In this era of digital transformation, organizations in every industry are using software innovation to differentiate. In fact, over 80% of businesses expect to have DevOps practices in place by 2020. Unfortunately, it can still take IT weeks to deliver new services to developers which has given rise to hybrid IT and multi-cloud options. This, in turn, causes cost overruns, security risks, and poor lifecycle management.
These forces put extreme pressure on IT Infrastructure and Operations teams looking to serve the needs of Business Units and Developers while maintaining control beyond the traditional datacenter. Cloud Management Platforms (CMP) hold the key but IT teams can struggle to realize the benefits of automation and orchestration due to the fragmented complexity of the vendor and technology landscape.
We put together this FAQ and Comparison to provide some perspective for IT leaders, DevOps professionals, and cloud architects exploring their options.
What IS a modern multi cloud management platform (CMP)? (Top)
451 Research defined things this way in their 2018 CMP Market Map – “a CMP acts as a service catalog that can look across an organization’s estate (public, private and hybrid)…. Full-service CMPs take inventory of all the assets and services they manage, using cross-cloud tagging and taxonomy normalization for better visibility and policy based control, resource management and optimization. Because the platform emphasizes the user experience and service model, a CMP’s front-end portal and catalog of services will support all roles accessing pre-approved VMs, applications workloads and cloud services. The cloud service broker component provides users with a single location from which to find, procure, access, integrate, and manage public and private cloud services.”
According to Gartner’s April 2018 Evaluation Criteria for Cloud Management Platforms and Tools (ID: G00342611) – “a cloud management platform (CMP) provides broad cloud management functionality atop both public cloud provider platforms and private cloud platforms. CMPs manage cloud services and resources that are distributed across multiple cloud platforms. The value of CMPs stands in delivering the maximum level of consistency between platforms without compromising depth of functionality.” Minimum requirements to be an enterprise grade CMP include support for multiple cloud platforms, IaaS support, web-based GUI, and a RESTful API.
The Morpheus Take… The cloud management landscape encapsulates features in a number of categories and it’s important for IT teams to find the right mix of multi-function and multi-platform support to minimize tool sprawl and lock-in. It’s also critical to acknowledge the core use-case you are solving for. In most modern enterprises, application development projects are becoming a dominant stakeholder and consuming a majority of IT time and resources. If so, then your CMP should not only solve the operational needs of IT, but also meet the demands of developers to enable DevOps. Many first-generation CMPs became shelf-ware because they were overly oriented towards addressing Ops needs without giving Developers the ability to achieve CI/CD objectives.
We believe a modern CMP should meet the needs of all stakeholders, be 100% agnostic, and take a systematic or full-stack approach to the challenge.
Gartner seems to agree and in a recently published Market Insight had this to say “Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), SaaS, platform as a service (PaaS), public, private, hybrid and multicloud — all are part of the increasingly complex mix of deployed solutions. Customers no longer view point solutions, such as cloud expense management and security assessment, as differentiating because they want a cohesive platform of features that delivers across the full set of cloud management functions.”
Why do customers choose Morpheus? (Top)
Morpheus is a next-generation multi-cloud management platform which assists large enterprise organizations and MSPs in Hybrid IT and DevOps initiatives.
We provide a unified and systematic approach to Multi-Cloud Self-Service and DevOps Orchestration which bridges the gap between teams, tools, and processes across both mode 1 and mode 2 applications independent of where and how those applications are deployed. Unlike narrowly scoped cloud management tools and platforms, Morpheus is both multi-function and multi-cloud which in turn reduces tool sprawl and eliminates lock-in.
People and process are as important as tools and technology. With that in mind, we enable Developers and Operations teams to serve the needs of the Business by delivering on what each of those three groups needs to be successful.
- For Infrastructure & Ops, we standardize management and governance of what is otherwise a heterogenous mix of disconnected clouds and tools.
- For Developers, we enable speed with self-service app deployment, a full fidelity API/CLI, plus blueprinting and automation for the entire lifecycle.
- For Business teams, we assure compliance, enable visibility and rightsizing of brownfields, plus include a comprehensive reporting and policy engine.
To maximize value to the business this vision includes three core design tenants.
- Assure rapid-time-to value via out-of-the-box integrations and native functionality.
- Maximize agility via a 100% agnostic approach to platforms, tools, and clouds.
- Reduce risk as a consolidated record of deployment processes and cloud operations.
The challenge with Platform-centric and Infrastructure-centric CMPs (Top)
CMPs and automation tools from traditional vendors like VMware vRealize, RedHat CloudForms, HPE OneSphere, and Cisco CloudCenter are inherently grounded in those vendor stacks. This doesn’t mean they are bad, but it’s clear that these vendors are using cloud management as a way to protect hypervisor and hardware revenue. Cloud-specific tools from AWS, Azure and others are equally narrow and suffer from the Hotel California syndrome – “we can check you out, but you can never leave”.
Often, these products are typically part of broader fragmented suites presented together in order to check all of the required CMP boxes. The result? Rather than an agnostic and systematic approach to cloud management you may find yourself locked-in to a future of jumping between different tools with different interfaces, development roadmaps, and shortcomings.
This scenario may not be what you are looking for to help future-proof your IT and provide leverage in discussions with your infrastructure vendors. With a vast majority of enterprises having multiple clouds and a mix of bare metal, VM, and containerized apps in their library you have to abstract away the underlying complexity. The higher up the stack you take that abstraction the more degrees of freedom you have.
The challenge and limitations with first-generation CMPs (Top)
Cloud management is a broad topic and to be honest it’s been nuts as vendors have used that term to describe a fragmented array of products ranging from optimization to security to automation to migration and more. As they say in the Princess Bride – “I do not think that means what you think it means” As the market matures, it’s clear that having 6 or more tools to manage your 3 or more clouds is not sustainable. It’s also clear that having 10 different software-defined components tied to automation silos is not cutting it. These alternatives tend to be:
Feature Limited – Many tools focus on a narrow slice of the CMP feature set such as Turbonomic and CloudHealth for optimization but the market is evolving to demand full-stack solutions. Without a systematic and full stack approach you end up with a fragmented set of disconnected tools just chasing symptoms.
Developer Limited – One of the main drivers to the public cloud comes from Developers who are tired of waiting for IT. Some CMPs profess to be enterprise-class failing in broad adoption because they are Ops-centric and do not truly meet the needs of Developers which in turn means those investments become shelf-ware.
Agility Limited – Some CMPs fail due to complex plug-in and webhook architectures that require a ton of scripting and post deployment integration. Others are only available as SaaS which doesn’t work in highly secure environments. If it takes you a year or more to get your CMP in place and you can’t deploy the way you want then you’ve lost before you started.
The challenge with DIY cloud management (Top)
Some of our best customers today are those who we talked to 18-months ago that were convinced they could leverage configuration management tools and open source infrastructure-as-code frameworks to do what they needed. And that’s not to say this path is impossible… it’s not, it’s just really hard and results in a very brittle and expensive approach to cloud management.
The old saying in tech is “Fast, Right, or Cheap… pick two.” Unfortunately, if your core competency is not building and maintaining platform frameworks it’s hard to do right. Getting these projects off the ground and finding the right skill sets is guaranteed to result in months if not years of development (we’ve been at it for 7+ years). Lastly, open source and ‘do it yourself’ is far from free when you factor in the manpower required to maintain and update.
Morpheus alongside PaaS offerings (e.g. Pivotal Cloud Foundry) (Top)
Cloud Foundry and Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) are examples of Platform-as-a-Service solutions aimed at helping companies empower developer productivity. Many large enterprises have deployed these solutions as projects within their IT estates but very few have completely moved 100% of their operations under that umbrella. In fact, many that we’ve worked with end up having a PCF installation alongside several other stacks which are each used for different business groups or projects. Therein is the problem and the answer as to how Morpheus can help. PCF is one of 20 ‘clouds’ that we support meaning IT Operations teams can centralize the governance, reporting, and provisioning to PCF in the same place they are managing those same tasks for VMware, Amazon, and other deployment destinations.
Morpheus alongside Configuration Management (e.g. Chef, SaltStack, Ansible, Puppet) (Top)
In a properly managed DevOps organization, developers have self-service access to deploy application components in a consistent way and all changes go through configuration management (CM), which allows organizations to assure proper state and enforce change control policy. CMP is a critical piece of the puzzle to ensure consistency and keep track of who changed what. However CM by itself does not enable self-service. Many of the popular Config. Management tools only provide GUIs as an ‘add-on’, provide only basic reporting, and have limited role-based access control. Most importantly they were designed to manipulate infrastructure to establish and maintain state but the further you get from that core design the more brittle your environment.
Morpheus works in concert with configuration management to provide a operational framework where CM can work best. We let you use your CM tool of choice for establishing and maintaining state while still providing Ops a very easy to manage self-service and day-2 app lifecycle framework complete with fine grained role-based access. Plus with over 75 out of the box integrations you don’t need to spend months knitting together a brittle collection of scripts just to automate your infrastructure. Lastly, Morpheus is 100% infrastructure and platform agnostic, you can wrap CM into workflows that are easily transferable across different platform and cloud technologies.
Learn more about Morpheus plus Configuration Management.
Morpheus alongside ITSM tools (e.g. ServiceNow, Cherwell) (Top)
According to the wizards at Wikipedia, “IT service management (ITSM) refers to the entirety of activities – directed by policies, organized and structured in processes and supporting procedures – that are performed by an organization to design, plan, deliver, operate and control IT services offered to customers.” ITSM tools like ServiceNow are focusing on service request and delivery rather than system management.
This is probably why most of our larger enterprise customers are using Morpheus in concert with an ITSM tool. While those tools are broadly providing service management frameworks, Morpheus is deeply focused on self-service provisioning across multi-cloud infrastructure. By using Morpheus along with ITSM, enterprises can let each tool do what it does best. For example, our integration with ServiceNow enables customers to:
- Eliminate plug-in sprawl with a single shared service catalog
- Add new catalog items quickly with zero coding required.
- Automate DevOps deployment with approvals and workflows
- Consolidate all CMDB updates across all clouds with one tool
- Assure incidents are managed via service aware monitoring.
Learn more about Morpheus plus ServiceNow.
Morpheus services alongside dedicated monitoring, logging, and backup (Top)
Morpheus was originally designed to be a full-stack application development lifecycle tool and as such it includes the native ability to monitor services, aggregate logs, and apply data protection policies to application services. That said, we are not trying to compete with best-in-class solutions in any of those areas.
Every enterprise customer is actively modernizing in the face of hybrid IT and digital transformation initiatives. The growth in companies like Zerto, Rubric, AppDynamics, New Relic, Splunk, and others is evidence that logging, monitoring, and backup are markets that are not sitting still.
As a 100% agnostic orchestration and automation platform, our goal is to these tools talk to each other in a coordinated way… not to replace them. That said, developers often don’t have access to these enterprise tools. In those cases we’ve been able to help DevOps teams have access to basic logging, monitoring, and backup via Morpheus while at the same time assuring that production deployments are consistently applying IT’s tools of choice for these functions.