Clouds Need Integration Management Tools

I've been talking with real industrial-strength cloud users and providers lately, and there's one thing most are saying. They want more management tools. Real management tools. Tools that can help control and integrate cloud offerings. And it's a category that is still largely wide open.

The problem that cloud implementations face is a general lack of visibility to the corporate users. After all, the entire idea is that your infrastructure runs somewhere else, with a third party taking the responsibilities. According to Steve Cakebread, now a consultant but former chief strategic officer of Salesforce.com, the tough point is the intersection between applications. "Most people are buying point solutions or one-off solutions," he says. "They'll assume that they will go together over time." And then they find that someone has to do the integration.

But there's also the intersection of a company's systems and the cloud, and that requires another type of integration. You want to be able to automatically use the cloud IT resources that make the most sense at any given time. That currently requires custom software, according to two cloud service providers that I've spoken with recently.

That's both bad news and good. The bad is that companies looking to use cloud infrastructure in any complicated way will find that the available services and tools are inadequate for their needs, which could discourage more extensive uptake. The good is that there's a large category just waiting to be filled. IT is like the electronics industry, moving from hardwiring discrete components to incorporating black boxes -- chips or clouds, take your pick. And the shift requires a different approach to solving problems, as well as a different toolbox. Those who will make the monitoring and management software that can really solve the problems, and not just say that they do, will likely find significant business opportunities.

Image via stock.xchng user flattop341, CC 2.0.

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