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There’s a simple fact that’s true for public cloud users today: You need to use cloud-agnostic tools. Yes — even if you only use one public cloud. Why? This recommendation comes down to a few drivers that we see time and time again.
You Won’t Always Use Just This Cloud
There is an enterprise IT trend for multi-cloud and hybrid cloud — such a prevalent trend that even if you are currently single-cloud, you should plan for the eventuality of using more than one cloud, as the multi-cloud future has arrived. Dave Bartoletti, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, breaks down multi-cloud and hybrid cloud by the numbers:
- 62 percent of public cloud adopters are using 2-plus unique cloud platforms
- 74 percent of enterprises describe their strategy as hybrid/multi-cloud today
In addition, standardizing on cloud-agnostic tools also can alleviate costs associated with policy design, deployment, and enforcement across different cloud environments. Management and monitoring using the same service platform greatly reduce the issue of mismatched security policies and uncertainty in enforcement. Cloud-agnostic tools that also operate in the context of the data center — whether in a cloud, virtualized, container, or traditional infrastructure — are a boon for organizations that need to be agile and move quickly. Being able to reuse policies and services across the entire multi-cloud spectrum reduces friction in the deployment process and offers assurances in the consistency of performance and security.
How Do You Decide What Tools to Adopt?
We talk to different size enterprises using the cloud on a daily basis and always ask if they are using cloud-native tools, or if they are using third-party tools that are cloud-agnostic. The answer to that question is a mix, to be sure. Often it’s a mix between cloud-native and third-party tools within the same enterprise.
What we hear is that managing the cloud infrastructure is quite a complex job, especially when you have different clouds, technologies, and a diverse and opinionated user community to support. So a common theme with many of the third-party tools we see used is that they tend to include freemium models, a technology someone used at a previous company, tools recommended by the cloud services provider (CSP) themselves, and open-API-driven solutions that allow for maximum automation in their cloud operations. It also serves the tools vendors well if deploying the tool includes minimum effort — in other words, SaaS tools that do not require a bunch of services and integration work. Plug and play is a must.
For context, we support AWS, Azure, Google, and Alibaba clouds, and usually talk to DevOps and IT Ops folks responsible for their cloud infrastructure. And those folks are usually after cloud cost control and governance when speaking with us. So our conversations tend to focus on the tools they use and need for cloud infrastructure management like CI/CD, monitoring, cost control, cost visibility and optimization, and user governance. For user governance and internal communication, Single Sign-On and ChatOps are must-have.
So we decided to compile a list of the most common clouds and tools we run across, in order of popularity:
- Cloud Service Provider: AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Alibaba Cloud — and we do get requests for IBM and Oracle clouds
- Infrastructure Monitoring (Not APM): Cloud Native (AWS CloudWatch, Azure Metrics, Google Stackdriver), DataDog, Nagios, SolarWinds, Microsoft, BMC, Zabbix, IBM
- Cost Visibility and Optimization: CloudHealth Technologies, Cloudability, Cloudyn/Azure Cost Management, Apptio
- CI/CD + DevOps (this is broad, but these are the most common names we hear that fit into this category): Cloud Native, CloudBees Jenkins, Atlassian Bamboo, HashiCorp, Spinnaker, Travis CI
- Single Sign-On (SSO): ADFS, Ping, Okta, Azure AD, Centrify, One Login, Google OAuth, JumpCloud
- ChatOps: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts
- Cloud Cost Control: Cloud Native/Scripter, ParkMyCloud, GorillaStack, Skeddly, Nutanix (BotMetric)
Beat the Curve with Cloud-Agnostic Tools
Our suggestion is to use cloud-agnostic tools wherever possible. Our experience tells us that a majority of the enterprises lean this way anyways. The upfront cost in terms of the license fee and/or set up could be more, but we think it comes down to the fact that 1) Most people will end up hybrid/multi-cloud in the future, even if they aren’t now, and 2) Cloud-agnostic tools are more likely to meet your needs as a user, as the companies building those tools will stay laser-focused on supporting and improving said functionality across the big CSPs.