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AWS Service Catalog to ease cloud management, tagging

Enterprise IT shops hope the AWS Service Catalog will be a cheaper alternative to third-party tools and solve EC2 tagging issues.

The Amazon Web Services Service Catalog will become generally available soon, and large AWS customers hope it will be a cheaper, more effective alternative for cloud management.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Service Catalog, introduced in November, will give IT pros a way to present customized views of available applications and services to end users, apply policies and manage costs.

Other key benefits include greater standardization, better control and integration with existing systems, including corporate self-service portals, according to AWS' website. The catalog will support AWS resources such as Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances, databases and application servers grouped into portfolios of products for end users to choose from.

"It would be very valuable for our end-to-end system testing," said Kevin Felichko, CTO of PropertyRoom.com, an online auction company based in Frederick, Md. "I could see using it to test and eventually roll out our custom in-house applications as we replace the older versions with more AWS-aware apps."

Large companies in particular will have a greater interest in the AWS Service Catalog, as their internal IT departments have begun to operate with more of a services model approach in the era of cloud.

'I could see using it to test and eventually roll out our custom in-house applications as we replace the older versions with more AWS-aware apps.'
Kevin FelichkoCTO of PropertyRoom.com

Other vendors such as VMware already have similar products; VMware's IT service catalog has been part of its vCloud product line since 2010, first surfacing in its vCloud Director on-premises software, and eventually becoming a part of its vCloud Air offering. IBM SoftLayer also offers an IT service catalog.

There are also some third-party vendors that offer service catalogs as part of larger suites of IT and cloud management software, including multicloud brokerage software maker Gravitant, Inc., and cloud management and orchestration vendor Jamcracker, Inc. Both these software offerings are broader than just a catalog for AWS, but the cost of such third-party tools can be hefty -- ranging from $50,000 to $100,000.

"I have one large client who is looking to build a portal of services," said Mark Szynaka, a cloud architect for CloudeBroker, based in New York. "They have had sticker shock with some of the third-party service catalogs in the market today and so are eager to see what functions the AWS Service Catalog will include and how easy it will be to set up."

There are also hints that the AWS Service Catalog could help to enforce tagging on resources, which could make cloud administrators' lives easier.

AWS has also brushed up tagging in the AWS Management Console; it  allows for tag searches on negative and null searches, meaning all resources not tagged with a certain keyword can be found, but there is still no way to enforce proper tagging of resources by end users.

However, tags can be applied within the AWS Service Catalog as administrators set up portfolios of products, according to an Amazon blog post.

"Tags on the portfolio will be added to all AWS resources launched from the portfolio and cannot be modified by end users," according to a screen shot of the Service Catalog contained in the blog.

This type of tagging was called for by AWS users on a recent Reddit thread, who said that the ability to enforce tags on resource creation has been a long-requested feature.

An AWS spokesperson declined to provide additional details or a release date.

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for SearchAWS. Write to her at bpariseau@techtarget.com or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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Do you plan to use the AWS Service Catalog when it becomes available? Why or why not?
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Definitely, Yes. My organization uses AWS and as soon as the AWS service catalog is available, I will make use of it. The tool will be very useful in allowing the IT staff to deliver quality AWS services to internal users, while at the same time maintaining consistency, control and productivity. With an easy to navigate interface consisting of both administrator and user sides, the tool will be a vital service for all AWS users.
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