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Cloud tools abound. Is enterprise IT ready?

Christine Burns | April 9, 2013
Service providers, start-ups, integrators and established vendors offer broad range of management tools. But enterprises might not be ready to implement complex orchestration and automation systems.

He pointed to OpenStack where there are several projects circulating that could advance automation services for any cloud provider running an OpenStack-based service. VMware offers up strong automation tools for users of that platform, he adds.

The traditional systems management vendors, like HP, CA and IBM, also sell cloud automation tools, but Treadway notes they are generally more complicated, brittle systems that would likely be used by IT operations that have long-term relationships (and consulting service contracts) with those vendors.

Third-party cloud management tools from vendors such as RightScale, Appistry, DynamicOps and Tap-In Systems also offer tools that boost automation processes with technology like VM auto-sizing in their own clouds. They also offer usage metering, cross-platform performance monitoring and cost tracking.

Automation v. orchestration

"Automation, though, is ultimately going to be one of those things that over time just kind of disappears under the covers in the cloud so IT won't have to worry all that much about it," says cloud analyst Paul Burns, a president of Neovise. Both Burns and Carl Lehmann, an analyst with the 451 Group, argue that orchestration is the bigger problem that needs to be solved.

"It plays into the whole question of how do you include cloud in your overall computing architecture and link it properly to what you already have?" Lehmann says.

Cloud orchestration happens on two levels, explains Lehmann. "You have application-to-application integration and you have business-to-business integration. The former is the easier to pull off because there are less security complications," Lehmann says.

Cloud orchestration products are being served up by both traditional middleware vendors like Oracle and IBM and by cloud focused vendors like DellBoomi, Informatica, Jitterbit and MuleSoft.

Center Point Energy is a Fortune 500 electric and natural gas utility serving markets in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. According to Barry Glasco, who serves as the company's subject matter expert, Center Point Energy uses MuleSoft's CloudHub, an integration platform as a service (iPaaS), which enables his company to collect all the data from a host of utility companies to run its web site. "We've got to interact with both regulated and deregulated sources across this industry, making thousands of calls a day between their data sources and our platform. It's got to be a continuous integration," Glasco says.

One of the biggest challenges is making sure that the data being used across these on-premise and cloud assets is clean, organized and performing reliably. "And that plays into the whole issue of cloud governance which ideally helps us understand better what is happening to the data as it moves across applications, across the cloud and across businesses," Lehmann says.


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