Before any cloud environment is even deployed, it’s important to know what type of tools will be used to manage it. In virtualization, native hypervisor tools already come with many great features that help with cloud-based visibility. Also, using third-party tools can help align management of distributed data centers into one single pane of glass. When working with a distributed cloud environment it’s very important to proactively keep it in check.
There are many components to a cloud deployment. If an organization is using a public cloud, chances are that the provider will have their own set of tools for an administrator to use. However, it’s still very important to know how the entire environment is operating.
This means looking at several factors to ensure optimal cloud performance:
- User count. At any time, an administrator must know how many users are accessing the cloud environment, which server they are residing on, and what workloads they are accessing. This type of granular control will allow IT administrators to properly balance and manage server-to-user rations. The only effective way to load-balance cloud servers is to know who is accessing them and in what number.
- Resource management. Deep resource visibility comes on multiple levels. As discussed earlier, it’s important to see how well physical resources within the cloud are being used. This also means viewing graphs, gathering statistical information, and planning for the future. Visibility and management will heavily revolve around an administrator’s ability to see what resources they have available and where they are being allocated. Again, it’s important to note that resources are finite and improper allocation can become costly very quickly.
- Alerts and alarms. A healthy environment with good cloud visibility will have alerts and alarms set up to proactively catch any issues which may arise. By catching problems before they become potential outages, an organization is able to maintain higher levels of uptime. Setting up alerts is a very important process where the proper administrator is notified depending on the issue. This means that if a storage alert is sent out, a storage administrator will respond to the issue promptly. If the alert is server related, the server team must address the issue as soon as it comes in.
- Failover capabilities. With good visibility comes the ability to failover cloud servers without causing downtime for the user. If an error or an issue is caught, administrators may have the time to fail users over to a host capable of handling the user count. In many environments, this can be automated. If a physical host goes down, the VMs residing on the host will be safely migrated and balanced between other available servers. Of course, if there is such an outage, an alert will be sent out to the appropriate engineer.
- Roles and privileges. Good visibility also means having roles and privileges built into the environment. This means that the storage team should only have access to cloud-based storage components and the virtualization team can have access to VM management. This isolation of roles creates an environment capable of security and effective audit trails. It also greatly reduces the risk that a team member will make changes to the wrong part of the system.
- SLA considerations. When working with a 3rd party provider, it’s important to have visibility into the service-level agreements put into place. This means monitoring uptime and usage of the environment. Depending on the type of SLA, different metrics will be important to the administrator. This might mean monitoring the amount of VMs working or adjusting downtime requirements.
- Testing and maintenance. Cloud environments, just like any other infrastructure will require maintenance and testing. Administrators must have a good plan in place for server patching, updates, and general maintenance. Planning for testing of bandwidth or failover capabilities must also be in place. Creating a test and maintenance plan will help keep any cloud environment operational longer and work towards reducing issues revolving around various infrastructure variables.
Regardless of the toolset being used, the most important point when analyzing visibility into a cloud environment is to ensure that all aspects of the infrastructure can be managed. Poor cloud management will lead to improper resource provisioning and throttled performance. The following point is the key takeaway for cloud visibility and management: Proactive cloud management will ensure the most optimal performance of the environment for both the administrator and the end-user.
Cloud environments will continue to evolve and expand. Business needs are the drivers for technological innovation and cloud computing is helping push organizations forward. As more IT environments see the benefits of the cloud, administrators will need to learn how to properly size, manage, and deploy effective cloud platforms. Planning will always be the pivotal step with any cloud initiative and can often mean the success or failure of a cloud deployment.
Remember, although every environment is unique, there are best practices which can be followed depending on the needs of your environment. When working with cloud computing, remember the following:
- Sizing and deployment steps are important. Always create a plan based on current and future business needs.
- Know the difference between different cloud delivery models. Since needs will vary, the right solution may be a single type of cloud or a combination of solutions.
- Visibility into a cloud environment is crucial to its effective management. Administrators must know how their cloud is operating at any given time.
- Cloud agility will revolve around an organization’s understanding of their needs and how they are relayed to the IT department.
- Resources are finite. So plan and use them wisely.
The cloud’s ability to create an agile distributed datacenter infrastructure can help a business grow and achieve its goals. With proper planning and a good deployment methodology, cloud platforms provide a powerful tool for corporate growth.