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Deploying a multicloud management platform: What to consider

Cloud management software may help organizations bring order to cloud computing chaos — managing and deploying a diversity of cloud services, keeping track of services used for billing purposes and making the best use of cloud infrastructure.

Once they get the green light to buy and then install such software – known as a cloud or multicloud management platform — organizations would do well to draft a deployment plan, advised the Cloud Standards Customer Council. The group, which works on establishing standards for the cloud industry, hosted a webinar on understanding and evaluating cloud management software in late July.

The key deployment question organizations should entertain is whether to buy traditional software, which would reside on their own servers or a prepackaged software-as-service (SaaS) offering. IBM cloud expert Mike Edwards spoke in the webinar about the two offerings. Subscribing to cloud software takes away the burden of having people in-house who “understand how to do that installation, how to install the bits and then run it.” But a SaaS application won’t fit every business situation.

“There’s no one answer,” Edwards said.

William Van Order, a cloud expert at aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin, laid out other key points organizations should mull over before deploying a multicloud management platform.

Make partnerships. Getting buy-in from other groups in the organization before deploying cloud management software is crucial, Van Order said in the webinar. The software’s capabilities — billing and budgeting and self-service provisioning options among others — reach across the business, so end users, the IT security team and the finance department should all be involved.

Set reasonable objectives. A cross-section of the organization should help set a “common vision and goals” for a multicloud management platform, Van Order said. Because business priorities for the project vary widely – increased agility, more speed in deploying applications, optimizing cloud computing costs, reducing staff size – priorities need to be established at the outset.

The deployment should be rolled out in phases, Van Order said, along with a change management plan to train and get constituencies on board. “This is never going to be just a once-and-done effort,” he said. “Understand what your vision and goals are and establish those use cases to meet those business priorities.”

Understand the multicloud management platform’s role in the cloud ecosystem. The software helps consolidate management for all cloud services in an organization, according to a CSCC report released in July, shortly before the webinar. To achieve the full value, it must integrate with the tools that support function in the cloud infrastructure – service management software, for example, DevOps or financial management tools.

Whether using a SaaS or on-premises system, Van Order implored, organizations need to look at a “complete picture of what the introduction of a cloud management platform is going to do to your overall cloud ecosystem.”

Identify risks and opportunities early. In both the evaluation and deployment process, organizations need to stay abreast of the risks a deployment poses to day-to-day operations — and the opportunities for improvement, according to the report. That way, they can more easily seek out alternatives if things go south.

“Identify things that work for you — what lessons have you learned as you’re doing this phased deployment?” Van Order said. “Be willing to modify your plans when things outcomes shift as well as your business priorities might shift as well.”

Learn about the functions of a cloud management platform in this SearchCIO blog post and get the Cloud Standards Customer Council’s evaluation criteria in this tip.