Understanding the Hidden Costs of Cloud Automation Solutions – Part1

(Ping! Zine Web Hosting Magazine) – There are many cloud and data center automation solutions in the market. I would like to provide some insights into the hidden costs with most of these automation solutions. This blog will go over some of these hidden costs and gotchas, the “Holy Grail Solution – The Turnkey and Extensible Solution”, and most importantly what questions should be asked to identify the right solution.

Multiple point products and integration overhead: Organizations typically use a disjointed set of vendor-specific tools to manage virtualized data centers. Virtualized data centers cannot be operated efficiently without integrated infrastructure provisioning and management tools. Most of the cloud platforms in the market today, lack a management layer which can handle physical, virtual and cloud based resources. Having a diverse set of management tools not only adds to the complexity but also increases the failure rates. Data center admins spend a lot of time correlating data from different sets of monitoring and management tools. Organizations are looking for a pre-integrated ,out-of-box orchestration solution with low footprint and faster time to implementation.

Expensive Professional services engagements: Typical cloud management and automation solutions require additional extensive professional services. After spending months of time and money, you might be lucky enough to get reports and customizations suited to your specific cloud. The premise of the cloud is that there is almost no penalty for trying something and failing. These expensive professional services engagements will take away that cloud promise – pay as you go, agility, self-service management and upfront expensive investments.

Distributed operations: Enterprises have undergone a substantial change over the last decade and geographically distributed operations are very common. There is great pressure to simplify the tools to empower self-service at the local level and to provide the robust functionality needed to support local languages and currencies. Organizations need the ability to manage across distributed data centers and to have a single pane of visibility across their entire operation.

Lack of integrated policy management and governance: Most of the solutions offer some aspects of management automation – I would say the easy/simple parts of infrastructure management. Many organizations still end up manually doing policy management, governance, auditing and many IT operational processes. These processes still take majority of admin’s time. The true potential of any automation solution cannot be fully realized if the parts of the process are not, need a push button or single-click automation capabilities. For instance, the automated provisioning process requires service catalog, self-service portal, resource checks, dynamic resource allocation, policy enforcement, capacity planning and the approval process. If any of these functions cannot be automated and are not part of a provisioning solution, then it is not a true automated provisioning solution.

Proprietary and closed solutions: Each organization’s environment varies and requires customization to some extent. If the orchestration solution doesn’t offer the customization and extensibility capabilities, organizations depend on the vendor to provide the customizations and will be vendor-locked. Providing north bound APIs is an essential part of any true management and orchestration solution. IT admins need out-of-box workflows for majority of typical administrative and operational processes, and then they should be able to customize and automate remaining workflows specific to their environment using easy to use workflow designers.

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