When it comes to managing hybrid and multicloud environments there are many options but no easy path nor lack of challenges.\n\nTech Spotlight: Multicloud\n\nAre you ready for multicloud? A checklist (InfoWorld)\n5 challenges every multicloud strategy must address (CIO)\nHow to manage multiple cloud collaboration tools in a WFH world (Computerworld)\nBuilding stronger multicloud security: 3 key elements (CSO)\n\n\nWhile cloud computing has been around in some form for more than a decade, tools to manage its current enterprise iterations from private, on-premises, or public locations are still evolving at a rapid rate. Gartner says that more than 90 vendors\u2014including IBM\/Red Hat, VMware, CloudBolt, Flexera, Scalr, Cisco, and Nutanix\u2014offer varying degrees of cloud-management capabilities.\nWhile there are many options, organizations struggle to effectively manage a multi-cloud environment, said Roy Ritthaler, vice president of product marketing, Cloud Management Business Unit, VMware.\n\u201cWith workloads deployed in multiple public clouds, multi-cloud Kubernetes, private cloud\/data centers and edge locations, most organizations find it challenging to get a unified view of the health of their environments as well as manage costs, ensure security and improve operational governance while automating core processes,\u201d Ritthaler said.\nThis is not just a technology challenge, but also a people and processes challenge, Ritthaler said. \u201cLack of unified provisioning tools, siloed operational visibility, lack of holistic performance and cost insights and interoperability and integrations issues mean siloed resources, fragmented teams and management tool proliferation. Multiple personas are involved\u2014IT Operations, DevOps\/ Developers, Finance and Line of Business (LOB) leaders\u2014requiring extensive training, collaboration, and process changes as organizations embrace the cloud model.\u201d\nRecent IDC research found that most enterprises expect that they will need net-new multicloud-management tools to keep up with their emerging business and infrastructure-operations demands.\u00a0\n\u201cMulticloud architectures are introducing a new wave of management complexity as developers and business groups implement cloud services and tools that best align with their application and business innovation road maps with limited regard for corporate preferences. The introduction of containers, microservices, and Kubernetes creates further complexity.\u201d IDC stated.\nOver the next two years, enterprise decision makers are expected to prioritize investments in analytics, performance monitoring and reporting, capacity optimization, cost management, as well as automation and self-service to augment management capabilities for multicloud and governance, according to IDC .\n\u201cThese management tools are deeply interconnected. Cost decisions must be made in the context of capacity requirements and application performance,\u201d IDC stated.\nThere is also enterprise anxiety about application-development density that stretches across different cloud providers.\u00a0 A recent Enterprise Management Associates study said there are 2,316 Python libraries related to AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud that developers download approximately 13 million times per day to 112 different, mostly Linux-based, operating systems.\n\u201cWhile individual projects typically stay within the boundaries of a single cloud, EMA also sees an increasing number (approximately 10%) of projects stretching across multiple clouds. The rapid growth of microservices increases this trend and at the same time emphasizes the urgent need for a unified governance and management layer for both developers and IT operators to contribute to optimizing release efficiency and operational reliability at the same time,\u201d EMA stated.\u00a0\nSuch a wide variety of projects has caused many customers to look for help managing workloads across many environments, which requires multiple consoles and tools, IDC stated.\n\u201cAs enterprises manage multicloud environments and the number of consoles and tools grows, it\u2019s common to experience challenges that stem from siloed data\u2014an inevitable, common side effect of migrating applications running on legacy systems to disparate cloud environments,\u201d said Briana Frank, director of product management with IBM Cloud. \u201cAs enterprises move disconnected data from one cloud to another to be used by various applications, they often experience performance issues and significant cost increases up to 300%, according to\u00a0IBM research.\u201d\nCustomers complain about using multicloud services saying they increased their costs dramatically due to data-transfer between clouds and increased IT staffing, said Douglas Gourlay, vice president and general manager of cloud-networking software at Arista.\nGetting a unified view among clouds\nAlso, as enterprises move to multiple clouds they quickly find that each cloud provider is unique, which adds challenges to manage those environments, \u201clike network architectures, features, and scale, which creates a steep learning curve for customers to operate in the cloud and creates operational challenges across existing environments like data-center and campus networks,\u201d Gourlay said.\nIn Arista\u2019s case, the company offers CloudEOS and CloudVision software that enable network connectivity and management capabilities between private or public clouds.\nWith CloudEOS customers can operate multiple public clouds with a consistent operating model for all network abstractions\u2014using the same runbooks and processes they utilize to operate their existing data-center and campus networks, Gourlay said. \u201cCloudEOS telemetry, coupled with CloudVision provides the time-series storage and analysis of the network state of a customers\u2019 multicloud network,\u201d he said. \u201cThis lets the customer go back and check why and how an issue happened and reduces the return-to-operations time while enabling rapid root-cause analysis on initial failure detection.\u201d\nOn the cost side, a separate Arista offering\u2014CloudEOS Edge\u2014supports dynamic path selection at the network edge that lets customers assign paths for applications to use with an eye toward reducing data transfer\/synchronization cost. With unified EOS and CloudVision deployments across data-center, campus, and multiple public clouds, customers can support and manage the their multi-cloud strategy without doubling or tripling their team size or affecting their budget plans, Gourlay said.\nTroubleshooting\nIn managing multicloud environments, another issue customers face is distinguishing between application-performance issues vs. network problems.\n\u201cWhat we hear from customers is a sense of a loss of control when in a multicloud environment,\u201d said \u00a0Kaustubh Das, vice president and general manager of Cisco\u2019s Cloud and Compute product group. \u201cIt\u2019s hard to predict with certainty the impact of newly provisioned cloud services on the network.\u201d\nCisco offers a number of packages targeting the issue, such as its cloud-based Intersight management platform. In addition, Cisco\u2019s AppDynamics application management package and recently acquired ThousandEyes technology, which offers a cloud-based software package that analyzes local and wide-area networks and internet performance. The package is designed to provide \u00a0broad visibility and let customers pinpoint cloud and non-cloud problems with applications and the network.\u00a0\nEarlier this year Cisco integrated its AppDynamics enterprise application information with Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer. \u00a0With it, customers can manage a variety of infrastructure components such as servers, configuration and policy management as well as telemetry and analytics.\u00a0 The idea, Das said, is to let application and infrastructure teams see a shared view of infrastructure dependencies that affect application performance, user experience, and business impact\u2014all from one location.\n\u201cThe IT and DevOps teams can work together, using a shared vocabulary to pinpoint the root cause for application degradation, proactively prevent issues in real-time, set policies, and automate responses to solve app issues on-prem or in the cloud, regardless of domain,\u201d Das said.\nAccording to Arista\u2019s Gourlay most customers find it extremely difficult to troubleshoot a network issue in the public cloud due to a lack of information and visibility, especially when troubleshooting requires packet-level observability.\n\u201cI wish I could tell you that the apps and network IT folks work together to make multicloud work more effectively, but currently that\u2019s not where we are at,\u201d said Nabil Bukhari, CTO and Chief Product Officer at Extreme Networks.\nHelp from AI\/ML\nStitching together data from physical on-prem deployments and multiple clouds and applying analytics to it is a challenge but one that is key to managing this kind of environment, Bukhari said.\nExtreme offers the ExtremeCloud IQ package that offers a machine-learning and AI-driven cloud-management platform that simplifies onboarding, configuration, monitoring, managing, troubleshooting, alerting, and reporting for network infrastructure devices.\nVMware\u2019s Ritthaler said the company\u2019s vRealize Cloud Management includes capabilities to visualize the entire network, both virtual and physical. It uses machine learning to build network and application boundaries and can perform full path analysis across VMs, containers, and across hybrid and multiple public clouds. This offers an easy way to troubleshoot VM-to-VM connectivity across multiple clouds.\n\u201cThis network topology map also helps optimize network performance with proactive alerting and anomaly detection for firewall misconfigurations, spikes, capacity constraints, etc. All these capabilities are presented in a single network map, regardless of whether the network is virtual or physical or both, and in the context of the application boundaries to make sure the networking, security, infrastructure, and application teams are speaking the same language,\u201d Ritthaler said.\nIBM\u2019s Frank says Big Blue addresses this issue with its\u00a0\u00a0Application Performance Management (APM) package that helps customers distinguish between application-performance issues and network issues across on-premises, cloud-based and hybrid workloads\u2014all from a single dashboard.\n\u201cIn a multicloud environment, a solution that works equally well both on-premises and across multiple clouds is key to gaining full visibility and eliminating siloes,\u201d Frank said. \u201cIBM\u00a0APM solutions measure application availability and performance, automate actions to quickly recover from application or network performance issues, and provide visibility and tools to diagnose and fix problems before they impact operations or end-users\u2019 experience with the application environment.\u201d\nIn-house knowledge\nThere are other challenges to managing a multicloud world, observers say.\nOne big one is having the staff with the skillset to manage multivendor offerings, Extreme\u2019s Bukhari said.\u00a0 \u201cData formats and APIs are different and you need a team that can understand all of those things.\u201d\nThe introduction of containers, microservices, and Kubernetes creates further complexity, IDC stated.\u00a0\n\u201cGetting the full benefit out of any multicloud management portfolio requires organizations to make trade-offs and strategic investment choices. In fast-moving technology environments, it can be difficult to fully anticipate the impact of new processes, methods, and tools,\u201d IDC stated.