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HPE-Cloud Cruiser deal shows IT need for cloud cost management tools

HPE scooped up cloud cost management vendor Cloud Cruiser this week, a move that might cause some users to question whether the tool will continue to offer multicloud support.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise may have officially quit its own public cloud IaaS offering, but wants IT pros to know that it's far from exiting the public cloud game as a whole.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) recently acquired Cloud Cruiser, a provider of cloud cost management tools for public cloud. Through the deal, HPE will fold Cloud Cruiser's cost management technology into its Flexible Capacity service offering that lets customers purchase on-premises IT infrastructure using a pay-as-you-go cloud-like model.

HPE, already a Cloud Cruiser customer with a license to use the technology as part of Flexible Capacity, now gains a stronger presence in the public cloud market -- which is especially important after it shuttered its own Helion Public Cloud platform last year, said Dave Bartoletti, principal analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

"Since HPE doesn't offer its own public cloud platform, people might not [have thought of] HPE first as a company to help them optimize costs in the cloud," he said.

Cloud cost management tools, such as Cloud Cruiser, are particularly hot in the enterprise market today, Bartoletti said. IT teams in general still struggle to optimize costs, and only 30% to 40% of them perform chargeback to business units for their own internal infrastructure. Public cloud only compounds that challenge; not only do major cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), have different pricing models for different instance types and services, but those models vary widely from one provider to another.

Cloud Cruiser helps admins rein in cloud computing costs, even in hybrid and multicloud deployments where cost management becomes especially complex. For example, it can track cloud resource consumption by business group, department, data center or geography; generate alerts when an organization approaches cloud budget thresholds; and determine the most cost-effective platform to run certain workloads or apps.

Cloud Cruiser also is unique in that it helps organizations manage costs both in the cloud and on premises, Bartoletti said.

"They were sort of bridging the old and new world," he said.

Most major providers, including AWS and Microsoft Azure, offer their own cloud cost management tools, but they tend to fall short compared to the capabilities offered by third-party alternatives such as Cloud Cruiser -- especially for cross-cloud optimization, said Mindy Cancila, research director at Gartner, the Stamford, Conn., analyst firm.

It's crucial for major IT infrastructure providers to offer these public cloud management and optimization features, even when they don't directly have skin in the public cloud infrastructure game, Cancila added.

"I believe it is critical to continue to drive investment and support around the growth of public cloud, both [in terms of] providers and integration with more services," she said. "That's table stakes at this point."

The future of Cloud Cruiser's multicloud support

Cloud Cruiser has traditionally targeted multicloud deployments, offering support for a number of public cloud platforms, such as AWS, Azure, Google and OpenStack. Some customers may question whether that support will stay in place post-acquisition, just as they do when any born-in-the-cloud startup is purchased by a traditional IT vendor.

It's not uncommon for a startup's technology to become stale or isolated once it's folded into a bigger company's portfolio, Cancila said. In this case, it will be interesting to see how HPE evolves the Cloud Cruiser technology, especially without a vested public cloud platform of its own anymore.

"I'll be watching to see that [the acquisition] doesn't shift the agenda for the [Cloud Cruiser] IP itself, because this is a tool that was predominantly built to help drive visibility, transparency and optimization in what you are spending in a public cloud platform," she said.

Alternatively, HPE's exit from the public cloud infrastructure market might suggest the opposite -- that Cloud Cruiser's support for Google, AWS, Azure and other public cloud providers will remain intact, since HPE would not benefit from taking away that support, Bartoletti said.

HPE, for its part, claims it will maintain Cloud Cruiser's multicloud model. The company plans to continue to "enhance the Cloud Cruiser platform and SaaS app Cloud Cruiser 16," or hosted software that allows users to collect and analyze financial data from Google, AWS and Azure, said Scott Weller, SVP of technology services support at HPE, in a blog post.

HPE's acquisition of Cloud Cruiser likely will be one of many in the increasingly hot cloud cost management tools market, Bartoletti said. Companies including Cloudyn, Cloudability and CloudHealth may be prime targets for a buy. And it's not just the legacy IT infrastructure players who are eyeing them -- major systems integrators, such as Accenture or Deloitte, could use such tools to support their own business goals: helping companies migrate to, and then optimize, the cloud.

"The market is ripe," he said.

Kristin Knapp is site editor for SearchCloudComputing. Contact her at [email protected] or follow @kknapp86 on Twitter.

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