My Big Bets for 2019 – CloudHealth – Part 1

Originally I wanted to write a single article about CloudHealth, but over time I ended up adding so much content to the article that it was more an essay than a blog! I’ve decided to split it into two and cut out a lot of feature reviews – so todays’ article is more about scene-setting and my thoughts on CloudHealth, and tomorrow’s article will be about 3 features I’ve found pretty cool.

The Market

Cloud has been talked about for years, but many organisations have been uncertain about closing down their data centres and taking that giant leap to public cloud. In reality, many businesses have taken a multi-cloud approach – I’ve seen customers who have Azure instances for storage and archive, with AWS instances for DevOps and web applications, in addition to the vast array of infrastructure that they still currently run within their own data centres for all those legacy applications they can’t quite get rid off!

But the issue with this multi-cloud approach (and I include on-prem/private cloud here), is that management becomes a complete nightmare! It’s the lack of visibility that puts people off… then there are the huge bills that typically occur due to unmanaged consumption… or the pain of migrating across workloads!
I’ve lost count how many customers I’ve spoken to who have said that moving to the cloud has been a costly nightmare, mainly due to being under-prepared and over-provisioned!
Or the number of customers who tell me they only consume Azure, only for an audit to show up pockets of AWS instances where the lines of business have gone direct to public cloud because IT were unable to provide the same agile services.

The Challenge

The challenge is how do organisations deal with operational complexity as they scale their cloud environments? How do they ensure that they have visibility whilst consuming multiple clouds? How do they manage security and compliance of cloud workloads, whilst ensuring governance across multiple disparate clouds? And more importantly how can they accurately report to the business the costs of consumption on these clouds or even predict future costs? These are all well known issues with going to public cloud!

If I had a pound for every time I hear IT/Cloud Admins moaning that they’re just seen by the business as a blackhole that sucks in money, then I still wouldn’t be very rich (think thousands rather than millions). =)

However, the statement is pretty true! The business typically sees the huge bills with no real justification behind it! Having the right cloud management and operations platform is critical to an organisations’ cloud strategy. In fact giving the business visibility into costs and operational aspects will help control the risk across multi-cloud without reducing agility – it may even accelerate the effort of multi-cloud adoption! You need a tool that helps provide tangible data to show how IT supports the business initiatives – aligning the cost of cloud consumption to a project or line of business, or even helping to identify the culprits who rack up those large cloud charges and the workloads they run!

cloud

The Answer

At VMworld 2018 US, an announcement was made by Pat Gelsinger that VMware were acquiring CloudHealth Technologies (for an undisclosed sum – Reuters reported it to be close to $500mil, now that’s a hefty piece of cheese!). The acquisition of CloudHealth makes a lot of sense, as here we have a SaaS solution which offers multi-cloud management across AWS, Azure and GCP, giving customers a way to manage cloud costs, usage and performance, security and governance, all from a single dashboard!

One aspect that was always missing from VMware’s Cloud Management Platform was a product that could manage multiple clouds from a single-pane-of-glass. VMware tried to do it with the vRealize Suite but people quickly realised it didn’t have the native integration needed in order to successfully monitor, manage and analyse public cloud workloads – VMware were using existing products and trying to retro-fit them as a CMP. You pretty much had 3 separate products – vRealize Operations to monitor workloads and utilisation, vRealize Business for Cloud for cost analysis, and vRealize Automation for managing workflows and self-service. CloudHealth has been purposely-built from the ground up to be a Cloud Management & Operations Platform!

In the short time I’ve read and watched demos of the product in action, my opinion is that CloudHealth will become ‘the’ Cloud Operations Platform of choice for the industry (assuming VMware gets their pricing correct!) – no other product offers customers such granular visibility and insight to cloud costs and consumption and provides such ease of aligning them to lines-of-business for reporting. Day 2 operations such as control and optimisation of cloud consumption, and ensuring compliance and performance of the environments is easily done by setting policies and actions (more on this tomorrow). The direction is to obviously make this a tool where people can manage and monitor every public and private cloud, and I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point in the future roadmap there would be some sort of workload automation that gets rolled out – for example you setup a policy to monitor consumption costs for a web app and the cost comparison of running that workload across the different public cloud providers, the remediation action would be to migrate the workload to the cheapest cloud every billing cycle (maybe quarterly)!

At the moment there’s no news as to whether CloudHealth will replace vRealize Suite, I can only assume that vRealize Business for Cloud will merge into CloudHealth as they do pretty similar things. Similarly I think VMware Secure State (real-time configuration of security and compliance of cloud workloads) will be merged into CloudHealth, as again they both offer the same type of services.

It’s also interesting to hear that they’re potentially looking to integrate VMware’s Cloud Automation Services and Wavefront products into the CloudHealth Platform – maybe offering a future look into how CloudHealth could integrate into the continuous delivery of DevOps and take remediation actions? The Wavefront integration would expand CloudHealth’s reach into the cloud native apps itself (rather than just looking at the underlying infrastructure components).

For the time being I guess the advice to customers would be to continue to use vRealize to manage on-prem private cloud with CloudHealth managing public cloud – although that said, there’s still not much information available with regards to whether CloudHealth can currently work with on-prem vSphere deployments and with VMware Cloud on AWS – but I guess this integration is more than likely being worked on feverishly and I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t something launched before VMworld this year! How cool would that be?

spongebob

The obvious low-hanging fruit for VMware is to go after all the MSPs within their VCPP stream to roll out CloudHealth, it’s going to be interesting to see which direction VMware focuses on first – MSP or resale.

For now, it seems that VMware has a complete story to tell to customers in regards to their cloud strategy – “A cloud solution must be able to support the development and delivery of any application, on to any cloud, and accessible by any device, whilst maintaining enterprise requirements around security and compliance, and being able to simplify Day 2 operations for management of multi-clouds….”
(bit of a mouthful)

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