Wednesday, 01 June 2016 00:45

Ticks & crosses from Forrester on hybrid cloud management market

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Service providers are relying more upon software assets and intellectual property (IP) when carrying out client engagements such as hybrid cloud management, according to global research firm Forrester.

And, Forrester cautions that tech management organisations now require a more effective approach to managing in the hybrid world, where the relationship between components is not clearly established and “few standards are available to guide their efforts”.

Forrester looks at the worldwide cloud environment in its Hybrid Cloud Management Solutions Of Major Service Providers report for the second quarter this year, noting that service providers of the solutions are building capabilities that, in some cases, are direct alternatives to products from independent software vendors (ISVs) and open source solutions.

According to the authors of the Forrester report, while service firms are making a “welcome contribution” to hybrid cloud management, it does come at a price. Infrastructure and operations (I&O) pros will find managing such managed service engagements more complex and “must accommodate the treatment and disposition of supplier IP”.

“Most service firms intend to remain service firms first and foremost, but their reliance on IP assets is growing over time for a variety of reasons, including greater operating leverage.

“Service firms are using their own IP, whether developed, assembled, or acquired, to emerge as key partners of software firms and open source solutions for hybrid cloud management,” Forrester observes.

According to Forrester, with hybrid cloud — whether planned or not — now an established fact for many cloud buyers, the ability to manage effectively within the hybrid cloud ecosystem is the next logical step.

Forrester also says that hybrid cloud management capabilities are emerging from a variety of sources, including ISVs, service companies, and the open source community, “further exacerbating the challenge faced by I&O professionals seeking to thrive in the hybrid cloud ecosystem”.

“Leading service providers are developing their own software IP for hybrid cloud management and brokering. The proliferation of such software IP poses challenges for technology management teams pursuing hybrid cloud strategies, including comparing integrator-supplied offerings with those of ISVs and contracting for software IP amid managed services deals,” Forrester says, also noting that  I&O pros must realise that:

•    Hybrid cloud is a state, hybrid cloud management is a solution. With the mixture of private cloud, public cloud, and managed hosting models already on hand, many organisations are already living in a hybrid cloud environment. However, simply observing the current state is not a solution.

•    Tech management organisations require an effective approach to managing in this hybrid world, where the relationship between components is not clearly established and few standards are available to guide their efforts.

•    Managing the changing hybrid cloud environment is challenging. The current cloud automation landscape is complex, with a variety of tools, types, and suppliers arrayed across two major sets of functions: cloud management services and brokering services

Primary cloud management functions, embodied by commercial software like RightScale and CliQr, include service provisioning and orchestration. Service brokering functions, exemplified by Gravitant, include cost modelling, billing, and other governance-related functions.

Although the market seeks clarity on principal cloud management and brokering functions, the line between them is increasingly blurring and suppliers do not fall neatly into separate camps

And the market is volatile, with new entrants and frequent acquisitions, such as IBM’s acquisition of Gravitant in November and Cisco’s purchase of CliQr in February.

•    Firms struggle to manage cloud consumption across a variety of buying groups. While tech management organisations did not control the initial purchasing of cloud solutions, they have been left with the challenge of managing the resulting chaos created by the fact that a variety of teams initially purchased them. This poses governance challenges for buyers.

Forrester warns that by arming themselves with IP of their own, service providers are making the once ironclad distinction between software and service firms increasingly meaningless.

The research firm says the service providers’ ultimate strategy is to be the partner of choice for hybrid cloud management, and there are several reasons why service providers are taking up software IP for hybrid cloud management, including  clients increasingly expecting service providers to bring their own IP.

“Faced with increasingly aggressive time frames for cloud implementation and business results, clients are demanding more from service providers in terms of IP assets and have little patience for navigating the complexity of software product offerings by themselves,” Forrester says.

And, according to Forrester, the shortage of cloud skills is the primary impediment to success.

“With the lack of required skills in the marketplace emerging as one of the biggest obstacles to hybrid cloud success, it is only natural for service firms to play a leading role in supporting customers’ attempts to manage the hybrid cloud environment. Service supplier IP multiplies the impact of personnel in delivering value to the end customer.”

Forrester concludes with a harsh judgement on the hybrid cloud market:

“The performance of ISVs in terms of customer acquisition and functionality has been decidedly underwhelming to date. To this point, suppliers of hybrid cloud software are proving little more than fodder for acquisition – often by service firms.

“Suppliers of brokering software cannot yet point to overwhelming market acceptance and have sometimes disappointed would-be customers with their limited maturity and range of functions.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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