My Big Bets for 2019 – CloudHealth – Part 2

Yesterday’s article tried to set the scene and discuss why I think CloudHealth is such a great product, today’s article will be about 3 features that caught my eye that I’ve found to be pretty cool.

Policies

In the adapted words of Beyonce…. “Who Run the Cloud… Policies!!”

Policies should be used to run the cloud infrastructure where your workloads reside. But in order for policies to be effective you need an understanding of your cloud workloads, how their components work together and also a policy management system that makes it easy to define and configure policies according to different rulesets and actions. Policies can be configured to control costs, optimise performance, and enhance security and compliance – think of them as you cloud platform rule book!

CloudHealth allows you to automate your cloud policy management – this means the platform will continuously monitor your workloads to ensure they stay in compliance with any policies you set, and when it discovers a workload has violated a policy it can remediate following a set of pre-defined actions. In any environment, IT admins spend a lot of their time on BAU and keeping the lights on. Being able to use automation means you can spend less time monitoring and managing your environment and more time focusing on more business-critical issues or new innovative projects.

When an event occurs that triggers a policy, the CloudHealth policy management system can be configured to apply a number of different actions to suit the circumstances of the policy triggered, such as:

  • Send a notification to the Cloud Admin if the projected monthly spend is going to be greater than 100% of the budget allocated.
  • Take a snapshot and delete a block storage volume if it’s been unattached for a week.
  • Monitor workload utilisation and expand resources if the workload is underprovisioned.
  • Archive and delete virtual machines that have been idle for a month.
  • Stop workloads being deployed if the user has consumed their monthly allocation of resources.
  • And so on….

Policies and actions help to automate the governance of your cloud environment! If policies are the rule book, think of CloudHealth as Judge, Jury and Executioner!! =P

JD

Perspectives

Within CloudHealth, “Perspectives” is a great way for the end user to view and group cloud components together in order to align them with a business objective – for example grouping workloads across multiple cloud instances to a line of business, or to a user, or to a specific type of cloud instance (say an EC2 instance), in fact you can tag components in AWS and use them to help build Perspectives.

Perspectives enable precision reporting, showing you unique ‘point-of-views’ to your cloud environment for the given group. They are rule-based, allowing you to report from both an operational (e.g. applications, roles) and a business standpoint (e.g. departments, product lines). Best of all you can create dynamic groups that automatically update as changes occur!

The platform will allow line of businesses to visualise and analyse infrastructure assets and services, and the corresponding data in ways that are most meaningful to them. As a result, they can fully understand what’s happening in their infrastructures, pinpoint the root causes of issues, and mitigate risks to optimise infrastructure performance, availability, and security

Reporting

And that leads me straight into Reporting! Perspectives are used throughout the CloudHealth platform to help build out dashboard views and reports – and there are vast amounts of dashboard views that look into consumption or cost trends. Each view typically allows you to drill down into individual users or virtual machines or lines of business!

The Cross-Cloud Cost dashboard is a very useful reporting tool for customers who run multiple clouds, showing on one single page what the cost and consumption are like, and even showing you cost history by owner – which means you can quickly identify which users are racking up those huge cloud bills!

One of the features I really like on CloudHealth is the simple Health Check report than can be generated after 24hrs of collecting metrics – reporting on cost consumption and possible optimisation scenarios with potential cost savings (for example reclaiming under-utilised instances or unused storage volumes). There’s also a recommendation on Reservation Management – determining how much could be saved using Reserved Instances rather than PAYG pricing and the ROI that can be achieved.

healthcheck

Another interesting tool is the Reserved Instances Optimizer which can offer recommendations on cost saving opportunities by analysing the utilisation across the whole cloud environment and then determine the optimum buy point for RIs (assuming you have unlimited budget). However, if you don’t have unlimited budget to buy a huge chunk of RIs up front, then you can set your budget using the slide bar and re-run the optimizer tool which will then work out the best assets to place into the RI given your budget, and the potential cost savings and ROI in doing so!

Optimizer also allows you to filter the report to only the assets you care about – for example the recommendations with regards to your production environment.

optimiser

 

Conclusion

CloudHealth is a great tool that allows organisations the capability to gain insights into their cloud costs and manage the utilisation of cloud resources. In addition it grants organisations the ability to address security issues of cloud workloads and align a set of corporate policies across multi-cloud workloads to ensure compliancy. It also allows organisations the flexibility of determining how data is analysed, organised and reported by using Perspectives – correlating data with business goals to aid decision making. Finally, CloudHealth offers the ability to automate workflows by creating custom policies and guidelines that define how automated actions and tasks are executed.

If you want to find out more information on CloudHealth and its additional features and functions, then head along to their website or get in touch with your VMware Account Manager!

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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)

My Big Bets for 2019 – Intro

Over the Christmas period I started to plan out what I wanted to blog about at the start of 2019. I realised during my vExpert application (damn, it’s so much more stringent now!!) that I haven’t blogged as much as I used to – and that’s mainly because I didn’t want to just post meaningless blogs about how to install/configure the next iteration of vSphere or vSAN. I find there’s been a huge uptake in new bloggers just posting how to “install, configure, manage” certain VMware products and I really didn’t want to take my blog back down that path… especially since it’s very easy to just google “how to install/configure vSAN” – not to mention that VMware have now made the installations so damn easy that my 8 year old nephew could do it!! (Which kind of makes me wonder why people would want to blog about it?!?)

I decided that I wanted to take my blog in a different direction and make it more ‘advisory’ by posting my thoughts on VMware’s vision, what products are new to the market and their benefits, what are they being used for, etc. At the start of the new year I was planning on writing a blog article about products I see taking off in 2019, but due to other events that occurred in my life (like getting made redundant) my blog got put on the back burner for a while.

Now that I have a bit more time on my hands (being freshly unemployed) I’ve decided to resurrect the idea and expand it into several posts.

I decided to look over the VMware portfolio and pick out products that I think are going to make big waves in 2019 – much like how vSAN and HCI did in 2018.

So without further ado….. My Three Big Bets for 2019 are:

  1. CloudHealth
  2. VMware Cloud Foundation
  3. VMware Cloud on AWS

Why have I chosen these 3 products? Well if you look at the general market and what businesses are exploring, there’s a big sense of urgency to do something in the ‘cloud’… but many businesses have failed to execute their cloud strategy due to the problems they encounter with migrating over workloads and managing their public cloud alongside their existing on-premise infrastructure. These 3 products in my opinion now form the vision VMware has with regards to hybrid cloud… a public cloud platform, a private cloud platform, all built on the same software stack giving consistent infrastructure and now with a cloud management tool that provides consistent operations across multiple clouds!

Over the next couple of weeks (or depending on how quickly I can write the articles given my wife has a long list of chores for me to do) I’ll be blogging about each solution, what it’s used for and why I believe it will succeed in 2019.

Stay tuned! =)