JohanSwanepoel - Fotolia

Hybrid cloud platforms look to liberate VMware, Azure tie-in

Vendor-focused hybrid cloud platforms such as VMware Cloud on AWS and Microsoft Azure Stack get a lot of attention, but some new hybrid cloud platforms eschew vendor allegiances.

For IT shops that struggle to navigate a landscape of proprietary hybrid cloud options, newer hybrid cloud platforms promise a path free of vendor allegiances.

VMware technology is still so common in today's data centers that most of the hybrid cloud management tools in use are designed for that specific platform. As such, they don't easily connect with different cloud environments to give IT pros a complete view of the IT landscape.

VMware Cloud on Amazon Web Services (AWS) appeals to users already entrenched with those two vendors and Azure Stack's hybrid cloud platform targets Microsoft shops that use on premises or Azure in the cloud, or both. But new hybrid cloud management products from Accelerite and Turbonomic Inc. aim to let enterprises tackle multiple clouds in multiple locations from multiple vendors.

In a true multicloud world, an organization puts workloads in the most appropriate location based on cost, risk and performance characteristics, said Roy Illsley, principal analyst at Ovum in London. IT pros want as few tools as possible to efficiently manage this mixed environment of cloud-native workloads, virtual machines and traditional on-premises applications.

In reality, though, individual departments in a company often pick different clouds to run workloads, which means IT pros lose control over what goes down, said Mike Strohl, CEO at Entisys360, an IT consultancy in Concord, Calif.

"It's insane," he said. "IT is going to break everything again with 50 solutions, or they are going to have a hub that allows everyone to be right."

Rather than transfer workloads to the public cloud, a gradual approach is better to test applications in private and public clouds to identify the best cloud mix through a hybrid cloud platform, Strohl said.

Accelerite, Turbonomic tackle hybrid cloud management

One of Strohl's large clients chose Rovius Cloud, a hybrid cloud platform from Accelerite, to help test applications in AWS and move those applications in and out of AWS as part of a self-service IT organization.

Accelerite's Rovius Cloud, a rebranded and updated version of CloudPlatform, which Accelerite bought from Citrix last year, is built on CloudStack, OpenStack's lesser-known cousin. It is used to deploy, monitor and manage private cloud and public cloud compute, storage and networking, including AWS, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure. In an on-premises data center, it can go on traditional rack or blade servers or hyper-converged infrastructure.

It's insane. IT is going to break everything again with 50 solutions, or they are going to have a hub that allows everyone to be right.
Mike StrohlCEO, Entisys360

An added management console called Ops Manager provides resource discovery, infrastructure and performance monitoring, log analytics and capacity planning. That makes Rovius Cloud easier to use and removes the complexity that has made OpenStack notoriously difficult, said Tim Crawford, a CIO advisor at AVOA, who recently saw a walkthrough of Rovius.

The commoditization of cloud consumption means that companies need easy-to-use software that lets them take advantages of each cloud platform, said Joep Piscaer, a CTO at an IT outsourcer, who sat through a demonstration of Rovius Cloud at a recent Cloud Field Day event. The most significant benefit is the ability to manage workloads across different cloud environments and formats, such as virtual machines and containers, although it lacks a tool to compare cloud prices, availability and performance, he said.

Meanwhile, the latest release of Turbonomic's eponymous software also manages on-premises and public cloud environments. Turbonomic 6.0 brings public cloud storage control, relational database services for AWS RDS and Azure SQL and visibility for spot prices and reserve instances. And integration with VMware vCloud Director will help companies that adopt VMware Cloud on AWS, said Eric Wright, director of technical marketing at Turbonomic.

But almost no company is all-in with VMware, Wright said. "Even where there is a distinct uni-vendor approach, most of our customers are running more than one hypervisor, more than one storage platform, more than one cloud," he said.

Unless cloud providers agree on a single standard -- which is very unlikely -- vendor-neutral options for hybrid cloud management will become more important in the new multicloud world, Ovum's Illsley said. In addition to Rovius Cloud and Turbonomic, others in the market include Platform9 and Nirmata.

"This is a first step on the journey of greater transparency and workload portability," Illsley said. "You need to know what you have, where the pinch points are, and what it costs before you can move to the second phase of control."

Robert Gates covers data centers, data center strategies, server technologies, converged and hyper-converged infrastructure and open source operating systems for SearchDataCenter. Follow him on Twitter @RBGatesTT or email him at [email protected].

Next Steps

Explore on-premises options for hybrid cloud management

Compare OpenStack and CloudStack

Develop a multicloud architecture strategy

Dig Deeper on Virtualization and private cloud