The cloud is revolutionizing networking, and this overhaul presents enormous challenges for IT managers who are used to being able to see, monitor and control their networks and systems.
Network and systems management software has been heading in this general direction for years and is better positioned than you might think to take this next step - but there are several areas that require more work by the industry.
IN DEPTH: Guide to cloud management software
To understand the size of the problem, let's take a look at what cloud computing is. There are many definitions, but at its heart, cloud computing is an abstraction of things that have not been abstracted before. Instead of having servers, software, applications and storage dedicated to certain tasks, all of that is abstracted to the user and even the IT manager.
Instead of being concerned about individual servers, the focus is on the services they provide -- services like email or a sales application. Under the covers, resources (like servers, network devices, storage and operating systems) are shared for these services. Automation software can set up and tear down resources as needed -- provisioning a virtual machine with an operating system and an application, for instance, and then tearing it down later. But the person using the service is unaware of the resources being used underneath, and they can be changing all the time.