An overview of cloud vision and solutions of VMware and Microsoft. Part two: multi-cloud management

Many organizations which want to use public cloud for agility, innovation or cost reduction struggle with a couple of issues:

  1. how to avoid vendor lockin
  2. compliancy
  3. there is no single cloud solution offering all the features an organization wants
  4. costs

So the answer to these issues  can be the use of multiple cloud platforms. That will solve some or all of the above issues, but introduces new issues! Different clouds often means different technologies,  services, security features,  availability issues and so on. Basically using multiple clouds means silo’s again.

A way to make management of multiple clouds easier is either:

  • use a managment tool which abstracts complexity  of  clouds
  • use cloudplatforms which offer similar API’s and services. Like the VMware vCloud Network and the Microsoft Cloud OS vision. The focus of Microsoft is to deliver Azure services and API via public cloud, and via Service Providers and enterprises using Azure Stack.

In this blogpost I concentrate on enterprises which want to use hyperscale clouds like Azure, Amazon AWS and Google.  To manage these clouds organizations want to use a cloud management tool,

Such a tool is able to:

  • manage instances (provision, delete, adjust, stop start )
  • manage networking
  • manage storage
  • use policies to provision instances on the most suited platform
  • migrate and clone instances
  • do cost control (compare costs, billing)
  • monitoring and alerting

Lets have a look what Microsoft and VMware offer at the moment.

Microsoft multi-cloud management tool

I can be short: Microsoft does not offer such a tool! The strategy of Microsoft is have customers use Microsoft cloud solutions in any possible scenario. Public cloud using Azure, hosted cloud and private cloud using Azure Pack (now) and Azure Stack (GA mid 2017).

The story of Microsoft is that it provides customers a choice. Using the same API and services applications can be deployed in Azure, in service provider managed cloud and in private clouds. Customers however need to be patient as Azure Stack will be available in mid 2017.

For management on other clouds, Microsoft does offer some plugins to perform basic tasks like provisioning. For example Azure Automation has the ability to execute PowerShell scripts which provision instances in Amazon AWS. AWS offers a System Center VMM plugin to do very limited management on EC2 instances.

VMware multi-cloud management tools

VMware offers an increasing set of tools enabling customers to manage multiple cloud platforms. VMware vRealize Automation is an application deployment tool offering self service. It is able to provision instances and applications and does continous delivery. It supports vCloud platforms, OpenStack and Amazon. There is currently a beta in vRA 7.1 for an Azure endpoint.

At VMworld there even was a session on using vRealize Automation for provisioning to  Azure.

At VMworld 2016 VMware announced Cross-Cloud Services. This is a SaaS based cloud management tool which is able to perform all kinds of actions on different cloud platforms. The most appealing feature is the ability to deploy NSX to a cloud platform. In a demo a deployment was done to Amazon EC2. NSX allows to move workloads from on-prem to Amazon EC2 without modification to the IP-configuration of the virtual machine.

Cross-Cloud-Control-Plane

NSX will be a major enabler for VMware  customers to move worksloads between different cloud vendors without adjustments to the network configuration of the virtual machine.

Another feature of Cross-Cloud Services is the ability to move instances to another cloud platform. This is done by creating a replica on the target platfrom, sync the data and then switch over.

It will take some time before Cross-Cloud Services will be available to customers. VMware stated it only left the drawing board in January 2016.

Conclusion

Customers looking for true multi-cloud support are better served with VMware. However the feature set is still limited. For a mature multi-cloud management customers should be looking at other solutions like IBM cloudMatrix.

 

 

 

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