What Is a Cloud Management Platform?

What is a cloud management platform?
A cloud management platform (CMP) is a suite of integrated software tools that an enterprise can use to monitor and control cloud environments. While an organization can use a CMP exclusively for a private cloud or public cloud deployment, these toolsets commonly target hybrid and multi-cloud environments to help centralize control of various cloud-based infrastructures.
The exact feature set of a cloud management platform varies by vendor. Some offer a broad set of tools, while others target niche industries or vertical markets. In addition, some vendors deliver CMPs as on-premises applications, while others deliver them as software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) or infrastructure as a service (IaaS). In general, cloud management refers to administrating control over public, private, hybrid and multi-cloud deployments.

Capabilities of a cloud management platform
According to the Cloud Standards Customer Council — a cloud end-user advocacy group that the Object Management Group’s Cloud Working Group maintains — a CMP should have various mostly automated capabilities, such as the following:

Cloud management platforms typically have several components ranging from automation and security to cost management.

General services provide user service catalogs with self-service capabilities, as well as reporting and analytics features to gain insight into cloud service consumption patterns in the enterprise.
Service management enables an IT team to monitor cloud-based services to help with capacity planning, workload deployment, lifecycle management and ensuring all availability and performance requirements are met.
Resource management provides tools to manage cloud computing resources, such as virtual machines (VMs), data storage and networks. These tools offer a range of capabilities, including resource discovery, tagging, provisioning, automation and orchestration. In addition, the CMP might include tools to migrate resources between environments, such as private and public clouds.
Financial management offers capabilities to automatically track and allocate cloud computing spending to specific users or departments. Financial management features also enable administrators to generate chargeback reports and forecast future cloud costs.
Governance lets administrators enforce policy-based control of cloud resources.
Security measures and features, such as encryption and identity and access management, are needed for safety and to prevent attacks.
Integration lets CMPs support access to both internal and external IT systems, including Windows servers, hypervisor-based VMs and multiple public clouds such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. This feature enables a CMP to centralize the control of multiple and disparate cloud infrastructure types, such as SaaS, IaaS and PaaS.

Benefits of a cloud management platform
The varied capabilities of a CMP can provide many benefits to an organization, including the following:

Reducing infrastructure complexity. Blending traditional IT and cloud services can create a complex cloud architecture that’s difficult to see and control. A good CMP discovers and integrates the varied elements of cloud and local infrastructure. It then uses service catalogs and templates to automatically create well-defined operating environments for demanding enterprise applications, including databases and middleware.
Improving service quality. Complex IT environments require comprehensive monitoring to ensure service and workload health. A good CMP supports varied instrumentation to collect metrics, perform analytics and generate alerts and reports. In supporting these capabilities, the CMP streamlines infrastructure performance, handles automatic scaling, prevents service disruptions and troubleshoots issues. All of this service intelligence can enhance the quality of service for cloud and mixed infrastructures.
Accelerating cloud migration. Business and technology leaders choose to adopt cloud platforms for some workloads and tasks, but the path to cloud migration can be confusing. A good CMP automatically discovers, assesses, plans, deploys and monitors cloud migration initiatives, such as moving a workload from a data center to a cloud. This reduces the need for cloud specialists, so fewer technical staff are needed to plan and execute cloud migrations.
Simplifying management. Although cloud management software can be complex, a good CMP makes it so users don’t have to deal with the complexity. Sophisticated tasks can also be completed with comparatively simple decisions. For example, a CMP often provides a service delivery catalog where a user selects desired actions or outcomes from a menu of choices. Simplifying the CMP speeds up adoption, increases productivity, reduces mistakes and helps to ensure consistent cloud outcomes.
Supporting governance and regulations. CMPs help businesses track their ability to meet governance and regulatory requirements , as well as relevant industry practices.
Cost savings. A CMP can cost less than efforts by an organization to manage its own complex cloud infrastructures. Similarly, a good CMP provides accurate and timely reporting to help businesses meet budgets and maintain cloud environments while minimizing cost overruns and resource sprawl.

Challenges of cloud management platforms
Even when implemented and used correctly, CMPs face certain challenges that organizations must be aware of. They include the following:

Platform resiliency and reliability. CMPs excel at performance monitoring, but they must also account for issues like outages, natural disasters, connectivity issues and latency. Organizations should choose platforms with disaster recovery capabilities and take factors like resiliency and reliability into consideration.
Data security and privacy risks. CMPs could present security and privacy risks, especially with data — and attacks show no signs of slowing. Organizations must therefore ensure data privacy and security measures, such as user authentication and encryption protocols, are functional within CMPs.
Meeting compliance standards. A CMP helps organizations stay compliant with local, state and federal laws and regulations. However, it can be challenging to stay up to date with constantly evolving regulations.
Single vendor lock-in. Relying on a single vendor addresses compatibility issues among infrastructure components, but reliance on one vendor will exclude other good or possibly better management options.
Staffing. While CMPs can eliminate some staffing burdens, effective cloud management still requires skilled people to implement and oversee these efforts. Organizations must have the budget to hire employees with the needed skills.
Interoperability. A CMP must be interoperable with an organization’s existing on-premises infrastructure, but seamless integration can be complex to pull off.

Examples of cloud management platforms
CMPs can be native or specific to a certain cloud provider or platform. They’re also available from third-party providers. Gartner’s 2023 Market Guide for Cloud Management Tooling and Forrester’s Buying Guide For Hybrid Cloud Management, 2023, both reference examples of CMP tools, such as the following:

BMC Software Multi-cloud Management platform works in complex environments and is conducive to seamless migrations between different clouds.
Broadcom’s VMware Tanzu CloudHealth (formerly VMware Aria Cost Powered by CloudHealth) provides insights that help businesses optimize costs, improve governance and strengthen cloud security.
Broadcom’s VMware vRealize Suite includes vRealize Operations, which integrates with vRealize Log Insight and vRealize Business for Cloud for planning, managing and scaling software-defined data center and multi-cloud environments. The tools offer unified monitoring, automated performance management, cloud planning and capacity optimization.
CloudBolt helps IT unify orchestration and automate provisioning of its hybrid cloud environment and resources.
Densify is an enterprise-class resource management, optimization and control tool for cloud, container and VMware infrastructure.
Flexera One is a SaaS-based IT management tool designed for organizations with highly complex hybrid environments from on premises to cloud.
IBM’s Apptio Cloudability is a cloud cost management and optimization tool that enables IT, finance and business teams to manage their costs and communicate the business value of the cloud.
Kion is an all-in-one cloud enablement software for AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.
Morpheus is a self-service engine designed to provide enterprise agility, control and efficiency to manage on-premises private clouds, centralize public cloud access, and handle change with cost analytics, governance policy and automation.
NetApp’s Spot actively optimizes AWS, Azure and Google Cloud deployments with service-level agreement-backed availability, fully automated infrastructure management and measurable cost savings.
Nutanix offers a platform that manages multi-cloud infrastructures in hybrid environments, including features such as automation for simplified operations and flexibility for scalability.
OpenText (formerly Micro Focus) Hybrid Cloud Management X delivers visibility and operational consistency across clouds. It helps organizations optimize cloud spending, provides self-service and lifecycle management capabilities.
Turbot offers a platform with policy-based controls, providing cloud professionals with governance and continuous monitoring capabilities across complex infrastructures.

Multi-cloud interoperability helps users manage costs and choose vendors based on their needs.

Cloud management platforms and cloud strategy
CMPs can’t solve cloud management challenges alone. Cloud management tools must complement and support a strong and comprehensive cloud management strategy that combines technologies, human skills, processes, workflows and business disciplines to meet business needs. FinOps is an evolving business discipline designed to help businesses maintain cost and resource control over public cloud use. Ideally, it complements cloud management strategy considerations.
When considering a CMP, business leaders should evaluate the tools against a broader management strategy that does the following:

Enables seamless control across local and cloud environments.
Supports agile management for solid cost control, timely insights and fast response to changing business conditions.
Offers security and compliance enforcement through automated policies.
Looks for proactive opportunities to improve performance and fix problems before they affect the business.

Learn how public, private and hybrid clouds differ and which workloads are most appropriate for each of these three cloud services.

This was last updated in March 2024

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