Cloud or connectivity: balancing competing forces in the enterprise
Posted on January 19, 2018
While enterprise computing continues to evolve, largely driven by hosts of new technical innovations; for every advantage, one should also expect consequent challenges. This is particularly true when it relates to balancing the advantages of cloud-based infrastructures, versus practical when development hands over applications to administrative management teams.
At first glance, the cloud appears to deliver multitudes of values to enterprise operators, ranging from reduced above-the-line costs, to rapid response to market-driven demands. However, where virtual computing environments suggest simplified and homogeneous operational frameworks, in many cases, they can also be more complex and time-intensive than on-premise systems.
Much of the cloud exists under the hood, where , without the right processes, the day-to-day operational activities can be overlooked. With seeming increases in efficiency, they tend to accept that operations are running smoothly; right up to the moment they fail.
This isn’t a criticism of admin, but rather a cautionary tale worth considering. Therefore, let’s consider balancing management demands driven by practical needs, versus the more buzz-worthy advantages of the cloud.
Risks still exist in the cloud
Despite the fact that most of the moving parts associated with an enterprise’s cloud operation ends up ‘somewhere else’; a proper administrative process must be applied to create balanced responsibility between internal and external management elements.
Paying attention to resources provisioning can become a critical guidepost. According to a whitepaper delivered by Amazon Web Services there are four areas to focus on.
- Compute provisioning—ability to provide processing and memory in support of enterprise applications.
- Network provisioning—addressing capability to provide computing networks to support enterprise applications.
- Storage provisioning—the ability to provide storage in support of enterprise applications.
- Database provisioning—capability to provide database and database management systems.
From an administrative perspective these elements should form the total view for the administration team when handed over from development to administration. Only providing limited view will create issues down the track. Additionally, the whitepaper suggests companies define and measure expected bandwidth requirements based on daily needs such as operating speed and necessary data densities.
Security threats add to the challenge
Today’s enterprise security requirements demand different and more rigorous processes to ensure that virtual environments are secure. Even though today’s data centres and cloud-based environments typically involve security systems, enterprise managers should also be cognizant of these capabilities.
Some of these systems include:
- Identity and access management—enables you to create multiple access control mechanisms and manage the permissions for each of these.
- Detection control—ensure native logging as well as services that you can leverage to provide greater visibility near to real time for occurrences in the cloud environment.
- Infrastructure security—load environments can be defined and adjusted to in order to evolve with your workload and business needs.
- Data protection—the capability for maintaining visibility and control over data, how it is accessed and used in the organisation.
Balancing bandwidth and the speed of data throughput is directly impacted by ‘how and what’ external systems apply. "Setting and forgetting" a Cloud system at an administrative level is simply asking for trouble down the road.
Create an action task list
So how can managers understand these frequently competing issues between a cloud systems capability and limitations?Here’s a short task list to help you along:
- Get your administrative representatives involved in any cloud management decision. Consider initiating a recurrent systems committee chartered to understand how a proposed system works. A little forethought can avoid snowballing of issues later down the track.
- Ensure that senior managers are entirely across each element within a cloud-based enterprise system. This does not mean forcing the CFO or COO to learn cloud scripting, but they should understand the breadth of impact for systems to ensure appropriate decision-making.
- Establish a system committee meets at least bi-weekly. Cloud operations involve rapid activities, creating even faster operational impacts.
- Check that any operational reviews focus on how a system actually works, versus its original business requirements. Cloud operations represent speed and flexibility; so having your admin folks up to speed minimises the risk of missing something critical down the road.
- Stay involved, regardless of how small the issue.
- Keep asking questions.
Finally, be balanced and persistent. Too many times, admin folks stop learning, and end up letting tech folks rule the roost. Whilst this is expected to a degree,the point of a cloud-based system is to support enterprise operations, not the other way ‘round.
You can learn more about managed cloud operations, and how to can balance these components by contacting the team at VOCUS.