Podcast Episode 11 – The 3 Pillars of a Secure & Well Managed Cloud with CloudHealth by VMWare

Podcast Episode 11 - The 3 Pillars of a Secure & Well Managed Cloud with CloudHealth by VMWare


Ira Bell: In this discussion we talk about CloudHealth’s alignment with VMware through acquisition, and 10th Magnitude’s partnership with CloudHealth.

Ira Bell: Hello, I’m Ira Bell, CTO at 10th Magnitude. Here with me today, I have Samir Mehra, Director of Products for CloudHealth by VMware; and Damien Robinson, Director of Business Development for Managed Services at 10th Magnitude. Hey guys, I’d like to welcome everyone to the call.

Samir Mehra: Thanks Ira.

Damien Robinson: Thanks Ira.

Ira Bell: So, Samir, congratulations on becoming part of VMware. Would you be open to telling us a little bit about the journey that led up to the acquisition, and how things have been going since?

Samir Mehra: Yeah, definitely. So, CloudHealth is one of the leading multi-cloud management platforms, and we support multiple different clouds right now, so AWS, Azure, Google. We even have some datacenter presence, and given VMware is trying to get into the whole cloud management space, we were an amazing acquisition for them to move into the whole cloud management space. So, it’s been great for us, you know, it’s been a great journey since the acquisition also.

Ira Bell: Thanks Samir, that’s wonderful. VMware’s a great company, and I’m glad that VMware and CloudHealth were able to find such meaningful alignment. So we’re most interested in Azure, of course, and I find it would be a good idea to go ahead and mention that 10th Magnitude has just been awarded Microsoft’s Global Partner of the Year on Datacenter Migrations, as well as the Global Microsoft Partner of the Year for DevOps.

So, I’ve been at 10th Magnitude for about a year now, and CloudHealth continues to come up as a partnership of ours based upon a lot of customers’ demand. Damien, could you talk a little bit about that, and perhaps tell us a little bit about 10th Magnitude’s Managed Services?

Damien Robinson: Yeah, thank you very much for that Ira. Exactly as you have alluded to there, the reason we got into the managed services business was back on the demand of our clients and our customers. We’d helped them transition to the cloud. We’d helped them transform their apps, and modernize their RT practices, and now were looking for more help and continually asked if we could support them moving forward. And that was really the backbone of us building up the Managed Services organization.

We quickly realized that once we started this practice, we needed a very robust, solid cloud management platform to help us provide that holistic view, that overview of our customers. Holistically, from a 10th Magnitude perspective, but also from our customers’ perspective. Being able to provide the right level of cost optimization and management; resource utilization and reporting; and governance and security. Those three major pillars of what we were looking for in a cloud management platform aligned us very well with CloudHealth from VMware. Yeah, we’ve built over the last couple of years a very, very solid relationship, and looking forward to continuing that growth.

Ira Bell: Thanks for that, Damien. I totally agree that managed services has been a wonderful growth area for us, thanks to our customer demand. And also, I’ve really appreciated the strategic partnership we’ve found with CloudHealth by VMware. So, Samir, I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about what CloudHealth is.

Samir Mehra: Yeah, definitely. Like I mentioned, CloudHealth is the leading multi-cloud management platform. We work with more than 3,800 customer and channel partners globally. Many of them are the largest cloud consumers in the world. And definitely, our vast experience in working with these customers and our strategic partners has established us as the most trusted software platform used to accelerate business transformation in the cloud.

What we do really, is we help our customers in every aspect of their cloud journey. We have things we help with cost management, with cost optimization, with governance, and we do it from a multi-cloud standpoint. So, that in a nutshell, is what CloudHealth does.

So, I mention about CloudHealth and how we help our customers throughout their cloud journey. It’s basically based on these three primary pillars. There’s cost management and cost optimization; there is the whole aspect of resource utilization and management, which builds the automation piece; and the question of governance and security. Damien, do you agree with some of these things that CloudHealth does, in terms of the three pillars and where we help our customers?

Damien Robinson: Yeah, absolutely Samir. It was a founding principle. We started the Managed Services Business was to make sure we had this holistic view across the boards. If I was to put that back down to a customer example regarding cost optimization and reporting, one of the first things that we discuss when we’re talking to a client, pre-sale cycle or motion, and they’ll ask us all the time how do we look at reporting and cost management?

Examples from our customers have been, “Hey, we’re already in the cloud, we’re seeing a massive amount of spend, or a large amount of spend. Can you help us gain that insight, or that visualization of spend across the services, or across the applications, or business units?”

So, this module, or this functionality of CloudHealth is vital to our operation. We can create reports, and we do this from the get-go. Reports for individual stakeholders across various aspects of our customers, whether it be a technical insight into costs down at the IT department level; whether it’s a business owner to show that chargeback or show that of costs for their applications; or whether it’s at a C-level executives looking at the holistic picture. It’s concrete for all of our clients.

To create the reports, though we’re looking at… looking for our clients… we use a concept in CloudHealth called perspectives. Essentially that’s a construct of categorizing the various services that CloudHealth capture during its operations from the platform. Having the right level of governance, and I’ll talk to governance very shortly, is paramount to the right reporting. Garbage in, garbage out. The same goes with many of these reporting services.

We can also apply… it’s a little bit further on from cost management, but the same reporting can be set up for performance and performance tuning, performance metrics, and relating that back to costs is essentially over provisioned services, or databases, or whatever those assets are, and seeing if they’re underutilized and being able to report back on most metrics is a compelling event for us and our clients to use CloudHealth.

Samir Mehra: Yeah, that’s awesome. I think you’ve touched on something called perspectives. We think that is our USB, the way I explain it to some of our customers or partners or prospects also, is it’s the same data, but you’re looking at it from a different lens. So, think of it as a kaleidoscope, you can move it around, it’s the same data, but you’re seeing it and viewing it from different lenses.

That’s a really important feature that we have in the product, and it’s based on all the meta data that we’ve collected, it’s usually tags that we use. The other things to mention that CloudHealth really does well on the cost management piece, is you can set up a budget, and you can track your costs around a budget too. The other thing is, if you have multiple subscriptions, this is one place that you see all your costs for all your subscriptions. You can filter it down to a single subscription, or you can see all of them together.

Lastly, it’s 13 months of data, so you can see trends, you can see spikes, you can find out anomalies based on just looking at charts that we show in the platform, to see if there’s spikes and some usage, or some cost that you can go investigate it. And then you can drill down into them to find out where these costs are coming from.

From a cost optimization standpoint, I think we have… I know you’ve used some of our tools, but we have reservation management, that’s one way to save your cost. There’s rightsizing. There’s showing of zombie infrastructure, and our goal is to keep adding functionality in different services around rightsizing and optimization, and around reservations, just to give our customers and our partners a way to ensure that when they’re spending in the cloud, they’re not wasting their spend.

The whole concept of moving away from CapEx to OpEx is sometimes hard for some folks to understand because when you’re on the on-premise side, you’ve paid for it, even if you’ve underutilized it. You don’t have to pay more. But once you move to the cloud, you move to this OpEx model, where if you spun it up, you’re paying for it. You’re paying for it, even if you’re not using it. That’s a concept that we’ve been trying to preach to a lot of our customers, and if you get that, you’ll basically see… you will take measures to save your costs, and we tell that to our customers quite often.

Damien Robinson: Yeah, that’s a really good point, and moves us into the component of what resource utilization looks like as well, and how do we manage our technical account managers that are assigned to our customers, frequent CloudHealth on a weekly basis, if not more than that. To really get a good and deep understanding of how our customers are using and utilizing their assets within Azure. That has a flow and effective cost, and having that holistic view, or that trending view of spend over the months, is very important.

When we talk about rightsizing, a good example of this is, we see it all the time, is if IT don’t have a good governance practice or strategy in place, the Azure sprawl comes into and is a high point of a lot of our customers, and us helping them control or govern that is paramount, so we look at this data, we use the recommendations area of CloudHealth, and that really gives us an insight into over provisioned and underutilized DMs or databases. So we can make those right size decisions with our clients and our customers, so not only are we saving them money, but it’s also giving them an opportunity to potentially reinvest those savings into solidifying new work flows.

Samir Mehra: Yeah, definitely. I think just to add on to that point. We’ve done some research in the past, and what we’ve seen is, once our customers have onboarded CloudHealth and their costs dip, but then we’ve seen that their costs are increasing, because now they’re confident of the spend that they have or will have in the environment. So they’re more confident because they know that there’s a tool out there that is looking out for anomalies, it’s looking out for cost optimization opportunities, looking for zombie infrastructure, and they’re confident that they’re not going to waste money, so they start spending more, and being more confident about the spend that they have in Azure.

Damien Robinson: Yeah, absolutely. Another way to look at the resource utilizational management component is deprecated or not so supported services within the Azure platform. ASM or classic services, we get a very good indicator. We can set up some alerts and actions based on whether these services have been put in place, and then we can report back and migrate them to ARM. Which sort of takes us on to the next component around governance and security.

Samir Mehra: You know what we’ve done at CloudHealth, we’ve created policies that are very flexible and in a way support, like I said, we are multi-cloud, but we’ve focused a lot on creating best practices for all the clouds. So, this will contain best practice policies for let’s say, finance management, for costs optimization, for operation governance, for performance management, for asset and configuration management, for security incident management policies too. You know here’s multiple examples I can give for each one of them.

For finance management, you want to create a budget policy, so if you want to be notified, or you want to track if you’re going above your budget, your cost trend, you want to be notified if your cost today is 10% more or 15% more than yesterday’s costs. There’s cost optimization opportunities or policies where you want to identify reservation opportunities. You want to see if you can modify existing reservations. You want to know about underutilized reservations.

On the operations side, like you mentioned, the zombie infrastructure. You want to know and dominate that zombie infrastructure. There’s this whole concept of lights on/lights off, right, where if they’re test dev VMs or test dev infrastructure. Generally, they’re not being used in the night or on the weekends, can you turn them off? There’s a huge amount of savings to be had if that infrastructure can be turned off during nonworking hours.

The performance management is tied with the rightsizing stuff where you just want to make sure that you’re identifying underutilized and even over utilized instances, so if you want to go up one size higher, you have that data to back that up. On the asset and configuration management side, there’s this whole gag and compliance policies, right. You want to make sure that if you want to do slicing and dicing of your data through perspectives, they are tagged correctly, and if they’re not tagged you really can’t do that, so you don’t know whom to chargeback to.

Security policies… this is again, there’s a whole slew of security policies that we do just to identify a viewer’s access control policies. Just for example, just diving a little bit deeper on that, is CIS has this policy which says you want to make sure SSH boards and your RDP boards are protected and blocked from public access, so it’s just checking those things to make sure that your environment is secure, and being notified if these loopholes or vulnerabilities are there in your environment.

Damien Robinson: So, you mentioned security. And the security module that sits on top of CloudHealth. We take security very seriously at 10th Magnitude. And is one of the primary pillars that we look at from a cloud management platform perspective. And we’ve got a concept called the Cloud Health Check or the Azure Cloud Health Check. It’s a 6-day program where we sit with our clients, we monitor their Azure infrastructure, and we report back on their findings and where they can potentially make improvements, optimizations, fix some of the security holes or vulnerabilities and basically bring them into a much better position using their cloud Azure infrastructure and investment.

A recent example of where we’ve applied the Cloud Health Check program was with a company in the energy sector. They found out they were spending a lot of money on a very small amount of VMs for a small IoT gathering service. They continually threw more money at upgrading the performance, the storage, the sizes, and the RAM of their servers.

We ran the Cloud Health Check across this to primarily look at optimization savings or cost savings. We identified several critical and high security vulnerabilities and with further investigation, we identified that they had some RDP ports open to the public and those RDP ports were being brute force attacked by international foreign bodies. Essentially what that meant – we went into alert mode and immediately rectified the issue and put a band-aid across while we did some further background investigation.

But that is just one example of where the center of internet security along with Azure security center, and the cloud management platform as a whole, have come together to give us a really good pointed resolution and a way forward for our clients.

Ira Bell: Well, thank you very much for your time Samir and Damien. It’s a pleasure to work with you, and I hope we can have you as guests on our podcast again soon.

Ira Bell: Thanks for listening to The Art of Digital Disruption. At 10th Magnitude, we’re proud to create the path for organizations to stay competitive and disrupt their industries. And for more information on innovation and how you can disrupt your industry, visit www.10thmagnitude.com/Azure-health-check and sign up for an Azure Health Check.

By |2019-09-16T19:10:59+00:00July 11th, 2019|

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