The challenges of migrating application and management stacks

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This is the third in my series of posts on cloud brokerage. In my last post, I talked about application and management stacks. Here I’ll be discussing management stacks and the challenges associated with creating a management stack due to the various service options available today.

Challenges for a cloud consumer deciding where to place applications

For a cloud consumer, it can be difficult to decide whether to place all applications on the same cloud or to distribute them over multiple clouds. This difficulty is exacerbated by the variety of different packaging formats for the application and middleware stack. Luckily, this decision can be outsourced to a cloud broker.

Management Stack

Management stack for cloud workloads.

Management stack for workloads

As discussed earlier, a cloud delivery model affects not only the packaging of the application stack that the consumer has to supply and run on the chosen cloud, but also has bearing on the management stack. As you can see in the preceding figure, the management stack is comprised of tools, people and processes.

A cloud consumer has the option to create a management stack using three sources:

• The native cloud service provider’s capabilities
• Third-party services
• In-house services

There are advantages to choosing a heterogeneous path, as a consumer can avoid becoming completely dependent on one management service provider or their own in-house capabilities. Additionally, heterogeneity provides the opportunity to use the best tools and skills that will enable more efficient management of applications. However, with this heterogeneity comes the need to integrate the various players in the picture and provide an efficient end-to-end management stack. And with the rise of cloud, there has been a jump in the number of management services that are provided using the software as a service (SaaS) model.

This presents various options for consumers, who can pick and choose the management service that best suits them. For example, say a consumer is using in-house tools for application performance management (APM). He might move to APM SaaS from AppDynamics because it reduces the time to isolation of the performance bottleneck, or he might move to to IBM Service Engage Performance Management because it can be cheaper and a better fit for the IT budget.

Challenges for a cloud consumer creating a management stack

A cloud service consumer has to create one management stack per application stack. The consumer will have to tackle serious challenges along the way concerning which services to utilize from the native cloud service provider, which services to outsource and when, which services to keep in-house and how to integrate and continuously improve the functioning of all of them in an efficient manner.

Clearly, there are tremendous opportunities for a cloud broker to provide services for creating a management stack for consumers while also providing contestability in the management stack space as well.

The first three posts in this series have set the stage for a detailed discussion on what factors affect the migration and management of a workload onto the target cloud so as to support service contestability, culminating with an architectural overview.

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