Cloud management is a significant part of the cloud service model, presenting numerous challenges that could impede (or fuel) your success on the cloud, depending on how you face them. It can become excruciating and complicated if you fail to do it the right way. Cloud management demands extensive cloud expertise and careful monitoring to avoid pitfalls and generate desirable results.
A well-managed cloud can help you reach the highest level of cloud maturity, reduce risks, and drive down costs significantly. A sure-fire way to achieve a well-managed cloud is to follow best practices throughout your cloud lifecycle. This article guides you with five cloud management best practices that are crucial to enable your cloud success.
Are Best Practices Necessary for Cloud Management?
Some organizations, when moving to the cloud, very often underestimate the importance of best practices. They take the big leap without a clear cloud strategy or roadmap. Invariably, they fail to reach greater cloud maturity levels and therefore do not wholly reap the benefits of the cloud.
An IDC survey reveals that cloud adoption increased 61 percent in 2016, but many adopters are yet to reach a matured cloud (one that is optimized, managed, and repeatable). Only 31 percent have matured cloud strategies and 22 percent have no strategy at all! The survey also reports that organizations with greater cloud maturity gained additional revenues and reduced costs significantly.
If you establish and follow cloud management best practices, you can leverage the cloud, improve agility, lower costs, resist failure and enhance customer experience. While failing to manage your cloud could result in lost revenue and strained customer relationships. With the right cloud management practices, your organization can face all challenges associated with cloud adoption.
Do You Need to Fret When You Have SLAs With Cloud Providers?
If you have just crossed over to the cloud with a market-leading service provider delivering an impressive SLA (Service Level Agreement), your journey is not over yet! To protect your business from the vulnerabilities and threats associated with the cloud, you should still have a cloud management plan. SMEs and often even large organizations adopting the services of market leaders like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure rely on their SLA's guarantee. They ignore cloud management best practices and are unprepared for the days when the cloud goes dark!
Recent blackouts, like Microsoft Azure going offline and Amazon’s S3 outage leaving several users helpless, are instances of bad day scenarios. Such unprecedented interruptions can knock out SMEs and large organizations, yanking them away from their storage, apps, and websites.
Apart from service outages, there is also widespread concern about security in the public cloud, loss of data, etc. But if you follow the right strategies, security offered by the cloud is much better than most on-premise solutions.
5 Cloud Management Best Practices to Enable Cloud Success
1. Adhere to Guidelines to Implement a Resilient Cloud
Follow all items in the guidelines checklist to create an optimized, dynamic and resilient cloud. It is crucial that you have the right cloud experts who understand and adhere to the guidelines throughout all stages of design, configuration, and deployment.
Deploy your services, compute instances and other resources as multiple instances scattered over different data centers. Even if one section goes dark, your whole business won't be let down.
Avoiding a single point of failure is an essential item in the checklist suggested by cloud providers. Developers may not always follow this good practice of coding in redundancy. It is hard to design applications configurable to use in more than one instance. The expertise and costs associated are also too high.
Most of the market leaders for cloud service assure more than 99 percent uptime in their SLAs. But, they also have a clause in their agreements that these guarantees will be void if you fail to deploy more than one instance of a role for each service.
2. Use Automation to Simplify Cloud Management
Cloud management can be simplified if you put to use smart process automation to create, deploy and monitor your cloud resources and applications. Embrace DevOps principles and practices to automate the management of your cloud environments. Studies reveal that 80 percent of cloud-optimized organizations use DevOps for their cloud environments.
Automating all the repetitive and time-consuming cloud management tasks will help you to deliver services quickly. Automation will also reduce cloud management errors, helping you to improve reliability, high-availability, and efficiency.
Automate your cloud management process and allow your IT resources to work on what adds value to your core business, saving time and money.
3. Create and Implement a Risk Mitigation Plan
When disaster strikes, there is little you can do to redeem your slipping revenue. You should have a risk mitigation plan as part of your cloud management strategy. Study your business requirements and the threats associated with moving to the cloud. Create a risk mitigation plan and make sure your staff receives training to deal with issues promptly and more efficiently.
Some businesses use consulting services from experienced providers who can help in identifying risks and creating a mitigation plan. Sean Hopwood, CEO of DayDigital, a Florida-based cloud management service provider, explains, "We help our customers carefully analyze the vulnerabilities and create contingency plans to meet their business goals. To make it simple, we ask questions like: What is your end game? Application continuity, service sustainability or data security or something else? How long can you do without dependency on the cloud and what would be the impact?" You should have proper backup protection, disaster recovery, and other risk management strategies integrated into your cloud management practices.
4. Watch Your Cloud Usage TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)
Many businesses switch over to the cloud service model because of the “Pay-As-You-Go” rate. SMEs who only want to pay for what they use move over to the cloud but fail to pay attention to limits, quotas, and constraints associated with it. Ultimately, they end up mismanaging their TCO and soon drop out of the cloud.
Some guidelines for assessing your TCO:
- Cloud providers impose a certain rate for compute capacity, storage, traffic, etc. They arrive at your TCO by combining your usage of all these separate streams.
- If you avail of extra services, additional costs are not the same as typically added charges. For example, the Elastic IP Address feature (permanent IP address for your application) of AWS is an extra service. You won't be paying for when you are using EIP. Amazon, for example, will charge you for when you are not using it.
- Estimate your requirements and consider seasonal fluctuations (for example, higher load during Christmas sales).
- You should carefully evaluate your TCO and then optimize for efficiencies.
5. Build a Cloud Coe (Center of Excellence)
Businesses striving for cloud maturity invest in a core cloud team. They create a Cloud CoE to initiate and regulate cloud management practices across the organization. Building a Cloud CoE is probably the hardest cloud management best practice, but also the most impactful.
Engage the right team with real-world experience in cloud management to build a CoE. Try to put together a team with diverse backgrounds like system administrators, network engineers, database administrators, and so on. The CoE should work as a team to establish best practices and weave them into the rest of the organization. Regular training, experimentation, brainstorming sessions and other CoE practices should guide your team for success in the cloud.
Cloud management will be simpler and more efficient if you have a clear cloud strategy and roadmap. Adhere to best practices, starting from design and deployment to maintenance and management. Your customers rely on your business, and you are relying on the cloud. When your organization reaches the highest level of cloud maturity, your clients will fully benefit from the elasticity, agility and cost savings advantages of the cloud.