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Microsoft Expert Makes Case Against Typical Multicloud Strategies

A Microsoft expert questioned the use of "third-party" multicloud management tools over cloud-native solutions.

Update 10/30: The expert, John M. Clark, a cross-domain solution architect at Microsoft, clarified by e-mail today that his Technet blog post is "not an official Microsoft position. Instead, "it represents opinions that have been shared and discussed internally from talking to customers." Furthermore, Clark's views are part of the "Microsoft Modern Service Management" blog, which "is targeted and challenging those considering modernizing IT," he explained.

In the TechNet post, Clark argued that the only organizations that can successfully adopt a multiple-cloud approach are large organizations. Most other organizations will just lack the "leverage" to gain any cost benefits from going the multicloud route, he argued:

Attempting to play vendors off against each other for advantaged pricing usually doesn't yield anticipated saving because of current state IT procurement processes. This only works if you are an enormous cloud consumer like Netflix as pricing is fixed based on features, and most companies have insufficient leverage.

Additionally, organizations would need to have IT personnel trained across various cloud services to make a multicloud approach work, he argued.

Clark acknowledged that one of the reasons organizations might take a multicloud approach would be to avoid "vendor lock-in," but he argued that organizations won't be able to easily move, as "there is no simple migrate capability."

Clark questioned the idea of using "third-party" multicloud management solutions as a way of handling these issues. These solutions may not support "modern workloads" and could be just focused on a "traditional data center extension into the cloud." Such a focus would "prevent organizations from leveraging higher value Paas, Faas, and Saas services," Clark suggested via e-mail. He added that native tools offered by the cloud services providers could better address cloud management needs.

These views expressed by Clark perhaps represent a shift from previously expressed views about eight years ago that there could be an open cloud world, driven by portable customer data, common standards, ease of migration and tooling choice. That optimistic view was expressed back then by Jean Paoli, Microsoft's general manager for interoperability strategy at the time. Paoli, one of the inventors of XML, left Microsoft in 2017 and is now part of a "stealth startup" organization, according to his Wikipedia entry.

Clark didn't name the third-party (non-Microsoft) multicloud solutions that he critiqued. However, a recent Forrester Wave Q2 report listed the 12 "most significant" vendors in the hybrid cloud management space. Those vendors are BMC Software, Cisco, CloudHealth Technologies, Embotics, HyperGrid, Micro Focus, RackWare, Red Hat, RightScale, Scalr, Turbonomic and VMware.

VMware topped the report's "Leaders" category when correlated with market presence, sharing that category with other leaders such as RightScale, Scalr and Embotics. The report's author, Lauren Nelson, described the current hybrid cloud management space as "uncertain," but the vendors were continuing to differentiate. They've added tools for developer roles support, an API abstraction layer and analytics engines for optimizing costs, among other such details.

Microsoft offers its own cloud management solution, the "Operations Management Suite," which didn't make Forrester's list (Microsoft's solution supports Azure and Amazon Web Services clouds). To place in Forrester's hybrid cloud management list, vendor solutions had to be capable of managing generic cloud workloads and at least have support for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure and vSphere clouds, and the revenue of the solutions had to be more than $7.5 million in 2017.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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