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Cloud Management Platforms

Cloud management platforms are changing. 

It’s time to leave behind the traditional way of managing cloud environments and move towards a future cloud management platform – one designed for microservices, containers, DevOps and hybrid IT. We’re calling it CMP 2.0.

Keep reading and learn about cloud management technology, the evolution of CMPs, next-generation CMP use cases and business benefits, and the Snow Cloud Management Platform.



What is a Cloud Management Platform?

Cloud management platforms are integrated products which allow Enterprise IT to manage public, private and hybrid cloud environments. 

According to Gartner’s IT Glossary, there are a minimum set of requirements for a product to be considered a cloud management platform. These include:

  • Basic Requirements: Self-service interfaces, provision system images, metering and billing enablement, provide for some degree of workload optimization through established policies.
  • Advanced Offerings: Integrate with external enterprise management systems, include service catalogs, support the configuration of storage and network resources, allow for enhanced resource management via service governors and provide advanced monitoring for improved application performance and availability.

The Evolution of Cloud Management Platforms

First Generation Cloud Management Platforms

First generation cloud management platforms arose to fill gaps in a then sea change technology, virtualization, so customers could achieve the benefits, value, and justification of virtualization with less heavy lifting.

First generation CMPs use the following features to unlock the potential of virtualization:

  • Self-service provisioning
  • Automation and orchestration
  • Rightsizing
  • Cost insights
  • Governance and compliance
  • Single pane of glass management for public, private and hybrid cloud.

These cloud management platforms have Infrastructure-as-a-Service or virtual machine focus.

But Enterprise IT is shifting from virtualization to cloud-native technology. Cloud native apps are being developed with microservices and DevOps methodologies. And infrastructure is provisioned using cloud-native apps using APIs referred to as infrastructure as code.

This shift is the catalyst behind next-generation cloud management platform technology. Enter CMP 2.0.

Next Generation Cloud Management Platforms – CMP 2.0

CMP 2.0 technology considers the changing world of next-generation applications. With CMP 2.0 technology, containers are first class citizens and the platform is built with Microservices and DevOps in mind.

As with CMP 1.0 systems, CMP 2.0 also fills a gap in sea change technologies - that of cloud-native applications. So customers can achieve the benefits, value, and justification of cloud-native technology. But to be successful, a CMP 2.0 must manage both IaaS and the next generation of cloud applications.

Multi Cloud Management Platform

Cloud Management Platform Evolution

Legacy ->

First Generation ->

Next Generation ->

  • Derived from legacy systems developed for on-premise use
  • Complex systems that are difficult to use and maintain
  • Biased towards certain vendors or platforms
  • Often require unique hardware, excess resources, and professional services
  • Designed to support both public clouds and legacy environments
  • Management of increasingly complex hybrid environments across vendors
  • Many tools do not have comprehensive capabilities, requiring multiple programs to achieve goals
  • Facilitate and enable adoption of DevOps methodologies
  • Provide management and automation for cloud-native / microservices-based applications
  • Continue to manage traditional workloads, IaaS, and development and support methodologies
  • Expand beyond IaaS to applications, PaaS, and placement services

For many enterprise organizations, it’s only a matter of time before cloud native applications will drive business forward. And for these organizations embracing digital transformation, next generation cloud management platforms will be the key to unlocking the potential of their private, public, and hybrid cloud environments.

Advancing Digital Business with CMP 2.0 Technology

Enterprises today consume cloud resources in an ad-hoc or varied fashion in various pockets of a large organization. This means built-in versatility is essential in next-generation cloud management platforms.

CMP 2.0 technology considers two primary cloud consumptions models, Cloud Direct and Cloud Brokered.

Cloud Consumption Models: Cloud Brokered vs. Cloud Direct

There are two basic consumption models for public cloud resources: With “Cloud Direct”, end users are communicating directly through cloud-native APIs. With “Cloud Brokered”, a CMP is acting as an intermediary between the end users and the public clouds.

There are also cases within a single enterprise where both cloud consumption models are used. These various options are illustrated as follows:

Cloud-Consumption-Model-Diagrams - Brokered-Direct-CMP

CMP 2.0 technology adds value regardless of cloud consumption model.

As an example, in the Cloud Direct case, a cloud management platform can provide a single-pane-of-glass across the entire hybrid cloud environment and can perform showback / chargeback as well as some reactive cost optimizations. This provides engineering teams with the freedom to consume public cloud resources as needed, thus preserving overall corporate agility.

In the Cloud Brokered case, users can achieve additional, more proactive CMP values, such as cost/quota enforcement and optimized workload placement. Over time, cloud consumption can move from direct to brokered, to fully realize the value of a CMP.

Next-Generation Cloud Management Platform Use Cases and Business Benefits

As previously discussed, with CMP 2.0, containers are first class citizens and the platform is built with microservices and DevOps in mind. Below are use cases and business benefits Enterprise organizations can unlock with next-generation CMP software solutions

DevOps Methodology

CMP 2.0 recognizes the need to both augment and integrate the leading DevOps products in the marketplace. It offers a multi-pronged approach:

EMBEDDED INTO DEVOPS PIPELINE: For enterprises that have standardized on an enterprise DevOps pipeline based on products and technologies such as Jenkins, Atlassian Bamboo or Electric Cloud, next-generation CMPs such as Snow Commander offer plug-ins that seamlessly integrate and add capabilities to the environment such as sandbox provisioning, automation workflows, and automated IT policy compliance and enforcement. 

ORCHESTRATING THE DEVOPS PIPELINE: For enterprises seeking cohesiveness across a multiplicity of DevOps products, next-gen CMPs offer a high capability pipeline with “on the glass” integration (seamless uniform one point integration) of leading DevOps products.


Continuous QA

DevOps methodology increases the velocity of software development and improves quality. DevOps toolchains and Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines require automation assistance to facilitate continuous system testing and during unit testing. Changes are made and unit-tested in a sandbox and successful products are scheduled and staged for production deployment.

CMP 2.0 eases the integration of DevOps methodology by enabling continuous testing through sandboxing and automated provisioning and workflows for test environments. It can also automate production deployments from staging, including managing Blue/Green update scenarios. 

For example, vCommander, with its automated workflow engine and comprehensive third-party integration capabilities can be a strong asset to DevOps oriented shops. Several of our large customers use vCommander to facilitate test lab automation for iterative software development.

For this use case, the vCommander catalog is most frequently populated with operating system master images coupled with Chef, Puppet or post-provisioning scripted workflows that install the latest version of application code for automated testing. These workflows can be initially triggered automatically via CI events such as a Git commit. One of our larger customers uses vCommander in a variant of this approach for weekend test runs. They provision numerous VMs populated with their latest build for weekend-long automated testing. With successful tests, the completed VMs are deleted while VMs for failed tests are preserved for Monday morning analysis.

Discover how you can enable continuous QA with Snow Commander today -> 

Continuous Shift Left Performance

Performance translates to user experience. In today’s world, customers care about user experience first and foremost. If a change makes the system slower or less responsive, that needs to be detected as early as possible before it’s deeply embedded in the architecture or even worse in live deployment and causing customer dissatisfaction.

Fully embracing DevOps means evaluating performance of the system earlier during the testing phases and address issues early. Errors that are found and fixed earlier in the release cycle cost less to fix when they have less user impact. The goal is to reduce human errors and deliver a better user experience.

Automated Staging to Production

Another error-prone link in the chain is during the transition from production to live deployment. Many organizations still perform this manually and this step is where human errors tend to creep in.

Fully embracing DevOps means automating the move from staging to production and the various flavors of blue/green roll forward and back. CMP 2.0 offers several automation capabilities to convert time-consuming manual process to end-user driven fulfillment. By automating repetitive provisioning and lifecycle tasks, the IT team can refocus to deliver on consultative services that add value to your organization.

Discover automation capabilities with Snow Commander today.

Single Pane of Glass Management for Containers

CMP 2.0 adds containers and microservices application blueprints as first-class objects in its service catalog. They can provision container-based applications to both new and existing Kubernetes clusters, making the solution suitable for both brownfield and greenfield deployments. It provides discovery, cloning and single pane of glass management and is Kubernetes distro-independent. 

Discovery and provisioning to existing Kubernetes clusters along with the ability to provision new Kubernetes clusters make the Snow CMP 2.0 ideal for both brownfield and greenfield deployments. Kubernetes support is distribution independent and provides reusable workflow building blocks for Auto-scaling, auto-HA, rolling upgrades and integrated Kubernetes management with continuous application QA.

Kubernetes Version Management with Integrated Application Validation

Many dedicated container systems offer Kubernetes version management. The automated update of a Kubernetes cluster to a new version of the middleware. What they don’t do is ensure new versions of Kubernetes are compatible with existing microservices-based applications running on it.

With its automation workflows, Next generation CMPs offer the ability to create and clone an application sandbox comprising a Kubernetes cluster running the new version, and a copy of the microservices-based application and its regression test suite. Automated workflows can then validate that the application is compatible with the new version of Kubernetes and notify the system administrator of the result. The administrator can then complete the upgrade or refer any issues detected to the support team. 

Learn more about automation workflows with Snow Commander ->

Easier Adoption of Both DevOps & Microservices

CMP 2.0 technology dramatically enhances automation and workflow capabilities from traditional management systems.

It provides a Git catalog of reusable, versioned workflow building blocks that can be stitched together both serially and in parallel to create more complex workflows including notifications and approval steps. A visual editor allows much greater workflow visibility and management. Third party integration workflows provide bidirectional coordination with common tools such as Jenkins, Terraform, Ansible, Chef, Puppet and AWS Cloud Formation and Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates.

Integrated Cloud Governance

With most businesses operating several public cloud solutions at any given time and increasingly using developer driven DevOps methodology, IT governance has never been more critical.

Cloud management platforms are designed to help with security and compliance by automatically orchestrating change processes, enforcing standardized configurations, and applying policy-based governance to workloads. IT process and procedures provide corporate governance and safeguards. Unfortunately, they slow down and create roadblocks for developers who have circumvented IT controls that track costs by directly engaging with public clouds. Security risks have escalated to have a significant negative impact on the business. Organizations must find a way to reign in rogue processes without slowing down the pace of innovation.

CMPs solve this by providing provisioning automation, as well as by orchestrating overall approval, deployment, and stage management processes. This provides frictionless consumption for DevOps engineers, while at the same time ensuring adherence to corporate IT governance policies.

Cloud management platforms can also help enterprises manage risk by enforcing standardized configurations and templates. Organizations must typically create security requirements around component levels and images that they deploy. By updating them in a common service catalog and deploying them through a portal or via API automation, the deployments will automatically have the IT-mandated components configured in a way that IT has dictated and validated. This removes the manual risk of ad-hoc provisioning and facilitates consistent corporate risk-management coverage.

Additionally, policies around security settings such as workload placement and networking, as well as configuration/tagging parameters, can be enforced in the orchestration engine. Customers are provided with easy-to-use provisioning to the public cloud, while the automation transparently ensures the relevant policy-based compliance. This allows vCommander to ensure that cloud governance guidelines are followed without impeding the agility of development teams and that cloud costs and resources are fully optimized, as illustrated in the following section.

All of these cloud governance values are achieved when consuming in a “Cloud Brokered” model. However even when consuming “Cloud Direct” a CMP adds significant business value in cloud governance as well as cloud expense management.

Learn more about cloud governance with Snow Commander today.

Cloud Expense Management

In a CMP 1.0 world, it is important to achieve proper cost governance across your private, public, and hybrid cloud environments. This includes making application placement decisions, so that initial deployment choice considers the cost to the business. This also includes follow-on optimizations such as workload rightsizing in both private and public clouds, as well as power scheduling and reserved instance purchases in public cloud.

With the advent of CMP 2.0, the need for cloud expense management is that much greater. Everything is increased: Speed of deployment, frequency of deployment, and application architecture complexity. Without proper cost governance in such an environment, the inherent values of DevOps and microservices can be consumed by out-of-control spend. Fully integrated cost management is, therefore, the only way to thoroughly realize the business benefits in these next-generation environments.

Transforming Digital Business with Next-Generation Cloud Management Technology

Enterprise IT must adapt to the new realities of modern application architectures. Leveraging CMP 2.0 technology, these enterprises will successfully be able to support both their existing application infrastructures and the changing needs of their next generation applications. 

Snow CMP 2.0 enables high-speed digital business transformation and provides hybrid cloud orchestration and governance software for IT organizations, DevOps teams and service providers that need to improve provisioning, control usage, and accelerate the delivery of both legacy and next-generation microservice applications. Delivering a premier user experience, our enterprise-grade software is the fastest and easiest way to unify IT and development while reducing costs and maintaining proper governance.

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The world’s leading companies choose Snow Commander for managing their private, public and hybrid cloud environment.