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A cloud management tools comparison guide

With its complex nature, cloud management can get bumpy at times. Luckily, cloud management tools from VMware, Dell and others can help.

Cloud management is complex, which can deter adoption -- even for cost-effective cloud services. A variety of cloud management tools, ranging from costs management utilities to system operations, can help alleviate some hesitation. To stay ahead of cloud's increasingly complex nature, here are several cloud computing vendor tools for different enterprise management features.


Cloudability is a cloud cost management tool that tracks data from multiple cloud computing vendors; it supports Amazon Web Services (AWS), Rackspace, SoftLayer and HP, among others. Users can view cost reports for all vendors and receive budget alerts when they approach a pre-defined spending limit. Cloudability can assign multiple users to groups based on project, department and more. However, account groups are only available in the enterprise-grade service.

Pricing is based on monitored costs. The tool's pro version starts at $99 per month for up to $10,000 of monitored costs; the enterprise version starts at $2,000 per month for up to $100,000 in monitored costs. A 14-day free trial is available.


VMware vCloud Suite offers services in three areas: automation, operations and cost management. Cloud automation deploys applications across multiple hypervisors -- both public and private. Puppet Labs, Chef and SaltStack tools control automation. To meet compliance requirements, policies can be finely tuned. Cloud operations management tools manage cloud configurations, monitor usage and provide log analytics tools. VMware Inc.'s cost management service compares spending across cloud resources and service-level agreements. The cost of vCloud Suite ranges from $4,995 for the standard edition to $11,495 for the enterprise version.


Cloudyn offers a broad set of cloud management tools specifically designed for AWS, Google and OpenStack deployments. Its reports can help optimize cloud resource use and recommend when to use on-demand or reserved instances in AWS. Cloudyn also provides cost comparisons with cloud resource simulations that include both AWS and Google. Cloudyn's monitored costs pricing model starts at $229 per month for up to $100,000 in monitored costs.


Thanks to its Enstratius acquisition, Dell offers a cloud management platform as software as a service (SaaS) or deployed on-premises. It supports AWS, Google, Rackspace, HP and Microsoft Azure public cloud platforms, as well as VMware, OpenStack and Eucalyptus private clouds. Dell's cloud management service offers standard resource monitoring with soft and hard quotas. Soft quotas trigger an alert, while hard quotas shut off access to additional resources. Admins can set role-based user access. Dell's services also integrate with other management and security systems such as LDAP, Active Directory servers and billing services.


RightScale's cloud management service offers monitoring and analysis tools and can give IT pros a consolidated view of resources such as firewalls, databases and instances. Users can organize resources by application or team and move workloads across multi-cloud configurations. Admins can set auto-scaling for deployments and automate backups and assisted failover operations. Resource alerts are also available. The services support AWS, Google, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, IBM SoftLayer, CloudStack, OpenStack and VMware.


HP cloud automation services provide a RESTful API that supports multiple hypervisors and cloud providers -- both public and private. HP also has a graphical service designer to define specifications for multi-tiered application deployment. The automation tool allows for customization with modules including additions for cost management, security, executive reporting and Oracle databases. HP supports AWS and Microsoft Azure.


Similar to HP, IBM's cloud management service also takes the module approach. Its modules are designed for OpenStack deployments and workloads on System z-based platforms. IBM provides a portal to deploy services to public, private and hybrid clouds. The IBM Cloud marketplace offers more than 270 workload patterns, including Cloudant, the Watson Ecosystem and business intelligence tools, like Cognos. Support from IBM's cloud orchestration tool makes its cloud management service a good option for users with a mix of AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and IBM SoftLayer resources.


Scalr's cloud management services provide a unique "if this, then that" event-based programming model, which allows for event-based workflows. The services can be fitted with cost analytics modules for creating budgets, cost tracking and cost predictions. Templates are available to run Redis, MySQL and MongoDB. For user management, the governance framework allows admins to create policies and restrictions on instance types and security groups. Scalr supports AWS, Google, Rackspace, OpenStack, Eucalyptus and Nebula.

About the author:
Dan Sullivan holds a Master of Science degree and is an author, systems architect and consultant with more than 20 years of IT experience. He has had engagements in advanced analytics, systems architecture, database design, enterprise security and business intelligence. He has worked in a broad range of industries, including financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, software development, government, retail and education. Dan has written extensively about topics that range from data warehousing, cloud computing and advanced analytics to security management, collaboration and text mining.

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What cloud management tools does your organization use?
I'm not 100% sure what to make of this article.   There are many aspects of the cloud that are important. Scalability is one, price management is another.  What I don't get, is why so many tools are focused on price bands instead of performance bands.   Monitoring tools are going to play a vital role in any company that puts up a site for mass consumption, but let's not just pick a vendor at random.   I feel like making decisions based on price points alone is a foolish way to make that decision, frankly.
Agreed. TCO is much more important; having freebie software doesn't help you if it requires a lot of skilled workers to get it to run. On the other hand, it's such a novelty when a vendor actually confesses to the trade press how much it costs to buy a product that I don't want to discourage it. 
Dan: It seems like the focus is always on cost or resource management. There is another aspect emerging called Platform Performance Management and, as far as I know, the only player in this space is Krystallize. Have you looked at that service?
That;s interesting information. Can you also share some insights on addressing security aspects of Cloud? I feel that organisations like Banks are still reluctant using cloud or cloud based tools/services because of security concerns. 
Yes, security is definitely a top concern with cloud computing but providers have taken steps to demonstrate their ability to meet security requirements. If compliance is a concern, check IaaS provider sites for details on compliance with ISO 27001, HIPAA, PCI etc. AWS, MS and Google all have security whitepapers as well as other resources on cloud security. IaaS customers still have substantial security responsibilities but the shared security in IaaS helps customers focus on areas they control, like authorization policies.
What about Red Hat's Cloudforms?