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10 cloud management companies to watch

Managing the cloud is a tricky endeavor. Here are 10 tools and services that can help

By , Network World
August 08, 2011 12:06 AM ET

Network World - As enterprise IT organizations consider how to approach the cloud -- public, private, hybrid -- there's no shortage of challenges to sort through.

The cost for on-demand instances needs tracking, and application performance needs monitoring. Capacity needs planning, and cloud-based websites need optimizing.

Cloud complexity

As IT managers grapple with these and other considerations, a slew of companies are offering up products aimed at easing the challenge of managing this new environment. Dennis Callaghan, a senior analyst with The 451 Group, says it best: "Every time you turn around, somebody has a new cloud management or IT management in the cloud offering to tell you about." Here's a sampling: (read our cloud companies to watch from 2010.)

Watch a slideshow version of this story.

Alfabet

Headquarters: Cambridge, Mass.

What it offers: PlanningIT, an integrated IT planning and business IT management software suite.

How it works: PlanningIT is a suite of modules, each covering a specific aspect of architecture-based strategic IT planning. Application architecture, business demand management, enterprise architecture, program portfolio and value management modules are available, for example. All information and functionality is provided from a single interface.

How much it costs: Pricing depends on scope, breadth and type of user.

Why it's worth watching: IT organizations today are making decisions about cloud as a delivery model -- a far different scenario from 12 to 18 months ago when the cloud was more of an "end-around IT" for the business, says Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research. With this shift has come the recognition that traditional IT governance processes, including asset management, inventory, metering and service-level agreements (SLA), apply to the cloud. But as they go through their decision-making processes, many IT organizations are realizing how much they don't know about how they're managing applications and infrastructure internally, she adds. And that's where PlanningIT can help, because "whether in the cloud or on premises, it provides a central source of truth and knowledge about what's happening with the investments companies have made in IT," she says.

Apica

Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif.

What it offers: Apica WebExcellence, a suite of load testing and performance monitoring tools for cloud applications.

How it works: Apica says it uses a four-part, cloud-based methodology to help ensure a website performs at its best. For load testing, it simulates real-world load conditions in a cloud-based test environment using scripts to define custom user scenarios aligned with performance and business goals. External cloud agents measure all browsers and geographical profiles, and Apica identifies capacity and load thresholds and pinpoints problem spots. Customizable performance monitoring provides constant awareness, from any browser and location and through SMS or email alerts, about uptime and response time. The suite also leverages tuning technology combined with static caching to increase Web throughput by up to 40 times current levels, and an overload function protects performance and systems during unexpected high-load scenarios. With the additional Apica ServerMonitor, IT organizations can compare performance data and integrate system data from behind the firewall with load test data.

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