Table of Contents
Cloud management platforms (CMPs) enable organizations to automate and manage applications across multiple environments. A CMP’s ability to track services at a high level is critical to the multi-year management needs of organizations deploying applications in hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
Hybrid clouds are either the end goal or a transition method to get to a cloud-only hosting model. A CPM vendor that can manage your on-premises automation and orchestration needs as well as the cloud hosting provides a greater value than separate tools that only do either on-premises or public cloud deployments.
More comprehensive CMP vendors also manage storage, security, disaster recovery, system health and performance, and application lifecycle management. These are just a few examples of the functions that must now be managed across multiple planes while accounting for multiple, and often differing, requirements—e.g., cloud vs. on-premises, hardware vs. software, ephemeral vs. persistent storage.
As organizations move more applications to the cloud, the need for a high-level “single view” of the entire infrastructure becomes critical to ensure uptime and high performance without compromising data mobility and security. A new role of cloud operations manager has evolved to oversee hybrid cloud deployments using CMPs. This role has evolved as a superset of responsibilities that include any lower-level roles that manage a cloud contract or data center.
There are three aspects to total cloud management:
- Automation = CMP
- Application performance optimization = Cloud Resource Optimization
- Financial accountability = FinOps
This report focuses on the automation of cloud management platforms needed to support application deployments.
Figure 1: Three Aspects of Total Cloud Management
As hybrid cloud deployments are the new norm, businesses of every size are leveraging CMPs to streamline cloud migration and ongoing operational needs. Though these types of infrastructures introduce more complexity, they also create more
opportunities to deliver value, primarily by using best-of-breed solutions.
Previously, essential functions such as asset tracking and dependency maps ran in data centers with redundancy to mitigate fallout from environmental outages and ensure elevated levels of uptime. The move to cloud requires a new paradigm, however, in which “design for failure” becomes an application requirement and not the infrastructure mandate.
The fact is, today the hardware is ephemeral, and we can’t use a physical server’s asset tag to track where an application is running, which is how traditional management tools worked. The move to virtual machines (VMs) on-premises and now to the cloud means that the focus must be on the business problem or solution itself and that other attributes be treated as short-lived. CMPs can manage the types of storage and flag inconsistencies in deployment requests to policy governance to ensure the type of storage and the characteristics of storage match the business expectations and governance requirements.
A CMP’s ability to track services at a high level is critical to the multi-year management needs of IT as organizations move to hybrid and multiple clouds.
This report evaluates key vendors in the cloud management space and equips IT decision-makers with the information they need to select providers according to their specific needs. We analyze the vendors on a set of key criteria and evaluation metrics, which are described in-depth in the Key Criteria Report for Cloud Management Platforms.
How to Read this Report
This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:
Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.
GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.
Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.
2. Market Categories and Deployment Types
For a better understanding of the market and vendor positioning (Table 1, below), we assess how well solutions for Key Criteria for Evaluating Cloud Management Platforms (CMP) are positioned to serve specific market segments.
- Small-to-medium businesses (SMB): In this category, we assess solutions on their ability to meet the needs of organizations ranging from small businesses to medium-sized companies. Also assessed are departmental use cases in large enterprises, where ease of use and deployment are more important than extensive management functionality, data mobility, and feature set.
- Large enterprise: Here offerings are assessed on their ability to support large and business-critical projects. Optimal solutions in this category will have a strong focus on flexibility, performance, data services, and features to improve security and data protection. Scalability is another big differentiator, as is the ability to deploy the same service in different environments.
- Managed service provider (MSP): This category holds solutions with features designed for service providers. The infrastructure is not managed by an end user, who usually subscribes to a service.
In addition, we recognize three deployment models for solutions in this report: Software as a service (SaaS), customer-managed, and holistic.
- SaaS: The product is only available in the cloud as a SaaS offering. Designed, deployed, and managed by the service provider, each solution is available only from that specific provider. The advantage here is that the vendor is responsible for all maintenance and upgrades of the solution. Most third-party integrations are maintained by the service provider.
- Customer-managed: In this model, the customer can install components on-premises or within their dedicated cloud environments to address security and network issues. This gives a customer the greatest control over security and change management, as well as the ability to control traffic patterns within acceptable constraints. Patch management and version controls are also the responsibility of the customer, as are some integrations with third parties. Highly regulated companies with complex audit requirements often choose this pattern.
- Holistic: Organizations can install components via customer-managed methods and also use the vendor’s SaaS hosting of the same software. Holistic options allow customers to create integrations, processes, training, and operational guides independent of whether the software is managed by the customer or is running in the vendor’s SaaS offering. Because the software is the same, companies that need to run the CMP disconnected from the internet can still use the same software for their cloud-based hosting, either by installing and maintaining it themselves or by connecting to the vendor’s SaaS offering. This provides a customer with the control of rate of change by running it themselves, or they can leverage the ease of operations provided by the SaaS version. This is unique to certain vendors but can be a critical purchase driver for some businesses.
Table 1: Vendor Positioning
|SMB||Enterprise||Service Providers (MSP, SaaS, etc.)||SaaS||Customer Managed (On-Premises)||Holistic|
|Snow Software (Embotics)|
|Exceptional: Outstanding focus and execution|
|Capable: Good but with room for improvement|
|Limited: Lacking in execution and use cases|
|Not applicable or absent|
3. Key Criteria Comparison
Building on the findings from the GigaOm report, Key Criteria for Evaluating Cloud Management Platforms, Table 2 summarizes how each vendor included in this research performs in the areas that we consider differentiating and critical in this sector. The objective is to give the reader a snapshot of the technical capabilities of different solutions and define the perimeter of the market landscape. Table 3 then compares the vendors in terms of the evaluation metrics relevant in this sector, while Table 4 provides a glimpse at the future, by assessing emerging technologies that promise to shape the sector going forward.
Table 2. Key Criteria Comparison
|Complexity Management||Heterogeneity||Resource Management||Cost Governance||Automation Management||Partner Ecosystem|
|Snow Software (Embotics)|
|Exceptional: Outstanding focus and execution|
|Capable: Good but with room for improvement|
|Limited: Lacking in execution and use cases|
|Not applicable or absent|
Table 3. Evaluation Metrics Comparison
|Snow Software (Embotics)|
|Exceptional: Outstanding focus and execution|
|Capable: Good but with room for improvement|
|Limited: Lacking in execution and use cases|
|Not applicable or absent|
Table 4. Emerging Technologies
|SecOps||Governance||FinOps||AI||Security Policy as Code|
|Snow Software (Embotics)|
|Exceptional: Outstanding focus and execution|
|Capable: Good but with room for improvement|
|Limited: Lacking in execution and use cases|
|Not applicable or absent|
By combining the information provided in the tables above, the reader can develop a clear understanding of the technical solutions available in the market.
4. GigaOm Radar
This report synthesizes the analysis of key criteria and their impact on evaluation metrics to inform the GigaOm Radar graphic in Figure 2. The resulting chart offers a forward-looking perspective on all the vendors in this report, based on their products’ technical capabilities and feature sets.
The GigaOm Radar plots vendor solutions across a series of concentric rings, with those set closer to the center judged to be of higher overall value. The chart characterizes each vendor on two axes—Maturity versus Innovation, and Feature Play versus Platform Play—while providing an arrow that projects each solution’s evolution over the coming 12 to 18 months.
Figure 2: GigaOm Radar for Cloud Management Platforms
The Radar chart in Figure 2 shows a lot of vendors in this market, as consolidation has started to kick in. Most of the vendors in this radar are actively acquiring companies and products to enhance their offerings. An example is NetApp buying Cloudcheckr to add to its cloud management portfolio, closing a previous gap and enhancing the value of CloudCheckr. Cisco and IBM have been buying cloud management solutions for years.
Cost controls and performance management are newer features that most vendors have recently added. Some are focusing on software asset management while others are adding features to support application lifecycle management. The vendors that offer a suite of products to make up their platform are approximately equal to the number of pure play vendors offering point products.
If you’re focused on adopting a cloud management platform, look to the left side of the chart (Feature Play). If you seek a broader solution to reduce your vendor sprawl, look to the right side of the graphic (Platform Play). Vendors that focus more on maturing their existing products are above the horizon line, while those concentrating on adding new capabilities sit below the line.
Inside the GigaOm Radar
The GigaOm Radar weighs each vendor’s execution, roadmap, and ability to innovate to plot solutions along two axes, each set as opposing pairs. On the Y axis, Maturity recognizes solution stability, strength of ecosystem, and a conservative stance, while Innovation highlights technical innovation and a more aggressive approach. On the X axis, Feature Play connotes a narrow focus on niche or cutting-edge functionality, while Platform Play displays a broader platform focus and commitment to a comprehensive feature set.
The closer to center a solution sits, the better its execution and value, with top performers occupying the inner Leaders circle. The centermost circle is almost always empty, reserved for highly mature and consolidated markets that lack space for further innovation.
The GigaOm Radar offers a forward-looking assessment, plotting the current and projected position of each solution over a 12- to 18-month window. Arrows indicate travel based on strategy and pace of innovation, with vendors designated as Forward Movers, Fast Movers, or Outperformers based on their rate of progression.
Note that the Radar excludes vendor market share as a metric. The focus is on forward-looking analysis that emphasizes the value of innovation and differentiation over incumbent market position.
5. Vendor Insights
Apptio’s solution consists of integrated modules that cover a variety of capabilities allowing buyers to add functionality when they need it. Appito’s Cloudability is a cloud financial management platform that helps companies monitor, manage, and rightsize cloud expenses across businesses of any size. The platform offers full visibility into cloud costs so users can reduce waste, optimize for efficiency, and bring solutions to market faster.
Apptio focuses on financial operations (FinOps) and its user interface (UI) highlights that functionality. The solution features cloud cost management for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Its dashboard and reporting offer cloud-agnostic tagging, views, and a cost-allocation engine. The product can identify container costs, allocate them to teams, and define business rules for allocation and governance. Scorecards allow organizations to track maturity and see how they compare with others. It can predict spending to help organizations stay on budget and identify surprises in cloud spending.
Apptio Targetprocess—an add-on product that is integrated with the cloud suite—provides agile portfolio management and supports SAFe, LeSS, Scrum, Kanban, and more. It enhances transparency and helps teams improve processes and product delivery.
Apptio uses public cloud providers including a primary and a backup typically located in different geographic areas. This provides assurance that if there is a natural disaster in an area, data failover is quick and efficient, limiting customer impact.
Strengths: Apptio has a track record of saving businesses 20%-40% on cloud spend. Its self-service reporting and friendly UI can also save users up to 25 hours a month. The vendor boasts a wealth of experience from former AWS and GCP architects, which results in best-practice cloud cost management. Apptio possesses strengths as well in license management, spend management, and usage tracking with analytics.
Challenges: Apptio Cloudability’s platform is not focused on the automation of deployment, performance, remediation, or security remediation. It could be beneficial to pair with a solution that automates deployment and links to CI/CD toolchains to add coverage for financial and license compliance.
BMC’s cloud management platform consists of a suite of products that cover a variety of capabilities supporting end-to-end cloud management from request management and provisioning to discovery, monitoring, and continuous optimization. The suite includes:
- BMC Helix Digital Workplace for request management
- BMC TrueSight Orchestration and TrueSight Automation for Servers for provisioning and orchestration
- BMC Helix Digital Workplace for service enablement
- BMC Helix Operations Management for monitoring and observability
- BMC Helix Continuous Optimization and BMC Helix Cloud Cost for cost management and resource optimization
- Helix Discovery and Helix Continuous Optimization for cloud management and supporting disaster recovery (DR)
- BMC Helix Cloud Security, BMC Helix Vulnerability Management, TrueSight Automation for Servers, and TrueSight Automation products for security, identity, and compliance needs
For many enterprises, the tight integration of these BMC products provides greater value than integrating best-of-breed tools from multiple vendors. Some of the value of this integration derives from ChatOps, which quickly connects the right people at the right time when automation alone is unable to remediate a problem.
The BMC suite features AI-based operations with automation built in using BMC-provided integrations. Extensibility with third-party tools is limited, but is an area BMC is addressing as shown by the company’s acquisition of SteamWeaver.
Strengths: Integration with other BMC tools boosts the value of the solution. AIOps features used to improve both ITOps and SecOps functionality. The solution is excellent for companies that need mobility on-premises to one or more cloud vendors, and can scale to support extremely large organizations.
Challenges: The BMC suite is best suited as an integrated collection of products. The individual BMC products are not tuned to work in isolation or in environments with highly diverse vendor ecosystems as they are a platform play and not a best-of-breed provider.
Centilytics is a cloud management, governance, and optimization product that allows organizations—particularly healthcare organizations—to manage all their cloud infrastructure, apps, and processes.
The clear and easy-to-use UI provides enterprises with a single pane of glass, showing a simple, integrated view of all three major public cloud vendors (AWS, Azure, and GCP). The product also features enhanced alert management with third-party solutions such as Slack and Office 365.
Cost-reduction optimizations are visualized on a dynamic dashboard to show resource usage, enabling roles and permissions management and enforcement across cloud vendors. Tags are enforced post-deployment, which means that any process missing a tag will not be accounted to the specific business unit that requested the spend. The ability to find and alert untagged systems is extensive, but it relies on humans to close the alerts correctly and tag costs.
Cloud management features include access control, billing and provisioning, capacity analytics, cost management, demand monitoring, multi-cloud management, and performance analytics. This shows the power of a tool that was purpose built for cloud management.
Centilytics has invested heavily in tagging and creating policies for cloud resources, with a focus on GDPR, HIPAA, PCI, and other regulatory standards. Centilytics is driving innovation in SecOps and is well suited for MSPs through go-to-markets (GTM). It can also help MSPs with software license auditing.
Certilytics’s compliance features enable it to excel in the emerging category of Governance as well as in Monitoring and Flexibility.
Strengths: The product is useful for industries with heavy regulatory compliance demands. It also has excellent monitoring capabilities and allows a lot of flexibility.
Challenges: Cost controls and reports do not require tags, but will alert on missing tags to suggest associations to human operators. While Centilytics performed well in this report, it could benefit from expanded mapping beyond requirements tools or code repositories to develop, track, and manage the lifecycle of tags.
Cisco bought into the CMP market with CliQR, later renamed CloudCenter. This functionality was then replaced by Intersight, which has a broader scope and is better able to address needs such as cloud orchestration, workload optimization, Kubernetes (K8s), and support for HashiCorp Terraform and Ansible. Intersight is also tightly integrated with Cisco’s on-premises solutions such as UCS, ACI, and Hyperflex.
Cisco Intersight’s capabilities include unified monitoring, management, configuration, provisioning, installation, orchestration with a workflow designer, inventory information, status, and capacity planning.
Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer (IWO) monitors resource performance and infrastructure dependencies both on-premises and across public clouds and provides recommended actions proactively to CloudOps and FinOps teams before issues arise. IWO can be enabled to automatically resize or rehost a deployment to optimize performance or determine cost analysis based on real-time awareness.
Working in combination with Intersight Cloud Orchestrator (ICO)—a low-code automation framework to create and execute complex workflows across clouds—other Intersight services can manage the deployment of Kubernetes clusters and integrate with Cisco’s Service Mesh Manager. This provides observibility, policy based container traffic management, and security for future serverless compute needs. For enterprises with a large Cisco investment, this is a compelling solution that amplifies its value.
Strengths: Excellent integration with other Cisco solutions. Supports an à la carte subscription model that lets customers get just the features they want, so they only pay for what they use.
Challenges: On-premises support is via virtual appliances that can provide data provenance control, but has to tunnel out to the SaaS environment. This isn’t well suited for companies that don’t want to have large dependencies on Cisco solutions.
This CMP aims to manage multi-cloud environments while addressing CI/CD challenges with hybrid clouds. CloudBolt’s “build once, deploy anywhere” application hosting approach reduces barriers to cloud portability.
The product has one portal across all clouds, with deep integrations that abstract cloud complexity to make one-button deployment a reality. Extensible integrations available via the API can support new use cases in minutes to future-proof the product. This feature abstracts cloud specifics so users (service requestors) don’t have to know details about a cloud for a successful deployment. The service is also security and data protection compliant.
Organizations can deploy CloudBolt as a single virtual appliance with out-of-the-box support for K8s, Terraform, and Ansible to increase the productivity of ITOps and DevOps. Pricing is based per VM or K8s host. Cost management is based on rules, so it’s difficult to figure out if there’s a better solution for a particular application (e.g., Intel or AMD CPU-based VMs). This issue extends to ARM CPU-based compute or GPU-enhanced compute suggestions. However, it’s worth noting that few CPM vendors offer intelligent sizing that goes down to the chip components of an instance type.
CloudBolt is well integrated with VMware-based private clouds, including vRealize and VRA, and it uses OneFuse as an abstraction layer for third-party integration. CloudBolt can sit between tools like VMware vRealize and Terraform, as well as orchestration tools like Mopheus and third-party tools from naming and data protection solutions.
Strengths: CloudBolt includes cost management and rich compliance frameworks with continuous alerts offering actionable intelligence about cost, security, and compliance issues. The product also excels in resource management and automation.
Challenges: CloudBolt uses SaaS for part of its functionality which requires some acceptance of a permanent SaaS dependency. However, other features can run wherever you want them to run—on-premises or in private or hybrid cloud environments.
CloudSphere (Cloud Governance Platform)
This Cyber Asset Management platform uses a data science approach to manage hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructures, including migrations to the cloud. It’s the only solution that automates the creation of a top-down, business-service view of a company’s cyber assets. The continuous business service graphing saves countless personnel hours, constructing a real-time view of a company’s entire IT estate. This newfound visibility dramatically simplifies important use cases like IT optimization, security, and compliance.
The CloudSphere Cloud Governance Platform provides a single view into migration planning, security posture, identity, compliance, and cost management across multi-cloud deployments. According to the vendor, a platform that creates a single user experience (UX) for cloud planning and governance across all cloud providers reduces the number of tools required.
The subscription-based pricing model features agentless application discovery and dependency mapping. However, the UX is not as intuitive as that of other CMPs and the product lacks a robust automation framework and third-party tool integration.
CloudSphere primarily targets MSPs and Cloud Service Providers (CSP). It’s based on products from iQuate and HyperGrid, which merged in 2020. The unified solution supports application discovery and dependency mapping associated with cloud migration, primarily around SAP, Oracle, and complex workloads. The merger also provided multifunction cloud management. The CloudSphere solution offers compute, storage, and networking services along with an enterprise app store of over 400 application templates for deploying complex enterprise apps on VMs and containers. It also supports the management of external public clouds including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Engine.
The product can perform cost analysis and workload optimization. Together, these features enable cloud governance to manage migration, cost, and security on a per application basis in the cloud.
Strengths: Agentless access discovery and dependency mapping are desired features in this market, while planning for migration and security assistance are required by companies moving to the cloud. The product is aimed at supporting MSP success—enterprises and SMB customers of the MSP gain enhanced cloud knowledge from the MSP staff.
Challenges: CloudSphere’s UX is less intuitive than other CMPs and its partner ecosystem is not as broad. The company is limited in what it supports compared to competitors, especially with regard to automation features that are below others in this market.
CoreStack provides autonomous cloud governance using AI and machine learning (ML). It also integrates with IT service management tools such as ServiceNow and operational monitoring tools like Zabbix.
The product focuses on enterprise cloud governance, management, and compliance targeting both enterprises and MSPs. It has a flexible subscription model based on total cloud consumption or number of resources.
CoreStack uses a declarative approach to cloud service consumption that the company calls Cloud-as-Code. This allows customers to use, operate, and optimize cloud services across various cloud environments and technologies while enforcing budget and policy compliance.
The core product, CoreStack, specializes in FinOps and security operations (SecOps). Its FinOps capability allows organizations to manage multi-cloud costs with financial accountability via a single pane of glass. With the SecOps module, organizations can govern security operations autonomously, and achieve continuous cloud compliance. This solution also provides visibility into security threats, attacks, and data vulnerabilities, as well as remediation for assured security and compliance.
CoreStack offers comprehensive compliance with industry standards, regulations, and best practices such as ISO, FedRAMP, NIST, HIPAA, PCI DSS, Azure CAF, CIS Azure, CISAWS, and AWS Well-Architected Framework.
Strengths: CoreStack enables MSPs to take advantage of cross-customer multi-cloud implementations, and handles continuous operational monitoring and adjustment (i.e., CloudOps, FinOps, and SecOps) very well.
Challenges: Although CoreStack has an orchestration layer, it lacks integration with third-party software and tools. This limits its score in both the Heterogeneity and Cost Governance key criteria.
This pure-play vendor targets cost optimization through workload resource optimization with its CMP offering. The solution tracks cloud instances in use and can make changes to optimize performance and to help save costs. Densify can aggregate multiple vCenters, AWS accounts, and Azure subscriptions, and can filter based on attributes such as OS, utilization of resources, custom tags, cluster, and owner.
Optimization is done via an ML engine. The engine continuously learns a cloud- or container-based application’s demands and determines how well resources are being used while staying within business constraints and requirements to minimize cost and maximize performance.
Densify’s new features focus heavily on container optimization for platforms such as Kubernetes, OpenShift, and Docker, and provide integration for change control with ITSM platforms like ServiceNow, Cherwell, and Jira. Densify has long excelled at workload placement and analysis of VM workloads.
Densify also integrates with business intelligence platforms, such as Tableau and Microsoft BI, to surface data and optimization within BI engines, as well as with third-party CI/CD tools like Helm, Chef, Puppet, and automation frameworks such as Terraform, Ansible, and more.
The product is offered as SaaS and the company provides consultancy services to help customers get the most out of their investment.
Strengths: Densify’s focus on VM and container optimization is excellent, and it offers a large selection of integrations with other parts of the ecosystem so that automations can be approved and applied.
Challenges: Densify is not really suitable for enterprises without automated workload deployment solutions, as its focus is on resource optimization. It can make recommendations, but manual or task management solutions like Terraform would need to actually implement the change. This is reflected in lower key criteria scores for Heterogeneity, Resource Management, and Partner Ecosystems. Ease of Implementation, an evaluation metric, likewise suffers when considered outside of resource optimization.
Flexera (Flexera One)
Flexera started as a software and IT asset management/configuration management database (CMDB) solution, but has morphed over time into an IT visibility and cloud migration player as well. This evolution was helped by its 2018 acquisition of RightScale which added cloud management capabilities to the platform. While it offers the full range of cloud management capabilities, the vendor has increasingly focused on cost management, migration, and governance.
The vendor offers a cloud cost management and resource optimization product (Flexera Cost Optimization), which can be used on its own or in conjunction with cloud management functions (Flexera Cloud Management Platform). Additional, separately purchasable modules include ITAM, SaaS management, Software Asset Management, and Hardware Asset Management.
Flexera also provides application discovery and dependency mapping (ADDM), including cloud migration assessment and service mapping—a benefit of the vendor acquiring RISC Networks in 2019. It also provides discovery, template-based provisioning, orchestration and automation, and operational monitoring across multiple public and private clouds, and virtual and bare-metal servers. There is software and hardware EOL/EOS visibility, as well as business service and application mapping.
The vendor uses a single UI across products that allows a company to grow with Flexera and increase value due to the unified data store. However, the modular product model results in implementation complexity to provide multiple personas controlled access to the increased functionality and information.
Strengths: Flexera is excellent at cost management, migration, and governance as it leverages its historical strength in asset management. With the Rightscale acquisition, all features of a CMP, FinOps, and cloud resource optimization are fully integrated in one UX.
Challenges: The ability to automate DR and show compliance to security or regulatory requirements like GDPR are areas not addressed by Flexera today. For companies that want to use the full feature set should expect to include a services engagement to help deploy this correctly the first time.
IBM (Cloud Pak for Multicloud Management)
IBM Cloud Pak for Multicloud Management deploys, manages, and moves application environments across hybrid clouds. It provides organizations with consistent visibility, governance, and automation, with a range of hybrid and multi-cloud management capabilities.
Organizations can integrate Cloud Paks with CI/CD processes to enable intelligent application awareness based on business views, and feed ITSM and SIEM systems to ensure corporate awareness. Cloud Paks also provide security reporting and vulnerability scanning with better application awareness than similar products that don’t integrate with the CI/CD pipelines. Additionally, Cloud Paks offer bare metal management via RedFish, which is supported on x86 servers as well as IBM’s Power-based servers.
Each Cloud Pak supports third-party tools that leverage industry-standard approaches for multi-cloud deployments. Integrations include chat tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams and staffing tools like PagerDuty, as well as coding tools like GitHub (it uses a GitOps approach for configuration as code). IBM Cloud Pak for Multicloud Management is fully integrated with the Red Hat family of products including full support for Ansible and OpenShift.
Moreover, IBM’s acquisition of Turbonomics—a leader in application resource management—means the company can provide greater accuracy on system placement and sizing than other tools on the market.
Overall, IBM Cloud Pak solutions are best for larger enterprises that are current IBM customers and want a tool that integrates with other tools from that vendor.
Strengths: By connecting to all of IT, especially to CI/CD systems, IBM’s Cloud Pak solutions provide greater insight into who or what is driving increased capacity and consumption spending. Organizations can install the control plane on-premises, which means it can better support on-premises needs and meet requirements about the control of intellectual property (IP).
Challenges: Sales are focused on Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies, and better suited to buyers with existing investments in other IBM solutions.
Micro Focus (HCMX)
The Micro Focus CMP—HCMX—is built on an extensible IT operations management (ITOM) platform called OPTIC (Operations Platform for Transformation, Intelligence, and Cloud) that leverages open-source technologies including Kubernetes and Docker. Organizations can deploy HCMX in pre-built containers for Kubernetes, and it supports as well popular on-premises and major cloud vendors’ Kubernetes solutions. This reduces both time to install and the labor required to maintain the solution.
The product also supports Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), and Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).
HCMX is best for medium to large enterprises looking for a CMP that integrates with other tools from that vendor. The full scope of CMP functionalities that Micro Focus can deliver requires several additional products, connected by the OPTIC Platform. This provides value for on-premises as well as cloud-based hosting, which works well for large organizations that have to manage both environments and prefer one integrated solution.
Micro Focus CMP products include:
- Hybrid Cloud Management X (HCMX): Unifies on-premise and cloud hosting
- Operations Bridge: Adds AIOps functionality
- Universal Discover: Finds and manages all configuration items (CI)
- PlateSpin: Automates migration of on-premises workloads to cloud instances
- Data Center Automation: Provides provisioning, patching, and compliance automation
- Data Protector: Provides backup and restoration services on-premises or in the cloud
Security automation, alerting, and awareness are all strong features for Micro Focus, and the automated patching to support VMs is very robust. This helps update security compliance of images and deployment patterns for those who prefer to redeploy rather than patch an instance.
Strengths: High availability and service recovery are strong features along with support for legacy on-premises cloud environments. As a suite vendor, the Micro Focus CMP provides added value when integrated with other solutions from the company. Micro Focus excels in helping enterprises manage highly complex environments, and its overall governance capabilities lead the market.
Challenges: DR support seems limited to Kubernetes deployments. Other Micro Focus tools can help address this but they are outside the scope of products reviewed in this report. The various modules required to take full advantage of Micro Focus’ CMP offering makes this a complex solution to implement and maintain.
Morpheus is a unified cloud application management and orchestration solution. The company is a best-of-breed vendor for medium to larger enterprises that prefer focused tools that play well with others. It features codeless hybrid integration with close to 100 external platforms. The platform also appeals to MSPs: According to the vendor, approximately 30% of the Morpheus customer base is made up of service providers, OEM solution providers, and global systems integrators.
Morpheus’ CMP functionality is broader than other platforms on this list and includes application lifecycle management (ALM), cloud cost management, cloud management, Kubernetes cluster management, integration with Terraform and other IaC tools, and hybrid-cloud deployments.
Its cloud management features include access control, billing and provisioning, capacity analytics, cost management, demand monitoring, multi-cloud management, performance analytics, SLA management, supply monitoring, and workflow approval. This is a larger set of features than most vendors in this market provide.
The key focus of Morpheus Data is on the integration of DevOps, cloud operations, and a self-service, platform-independent solution. The vendor offers a broad cloud management solution with capabilities in all the key functional areas. It also maintains a wide range of integrations with all the major cloud providers, both public and private, as well as out-of-the-box integrations with a large number of third-party application lifecycle tools.
There are analytics features that provide insight into cloud spending, guidance features to rightsize hybrid cloud applications, and diagnostics to show how VMs, containers, and cloud infrastructures are being used, and the costs associated with usage.
Strengths: The product extends the strength of an ITOps automation tool and an IT orchestration tool to add integrated value to cloud-based deployments. The GUI is intuitive and easy to use. The solution features an extended partner ecosystem.
Challenges: Morpheus Data’s enterprise-scale deployment out of the box is cumbersome and highly complex, and its DR requires professional services. In-depth integration with end points is not readily available.
NetApp CloudCheckr (CMx)
NetApp acquired CloudCheckr in October 2021 and will add it to the Spot by NetApp portfolio. CloudCheckr’s cloud management platform, CMx, launched in 2020 and supports public clouds such as AWS, Azure, and GCP. The platform focuses on the complex cloud infrastructure of large enterprises, managed service providers, and government agencies, with an emphasis on cloud management and security.
With the inclusion of CloudCheckr, Spot by NetApp will span CMP, FinOps, and Cloud Performance Management. NetApp’s Spot adds leading resource and cost management that powers the automation to provide industry leading intelligent optimization to the CMx automation abilities. This also allows the integrated Spot by NetApp to have one of the leading FinOps feature sets that are needed by enterprises and MSP with a focus on SaaS delivery of this functionality.
The scores in this report reflect the value NetApp adds to CloudCheckr’s CMx solution. The CMx is the automation aspect of the scoring where Spot fills in the remaining areas missing in CloudCheckr’s offering. Product naming will be impacted as the following is using the pre-aquaision names of the CloudCheckr products/modules.
CMx is delivered in several configurations. CloudCheckr CMx is the total visibility cloud management SaaS solution. CloudCheckr CMx High Security is provided in an advanced security configuration for regulated industries. CloudCheckr CMx Federal supports federal government security, assessment, and visibility through its FedRAMP module.
CloudCheckr CMx for Cloud Compliance monitors cloud infrastructure for compliance with 35 different standards, including HIPAA, PCI DSS, CIS, NIST, SOC2, and more.
This is one of the few products with support for managed service providers with scheduled invoice creation and custom reports. Financial reporting is available with the Finance Manager module, which can track spend in VMware and Azure Stack on-premises and with major public cloud providers, and there is also support that lets MSPs bill using custom rates. A dashboard provides a unified view into multiple client account families and data subsets. This functionality is enhanced with features of Spot by NetApp, moving it to a leader in this report.
Strengths: CMx has a strong security focus for highly regulated industries and governmental organizations. There are excellent features for managed service providers, including showback billing for larger organizations. The movement of CMx into the Spot brand and products adds the power of NetApp and its partners along with a broader range of leading capabilities.
Challenges: Does not integrate with CI/CD systems to enforce tagging, which limits granularity of billing and results in pools of spend that are not traced to correct business units to show true operational costs. This is true for all products that do not enforce tagging at deployment. CMx assumes you need help only for managing your cloud configurations, security, and coarse-grained billing. As NetApp integrates CloudCheckr’s CMx with other features of Spot by NetApp, this may be resolved once fully intergrated.
Nutanix (Beam XI, Calm, Prism)
Nutanix meets the requirements for this Radar report via three of its SaaS products:
- Beam XI: Deals with FinOps and resource management
- Calm: Handles application lifecycle management
- Prism: Provides cloud and container management
This is a best-of-breed approach and does not have the same unification of UX’s user experiences and implementations as other tools in this radar.
Beam XI is a multi-cloud governance service that provides organizations with visibility and analytics on cloud consumption patterns for AWS, Azure, GCP, and Nutanix Private Cloud. There are also one-click fixes for cost optimization and security compliance across cloud environments.
Calm provides provisioning, application lifecycle monitoring, and hybrid-cloud orchestration to manage an organization’s heterogeneous infrastructure. Calm uses blueprints for application provisioning and orchestration delivered via a self-service marketplace. It supports AWS, Azure, GCP, Nutanix Private Cloud, and VMware ESXi.
Prism for ITOps adds IT Operations capabilities that address the IT Ops team’s workflow. With these, Prism intelligently plans and optimizes for capacity, proactively detects performance anomalies, and enables codeless automation of operations tasks. Powered by X-Fit (Nutanix’s purpose-built machine learning technology) and X-Play (a codeless task-automation engine), Prism mines large volumes of system data to generate actionable insights. It also enables IT to automate remediation and everyday tasks for performance management and capacity optimization. These capabilities work with major ITSM tools. Also included in the Operations tiers are advanced application insights and automation for troubleshooting application-related infrastructure bottlenecks.
Nutanix provides a total cost of ownership (TCO) model that helps users to compute the true cost of running a private cloud, including hardware, software, power and cooling, and data center infrastructure—all calculated based on configurable industry standards.
In recent years, Nutanix has built integration with various third-party services such as PagerDuty, Microsoft Teams, Ansible, ServiceNow, Chef, Puppet, Jenkins, and Red Hat Openshift to name a few. It’s worth noting that in this Radar report, these integrations are not scored under the Partner Ecosystem key criteria, which is itself focused on infrastructure and application deployments directly in the product rather than custom scripts written in tools like Ansible.
Nutanix is a good fit for enterprises with large on-premises deployments (particularly Nutanix and VMware deployments) that are planning a cloud migration.
Strengths: Nutanix has evolved its Calm, Beam, and Prism products from limited-function, stand-alone offerings to tooling that provides a range of cloud management capabilities for different use cases. Nutanix’s management solution is also a good fit for enterprises with a large on-premises deployment.
Challenges: Nutanix doesn’t offer integrations or add-ons with many third-party services. Beam is a SaaS product, so it’s not installed on-premises, which may prevent some organizations from using it. Also, the partner ecosystems are limited.
Red Hat has a multi-cloud management platform and configuration assessment tool called Red Hat Insights that uses predictive analytics and deep product insight to assess and remediate risks in an application environment. The tool is hosted on cloud.redhat.com and is included with every subscription for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat OpenShift, and Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform.
Services Insights is designed for system administrators, architects, and operators. It helps users more efficiently and effectively identify and prioritize risks involving performance, stability, security, and availability, as well as track subscription utilization, resource allocation, and cloud costs across the entire enterprise.
When Insights is paired with a subscription to Red Hat Smart Management, which includes Red Hat Satellite and other cloud management services for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat customers can have more advanced management capabilities, particularly with on-premises deployments. With a few clicks, system administrators can also run the recommended playbooks Insights generates to more quickly remediate most critical and urgent issues.
Red Hat is best for SMBs or large enterprises that want fewer vendors and prefer a tool that integrates with other tools from that vendor. While it overlaps with IBM’s product, Red Hat targets a different set of needs and company sizes. This may change over time as IBM rationalizes its portfolio between legacy IBM and Red Hat offerings.
Strengths: Red Hat excels in automation and resource management and has a wide range of partner ecosystem integration. It is well integrated with the OpenShift Kubernetes framework.
Challenges: The product needs improvements in FinOps and cost management. There is no out-of-the box DR solution. The vendor needs to improve security operations and recommendations.
Scalr’s Terraform Automation & Collaboration Software (TACOS) allows companies with a large investment in Terraform development to create catalogs and automate the remote execution of them to build a cloud management solution.
Scalr automation is heavily integrated with Terraform, with Scalr providing a UI and orchestration layer to Terraform scripts. The CMP is available on-premises or via a SaaS deployment and organizations can configure the solution using a GUI and add automation via APIs.
The CMP integrates with public cloud providers (AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure) and on-premises via integration with VMware.
Scalr will execute Terraform scripts, store state in Scalr’s system, and make it easy for GitOps IT shops to collaborate as long as it is via Terraform scripts. This makes it a great solution for building better operational resilience for GitOps shops that have standardized on Terraform as no modifications are needed.
Scalr was designed to address the scale issue of using Terraform in a GitOps organizational structure. It uses simple processes to connect to a Git repository from the top vendors and enables managed security by creating unique environments that can map to individual RBAC groups.
As an open source CMP, Scalr is best suited for SMEs. Its support options are limited to the product and integration with third-party tools is out of scope. As such, organizations are responsible for maintenance and support for network and storage products that aren’t provided by a cloud vendor.
Its Open Policy Agent (OPA) support for policy as code is available only with paid subscriptions. This is how Scalr addresses policy enforcement, but it has similar skill requirements as needed to maintain Terraform scripts. Viewing compliance is obtuse and does not lend it to easy consumption by compliance staff or auditors.
Strengths: Scalr is less expensive than other solutions on this list, which is a positive if an enterprise has not agreed to universal automated integration and the security, network, and development teams are not part of the buying requirements. GitOps trained IT shops that use Terraform can use this with no migration costs and add remote execution.
Challenges: Third-party integrations and support for configuration tools beyond the scope of Terraform are not supported. As a low-cost solution, SCALR lacks the breadth of fully baked cloud management offerings.
ServiceNow is one of the largest vendors in the IT management space. The company got its start as an ITSM platform, but is focused now on cloud management as part of its operational and service management offerings.
ServiceNow markets Cloud Provisioning and Governance as an integrated solution add-on to its other offerings, and provides automated provisioning and governance of both on-premises and cloud environments. It offers support for several cloud environments, including AWS, Azure, GCP, IBM, Oracle, and VMware.
Current ServiceNow customers would likely find its CMP product—ITOM—a good fit for their needs as the cloud management features easily integrate into existing ServiceNow workflows. Users can request cloud resources from a multi-cloud catalog via a centralized self-service user interface, optimize costs, manage budget forecasts (planned versus predicted spend), and improve resource utilization.
The single-pane-of-glass UX helps users manage, govern, and create cloud services. There are dashboards for cloud administrators, cloud governors, cloud designers, and cloud operators. ServiceNow supports AWS CloudFormation (CF), Azure ARM, Google GDM, and Terraform templates which can be reused by turning them into catalog items.
There is also a policy engine that integrates an organization’s governance policies within automated workflows to ensure enough control is applied to naming conventions and resource planning.
Strengths: ServiceNow offers continuous improvement of IT cost management and is well integrated with its ITSM, ITAM, and other ServiceNow products, making this an appealing offering.
Challenges: The CMP is only a small aspect of ServiceNow’s capabilities (thanks primarily to its acquisition of ITapp).
Snow Software (Commander Cloud Management Platform)
Snow Software acquired Embotics in 2019 and integrated it with other Snow products to form the Commander Cloud Management Platform. The plan is to provide a well-integrated, multi-cloud management platform that works well for both greenfield and brownfield deployments.
The overarching platform centralizes cloud provisioning, governance, and automation across multiple on-premises and public cloud environments, including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, VMware, and more. Snow will combine software asset management, cloud management, and SaaS management together as part of its Snow Atlas solution. Today, the Commander product focuses on cloud management and has improved support for containers, DevOps, and expense management.
Snow boasts support for the provisioning of containers and microservices through native approaches, as well as template-driven mechanisms including AWS Cloud Formation and Azure Resource Manager templates. Kubernetes support enables the deployment of new Kubernetes clusters of applications into an existing cluster, and allows the current state of Kubernetes clusters to be compared against best practices. In addition, users can tie deployments with their CI/CD pipeline and deploy applications within governance controls.
Recently, the vendor added automated intelligent placement, which enables the automatic deployment of workloads to ideal cloud environments based on a dynamic, multifactor rating system.
In time, Snow plans to merge the Embotics and Snow solutions into a single technology intelligence platform called Snow Atlas. However, the company still provides modular offerings to outfit organizations with complete visibility into their entire infrastructure, control and optimize cost, reduce risk, and enhance business agility.
Strengths: Snow Software has had success with SMBs and enterprises that require a significant degree of functional management parity across public cloud and on-premises infrastructure resources. It also boasts a broad range of automation functionality.
Challenges: The product lacks robust partner ecosystem integration, and deep functionality around FinOps and cost management is also wanting, though it does offer some financial reporting capability.
VMware (VMware Cloud Management)
VMware Cloud Management is a collection of tools bundled together to simplify purchasing. The bundle includes vRealize, CloudHealth, and VMware Suite (these are the same tools typically used to manage VMware software on premises).
CloudHealth is a SaaS-only solution while vRealize and VMware Suite can be run on-premises or in the cloud as customer managed software. This bundle targets enterprises with an extensive VMware presence and investment, helping to facilitate successful hybrid-cloud deployments.
VMware acquired CloudHealth Technologies in August 2018 to bring public cloud cost management capabilities into their offering. They’ve also created deep integrations with vRealize to provide operational governance and optimization across on-premises and cloud deployments. This functionality is now fully integrated into the whole solution by bi-replication of data. This data integration allows a company to enable a cloud admin to manage an on-premises deployment like it was in the cloud, or an on-premises admin to treat the cloud as an extension of an on-premises deployment. This results in a holistic view of hosting independent of where it is located.
Capabilities and offerings within the bundle include:
- Provisioning, orchestration, and service enablement are available via vRealize Automation (which includes vRealize Orchestrator and vRealize Automation SaltStack).
- Monitoring and observability are provided by vRealize Operations, vRealize Log Insight, vRealize Network Insight, CloudHealth, and Tanzu Observability.
- Inventory and classification are available via vRealize Operations, vRealize Network Insight (requires Enterprise edition), and CloudHealth.
- Cost management and resource optimization are handled by CloudHealth and vRealize Operations. This provides a catalog of services and instance types that brings parity between public cloud consumption patterns and on-premises.
- Cloud migration, backup, and DR are available using vRealize Automation, vRealize Network Insight, VMware HCX, and VMware Site Recovery Manager.
- Security, identity management, and compliance are provided through VMware Workspace ONE Access, CloudHealth Secure State, vRealize Operations, vRealize Network Insight, vRealize Automation, and vRealize Automation SaltStack SecOps.
Organizations can add an enhanced level of service and functionality through the subscription vRealize Cloud Universal, which includes vRealize AI Cloud. This automatically monitors VMware vSAN storage and VMware NSX networks and optimizes them in real time to address performance demand.
For DevOps, organizations can use vRealize Automation (which includes VMware Cloud Templates, Cloud Assembly, Code Stream, and vRealize Automation SaltStack Config). Integration with external systems relies on third party plug-ins.
VMware Cloud Management also announced Project Ensemble Tech Preview. Project Ensemble is an AI-enabled solution that will provide visibility into changes across all managed clouds and rate the impact of those changes on business applications. This pushes the idea of awareness to the business level and not just component awareness.
Organizations that have native public clouds or are heavily invested in a VMware infrastructure—whether deployed in the data center or on VMware-based public clouds such as VMware Cloud on AWS—should evaluate the VMware Cloud Management product solutions.
Strengths: The platform offers significant functionality for the VMware-based public cloud and for a VMware-based on-premises installation. Its NSX functions allow network virtualization between on-premises and cloud. Cloud Health is an example of greater value VMware is adding for public cloud use cases. VMware also offers flexibility to choose deployment options (on-premises, SaaS, or hybrid. It includes cost management for public, private, and hybrid cloud.
Challenges: The suite of products allows VMware to compete well as a whole, but the current pattern of using discrete products exposes users to multiple UIs and rights administration. Support for GCP is not equal to support for AWS or Azure public cloud at this time.
6. Analyst’s Take
This GigaOm Radar report focuses on broadly integrated cloud management platforms. GigaOm will publish a separate Radar report on platforms designed specifically for cloud resource optimization and FinOps.
To ensure IT and development operations are integrated, a CMP must get data from an enterprise architecture tool for governance, update a knowledge repository (CMDB), and make itself programmatically consumable from an API or via integrations with a ticketing system (ITSM).
For organizations with a high level of operational maturity, the right CMP tool can automate all IT services and intelligently place workloads to meet SLA and SLO requirements of the business unit. It can also provide showback to enable feedback about value stream management. (Few products can do chargeback where they directly make entries to the general ledger).
Not every organization is ready for a fully automated environment that spans all aspects of IT and software delivery. For decision-makers in these organizations, it’s important to consider CMP tools that meet short-term needs and can also grow to support a more integrated IT-as-a-service environment in the future. A tool that lacks headroom for your future requirements will ultimately force a costly migration.
Also, it’s important to be aware that the CMP market is changing. The focus we see today on adding features and improving stability will shift over the next three to five years, as the market consolidates and the number of vendors shrinks. As evidenced by Cisco and NetApp, vendors are buying and integrating other tools to provide a broad feature set. Looking forward, the biggest impacts will come from three emerging technologies: FinOps, security as code, and AIOps.
Today you see vendors with multiple products with different UI and security configurations. Moving forward, expect to see an overlay that provides a common UI to each unique product or all of the products via the same UI and base configuration using feature flags to enable functionality.
IT decision-makers should prioritize the ability of CMP solutions to feed AIOps, SOAR, and SEIM tools with meaningful metrics and telemetry. These integrated data flows can reduce unplanned outages and security-impacting events.
7. About Michael DelzerMichael Delzer
Michael Delzer is a global leader with extensive and varied experience in technology. He spent 15 years as American Airlines’ Chief Infrastructure Architecture Engineer, and delivers competitive advantages to companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 corporations by leveraging market insights and accurate trend projections. He excels in identifying technology trends and providing holistic solutions, which results in passionate support of vision objectives by business stakeholders and IT staff. Michael has received a gold medal from the American Institute of Architects.
Michael has deep industry experience and wide-ranging knowledge of what’s needed to build IT solutions that optimize for value and speed while enabling innovation. He has been building and operating data centers for over 20 years, and completed audits in over 1,000 data centers in North America and Europe.. He currently advises startups in green data center technologies.
8. About Farhad SayeedFarhad Sayeed
Farhad Sayeed has been an IT leader in various software development, insurance, and airline industries for more than 25 years. He spent the last 17 years with one of the largest airlines, implementing enterprise technologies in various lines of business, such as cargo, loyalty, employee technology, regional airlines, and more.
Farhad provides vision and technical know-how in a wide variety of areas, including compute (on-prem and cloud), storage, data protection (backup, archiving, and so on), load balancing, virtual desktops, and infrastructure as code. He is a pioneer in hyperconverged/converged and virtualization technologies, and he led an OpenStack implementation to support Pivotal PaaS for vital airline applications.
Farhad architected and oversaw the governance of a Travel & Transportation industries’ first public cloud (Azure) implementation. His deep technical knowledge extends from designing and operationalizing data center and hybrid cloud solutions through implementing automation via CMP, SDN, CI/CD, and the like.
9. About GigaOm
GigaOm provides technical, operational, and business advice for IT’s strategic digital enterprise and business initiatives. Enterprise business leaders, CIOs, and technology organizations partner with GigaOm for practical, actionable, strategic, and visionary advice for modernizing and transforming their business. GigaOm’s advice empowers enterprises to successfully compete in an increasingly complicated business atmosphere that requires a solid understanding of constantly changing customer demands.
GigaOm works directly with enterprises both inside and outside of the IT organization to apply proven research and methodologies designed to avoid pitfalls and roadblocks while balancing risk and innovation. Research methodologies include but are not limited to adoption and benchmarking surveys, use cases, interviews, ROI/TCO, market landscapes, strategic trends, and technical benchmarks. Our analysts possess 20+ years of experience advising a spectrum of clients from early adopters to mainstream enterprises.
GigaOm’s perspective is that of the unbiased enterprise practitioner. Through this perspective, GigaOm connects with engaged and loyal subscribers on a deep and meaningful level.