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Using SaaS Management for On-Premises Tools Makes IT Life Easier
by Alan Earls on

Long, long ago, when computer systems of the old glass house-encased Big Iron variety failed, the situation was often cryptically described as an “abend”—a word derived from an IBM error message meaning “ABnormal END.” While the abend was usually accompanied by other codes or messages, it was not much to go on. Data center operators had to do a lot of manual sleuthing to track down the source of their troubles.

Over the years, processing power grew and software got smarter. Systems generated more data for forensics and monitoring and diagnostics became much more capable—but still just barely able to keep up with the ever-growing complexity of the problems. Scores of vendors helped to create a huge “management stack” that in larger operations often required a staff of specialists.

Fast forward to 2017. Glass houses have changed and more and more growth in compute and storage activity is happening in the cloud. According to a recent Forbes article, multiple analyst forecasts show cloud computing use growing at annual rates approaching 20%. Yet, for many reasons, organizations still have data centers on-premises as well as subsidiary facilities at remote locations. Sometimes it’s resources deemed too strategic to move, or maybe it’s a critical legacy system that’s too difficult to rehost. So, the outlook for IT teams now is for huge cloud growth but a definite persistence of on-premises resources, either in data centers or subsidiary locations.

Regardless of the reason, those assets are likely to need care and feeding for years to come in parallel with the growth in the cloud. It’s a formula for management headaches—with disparate systems scattered across a hybrid landscape and potentially two or more management regimes. Fortunately, in this situation, the cloud itself may just come to the rescue.

Cloud and SaaS Applications Won’t Manage Themselves

Though it may have seemed like cloud and SaaS were going to take over IT for a while there, it’s become clear that hybrid environments are likely the future. A wide variety of management tools, sometimes categorized as IT Management as a Service (ITMaaS) can now address both cloud and on-premises requirements together.

For example, venerable IT supplier Fujitsu offers IT Management as a Service (ITMaaS), a suite of SaaS-based applications that cover multiple functions, from infrastructure to the service desk that might typically be part of a traditional IT Management operation. According to Fujitsu, their ITMaaS can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud.

A more recent entrant in the field is Turbonomic, which offers a hybrid cloud management platform that permits on-premises and public cloud assets “to self-manage in real-time,” to maintain performance and lower cost. The Turbonomic decision engine “curates workload demand to dynamically control resource supply,” to keep applications running optimally.

Taneja Group analyst Mike Matchett put these products in perspective recently:

“…even in running a hyper-converged or hybrid cloud data center, there are still plenty of IT hours spent thanklessly on internally facing operations and management tasks. Operating a cloud, a cluster, a hybrid operation—even just maintaining the actual management tools that run the operations and automation—can still be a huge chore…IT is starting to look to the cloud for IT management as a service.”

In a similar vein, organizations have to contend with keeping remote offices functioning smoothly and securely along with primary, on-site data centers. That requires a special focus on what actual end users are experiencing or are likely to experience.

Being in the cloud can have obvious cost benefits but just as importantly, the cloud perspective, which an application housed in a data center can’t quite get, is more likely to be relevant to a remote site. Located “remotely,” by definition, cloud assets normally interface through public infrastructure (much like most remote operations). Furthermore, the cloud perspective doesn’t have any built-in bias toward focusing on on-premises assets or perspectives. It is inclined toward a more agnostic view.

Having any infrastructure capability “live” in the cloud means the capability can be available wherever it is needed, whenever it is needed. Using cloud and SaaS products can save time for IT, but they can also add a lot of complication and lack of visibility. Making management easier will be essential as IT infrastructures keep evolving.

Filed Under: cloud computing, performance monitoring

Tags: cloud apps, hybrid cloud, SaaS applications

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