Multi-Cloud Services: Service Provider and Vendor Approaches Keep Coming

J. Marcus

Summary Bullets:

  • Just as multi-cloud usage is recognized as a necessity, IT suppliers are keen to help enterprises reduce its inherent complexity.
  • IT, hosting, and network service providers have rolled out specific offers over the last year to address the demand.

As multi-cloud consumption becomes the reality for transforming enterprises, solutions are now appearing from service providers as well as platform vendors (beyond their initial solutions for hybrid cloud). Each player has its own take – with varying levels of focus placed on self-service tools, automated operations, and good old-fashioned managed services.

Multi-cloud may mean different things depending on the context. On the networking and data center infrastructure side, heavy lifting is being done by vendors to accommodate the requirements of enterprises aiming for consistent performance of a diverse set of resources delivered from the cloud. But, managed cloud and IT/hosting providers are also doing things in the here and now to solve today’s problems with whatever capabilities they have at their disposal. Some of the more IT services-centric providers have developed their own – or integrated third-party – technology to sell as a service, but others are relying on their own teams of certified experts to package managed services. The latter approach is being pursued aggressively by Fujitsu (see “Multi-Cloud Services: Fujitsu’s Take”) as well as by Rackspace, for example. Elsewhere, some of the more network services-centric providers have also begun looking at integrated management of networking and cloud in order to extend it to include multiple clouds.

Despite the recent focus on the term multi-cloud, it’s not a new trend. Cloud services integration is a goal many managed cloud providers have had on their roadmaps for several years. Some – like BT with its ‘Cloud of Clouds’ based on its Compute Management System – launched compelling solutions at least a couple of years ago. Equinix is another, with its Cloud Exchange solution that has brought multi-cloud connectivity to the table. But, enterprises today may be more ready and more in need of such solutions than they were when those services first came out, prompting the stream of new offerings documented in a new GlobalData advisory report (see “Service Providers Are Adding Software and Automation to Networks and People to Solve Today’s Multi-Cloud Challenges,” August 31, 2018).

The report looks at service providers’ multi-cloud offerings that have been announced and/or rolled out over the last year or so, including:

  • CenturyLink’s Cloud Application Manager, leveraging internally developed (and acquired, via ElasticBox) automation of managed services tasks;
  • DXC Technology’s Concerto Cloud portfolio, which included professional and managed services as well as a cloud-based IT service management platform;
  • HPE’s OneSphere, a SaaS-based management platform put together via internal integration experts; and
  • T-Systems’ Managed Cloud Operating System, just one element of a deep portfolio of multi-cloud solutions which enables integrated management of multiple cloud operating systems.

Although each provider has its own take, the common theme is that it’s fine for enterprises to continue using multiple cloud services in addition to internally deployed systems. Yes, it gets complicated, but service providers can help with that. Procurement and automated maintenance of any or many services is the baseline, with some solutions offering role-based features and performance management insights. And while third-party solutions like RightScale are being used in some cases, most providers have used open source and/or internally developed technology as the basis of their multi-cloud services.

To be frank, managed multi-cloud service is not a new idea. Cloud services integration has been a goal of many providers for several years, but in 2018, the concept seems to have settled on a common term. Many more new offerings supporting management of multi-cloud services will undoubtedly be rolled out before the end of the year.

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