Cloud infrastructure management is the discipline backed by technology tools that bring appropriate oversight to cloud usage. It enables businesses to create, configure, scale, and retire cloud infrastructure as needed. Cloud providers typically offer a choice of cloud infrastructure management services from an integrated portal or through partner integrations with third-party tools available in the marketplace. But does that mean businesses have to use them? No, but it should be a consideration for any business looking at the cloud as a viable option.
The industry has generally evolved into three types of service models:
1) Managed services – providers manage all aspects of cloud usage and provide plans/templates (offerings from AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform)
2) Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) with management – providers manage some aspects of cloud usage (back-end servers, storage, networks but leave configuration up to the customer; examples include Rackspace Managed Public Cloud and Mesosphere DC/OS Enterprise)
3) IaaS – provider manages hardware, but customer configures operating systems and application software; providers like DigitalOcean and Vultr build their business model around providing IaaS
A common mistake made by many businesses is to assume that managed services (or a combination of managed services and IaaS) are the best option for an organization’s use case. If the cloud provider collects all aspects of the infrastructure, what happens when you want to move to another service or add some custom configuration? You have little choice but to use that provider’s managed services. But are they a right fit for your business in the long term?
Additionally, many IaaS providers are getting into managed services themselves. Amazon’s Managed Services available through their AWS GovCloud compliance and Microsoft Azure Stack are examples. These offerings can provide many advantages, but they also lock a business into those providers’ infrastructures. The cloud is not static – it gives plenty of options for hybrid or multi-cloud solutions that can bring competitive choices with no lock-in.
When choosing a cloud infrastructure management service, it’s essential to consider the needs of your business in terms of features and price point, as well as whether or not those services are available with your desired providers. And if you want to manage some aspects of the cloud usage without relying solely on managed services, be sure you understand precisely what you’re getting with any IaaS offering. In the end, a managed services model may be more costly and less flexible than it appears at first blush.
In summary: If you want to use one cloud infrastructure management service across multiple providers, carefully consider your options for both IaaS and managed services. Also, remember to choose a provider with offerings and services that meet your needs, not just the ones that provide a simple adoption path.