What Is CloudOps and Is It the Right Choice for Your Organization?
This is a guest story by Gilad Maayan from AgileSEO
CloudOps is a methodology that takes DevOps to the cloud. It involves delivering, optimizing, and tuning workloads and IT services running across various environments, such as hybrid cloud, multi-cloud, on-premise data center, and at the edge. CloudOps relies on analytics to achieve visibility into cloud environments. This visibility is crucial to efficiently and accurately run services and control resources.
CloudOps codifies best practices and procedures for cloud-based operational processes, similarly to how DevOps codifies software development and delivery processes. It requires developers, security personnel, and IT operations staff to collaborate using CloudOps principles to meet technology and business objectives.
Organizations use CloudOps as a substitute for the network operations center (NOC), shifting IT operations from on-premises to cloud-based infrastructure. While a NOC monitors and manages a local data center, CloudOps involves monitoring, instrumenting, and managing cloud-based virtual machines (VMs), workloads, and containers.
The Pillars of Cloud Operations
Here are the four pillars of CloudOps.
This pillar requires decoupling management from the underlying infrastructure to enable managing cloud machine instances, security, storage instances, governance, and network through one location. This centralized management ensures administrators can use one tool, like Apigee, to manage all services and applications running in the cloud.
Organizations can manage the provisioning of cloud-based machine instances through self-provisioning or automation. Self-provisioning allows cloud users to allocate their machines and track their usage. Automated provisioning enables applications to request more resources and automatically de-provision when the resources are no longer needed.
This practice involves creating and enforcing policies that restrict what applications and users can do in a public cloud. The goal is to ensure applications do not use cloud resources when there is no return on investment (ROI).
CloudOps involves automating provisioning, security management, user management, and API management processes. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies enable CloudOps administrators to automate these tasks efficiently.
CloudOps vs. DevOps
Both CloudOps and DevOps are agile development methodologies. Both emphasize automation and aim to create a development environment that embraces change.
DevOps is a broader term that brings together software development and IT operations. At the core of a DevOps organization is a continuous integration / continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline that supports automated building, testing, and deployment of software projects. This enables high development velocity and small, frequent releases, to facilitate fast feedback and continuous improvement.
CloudOps can be thought of as a subset of the broader DevOps movement. It brings DevOps principles to the cloud environment, creating tight integration between existing DevOps teams and cloud operations staff, making it easier to respond to changing requirements. CloudOps orients cloud development around customer requirements, and focuses on keeping cloud operations up and running while rapidly iterating on new services and features.
What CloudOps Offers DevOps Teams
The DevOps methodology enables development and IT operations teams to collaborate more effectively by implementing practices and procedures that shorten the software development lifecycle (SDLC), reduce the time to market (TTM), and continuously improve software quality and delivery. As a result, DevOps teams achieve higher uptime levels, better service quality, and a positive user experience.
CloudOps takes DevOps to the cloud, enabling teams to implement continuous operations by replacing on-site network servers with cloud computing tools. It encompasses all procedures and best practices that help teams manage cloud resources, including cloud architecture, security, software development, IT operations, and compliance.
CloudOps automates software delivery, server management, and application management while operating solely in the cloud. It offers many advantages on its own, improving the operations of cloud-based infrastructure and applications. Combined with DevOps, it enables teams to continuously deliver customer value through cloud-based monitoring. As a result, teams achieve faster CI/CD to align more closely with customer needs.
CloudOps Pros and Cons
Like any methodology, CloudOps has unique advantages and limitations. The breakdown below can help teams consider whether CloudOps is the suitable approach for them:
Here are the main benefits of CloudOps:
- Improved service delivery —CloudOps helps teams automate and execute many system tasks, for example, automatically generating analytical reports, creating builds, and provisioning infrastructure. Automating these processes improves IT productivity, operational efficiency, and service delivery.
- Maintains cloud availability —CloudOps helps maintain consistent cloud services availability by scaling resources in real-time, updating cloud applications, monitoring data transfer, deploying cloud assets when required, and automating request handling. It enables teams to remotely run applications and processes from any location and anytime without experiencing service outages or downtime.
- Strengthens data security —data security is a core task of CloudOps. It involves remediating potential vulnerabilities, conducting malware scans, encrypting data, patching applications, detecting possible attacks, setting up firewalls, and managing compliance.
- Facilitates disaster recovery —CloudOps measures include disaster recovery to restore data and systems in the event of data loss, system failure, or other disasters. It involves using automated tools to back up and recover data from off-site servers to guarantee business continuity.
Here are the limitations of CloudOps:
- Potential budget overruns —scaling cloud resources might lead to overprovisioning underutilized space and idle assets. Overprovisioning causes extra charges on cloud bills.
- Increased data security risks —cloud platforms continue refining their data protection measures, but clouds remain vulnerable to attacks and breaches. It occurs because cloud environments are remotely accessible, attracting various cyberattacks.
Fortunately, teams can create a cloud migration strategy that addresses the complexities of the cloud to mitigate these risks and realize the value of CloudOps.
Implementing CloudOps: Best Practices for Success
Creating an effective CloudOps environment requires the entire enterprise to undergo a paradigm shift. It involves employing a CloudOps team of experts on cloud services, IT, security, and compliance. Enterprises must also adopt CloudOps best practices, including planning a migration strategy, championing a cultural shift, and automating security.
Create an Effective Cloud Migration Strategy
CloudOps initiatives almost always support cloud migration efforts. These might be “big bang” migrations or continuous migrations of legacy systems over a course of several months or years. Here are the key steps to create a robust cloud migration strategy that is aligned with CloudOps principles:
- Planning —shifting an enterprise to the cloud is a gradual process that requires proper planning to consider the costs, procure management buy-in, and assess security risks.
- Cloud checklists —enterprises should document all requirements and challenges specific to their infrastructure and itemize each requirement to ensure the team can meet business objectives during the migration phase.
- Visualization —enterprises can visualize their network infrastructure to understand better how different systems and data contribute value and function. This information helps choose the most suitable cloud solution for the enterprise. It also helps the cloud provider understand the enterprise’s needs and optimize the migration process. Choosing multiple cloud providers can provide more benefits and opportunities.
- Cloud solutions —a migration strategy helps determine the most suitable cloud solution for the enterprise. Common environments include public and private clouds and hybrid or multi-clouds. Private clouds provide holistic control over data and system security. Public clouds can help facilitate an easier cloud migration but introduce more security risks.
- Infrastructure —enterprises must understand their existing network infrastructure to make informed decisions as they migrate to the cloud.
Build a “Minimum Viable” Cloud
In the early stages of cloud migration, or when trying out a new cloud provider, consider building a minimum viable cloud solution that can provide some value, but at low cost and complexity. This creates a proof of concept (POC) of the new cloud deployment and can provide real-life insights about the performance and cost characteristics of the provider.
To create a minimum viable cloud, ensure you have the following:
- Central governance —managing security policies, logging, and monitoring from one pane of glass across all cloud resources and services.
- Ability to easily scale up —the ability to scale resources you are deploying up and down with no complex configuration.
- Resilience and security —resources you are deploying should be highly available out of the box and should have robust security controls.
- Integrations —almost every cloud solution needs to integrate with third-party services or the organization’s own legacy systems. See that cloud resources can be easily integrated with the relevant systems without loss of performance or functionality.
- Infrastructure as Code —the ability to store configurations and environments as code and deploy them in a simple and repeatable manner.
Set Appropriate Resource Limits
Cloud costs can quickly get out of control. It is critical to set limits for all cloud resources to ensure that even as systems automatically scale, they do not exceed the expected budget.
Before deploying services to the cloud, monitor similar systems running on-premises or in the cloud to understand their computing and storage requirements during peak and off-peak periods. Use these measurements to plan the capacity requirements for the new cloud resources, and set resource limits accordingly.
Of course, don’t be too strict about limits, to allow for unexpected peaks in demand. It is also important to monitor resources, identify which ones really need more capacity, and adjust resource limits.
Champion a Cultural Shift
CloudOps is a cultural shift that requires the buy-in of the entire enterprise. Everyone must get on board to ensure a successful CloudOps implementation. It typically involves creating new processes and procedures suitable for operating in the cloud and educating all employees about how to translate existing systems to the cloud.
Understanding maintenance requirements is critical to ensure everyone knows how to operate in the cloud. The cloud requires different upkeep from physical servers, and maintaining virtual servers usually involves using vendor-native tools. It means teams must acquire cloud-specific skills to guarantee compliance, troubleshoot, and keep systems up and running.
CloudOps teams can use automation to maintain proper security while remaining efficient. For example, automating testing against security configurations can help keep systems secure and compliant as the cloud architecture scales. CloudOps teams can secure storage and migration by monitoring data access and implementing data encryption.
Investing in security tools can help mitigate cloud risks by detecting malicious code, network intrusions, vulnerabilities, performance issues, and misconfigurations. CloudOps teams should also set up server remediation to fix misconfigured infrastructure and unauthorized changes as these issues arise.
In this article, I explained the basic principles of CloudOps, how it differs from DevOps, and provided several best practices for implementing CloudOps in your organization:
- Create an effective cloud migration strategy —consider business needs, available cloud deployment models, and infrastructure requirements.
- Build a “minimum viable” cloud —start small when operating in a new cloud environment to build a POC and collect operational data.
- Set appropriate resource limits —avoid cost overruns and provisioning accidents by limiting the capacity allocated to your cloud resources.
- Champion a cultural shift —ensure employees and leadership are on board with the CloudOps initiative and have the required training and skills.
- Automate security —CloudOps moves fast, so it is important to use automation to ensure cloud resources remain secure as configurations change.
I hope this will be useful as you improve the agility of your cloud development efforts.
Gilad is the CEO and Founder of Agile SEO, a digital marketing agency focused on SaaS and technology clients. He has done strategic consulting, content marketing, and SEO/SEM for over 150 technology companies including Zend, Oracle, Electric Cloud, JFrog and Check Point. Together with his team, he’s helped numerous tech startups move from zero to tens of thousands of users, and driven double to triple digit growth in conversion and revenue for established software businesses.
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