Cloud infrastructures can scale instantly, and cost increases can add up quickly if you don't have good management practices in place. To help guide IT departments as they develop policies for managing cloud resources, here's a list of best practices for each phase of cloud governance:
1. Gain a holistic view of what critical resources are in the cloud
It’s important to understand the full picture of what critical resources are in the cloud. Understanding each resource's current state and its potential for growth is key to making good decisions about how to manage it.
When you gain a holistic view of your organization’s cloud assets, you can create a clear strategy for future growth that aligns with business goals and meets technical requirements.
This is especially true if your organization plans to use multiple clouds—you need to ensure that all clouds offer the same services so they can be managed as one entity instead of as multiple silos.
2. Identify and track all cloud assets under management
Cloud management tools are the first step in identifying and tracking all cloud assets under management. A good tool will help you understand what you have in the cloud, what it's costing you, and how to manage it. This enables better decision making about where to spend your time, money and resources so that you can have more control over your environment.
Use of a cloud management tool is important because it gives visibility into:
- What assets are being used (and how often)
- Which applications are being accessed (by whom)
3. Inventory your cloud resources and keep that inventory current
Inventory your cloud resources and keep that inventory current. Knowing what you have, don’t have and need helps you manage your costs better. For example, if you don't know how many instances of SQL Server you're running in the cloud and one goes down, it's hard to know when and why the outage happened. You may not even be able to tell whether the issue was related to all those other workloads on that instance of SQL Server or whether there's some other problem with AWS connectivity (or something else).
There are two key ways to inventory your cloud resources: manually or auto-discovering them using third-party tools.
4. Monitor cost, performance, security and compliance
It’s important to regularly monitor cloud costs and identify inefficiencies or overspending. For example, you might find that you have far too many virtual machines running in your account that are not in use.
Monitoring performance is one of the most important best practices for cloud service providers (CSPs) because it lets them know when a customer’s virtual machine is experiencing issues and needs attention from engineers onsite at the CSP’s data center—before the customer notices and escalates an issue into a full-blown crisis situation.
Security auditors generally require all access controls to be reviewed every 90 days—but how do you know if your team will comply with that requirement? By tracking access logs, network activity logs and other activity metrics frequently throughout those 90-day periods!
5. Establish and enforce an overall service-level agreement (SLA)
The first cloud management best practice is to establish and enforce an overall service-level agreement (SLA).
An SLA is a contract between the cloud provider and the customer.
An SLA defines the cloud provider's commitment to the customer, including performance requirements and penalties for nonperformance. The SLA also defines what the customer can expect from their service provider in terms of availability, security and data protection standards, confidentiality, privacy and regulatory compliance commitments.
6. Understand how your costs will change when you scale (or downsize) your infrastructure in the cloud
- Understand how your costs will change when you scale (or downsize) your infrastructure in the cloud.
- Understand how to scale your environment.
- Understand how to downsize your environment.
- Understand how to optimize your environment
7. Use automation to reduce manual processes
Automation can be used to reduce manual processes, human error and time spent on repetitive tasks. It can also reduce cost and risk by removing the need for people to perform a task in a given way. As you automate your cloud management processes, you'll see that there are several ways automation can improve operations:
- Automated asset tagging allows you to quickly label many assets at once.
- Automated provisioning reduces the amount of time it takes to deploy new services.
- Automated monitoring ensures that workloads run smoothly without any downtime or performance issues (more on this later).
8. Match and apply policies with your organization's business requirements
- Understand your business requirements before you start building out your cloud environment.
- Know what your business needs, and if there are any regulatory or compliance requirements that must be met for the data being stored in the cloud.
- Know what you can afford in terms of cost and size of your cloud environment, so that it meets all of your needs while staying within budget constraints.
- Use the right tools to manage and monitor your cloud environment so that it runs smoothly, efficiently and effectively as possible (more on this later).
9. Ensure these management practices become part of your organizational culture
If you want these management practices to become part of your organizational culture, there are several things you can do.
- Have leaders model the behavior and performance that you expect from employees. If your executive team is working late and staying on top of things during a crisis, then that's what everyone else should be doing too.
- Make sure recognition for a job well done is consistent and timely. Recognition can come in many forms: financial bonuses; company-wide emails thanking someone for their hard work; or even just an acknowledgment at a staff meeting that recognizes one person's efforts above others (and gives them some time in the spotlight).
- Hold regular meetings where you discuss best practices, share ideas, brainstorm solutions to problems—and provide training sessions where managers learn how they might better manage their teams using these new tools and approaches.
10. Take advantage of the tools your cloud provider offers for managing your cloud environment.
You can choose from several different types of tools to manage your cloud environment. For example, you could use the tools that your cloud provider offers for managing your cloud environment. You can also choose to use the tools that you built yourself or those built in-house by third parties, such as vendors and partners. You can even choose to use the same tools that others are using in their environments if they are open source solutions.
In this context, "tools" refers to any method used for managing resources and infrastructure within a virtualized compute environment (that is hosted on bare metal). These may include:
- Systems management software;
- Configuration management software;
- Application deployment automation; and/or
- Automated orchestration frameworks such as Ansible/Puppet/Chef as well as Docker containers (which have become more popular recently).
Bonus: Keep track of everything you have in the cloud and use tools to help manage it.
When it comes to cloud management, the best thing you can do is be proactive. You should keep track of everything that's in your cloud, and use tools that help you manage those items. This will save time and money in the long run—and make sure that nothing falls through the cracks. Here are some helpful tools for doing just that:
- Cloud inventory tools allow you to keep tabs on all of your assets across multiple providers such as AWS, Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). They also provide insights into how much money has been spent on them over time so that you can see if any areas need attention or changes. Some examples include RightScale IT Resource Management Suite or vCloud Director Portfolio by VMware.
- Cloud security tools track access permissions so users only have access to what they need; these are particularly good for ensuring compliance requirements are met when working with sensitive data like financial records or customer information. Some examples include vSphere Integrated Containers Security Operations Center (SOC), vRealize Network Insight by VMware or Amazon Web Services Security Hub
Our article today has laid out the 10 best practices for cloud management.
These include keeping track of your assets and inventory, monitoring your network for performance and compliance, using automation tools to minimize manual processes, and taking advantage of the tools provided by your provider to help manage your cloud environment. You can use these best practices as a framework to build up your own cloud management plans going forward.
Otherwise, you can let certified cloud engineers and professionals help you optimize cost and enhance infrastructure performance.
Contact us today for a free consultation!