What is cloud management?

Cloud Management describes the tools, processes and strategies for governing public, private or hybrid cloud-infrastructure resources and services.

More and more often, businesses and other organisations that incorporate IT services are choosing to deploy essential applications into various cloud environments. Generally, cloud deployments can be categorised within one of three models:

  • Public cloud: Public clouds are managed by businesses or other third-party organisations and are available for use by the general public and/or multiple organisations at the same time. Computing services are shared among all users, who rely on vendor-provided security measures to ensure that their data and applications are hidden from the other cloud customers.
  • Private cloud: Private clouds cater exclusively to single organisations, with no sharing of computing resources with other groups. These clouds are often built and managed by the organisation itself, though they may also be available through private-cloud vendors.
  • Hybrid cloud: Hybrid-cloud solutions combine aspects of public cloud, private cloud and on-premises IT infrastructure, providing orchestration, management and application portability between each. Ideally, this allows organisations to enjoy a single, flexible cloud environment optimised for running a company’s unique computing workloads.

Cloud computing brings with it a number of potential advantages, including cost savings, improved security and flexibility, reliable sustainability and scalability and unmatched on-demand data availability. In fact, these and other benefits have resulted in an exodus of IT organisations moving all or part of their infrastructure into the cloud environment. But as organisations deploy more and more enterprise applications in the cloud, many are discovering that effectively orchestrating and monitoring these disparate applications is more than a full-time job.

Cloud management provides the solution, bringing together data from all cloud-based applications and empowering IT professionals with complete control over their dynamic computing environments.

Businesses need accurate data and actionable insights in order to make informed decisions. And while most cloud vendors offer basic reporting tools designed to help organisations secure and manage cloud applications, these tools are seldom capable of more than relaying numbers and providing alerts. Perhaps more importantly, these reporting tools are in no way unified, forcing administrators to work with a wide range of programs to laboriously acquire, compare and distil data into something usable across the organisation. Additionally, most cloud vendors provide cloud management on their own platforms, which causes challenges when multiple providers are used concurrently, or when operating in a hybrid environment.

To facilitate improved management, cloud-management software is deployed into the target cloud environment. Operating as a virtual machine containing its own server and database, the cloud management solution captures cloud app activity and performance data, analysing it and sending the results to a central dashboard. Insights from all connected cloud applications are then available through a web-based interface. IT directors can also exercise control over each cloud app, issuing commands and making changes through the virtual machine when needed. Cloud management solutions facilitate increased visibility and control and help reduce the amount of manual labour that goes into managing cloud applications.

Used correctly, cloud management may improve cloud performance across the board, while also positively impacting other areas of the business. Potential benefits include the following:

Reduced cloud sprawl

A major and growing challenge for IT directors is cloud sprawl, where the number and complexity of cloud resources used throughout an organisation expands beyond IT’s ability to manage. Cloud management not only helps IT keep better track of cloud applications and their relevant datasets, it may also be employed to identify those applications that are best suited for off-premises, effectively reducing the number of workloads and data moved into the cloud.

Cloud Management Benefits

More effective analysis

Without cloud management, IT administrators have the unenviable task of having to individually monitor every cloud resource employed by the organisation. Cloud management takes this responsibility off their hands, collecting and analysing data from internal and external cloud applications. This provides a common view of all relevant cloud services, giving administrators the information and insights they need to optimise cloud resource usage.

Improved strategy

The advanced monitoring and analytics capabilities of cloud management likewise help to inform strategy. Providing clear insights into user actions and how workloads are processed in the cloud, cloud management’s improved visibility means that IT and other decision makers are able to balance workloads and take full advantage of available cloud capacity more effectively. Additionally, built-in instance automation can dynamically move workloads from private into public clouds during peak traffic times, allowing businesses to address demand without having to provision larger private cloud infrastructures.

More reliable security

Although modern cloud vendors tend to provide effective security measures and are much more likely to remain up to date on security patches, there is still a risk involved in operating in the cloud. And, because most vendors do not take full responsibility for cloud-based data in the event that a breach occurs, organisations are cautioned to take additional steps to secure their cloud resources. Cloud management dashboards and trend analysis tools help users identify potential weak points and respond quickly to emergent security situations.

Complete policy compliance

With the value and potential risk involved in data management within a company, it is absolutely vital that users at all levels adhere to established cloud usage policies and guidelines. Cloud management tools allow administrators to review cloud usage and identify non-compliant actions. They can then work to resolve the situation. This information is also beneficial in that it may inform future training and policy reviews.

Optimal cost management

Finally, cloud management helps organisations save money and get a larger return on their cloud investments. With cloud management, administrators can more accurately determine the best situations for using different cloud deployment options. They can then allocate available resources more effectively, eliminating unused cloud resources and getting more out of the resources that are being used.

While cloud management is something of an umbrella term used to describe a range of strategies, processes and tools, when organisations invest in cloud management solutions, they usually work within a cloud management platform (CMP).

CMP solutions consist of a comprehensive set of APIs designed to pull data from multiple cloud resources and then present that data through a unified interface. Top CMP options give users complete visibility of every aspect of their private, public or hybrid cloud infrastructure. This includes details related to how the cloud resource is being used, where workloads should be run, whether certain areas are not being used efficiently, where security vulnerabilities may be present, and whether users are operating in compliance with established policies, guidelines and best practices. Incorporating advanced automation and intelligent analysis, CMPs can free up IT directors from repetitive, time-consuming cloud management tasks, allowing them to focus their energies on more strategic pursuits.

With so much depending on the cloud, modern businesses need a reliable partner in managing cloud resources without exceeding established budgets. ServiceNow, the leader in IT management solutions, brings its expertise to cloud management. Cloud Management from ServiceNow is built on the award-winning Now Platform and provides tools for organisations across any industry to reduce expenditure and minimise risk while managing applications in the cloud. ServiceNow Cloud Management empowers users to schedule operations, govern discovered and provisioned assets, create personalised service catalogues, and more quickly deliver consistent, secure and auditable services across multiple cloud environments. The end result? Increased agility, reduced costs and improved returns from optimised cloud governance. ServiceNow makes it all possible.

Capabilities that scale with your business

See for yourself the difference that the right cloud-management solution can make, with ServiceNow.