What features should we look for in cloud management software?

Cloud expert Mooney Sherman says cloud management software should track how providers allocate resources and gauge the security of the operations.

As a service provider, what features should we look for in cloud management software for our back-end infrastructure and services?

The core features you need in a cloud management console depend on several factors, including your deployment model -- whether that's Infrastructure as a Service, Software as a Service, Platform as a Service or another kind of cloud service. Your current infrastructure architecture also plays a role, as do your use cases and customer requirements. To satisfy your customers' needs and expectations, as spelled out in service-level agreements (SLAs), determine how granular your monitoring and reporting requirements are.

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Cloud providers need to look for cloud management software that is specifically designed to handle the dynamic nature of cloud computing services, as opposed to just the static needs of traditional IT services.

At the very minimum, the cloud management console should be able to help the service provider with metering and billing for the services each customer uses; determining how the resources are allocated to customers; tracking the status of the systems and their resources by configuring alerts; and aiding in capacity planning to ensure the provider has satisfied SLAs and customer needs around elasticity.

It's also important that any console be able to track all aspects of security in the service provider's operations to ensure adherence to its own security profile, as well as any customer-specific security requirements detailed in an SLA. This will help minimize vulnerabilities and breaches. In addition, the capacity to generate proper reporting and logs that the provider's internal administrators can use to ensure compliance -- and that customers can use to ensure compliance with their own legal and regulatory requirements -- is something to look for in cloud management software.

This was last published in January 2013

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