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Automating the Cloud: How Management Platforms Will Change Managed Cloud Offers

  • June 2014
  • -
  • Frost & Sullivan
  • -
  • 12 pages

Summary

Table of Contents

In this study, Frost & Sullivan offers a definition of managed cloud services. We also examine managed cloud service evolution, with emphasis on how new cloud management platforms impact managed services. Finally, we review the offers of selected providers, comparing and contrasting their services, and determining what constitutes a strong managed cloud offer.

Introduction
As cloud solutions and technologies evolve, enterprises continue to show interest in how the cloud can help them achieve corporate goals. While the cloud promises previously unachievable results at attractive price points, complexity confounds resource-strapped IT departments, and often drives them to seek outside assistance in managing cloud services. A wide variety of providers have been all too happy to fill the gap, with everyone from traditional communications service providers, to managed hosting providers, to native cloud providers, stepping in with managed cloud offers that provide greater oversight and assistance in terms of operating the customer’s cloud service. With providers hailing from such diverse backgrounds, managed cloud offers vary greatly from provider to provider and service to service. But, what comprises the core of a managed cloud offer? What components are common to all managed services; and what differences do individual providers present to differentiate themselves in the market?

Providers have come to a general consensus about what makes a cloud service “managed.” Most agree that providers bear the full responsibility for meeting performance metrics, and take proactive steps to ensure that metrics are met. But, as cloud services evolve, the means by which these are met can vary greatly from provider to provider.
Major shifts have been afoot in which the enterprise IT department becomes more service-oriented; and automated service management is quickly becoming an integral part of cloud services. As such, providers have more tools at their disposal to help ensure that the customer’s operation and business goals are met. In this context, delivery of managed cloud services is shifting: routine monitoring and maintenance, as well as several management tasks, are able to be performed without human intervention. Time will tell whether greater automation diminishes the need for managed cloud services. In this study, Frost & Sullivan offers a definition of managed cloud services. We also examine managed cloud service evolution, with emphasis on how new cloud management platforms impact managed services. Finally, we review the offers of selected providers, comparing and contrasting their services, and determining what constitutes a strong managed cloud offer.

The Rise of Managed Cloud Services

While the allure of cloud computing—pay-as-you-go consumption model, flexibility, and on-demand access—makes the cloud attractive to a wide variety of businesses, choosing from among the available options, and integrating those choices into an existing IT environment, can prove to be daunting. As such, enterprises are increasingly turning to cloud or IT service providers for assistance. In its 2013 cloud user survey, Frost & Sullivan found that percent of cloud users surveyed anticipate using the services of a provider to help implement their cloud services; with percent turning to a cloud or managed service provider specifically.

In response to customer needs, some cloud providers are offering managed cloud infrastructure as an alternative to self-service IaaS. For others, the evolution comes out of a managed hosting background, in which cloud is offered to customers as a more cost-efficient alternative to leasing half-racks or racks, when only a portion of that space will be used immediately. Despite diverse backgrounds, managed cloud providers often end up in much the same place. Most managed cloud providers are offering managed infrastructure in which the cloud provider takes on routine management tasks, like deploying new instances based on traffic, or testing the disaster recovery function on a set schedule.

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