One of the better indicators that corporate IT groups are starting to get serious about cloud is their growing interest in solutions that help them aggregate and manage multiple cloud services. Some call these solutions cloud services brokerage and management, and others term them cloud orchestration. While the market hasn’t yet converged on a common set of capabilities or definition, the broad category typically includes the following:
- Service catalogs – “App Store”- like models that provide users access to internal IaaS and PaaS services and in some cases third-party SaaS apps and infrastructure services as well
- Service provisioning – capabilities that support end-user requests, provisioning, and deployment of cloud services
- Service integration – data integration services across multiple cloud services, including “cloud-to-cloud” and “cloud-to-ground” models
- Chargeback and billing – consumption-based metering and billing of cloud services to internal users, including private services and aggregation of public cloud services spend
- Service management – monitoring and management across multiple cloud services, including performance, capacity planning, workload management, and identity management
- Sourcing – contracting and sourcing of cloud services across multiple platforms and providers
These solutions are being offered by a wide variety of players, including not only traditional enterprise systems management vendors – which in some cases are just repackaging SOA offerings – but also global systems integrators (SIs) and focused startups.
What’s important about this phenomenon?
First, corporate IT’s interest in these capabilities is, in a way, an implicit acknowledgement that:
- Cloud services will be adopted in scale across enterprises
- Multiple large scale services will need to be orchestrated and managed
- Orchestrating these services will be hard and will require external third party solutions
This is a far different conversation than corporate IT was having a year ago at this time, which was primarily around what pilot or proof of concept to launch.
Second, interest in cloud orchestration is being “pulled” by corporate IT, rather than “pushed” by the business. A premise we recently heard is that business’ role in driving adoption of cloud is no different than it was in the packaged software era. Packaged software required servers, storage, and networks, all of which required IT management and support. This provided IT with long-term job security and the opportunity to “empire build.” As a result, corporate IT aggressively supported packaged software rollouts and implementations.
The difference in the cloud era is corporate IT’s attitude. To date, it largely perceived the cloud as a threat. But now, IT is discovering it can potentially regain a measure of relevance and control by adopting a service provider mindset, and service catalogs / chargeback models combined with private and public cloud services.
Is corporate IT finally finding a path to building its empire in the cloud? Are you or your IT group considering, or embarking upon, a cloud orchestration initiative? What thoughts and experiences do you have to share with your peers?