The cloud management space has been consolidating in recent months, with acquisitions revolving around a similar theme — dealing with the challenges and opportunities of hybrid cloud.
Among the vendors that have recently expanded hybrid cloud management capabilities via an acquisition is CloudBolt Software. On June 2, CloudBolt announced that it acquired privately held SovLabs, which develops codeless integration technologies for hybrid cloud. With SovLabs Modules, organizations can connect to different IT assets across a distributed environment.
Grant Ho, chief marketing officer of CloudBolt, told ITPro Today that CloudBolt already had cloud management platform (CMP) capabilities around automation and orchestration, cost management and governance.
"With SovLabs, CloudBolt can strengthen its integration capabilities as a CMP, but more importantly, the acquisition helps position us to where the puck is ultimately going," Ho said. "Specifically, as enterprises accelerate their hybrid cloud strategies, they will invest in different automation tools to get there."
As enterprises roll out hybrid cloud strategies, Ho said the expectation is they will invest in different automation tools such as VMware vRealize, Terraform and Kubernetes. Each of these tools has significant custom coding challenges with underlying IT tools, which is what CloudBolt is helping to solve with the addition of SovLabs, he said.
NetApp has also been busy bolstering its hybrid cloud management capabilities, announcing the acquisition of Spot on June 3. Spot had just rebranded itself from Spotinst in March and released new cloud optimization capabilities with its Cloud Analyzer offering. NetApp's Spot acquisition was actually its third in the cloud space this year, following the acquisitions of Talon Storage in March and CloudJumper in April.
"The hybrid model is here to stay, as customers understand the value through its new levels of experimentation and flexibility," Anthony Lye, senior vice president and general manager of public cloud at NetApp, told ITPro Today.
NetApp sees a number of different scenarios for hybrid deployments, including customers extending IT infrastructure to public clouds for application backup as well as development and testing, Lye said. He also sees organizations migrating applications to the public cloud, and they want to find the same NetApp technologies on the public cloud as they had on-premises.
Is Hybrid Cloud a Steppingstone to Public Cloud or a Destination?
Snow Software acquired hybrid cloud management vendor Embotics in December 2019 and has been steadily expanding its portfolio in the months since. Jesse Stockall, chief architect of cloud management at Snow Software, told ITPro Today that while hybrid cloud may have been viewed as a steppingstone for some on their cloud journey, it's become clear that hybrid environments are here to stay.
In some organizations, there are still significant on-premises investments to leverage, which will continue to drive demand for hybrid cloud, said Mark Jamensky, vice president of products for cloud management at Snow.
As further evidence that hybrid cloud is a model that is here to stay, CloudBolt's Ho noted that public cloud providers including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google all have hybrid offerings now. AWS has Outposts, Microsoft has Azure Stack, and Google is pushing a hybrid model with its Anthos offering.
"Fundamentally, there are just certain workloads that make better sense on-prem than in public clouds, specifically those with strong security and compliance requirements in place," Ho said. "If you combine this with the internal inertia IT orgs have around controlling storage, delivery and security, I think we'll see hybrid here for a while."
For NetApp's Lye, hybrid cloud is not an interim steppingstone as organizations move to the public cloud.
"Hybrid cloud is an operating model, not a place you log in to or aspire to be," Lye said.
Key Challenges of Hybrid Cloud Management
There are, however, challenges organizations face when managing hybrid cloud deployments. For Snow Software's Jamensky, one key hybrid cloud challenge is finding the right organizational structure that allows for proper oversight and governance.
"On-premises environments have a strong legacy of traditional IT governance, though with public cloud I have seen disparate organization structures, in some cases with areas of responsibility that are either overlapping or possibly missing," he said. "It’s critically important to agree on organizational governance responsibility lines in the areas of overall inventory management, security, automation and cloud expense management."
CloudBolt's Ho also sees lack of governance as a key hybrid cloud challenge. To help solve the problem of hybrid cloud governance, he suggests organizations look to technologies such as cloud management platforms that provide workload and resource visibility across multiple private and public cloud environments.
Ho also recommends that organizations consider cloud management platforms with strong role-based access control (RBAC) capabilities to ensure only the right people have access to key resources as well as strong cost management capabilities to power down or expire workloads when no longer in use.
In addition, there is a need for automation across hybrid cloud deployment to help with management and security.
"The key point is that enterprises will invest in multiple tools — from multiple vendors — for their cloud automation needs," Ho said. "Vendors who can make these tools work better and faster — without custom code — will become the winners."