expertise in this new breed of tools.  Not to mention, most decent sized IT shops don’t want yet another management tool because they probably already have three too many!

In the long run, I believe we are going to see hybrid datacenters where enterprise customers are able to run workloads simultaneously in local and cloud datacenters and manage them in a seamless way.  The question is: How will these hybrid datacenters be managed?

I think there are three possible outcomes:

  1. Systems management vendors add cloud functionality to existing tools: Opsware, BMC, and the rest of the usual systems management suspects will make their products cloud-aware  just as they have made them virtualization-aware.
  2. Cloud management vendors add traditional systems management functionality to their toolkit: This would be a very tough nut to crack, but the emerging cloud vendors could take a stab at developing more traditional IT management functionality, allowing them to handle management of both traditional and cloud hosted datacenters.
  3. Proxy or Glueware:  Startups build tools that allow both the cloud management vendors and the systems management vendors to interact with non-native environments.  In effect, they glue together these two separate worlds.  These glueware startups would almost act as proxies, allowing say a systems management tool to manage cloud hosts in a seamless way and with minimal retraining of staff required, while letting a cloud management tool manage legacy IT infrastructure.

I think we’ve seen #1 come to pass in the virtualization market to date, but in the cloud management space I think #3 is a more likely outcome.  There would be major rearchitecture required of most enterprise IT management products to support a hybrid datacenter configuration and so some sort of proxy or glueware would enable much faster/easier integration.

Your thoughts?

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  1. I agree that there will be considerable consolidation. I see three broadly segmented “management software”:

    1. Legacy systems management software (BMC, HP, IBM, CA, etc. play in this space).

    2. Cluster management software (Platform, UnivaUD, Scyld/Penguin, Oscar, Eucalyptus, Rocks)

    3. Cloud management software (FastScale, elastra, RightScale, enomaly, 3Tera, Kaavo, cohesiveFT, Appirio)

    Seems that more startups have sprung up in the Cloud management category over the last two years…but mainly on how to extend Amazon’s EC2 platform, rather than helping companies really deploy their own datacenter systems (whether it’s a grid cluster, virtualized cluster, utility cluster, hosting platform, SaaS, or Cloud).

    Yes…the legacy players will move from system’s management to cluster management to cloud management….and the cloud management companies will have to painfully move towards the system’s management route.

    That being said, I’d almost place bets on cluster management players who understand the intricacies of core system management and can easily expand into extending their offering to managing a virtualized cloud.

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

    I wonder how the application config/management of cluster management solutions stack up against that of the cloud management and the legacy management systems. I’ve used cloud and legacy stuff hands-on from my sysadmin days, but not cluster management as you’ve defined it here.

    Perhaps the winners (whoever they are) are going to have to elegantly handle app configuration and management in addition to virtualized instances.

    Also, I didn’t explicitly categorize VMware, Citrix, or other providers of hypervisor+management framework. Not quite legacy, not quite cloud, not quite cluster management.

    This taxonomy stuff will make you crazy, eh? :)

  3. Taxonomy does drive me crazy….

    When you refer to app configuration and management, I think of

    As for VMware and Citrix, it does seem that virtualization could become a standard part of private or public cloud.

    Is it a fair thesis to say that all enterprise will want to begin dipping their toes in the cloud? Thus, a solution that allows traditional datacenter applications to be extended into the cloud (and maybe some legacy apps which no longer need to be run on upgraded on-premise hardware, migrated completely to off-premise)?

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