As more businesses work in cloud environments, and rely on a growing number of applications, a series of tools, strategies and technologies are essential to manage the corresponding increase in data, systems and workloads and maintain control of cloud computing resources. Cloud management strategies provide an efficient, scalable way to gain visibility across environments with key insights into the performance, costs, compliance and security of cloud services.
Applications are often hosted on different cloud environments, such as:
Using a variety of cloud services creates disparate data sources that, left unmanaged, can lead organizations to pay for unnecessary cloud resources and open them up to security risks such as data breaches. Cloud management helps minimize such risks by providing visibility into cloud usage, resource allocation, cloud security and all relevant cloud-based data through self-service portals. A strong cloud management practice featuring centralized platforms for the monitoring of cloud infrastructure helps IT departments develop secure, cost-effective cloud environments and maintain the efficient operation of applications.
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With the growing use of hybrid cloud and multicloud environments, managing cloud resources is an increasingly complex task, since applications and other resources are spread over multiple platforms and data centers. In addition, IT departments often manage large workloads across hundreds or thousands of cloud-based apps; G2 reports that 40% of IT departments need assistance monitoring their cloud environments.1
Efficient management requires a unified cloud strategy and a cloud management platform that offers tools suited to meet an organization’s specific needs. Cloud management provides value to an organization in a number of ways:
A centralized cloud management platform allows IT operations and DevOps teams to store, compare and analyze application and network performance data, such as availability, latency, throughput, and error rates, from various sources all in one place. This comprehensive oversight of cloud infrastructure is key for several reasons: it promotes observability and allows management teams to accurately gauge application and network health and performance, it enables efficient resource usage, and it provides the context needed for stronger and faster root cause analysis.
Cloud management tools assist in managing IT services across data centers, virtual machines (VMs), and containers like Kubernetes. Visibility into each aspect of cloud infrastructure helps with several operational challenges, like cloud sprawl mitigation. Cloud sprawl occurs when IT administrators do not have a complete understanding of their cloud ecosystem, allowing cloud instances and providers to go unchecked. Unmanaged cloud environments leave organizations open to paying for cloud services that are not actively in use.
Cloud management solutions often include monitoring tools that allow IT departments to identify peak traffic times for key applications. This information assists in the process of load balancing or distributing network traffic across servers. Load balancing is important in making sure workloads are distributed efficiently across servers—crucial for cloud-cost optimization—and that apps are reliable and readily available for end users.
Cloud management tools help with the documentation of data and cloud migration planning and execution, making sure only essential data and services are migrated to cloud. This process helps inform cloud cost management by identifying and eliminating unneeded cloud resources.
Cloud management also has security implications. Without proper management, cloud environments can become more susceptible to security threats and compliance issues. For example, comprehensive environment oversight and strong management protocols can help ensure that all applications are up to date, or that proper access credentials have been established, practices that enhance cloud security.
Cloud management also allows for the standardization and automation of processes and workflows, a capability that is helpful in maintaining regulatory compliance. Processes can be defined and set up in line with regulatory requirements, and then automated to ensure consistent compliance. This can be very valuable in the case of an audit by regulatory bodies.
In short, cloud management tools streamline the management of data, servers and application lifecycles, giving IT, operations and other teams visibility into how each aspect of cloud infrastructure is used and how it is performing.
To manage the different types of cloud deployments and workloads, cloud management software is employed on independent servers and databases, using APIs to monitor activity throughout cloud environments. With the use of multiple cloud environments and an increased number of cloud applications, a thorough cloud management strategy is needed to fully utilize cloud management features.
Automation plays a large role in modern cloud management. By automating end-to-end workflows, organizations can reduce the manual tasks that fall to IT teams. Automation can be used to reallocate resources during times of peak demand, enable continuous integration and orchestration, enhance security, accelerate the deployment of applications and generally reduce the operational burden on IT departments.
Cloud management solutions can also automate the movement of workflows from private to public cloud services through cloud bursting. Cloud bursting allows organizations to monitor when application demand and computing capacity spikes within a private cloud. When demand hits a set threshold, workload traffic is redirected to a public cloud on-demand. Moving workloads to a public cloud helps free up resources for critical applications within the private cloud.
Cloud management enables more efficient provisioning by helping teams optimize resource allocation through real-time data analysis of services, performance, usage and security. A centralized platform to view complex performance data allows for a more comprehensive understanding of how multiple functions impact each other and for more informed decision-making.
The cloud infrastructure visibility that cloud management provides allows organizations to track and analyze performance, usage and security metrics, set and monitor KPIs, and scale cloud resources as needed. Tools like IBM® Turbonomic® can be used to automate the resource allocation process and optimize cloud spend.
In designing your cloud management strategy, and comparing the capabilities and pricing models of cloud management tools , it’s smart to maintain a focus on scalability. Scalable and dynamic cloud computing environments capable of meeting growing cloud and IT infrastructure needs ensure that your cloud management practices can grow and evolve seamlessly alongside your business.
Through monitoring and logging, organizations can improve observability and gain a more precise understanding of their cloud environments. Aggregating and analyzing log files enables organizations to more accurately identify underperforming areas and inefficient resource use, leverage automation to improve incident management and use the insights generated to achieve greater operational efficiency.
Optimize logging and access management, review user permissions, conduct audits, encrypt backups, monitor inbound and outbound traffic and automate security updates for greater cloud security. Cloud management tools help mitigate data breaches, compromised credentials, broken authentication, account hacking attempts and address other security vulnerabilities. They can also be used to manage data storage and identify whether data is better stored on a private or public cloud.
Regulatory requirements such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) dictate how personal information can be stored and processed. Cloud management solutions allow organizations to set controls that monitor this data and how it is managed to ensure compliance.
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