With the evolution of the cloud, the number of cloud-dependent organizations is exponentially increasing. As per Gartner, “by 2025, over 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms, up from 30% in 2021”.
Organizations must understand that merely adopting the cloud in haste doesn’t break the ice. After successful migration to the cloud, the primary task of the organization is to carry out seamless cloud operations. To attain this, organizations must focus on continuous cloud operations with zero downtime mechanisms.
This blog focuses on the best strategies for achieving continuous cloud operations which change the organization's perception of continuous cloud operation. The impacts of a continuous cloud operations process can only be seen if it is implemented correctly at the right time and place.
- What is continuous cloud operations
- What is zero downtime mechanism
- What are the challenges of continuous cloud operations
- Best practices to achieve continuous cloud operations
- Benefits of continuous cloud operations
- Approach to continuous cloud operations
Let us first get a holistic understanding of continuous cloud operations.
What is continuous cloud operations
Continuous cloud operations refer to a set of actions that systematically streamlines IT services, tools, workloads, processes, cloud cost, and security. It can also be defined as a process of continuous up-gradation of business activities and mechanisms to enhance the durability and efficiency of cloud services for accomplishing business goals and objectives.
What to expect from continuous cloud operations
Continuous Operations have the caliber to carry out challenging operations on cloud-based systems to ensure negligible outage, thereby consistently working towards the zero downtime objective.
What is a zero downtime mechanism
Zero downtime mechanism refers to the cloud operations process which follows the concept of ‘always on’. If the organizations fail to follow this concept, they encounter outages resulting in minimum or no productivity. This may also test the end user’s patience and antagonize them, resulting in reputational damage for the organization. Hence, for continuous cloud operations, organizations must follow the concept of zero downtime.
To achieve the objective of zero downtime, an organization must have the following abilities:
- Competence to combat fault tolerance
- Capacity to resist catastrophic failures
- Efficiency to adopt changes without disruption
What are the challenges of continuous cloud operations
The most crucial aspect of continuous cloud operations is the end-to-end communication between internal cloud systems. This is to facilitate seamless operations and faster service delivery.
Consider a case where a new automation technology or operation is implemented in a department of an organization. It does not imply, that it will be compatible with the entire organization.
The challenge is not restricted to the operations to be sustained. Establishing harmony between the new operations and the already existing or running operations in the cloud is also a concern. Factors like version compatibility and lack of skills to operate the new technology can interfere in the deployment of new operations. And this may prove to be perilous to the organization.
Having said that, the organizations must carefully consider the entire development process, downtime cloud cost, and interoperability with the existing systems. The impacts of a continuous cloud operations process can only be seen if it is implemented correctly at the right time and place.
You might be wondering – if the continuous cloud operations work on the principle of zero downtime, then what should be the best practices or strategies to achieve them.
Let’s have a look at Cloud Continuous Operations Best Practices.
Best Practices to Achieve Continuous Cloud Operations
The logic behind the automation of these tools is to gather the data continuously and take proactive or preventive actions to rectify the issues before they become unsolvable puzzles. Continuous cloud operations is a sustained and assorted mechanism of managing, developing, testing, and deploying applications in the cloud infrastructure.
What are the best practices to achieve continuous CloudOps?
The first step in achieving maximum gains from the cloud is to assess how mature is your cloud. Getting a better idea of cloud capability helps in proper decision-making about which domains within the cloud infrastructure need to be retouched.
Cloud maturity or capability depicts the answers to the following questions:
- What tools are used in the cloud to monitor and report cloud usage across the organizations? And how efficiently is it being done?
- What necessary actions are being taken when cloud configurations lapse?
- Is your cloud operating on the updated standards and policies?
- What steps are being followed to maximize the operational efficiency of the cloud according to the growth of the organization?
Once you have an idea about the performance of your cloud, you need to design a detailed prototype of the implementation strategy for continuous refinement.
Monitoring CloudOps attributes
Monitoring in the CloudOps refers to the visibility into how the resources are utilized and managed across the organization.
By frequently updating and continuously supervising, organizations can observe and track the monitoring of resources such as hardware and software using master software. Continuous cloud operations monitoring is a foe to service disruptions like system and application failure and performance obstructions.
For example, to monitor the cloud cost, organizations must ensure that their applications, teams, and resources adhere to the budget specifications. Similarly, application performance monitoring requires tracking of application usage, network monitoring, and frequency of threat detection.
Automation – A key to sustained CloudOps
The growth of any organization depends on various factors, out of which, the optimal utilization of resources plays a key role.
To elaborate, it’s a good practice for organizations to prove that resources are optimally utilized before asking for more; thus, eliminating unnecessary spending on additional resources.
It requires the knowledge of a few techniques, strong hands-on experience in technology, and ample time to create, modify and shut the resources down when they are not in use. This is a repetitive process that requires a lot of manual effort and engages the IT teams up to the brim.
Automation of cloud operation processes enables the IT teams to perform many operations automatically. These include – workload management, continuous deployment, backup processes, security handling, and cloud governance. This automation results in facilitating self-healing systems that lead to decreased time and cloud cost, in turn, improving productivity and work efficiency.
Cloud Governance is an integral part of the continuous cloud operation process. This entails the risk-free functioning of all the systems, auditing, managing, reporting, and adhering to the updated standards and policies within the cloud infrastructure.
This can be seamlessly achieved with the help of CloudOps governance. How? Cloud Governance works on the principle that prevention is better than cure. Hence, it is always a step ahead of Cloud Management; as management addresses issues when they arise, while governance prevents them from occurring.
Non-disruptive change management
Not every cloud infrastructure can withstand the burden of frequent transformations owing to the increasing workload and associated risks in the organization.
Cloud providers must establish harmony between all the cloud operations by developing processes that sniff out any changes round the clock, and notify the host processes to take appropriate actions to self-remedy them. This entire change mechanism must be non-disruptive and must not affect other systems within the cloud infrastructure.
Create replicas of critical components
In a cloud environment, relying on a single component, resource or software can be unsafe. Even a minor activity such as a software update or patch fixing can hinder the system’s core processes and can result in service or component breakdown.
To overcome this, you must make replicas of critical components at every layer of the multilayered cloud architecture. This ensures continuous service availability, as the secondary component replaces the primary one in case of service interruption.
Native cloud providers provide this from an infrastructure level, but customers writing apps must leverage it. Sometimes this is seamless but other times, organizations need to design their own hooks to leverage the native capabilities.
Setting resource constraints
It becomes obligatory for organizations to limit the number of resources to prevent their over-provisioning. One of the biggest cloud providers like AWS provides a resource provisioning solution that profitably scales your organization. It’s a great offering, however, it would be a huge folly to give in to the offer without premeditation.
It is likely that your system requirements might be different and may not be aligned with the AWS resource provisioning solution. Identify and jot down the defined number of resources required during full load and off-load periods. Once you have an idea, you can then set the limits a bit higher than the maximum resource demand.
Frequent expansion of applications within the cloud infrastructure is an ongoing process that requires integrating new hardware and software. However, instead of buying the tools afresh, you can manage the provisioning of system instances on the cloud.
There are mainly two types of provisioning viz. Self-provisioning and auto-provisioning.
Self-provisioning refers to allowing the cloud users to request and allocate their own machines or resources as and when needed; and on the other end, keeping the track of the machines allocated and their usage via a useful management tool.
Whereas, auto-provisioning refers to making the applications so capable that they can request more machines or resources at their own will whenever required. Also, they are sophisticated enough to de-provision the resources, when not in use. This entire mechanism is also traceable and it drastically saves a huge amount of money.
What are the benefits of continuous cloud operations
The biggest benefit of continuous cloud operations is that it yields spectacular output. This also amplifies the efficiency as well as the productivity of the organization when it operates in full swing at all times. Implementing a feasible automation strategy curtails the reconfiguration operations completely.
Minimize production costs
This is possible, as continuous cloud operations along with absolute automation eliminate needless labor, thereby, reducing the production cost. The best example of this is widely known as a ‘Chatbot’ which is prevalent these days and based on Artificial Intelligence. It is available round the clock to answer the customer’s queries without the need for a real person at the support desk.
Another example, are the security benefits of continuous cloud operations. Advanced and continuous security measures are an integral part of these operations. This benefit results in fewer breaches, thus, saving on unnecessary security breach costs; also adding to it, is the preserved goodwill and reputation of your business that helps you attract new clients. Hence, the overall result in cost-saving is incredible and facilitates cost amortization over time.
Faults or bugs in a system are obstacles to the organizational goals and objectives. Continuous cloud operations strategies enhance the cloud infrastructure quality of an organization.
With an effective and automated cloud system in place, the Cloud Management Platform (CMP) tools like BMC, Dell, Morph, Hedera, etc can be integrated seamlessly to aid smooth cloud operations.
Scalability and flexibility
Virtualization technology used by cloud providers in their operations enable you to add up new servers, storage, and processing services on-demand with zero delays. This produces a scalable and flexible cloud infrastructure which makes it eligible to perform robust operations in seconds.
Improve data security
Identifying and combating potential threats is one of the major goals of an organization’s operations. It can place the organization’s confidential and sensitive data at stake, if not taken care of.
With continuous cloud operations, the internal systems can easily communicate with each other and notify any suspicious activity to the IT team within the organization in no time. Thus, preventing the systems and data from being compromised.
Disaster recovery management
In case you encounter a system failure or data loss, you can count on the proficient automated tools integrated into the cloud systems to restore everything – right from finding the location of the fault, from taking instant backups to restoring the data, and making a copy at a safe place on any other cloud.
Approach to continuous cloud operations
For adopting continuous cloud operations, organizations must embrace resource provisioning which minimizes the cloud cost, enhances security, that eases user access management, which in turn facilitates efficient cloud governance.
You can learn more about the “Importance of cloud security posture management” in relation to the other cloud operation parameters (operations, security, access controls, and resource) in our next article.