Much attention has been paid to the powerful benefits of public cloud and private clouds and other virtualized compute infrastructures. While the benefits of these technologies are powerful, enterprises attempting to take advantage of them are confronted with the crucial question, “What about my applications?”

The application layer represents the 80% of cloud computing that all too often gets ignored due to its inherently difficult nature. While deploying and managing a single application in the cloud may not appear challenging, the difficulties grow exponentially for enterprises looking to take entire portfolios of applications skyward.

Enterprises won’t embrace cloud computing until they are capable of handling the numerous applications they already have. To date, there has been a gap in terms of tools for managing multiple applications across a variety of cloud environments. Today’s cloud is built for single application startups. In order for enterprises to view cloud as something more than an experiment, they require an approach for migrating and managing more than one application.

Enterprises need a means of overcoming several key challenges associated with application management in order to conquer their hesitancies toward cloud adoption.

These include:

Migrating existing applications to dynamic cloud and virtualized environments

Application deployment and configuration management

Run-time multi-application and multi-cloud management

Eliminating the complexity of image management and virtual machine sprawl

Portability and avoiding lock-in

Cloud computing is in need of a much stronger and smarter regime of management tools and capabilities if it is to become a widespread enterprise information technology paradigm. As companies migrate their heterogeneous applications to cloud-based environments, they require a single point of application management across the enterprise that allows the simple drag-and-drop of resources between multiple cloud environments.

Furthermore, cloud application management solutions should allow application extensibility, portability, unified and automated management, and include open and extensible APIs. It’s only with these key attributes that enterprises will truly be able to manage their application portfolios in the cloud and gain the peace of mind needed to fully embrace cloud computing.

Looking ahead there’s little doubt that various forms of cloud computing will play an increasingly important role for enterprises seeking a competitive advantage. However, without a reliable and flexible means of managing and migrating both new and legacy applications across multiple cloud environments, the industry risks relegating cloud computing to an ideal rather than a true competitive differentiator for today and tomorrow’s enterprises.

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