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Launching an IT infrastructure across multiple clouds may not only include deploying workloads in both private and public clouds. It could also include actively deploying and managing resources in multiple public clouds, like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. Learn more about how your business could benefit from a multi-cloud strategy here.
There’s a lot to consider when searching for the best way to govern your multi-cloud environment, such as managerial processes like cost control. Still, there are five basic components of multi-cloud governance you should always keep in mind: cost management, security and compliance, inventory, utilization, and automation/self-healing.
When virtualization technology was first introduced into data centers, the concept of virtual machine (VM) sprawl quickly followed. It became simpler than ever to provision a virtual machine—which, in some cases, was perceived as an entity that had little or no cost. So much so, that people left compute resources on longer than necessary, often requesting resources far beyond what they actually needed. As soon as this happened, a new industry cropped up with solutions to manage the problem.
When it comes to cloud environments, the problem of VM sprawl can be a lot worse, amplified by the ease with which you can provision massive amounts of resources. It can be tedious and difficult to keep track of how much you spend each month; who is responsible for the costs accrued; if the resources you provisioned are actually sized correctly (or if you’re wasting money); and, importantly, what that money is being spent on. The cloud providers do have built-in tools to handle these issues, but they are far from perfect. Moreover, it can be challenging to correlate the costs of a single project or business unit across all resources in use in all clouds.
Venturing into the realm of multiple public cloud providers can complicate things even further. Day-to-day budget management may be impacted significantly because every cloud provider measures its resources in a different way. Plus, metrics are inconsistent across platforms, so the aggregation of costs within different public clouds is extremely difficult to achieve using out-of-the-box tools provided by each vendor. A cloud management platform, such as CloudCheckr, supports multi-cloud and will enable you to view and govern resources across clouds.
A third-party tool is crucial when managing workloads across multiple clouds.
The most widely-used cloud providers use different methods when it comes to protecting your resources. AWS utilizes security groups and NACLs, Microsoft Azure uses Network Security Groups on interfaces and subnets, and Google uses Firewalls. While each of these vendors has technology that protects your resources, none of them have built-in mechanisms that offer a comprehensive, holistic, security story to protect your whole environment. A third-party tool that can understand each of these methods, ensure all of your resources are protected, and conform to your security needs, is crucial when managing workloads across multiple clouds.
Keeping track of your applications in a single cloud can be a daunting task. As a general best practice, you should be tagging all the resources you deploy in the cloud. Tagging resources will allow you to categorize them and eventually attach a cost to each resource. Embracing a standard tagging convention early in your cloud deployments will enable you to organize resources across different cloud providers. Tagging helps you understand which resources are being used for certain projects and which personnel has permission to use them. This enables you to apply different policies depending on the importance of the resources in use. For example, you could save money by shutting down resources when they are not in use. Development resources could be shut down after-hours and on weekends while production resources need to be constantly running. With proper inventory management and overall governance, you will be able to track dormant cloud resources such as proof of concepts that were forgotten or resources of projects that are no longer needed.
Many organizations move to the cloud because of its flexibility and pay-as-you-go billing model, which allows you to pay only for what you use. For example, there is no reason to provision large-scale instances to handle a load spike that occurs once every six months. Rather, the elasticity of the cloud allows you to scale your resources up and down based on capacity and demand. To do this, it’s important to understand the actual usage of your resources in the cloud. As we’ve mentioned, the metrics do differ from one provider to the next. Both the frequency of data points and the scale upon which the metric is measured can vary.
Cloud management platforms (CMPs) can help collect metrics from your workloads (regardless of which cloud they are running on), normalize the data, and present it to you in a way that helps you understand what resources your applications are using. These tools can also show how the ideal placement of your resources across the clouds will enable you to optimize both performance and cost.
While DevOps professionals are rock stars, there is only so much they can do in a day. Automatic remediation of issues and events in your cloud will enable your teams to invest in further improvement and better automation across your workloads. For example, when your instances are suffering from an increased load, it would make sense to scale the instances to meet the influx in traffic. However, managing an environment that resides in multiple cloud platforms is not something that the major cloud providers offer. You need an intelligent suite of software that can react to events across multiple clouds, take appropriate action automatically, and record a trail of events in a centralized location for future auditing purposes. A cloud management platform like CloudCheckr can offer comprehensive multi-cloud governance and total visibility into your infrastructure, across all of your clouds—public and private.
Managing resources in a single cloud comes with its own singular challenges. Yet when venturing into the world of multi-cloud, the amount of challenges and their complexity grows exponentially with the number of cloud platforms you are using. Building on the basic foundations mentioned above and understanding how to manage multi-cloud governance will enable you to grow your presence across the cloud providers of your choice. This will allow you to focus on the important parts of your business—without having to invest large amounts of resources and time into managing the underlying infrastructure.