TL; DR: Enterprises have shown renewed interest in cloud migration to drive revenue. CloudSphere delivers a single platform that maps dependencies and servers to optimize those migration pathways to single cloud or multicloud environments. The maps empower IT administrators to make better choices about cost and operational efficiency. CloudSphere’s management suite offers integrated tools that support budget, security, compliance auditing, and identity management. And it delivers essential context to business leaders to encourage right-size cloud deployments.
Just 20% of all businesses invested in cloud technologies in 2018, with finance and healthcare leading the way, according to management consultancy McKinsey & Company. But a 2020 survey in the U.K. suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted renewed interest in cloud migration among corporate IT departments, with one-third of those departments now prioritizing cloud initiatives.
Meanwhile, companies continue to fine-tune their server offerings and position themselves to help those enterprises. In the summer of 2020, two successful businesses — iQuate, an agentless discovery and server-mapping company, and HyperGrid, a cloud-governance firm — merged to become CloudSphere. The companies shared similar VC funding sources and operational synergies, so they decided to join forces.
Now, CloudSphere delivers a robust suite of migration, management, and governance services optimized for multicloud environments.
“It was an initial partnership that matured, then we started exploring the possibility of a ‘better-together’ story,” said Keith Neilson, CloudSphere’s Technical Evangelist. “So for CloudSphere, what we have with the two products together is quite compelling.”
CloudSphere offers a single platform that inventories on-prem applications and suggests an optimized migration pathway across several cloud providers. Once configured, the platform integrates a sophisticated policy engine and monitors security, compliance, and access across applications. It also offers real-time alerts and automated remediation solutions.
“From the planning stage, there’s been a huge uptake in interest,” Keith said. “And we’ve also seen that people are planning differently.”
Optimize Cloud Performance Through Contextual Relationship Maps
The cloud-based server and application management model sounds great in theory: Companies enjoy a better return on investment and reduced operational complexity by allowing vendors to manage select IT resources. But that model rarely exists in the real world.
Many companies partner with one vendor for one purpose and a different vendor for another. The result is that companies own the infrastructure, but it is managed by a network of vendors on platforms that may not support the same standards. That can mean missing out on many of the expected benefits of cost and complexity reduction.
“Historically, the cloud providers would be guilty of lift-and-shift,” Keith said, referencing a basic one-for-one migration from local hosting to the cloud. “But people are questioning the costs because it’s not actually saving them much money. It may even be more expensive when they’re switching over because they’re running two environments.”
Gartner’s 2020 research suggests that, without optimization, cost savings may prove elusive.
Companies must be smart about moving to a deep relationship map that offers useful context about a server or application and its dependencies. And CloudSphere provides that context.
“Rather than just giving you a simple map of the relationships between servers and resources, it automatically groups them into what it knows to be critical applications,” Keith said. “So you don’t have to tell the system what the dependencies are because it builds them for you. And once it’s grouped, it understands the nature and context of that app.”
Promoting Operational and Financial Efficiency
Gaps in context often result in a conservative approach to cloud management because a server inventory alone doesn’t provide a complete picture of multicloud deployments.
“The challenge that a lot of service providers have is that a lack of context makes them unsure whether to apply recommendations,” Keith said. “To them, it’s just a bunch of servers that look underutilized. They don’t understand the significance of what those servers are doing.”
Today, more companies seek cloud computing solutions because of the dynamics spawned from the COVID-19 pandemic. That means the level of cloud maturity will likely increase, and businesses will need the appropriate planning tools to remain relevant and act on those insights.
“We’re starting to see customers on the planning side take more time,” Keith said. “They’re considering the journey that each of those infrastructure components and workloads is going to take. And they’re looking at road maps of individual services to double down on workload placement and find the optimum places for data and processes.”
Pre-deployment planning that helps optimize, not just transition, from on-prem to cloud servers is now a prerequisite for realizing the benefits of cloud migration.
“When people look at replatforming and refactoring, there’s a lot more upfront consideration now before they just jump into a lift-and-shift,” he said.
Total-cost-of-ownership reporting follows from CloudSphere’s mapping and migration work. The rules and policies are all relative and apply continuously. Once the platform groups an app, it compares the cost and breaks it down across the public cloud providers to find the best fit. And it benchmarks that for clients in terms of both performance and price.
Offering One Management Server for Cost, Security, and Identity
Optimizing multicloud management through one platform for cost, security, and identity reduces the risk of unknown errors and misconfigurations. Keith calls those guardrails, and they are all situated within CloudSphere’s management platform.
“You can be so fast, and things can be so dynamic, that it’s easy to lose control over what people have access to,” he said. “And that visibility isn’t just on the cost side, but access, identity, compliance, all of those things. That’s where we see a lot of interest.”
CloudSphere works with all major cloud providers to ensure that the toolkits work from day one and are successfully staged for clients in advance. For example, the company is an AWS cloud management partner, so CloudSphere gains early visibility into Amazon web products to integrate features into its platform when they release.
That partnership with the public cloud vendors is only part of CloudSphere’s development cycle. The company’s multichannel development cycle balances market analysis, customer requests, agile development processes, and actual-use analysis to fine-tune service portfolios.
“We’ve got lots of different angles to ensure that we capture the feedback of what our customers are saying, what we see in the market, what customers are using, and how they’re using it,” Keith said. “That’s the way we release features, by constantly dropping them in.”
That mix of input leading to a single management product reduces the complexity of adding cloud tools from different vendors that perform siloed tasks. It also means that one use case gains support on the security side without implementing an additional layer.
CloudSphere: Improve ROI Through Mapping and Migration Planning
As more companies migrate to the cloud because of the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, improvements in cost and security rely on the right context. And that starts with effective server relationship maps.
Deploying one management tool informed by a mix of customer use cases helps optimize builds and maximize the ROI during a cloud shift. And CloudSphere can cut across several cloud vendors, speaking the language of each, so vendor lock-in becomes less of a risk.
CloudSphere centralizes the core cloud-management functions — cost optimization, security, governance and identity management — into a single comprehensive platform. It aims to reduce redundancies and ensure additional tools work well with others.
What sets CloudSphere apart is its dependency mapping among servers and apps and detailed multicloud migration planning. And the company continues to build on its success through upcoming enhancements, including a rules engine, an incident-reporting tool, and AI automation.
CloudSphere sees AI automation as a key part of its future, with its discovery tool and rules engine serving as the foundation.
“When we finish the rules engine, we will have the controls to leverage AI and automate things,” Keith said. “Taking knowledge of context, applying relevant rule sets in the right way at the right time, and automatically is the key. As these environments get bigger, it becomes more challenging for someone to do these things manually. So we see automation as being a big deal.”
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