Cloud Platform Management – How to Get Started

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Cloud platform management differs from managing IT resources, applications and services maintained on premises. Here are some tips to get started with your migration to the cloud.

Moving to the Cloud Still Requires Resource Management by IT

Moving to cloud does not remove the need for companies to actively manage their IT resources. One of the many myths associated with the cloud is the notion that cloud means “carefree IT” with a cloud-based “set-it-and-forget-it” platform, infrastructure and application resources.

In a recent CIO Magazine article, Gartner analyst, Dennis Smith, discusses this misperception. He says, “A big mistake that many companies make is that they treat, particularly public cloud service, as though it is cable service, where you use it every month and pay a bill at the end of the month.”

If you are just paying the bill at the end of the month, you may find you are spending more than you did before migrating to the cloud. You may find the services you are paying for are not properly aligned with your needs, and you are not utilizing your contracted cloud services efficiently.

Managing Cloud Investment and Resources

Active management of your cloud investment and resources is required on four basic levels, which make up the scope of your management mission regarding to cloud assets:

  1. Cost control
  2. Capacity planning and utilization
  3. Security
  4. Other factors such as process automation and standardization, reporting and compliance data storage

Getting Started with Cloud Platform Management – Essential First Steps

Once some or all of your IT processes are migrated to the cloud, the first task is to see how the move to the cloud platform has modified your infrastructure, as a whole.

1. Map Your Network of Assets and Their Locations

By mapping your network or producing a graphic representation of what asset exists and where they are located, you will have a better handle on understanding the responsibilities that are best handled internally, versus via your cloud provider.

Once you have a picture of your operational layout available, management roles become easier to identify.

2. Establish Roles for Vendors and Inhouse Staff

Both vendors and internal personnel should have specific responsibilities as far as communicating, managing and reporting specific elements and aspects of your extended IT infrastructure. These responsibilities should be mutually understood and accepted by the parties.

Some areas should receive priority and ongoing attention.

3. Cost Monitoring and Controls

As with any service, you will need to know how much you are spending and what you are getting in return for your dollar. Cost monitoring will help you identify key areas in terms of criticality to your operation, areas of waste and areas that offer performance-improvement potential.

This information will guide you in terms of prioritizing your management focus and identifying areas that require immediate attention.

4. Standardize Policies and Automate Processes

As a management process, you should seek to establish a well-regulated operation that provides operational information to the right people at the right time. All of the variables associated with workloads, server utilization, data storage and traffic flows need to be managed and controlled. Higher-level requirements related to regulatory compliance and security will require decision-making informed by accurate, timely and regular reporting of usage data.

The good news is that CIOs have some help readily available to manage their cloud-based assets. This help comes in the form of cloud management platforms.

Critical Capabilities for Cloud Management Platforms

A growing number of tools are available to help companies manage cloud-based operations effectively and efficiently. There are many factors to consider when evaluating the alternatives available.

While we are not going to evaluate specific offerings, we can identify some critical capabilities for cloud management platforms. We will also look at some nice-to-have features. These will help you identify the relevant evaluation criteria for cloud management platforms to use in your own selection processes.

Minimal Requirements for Cloud Management Platforms

Minimally a cloud management platform should offer user-friendly user portals that provide role-based services that are relevant to the individual manager.

A cloud management platform should offer the following high-level attributes:

  • User-friendly interface or user portals
  • System images and accurate depictions of the cloud assets involved
  • Tools for effective cost management via services metering and billing features
  • Workload and workflow optimization tools aligned with user requirements

The January 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant report related to cloud management platforms identifies many useful features for comparative analysis of cloud management platform products available today. This and other analytical reports available for download can be extremely helpful to companies that are evaluating this technology for the first time.

Cloud Management Platform Functionalities, Tools and Capabilities

Functionally, companies should be looking for the following tools and capabilities when selecting a cloud management platform. Not everyone will need all of these features, and the degree of sophistication required by individual companies will vary.

Services Portals for Users and Managers

Services portals for users and managers should facilitate communication regarding assets and access required between users and managers.

Problem Resolution

Common help desk functionality including management of specific service requests should be offered by the cloud management platform provider.

Performance Monitoring

The cloud platform provider should provide analytical tools and utilization monitoring of the system for managers.

Available Assets Inventory

The cloud platform provider should provide a catalog of services and systems available to users via the cloud.

Cost Control and Asset Optimization

The cloud platform provider should offer methods and systems to analyze costs associated with users and accessed resources. Facilitates optimization of usage to deliver maximum cost efficiencies.

Disaster Recovery and Data Backups

The cloud platform provider must provide the full array of disaster recovery and system/data backups needed to ensure business continuity.

User Security

The cloud management platform provider should manage user identity and access authorizations to ensure data security and regulatory compliance.

Choosing a Cloud Management Platform

Choosing a cloud management platform is an important piece in the overall cloud migration strategy. Care should be taken to choose wisely. Choices range from numerous product offerings sold commercially to open-source cloud management platforms.

For most organizations, the evaluation and selection process will involve collective evaluation and discussion. Managers, end-users and even customers will all have a stake in this selection.

Cloud management platforms offer the best methodology to ensure that your cloud investment delivers many benefits and minimizes the risks involved in a cloud migration.

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