Organizations have invested heavily in the cloud. Yet, despite their commitment, many still struggle to effectively manage their cloud investments. Indeed, in response to a recent IDG MarketPulse survey, respondents identified cloud management, cloud security, and infrastructure monitoring as their top infrastructure service priorities over the next 12 months.
Unfortunately, cloud management remains a gap for many enterprises due to a skills shortage – both in-house and in the market at large. This skills gap makes it difficult for companies to effectively manage their cloud assets, as they simply can’t find people quickly enough to manage them. To effectively address this gap, organizations can decrease the number of skilled resources needed with an effective architecture, increase internal skills with training, and get help.
Start with an effective architecture
Begin by shedding preconceptions of the ideal cloud architecture as based on any legacy systems and instead approach cloud with a fresh mindset that focuses on using its strengths.
- Composability – Build a modern cloud architecture with composability. This approach allows enterprises to achieve greater IT velocity – achieving more outcomes with fewer resources – while enabling new models like hybrid computing.
- Automation – Processes for repeatable tasks like resource deployment and system monitoring can be automated to free up the time that skilled employees spend on mundane, manual tasks, allowing them to focus on more strategic work. In this way, teams can increase system security and standardization while optimizing team resources. For example, a large enterprise automated its AWS VPC creation process. What was a manual process that took several days now gets done in minutes with a few mouse clicks.
- Rules – Build in rules that establish thresholds to ensure cloud optimization. Rules such as those for budget thresholds can also be automated to ensure that team members are automatically alerted for quick action.
- Standardization – Maintain a consistent approach to infrastructure management through infrastructure as code (IaC). Using a templatized approach to configuring infrastructure gives teams a set, defined number of templates to manage. At the same time, it allows the team to easily replace assets rather than treating them as fragile artifacts. Through IaC libraries, teams can more easily manage web applications, letting the IaC template automatically do most of the work. Using pre-approved patterns like these are akin to Henry Ford’s assembly line in which processes become machine-driven, reducing dependence on human resources.
In addition to starting with sound architectural footing, enterprises can gain greater control of cloud management with solutions like cloud management platforms (CMP) that enable greater system-wide visibility. CMPs are especially helpful in organizations that must manage hybrid and multi-cloud environments, providing a single pane of glass for management processes like patching, as well as service catalog functionality that streamlines provisioning.
Grow internal skills
In addition, a center of excellence (CoE) helps address cultural issues and skills gaps that can get in the way of effective cloud management. Specifically, a hand-selected and trained CoE individual can, in turn, teach others how the organization’s cloud infrastructure works, best practices, and more. A CoE expert might start by educating a small team, such as equipping IT operations with the knowledge to create and manage an IaC template. Then, the CoE team can quickly scale out, sharing more skills and concepts with more individuals over time.
Organizations taking this approach find they can grow cloud learning and best practices in parallel with their cloud services. This enables them to create a solid foundation from which they can expand and continue to fortify their cloud investment.
Some organizations need help with the first few turns of this flywheel process and choose to outsource it to a knowledgeable third party who can train future trainers within the organization. In addition, a capable partner can help establish a culture of agility and continuous learning and improvement that keeps the focus on business innovation, and the art of the possible – all of which goes to maximize cloud’s value to the business.
For cloud management best practices, focus on IT’s relevance to the business and how it can best serve those needs. Effective cloud management is not about running IT more cheaply; rather, how cloud can drive greater value for customers, partners and employees. An effective architecture that builds in automation and standardization allows teams to grow velocity and facilitate innovation.
Start with the best talent available and seek help from a strong partner to create a successful foundation for operational management that is sure to drive business success.
Learn more about these strategies in this Guide to Preparing a Platform for Agility.