Long time, no blog, right? I’ve had plenty to keep me busy.

I just finished up my most recent “End-to-End Application Management” research study, which extends the “end-to-end application management” concept to Public and Private Cloud. Both the full research paper and a summary version will be posted to the EMA site (www.emausa.com) by the end of next week.

I tackled this project because Cloud Computing, particularly Public Cloud, has radically changed the application management landscape in recent years. It has ushered in a new era of enterprise IT in which IT has become a service broker and systems integrator as well as a service provider. This shift introduces a variety of enterprise management and governance issues, many of which are related to application monitoring and management.

EMA’s first survey on the topic of “End-to-End Application Management”, conducted in 2008, was, to our knowledge, the first of its kind. It uncovered trends related to industry maturity and summarized the people, process, and technology factors impacting application support. It also assessed adoption rates of the various tools families and customer satisfaction with those tools. Follow-up research finalized in early 2010 updated the data and assessed the impact of a brutal economy on people, process, and tools selections.

This report is the third iteration in the series and adds assessments related to the impact of Cloud Computing on the end-to-end management of business applications. It starts with the premise that, regardless of where an application is hosted, IT is ultimately responsible for its delivery. While a service can be outsourced, responsibility for its successful delivery still lies with the CIO. We believe this report should help IT organizations assess how ready they are to assume these responsibilities as applications increasingly span on-premise and Cloud platforms.

Cloud introduces management challenges in inverse proportion to the level of customer visibility into the Cloud service. Private Cloud is an outgrowth of the evolution of data center management and optimization technologies such as blade servers, clustering, and Virtual Machines (VMs). In Private Cloud environments, visibility to application execution is limited only by the robustness of available toolsets. In fact, with the “right” tools, Private Cloud can become essentially an extension of the data center.

Without minimizing the complexity of managing Private Cloud—and admittedly widespread virtualization has yielded a host of perplexing challenges– the process is relatively straightforward because ultimate control still lies with the CIO and his staff.

In contrast, Public Cloud represents a loss of direct control and this brings a new set of challenges. However, there is also a world of difference between the multiple “flavors” of Public Cloud. The challenges differ, of course, depending on whether we’re discussing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), or Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Virtualization is a key enabler for IaaS, since application environments run in VM containers that can easily be configured and moved between the data center and the Cloud. Today’s virtualization and management vendors deliver very high levels of instrumentation and automation for managing VMs, regardless of where they are hosted. In fact, with the right instrumentation and tooling, IaaS (like Private Cloud) can also become essentially an extension of the data center. Nevertheless, performance and availability management are still key management challenges. Regardless of where application components are hosted, it will still be the job of IT to measure service levels AND to track down problem sources when service levels degrade.

While SaaS and PaaS are significantly different in that the entire application runs on the Public Cloud platform, IT still needs a way to monitor and troubleshoot service levels. Not surprisingly, IT organizations recognize this as well, as evidenced by their responses to EMA’s May, 2011 survey.

In terms of background, it is important to note that this survey skewed towards mid-sized and larger companies, with 60% of respondents coming from companies with revenues of $100 million or more annually. Bearing this in mind, the survey turned up some very interesting results. Here are some tidbits from the findings:

• Almost 50% of companies have already deployed tiered transactions that span both Cloud and on-premise computing environments.
• Thirty-five percent (35%) have integrated or are in the process of integrating multiple SaaS applications
• Twenty-nine percent (29%) say they are likely to utilize application management as a SaaS service
• Cloud-readiness is a factor for 69% of companies in their evaluation and purchase of new enterprise management products.

The papers include much more information about EMA’s “take” on managing “pure” and “hybrid” Cloud environments. In addition, since the survey itself contained far more information that we can publish in a single paper, EMA will continue to publish on this topic throughout 2011 and into 2012.

Check EMA’s site next week for both the full paper (available for a fee) and for a free “Summary Version”. We think you will find the results are quite interesting.

I’ll be busy for the rest of the year as well, with a “Radar Report” on this topic which will focus on specific aspects of application management in the Cloud. Stay tuned, because this new research will be announced in the next few weeks. EMA will continue to stay on top of Cloud trends as IT organizations continue to ride the Cloud wave into the future.

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