Businesses of all sizes can benefit from having a fully integrated, reliable, secure, and cost-effective hybrid cloud deployment. If you have been tasked with the challenging responsibility of revamping an existing cloud computing strategy or implementing one for a growing business, there are some important best practices to keep in mind.
Follow these important tips when it comes to cloud management so you can confidently make decisions that help drive business success.
1. Explore Your Options
Developing a sound cloud management strategy begins with an exploration of cloud computing options available to your company. It’s important to do a thorough analysis of what solution(s) best fit your business needs, now and into the future. You don’t want to end up with out-of-control monthly costs or a long-term contract for infrastructure you no longer need.
There are essentially three options for cloud services:
Public cloud - low entry cost, speed-to-market, extremely scalable. Data in a public cloud deployment is logically separated from other users, but still on the same network, and the same physical hardware. This differs from an on-premise solution where data would be physically separated from other companies. As a result, some public cloud implementations can suffer from “noisy neighbors” where other users on the same hardware overwhelm available resources. It is important to ensure a public cloud deployment is architected to overcome such possibilities. Public cloud may be technically less secure than private cloud or colocation because your data occupies the infrastructure as other users, however, when proper precautions are taken the public cloud can be secure.
Private cloud - more secure, more control, more expensive when built in-house. The obvious benefit of private cloud over a public cloud deployment is security. The business operating the private cloud has complete ownership, control, and maintenance of all the data within the environment. This is advantageous to companies that have stringent compliance requirements or other concerns about the security of their data. Enterprises have a few options when deploying a private cloud. While some choose to purchase their own resources, and manage them in their own data center, many companies deploy private clouds with Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) on dedicated infrastructure.
Hybrid cloud - The best of both worlds. A hybrid cloud utilizes on-premise, colocated, and public and private cloud environments in a mix that best fits a business’ needs. You can keep sensitive data on-premise or in a colocated data center, then deploy resources in a public cloud when you need computing power quickly. Alternatively, you could host the majority of your resources in a public cloud environment and only use colocated space in a data center for those few things that must remain fully separated. A word of warning - hybrid cloud requires technical expertise, a clear strategy, relevant skill sets, and ongoing investment to manage properly.
2. Track Consumption and Budget AccordinglyShould you decide to go the hybrid, or public route, optimizing your costs by tracking data consumption is a must. This can involve a great deal of research and tracking to determine current and future cloud needs. Since most of these plans operate on a "pay-as-you-go" basis, costs can escalate quickly.
A big mistake that many companies make is that they treat public cloud as though it’s a utility service, where you simply use it and pay a bill at the end of the month. Companies come to find out they’re spending more money than they did when using their on-premises solution. Public cloud providers aren’t going to tell you there are more efficient ways of using their services. You need to be able to manage it similar to the way you’d manage your on-premises infrastructure.
The need to manage cloud systems with regard to cost, capacity planning, security and other conditions has spawned a modest but growing market for cloud management tools, which companies use to automate and orchestrate across public and private cloud services in a uniform way.
Training employees and setting guidelines is also a must, particularly if you are transitioning from a private cloud to a public or hybrid option. The last thing you want is to exceed your pre-paid capacity of network or cloud resources before your billing cycle is up. Typically due to a lack of process requiring users to turn off resources that are not in use for production.
3. Create and Implement Security Measures
Security must be a top priority when it comes to managing any type of infrastructure. Cloud security begins by exercising control over who has access to resources. Implementing additional security measures, such as single-sign-on and comprehensive detection and response is also key. The benefit of using a hybrid or public cloud option in this regard is that your CSP will be able to handle many aspects of physical security. However, additional measures (encryption, password protection, etc.) should be taken to protect data at-rest, or in-motion.
For those opting for a public or hybrid cloud, this is where choosing the right provider makes all the difference. Take time to carefully vet the market and know the high-quality players in the space before signing a contract that you’ll regret.
From deciding on the right type of deployment for your business, to handling data and security needs, cloud management isn't easy. However, with the right resources, such as an experienced IT service broker, and a careful vetting process, you can ensure that your ultimate solution aligns with your organization's business goals now and into the future.
For more information on how an IT services broker can help you avoid buyer’s remorse, here’s a recent hybrid cloud case study where we helped a client save 60% on overall infrastructure costs.