CA ties management suites to Amazon's cloud

What's needed to make cloud computing really manageable for enterprise IT? CA joins BMC, others in leap to Amazon EC2 bandwagon, but much work remains on the portability front.

There's no question that cloud-computing infrastructures will become a significant part the IT plans of large corporations, according to analysts. The question, at least right now, is how well those hybrid internal/external infrastructures will be managed.

CA's announcement this morning that it has integrated its core data-center management suite to Amazon's EC2 cloud service doesn't shed much new light on that question, according to some analysts.

"The core value of having a cloud in the mix would be the ability to move elements easily from inside [the data center] to outside [based in the cloud], taking advantage of the scale the cloud can provide where you need it," according to James Staten, data-center analyst for Forrester Research. "That's not what's going on here."

What CA has done is modify its existing enterprise management suites - the Business-Driven Automation, Service Management, Application Performance Management and Database Management elements - to run within and report on applications and hardware within Amazon's EC2.

That gives Amazon EC2 customers access to CA management capabilities to monitor performance of specific services or applications, do root-cause analysis on problems, and automate business processes that run using applications within EC2, according to Stephen Elliott, vice president of strategy, infrastructure management and automation at CA.

The goal is to help EC2 customers increase the efficiency and lower the cost of workloads they port into the cloud, as well as improve security and remove bottlenecks as, or even before, they occur, Elliott says.

It's not the holy grail of cloud management, and doesn't provide any real new technical capabilities other than to extend data-center visibility into the cloud, but it is exactly the kind of ability existing CA customers are looking for, Staten says.

"They're claiming you can manage in-house and cloud instances from the same screen and manage them both, which could just mean it's centralized monitoring and reporting, which isn't that hard to do," Staten says. "Amazon has exposed their APIs so everyone can take advantage of that, but it appears that's as far as the relationship goes. There's no special relationship or secret sauce, so it compares pretty evenly with what BMC and others are doing.

The real holy grail, at least as far as visibility within a cloud infrastructure, is RightScale, Staten says. RightScale's management suite is designed to give customers full visibility and control over their applications and data on several cloud platforms, not just one, according to the company.

It includes resource reports and migration functions designed to help customers identify the best set of development languages, software, data storage and provider for specific workloads, and select a cloud provider based on those and other factors, such as cost and geographic location, according to the company.

It also includes lifecycle management, automation of provisioning and changes in scale and other critical controls, but lacks detailed integration and data-sharing with internal management applications, Staten says.

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