How to Solve 4 Common Cloud Management Challenges

Your organization has implemented cloud services like infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) in your environment. You are considering taking a cloud-first approach for new workloads, making cloud the new standard for application delivery.

Due to current economic pressures, you have a mandate to maximize efficiency and bring costs under control. You may also be tasked to deliver on projects that will help the business compete and thrive once recovery begins.

You want to make these things happen, but run into the same challenges facing many cloud adopters:

  • You are exceeding your planned cloud budget but don’t have enough data to pinpoint the source of those unexpected costs. Or you don’t have a consistent way to drive accountability for line of business (LOB) departments that are commissioning cloud resources on their own.
  • Senior management is concerned about security and compliance in the cloud (as they should be), your IT team has limited tools to enforce its policies.
  • The business relies on cloud infrastructure and services to be always-on, but IT hasn’t had the time or resources to establish a formal structure for cloud operations.
  • Many of your IT staff are comfortable in a traditional data center, but public cloud infrastructure skills are hard to hire for and often come at a premium. Perhaps you would like to retrain staff, but your team needs to spend most of its time maintaining current operations.

With the right tools, policies and partnerships, however, you can get a greater impact from your cloud investments and refocus on business priorities.

We’ll examine the cloud management benefits of improving visibility and accountability for cloud costs, establishing effective cloud governance, enhancing the efficiency and resilience of cloud operations and closing gaps in public cloud infrastructure skills.

Improving Visibility and Accountability for Cloud Costs

When you migrated some critical workloads to public cloud IaaS and PaaS, you probably learned fast that the same approaches that apply on-premise infrastructure don’t always work in the cloud.

In the cloud, approaches like over-provisioning resources to meet demand often drive up unnecessary spend. At the same time, public cloud services make it relatively easy to commission new resources, allowing LOB departments to spin up new instances outside the purview of the IT department. If some of these are left idle or underutilized, the result is further wasted spend.

Relying on usage and cost data available from their cloud provider alone, you may not be receiving all the information you need to allocate the costs in your cloud environment. This in turn makes it more difficult to build an accurate picture of ROI for key initiatives.

By introducing tools to automate cost allocation, you get clearer visibility into exactly where cloud costs are coming from.  This allows the IT team to identify and decommission idle and underutilized resources. Meanwhile, you are also better equipped to bill or show back cloud costs to the appropriate LOB departments, driving greater accountability and awareness of cloud value.

By rounding out your team with a cloud managed service partner (MSP), you can also benefit from ongoing advice and mentorship on ways to eliminate unnecessary spending in the cloud and better manage burst and elastic spend.

Looking for more guidance on cost management in the cloud? Watch the webinar on-demand

Establishing Effective Cloud Governance

Early in your cloud journey, you may have learned the substantial difference between security and compliance in the cloud and the data center. While shifting to the cloud offsets some security and regulatory compliance responsibilities to the public cloud provider, the cloud consumer retains some core accountabilities.

From our experience at Softchoice, many new public cloud adopters make decisions quickly and in a decentralized manner, which results in manual efforts that in turn lead to sprawling patchworks of configuration standards.

Here, a formal governance model – a framework with a set of policies and standard practices for cost optimization, resiliency, security, or compliance – is vital for keeping the entire organization on track.

While Forrester indicates that IT teams should dedicate 10% to 15% of cross-functional resources to governance activities, many IT departments are stretched thin and don’t have the time to spare [1].

As Forrester recommends, a formal governance program starts with federated approach to continuous improvement and management guided by a central cloud advisory board. As an extension of this team, a formal cloud management role or group can help define and enforce standards and best practices.

In distributed or siloed cloud environments, it’s important to have a central place for cloud practitioners to share best practices.

For newer cloud adopters or organizations with lower confidence in their cloud capabilities, a cloud MSP will help select and implement the standards and tools necessary to monitor the health, usage, security threats and compliance across multiple cloud environments. They can also lend support in tracking and enforcing governance policies through automated cloud deployments based on built-in standards.

An effective formal governance model is critical to success in the cloud. Download the Forrester Report.

Enhancing the Efficiency and Resilience of Cloud Operations

When it comes to deploying new cloud services, you may have found it difficult to ensure your cloud infrastructure resilient and optimized for performance.  When your cloud infrastructure is serving critical applications and services, however, stabilizing the environment and operations to keep supporting your critical business applications is paramount.

Some of our cloud customers have found that when they need to access support from a public cloud provider, they spend a long time navigating complex phone trees and escalation paths to reach the best person to solve the problem. While these providers deliver the best support possible, the sheer volume of clientele makes it difficult to offer service tailored to a given organization’s environment or needs.

With the help of an MSP, you can adopt a turnkey operational model that addresses the processes, people and skills required to effectively manage their public cloud resources. Many MSPs are also equipped to help you take advantage of public cloud provider programs and incentives to reduce your cloud costs and build the best cloud setup for your needs.

Are you struggling to balance innovation projects with effective cloud governance? Get the guide.

Closing the Gaps in Public Cloud Infrastructure Skills and Experience

When your journey to the cloud began, you likely faced a considerable challenge: limited or no in-house expertise related to cloud management best practices.

In fact, Gartner indicates that by 2022, insufficient cloud IaaS skills will delay half of enterprise cloud migrations by 2 or more years [1].

Without these skills however, understanding cloud cost drivers, deploying cloud resources effectively and monitoring the health and performance in the environment becomes an uphill struggle.

We find that when many Softchoice customers have attempted to build cloud operations team in-house, they quickly hit a proverbial brick wall – demand for cloud-native skills far exceeds the current supply. Those with cloud experience have become rare and expensive to recruit.

Meanwhile, taking the time out to retrain and upskill internal IT staff on cloud skills risks leaving the current environment unmaintained. It also creates the possibility that investment in cloud knowledge or certification could leave the organization when somebody moves on to another opportunity.

With an MSP relationship in place, your IT team has the option to offload the operation and maintenance of their cloud services and infrastructure to a certified team of engineers. Meanwhile, some MSPs will provide ongoing training sessions to build cloud expertise within your team while moving at their own pace.

The results? In many cases, by working with an MSP you can operate your cloud environment at a lower cost than hiring, receive 24/7 support and remain safe in the knowledge that your staff are receiving ongoing education from cloud certified engineers.

What Are Your Next Steps?

If you plan to adopt or have recently adopted public cloud, one or more of these examples may have hit home. With the rapid adoption of public cloud, many organizations are looking to optimize costs and ensure they grow their cloud environments in a way that supports smart, sustainable growth.

But balancing your cloud journey with other IT and business priorities is a common – yet surmountable – challenge. Wherever you find yourself on your cloud transformation journey, Softchoice is positioned to help.

Explore Softchoice Managed Cloud Services.

[1] “4 Trends Impacting Cloud Adoption in 2020,” Smarter with Gartner, January 2020.

How will your small business benefit from Google Cloud?

Small and medium businesses (SMBs) have a lot to gain from shifting their technical operations into the cloud. In addition to improved flexibility and scalability to match IT resources to demand, a cloud migration can also deliver savings by transitioning from a CAPEX to OPEX model. The consistent and predictable costs of cloud services for small businesses help avoid budget overruns, something that 60% of IT decision-makers have admitted to having endured at some point.

[Read more…]

Why We’re Excited for VMworld 2019

VMWorld 2019

VMworld is the marquee VMware event of the year.

The conference showcases the technology and solutions providers that are transforming the IT landscape. From mobility and the cloud to networking and security – VMworld offers a glimpse of what’s happening in IT now – and what’s coming next.

The annual US conference kicks off in San Francisco on August 25 and Softchoice has a team of VMware experts attending. We asked a few of them to share what’s got them most excited about this year’s event.

Here’s what they had to say…

Scott Mathewson, Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) Practice Lead

There are a lot of exciting announcements coming from VMware this year.

I’m especially curious to see what’s new and upcoming as it relates to VMware’s SDN strategy and roadmaps, especially NSX.  Being able to automate network provisioning and have network and security settings wrapped around applications provides efficient, error-free provisioning with “set-once” security policies. This means that IT can reduce the time and effort needed to provision new workloads or move applications to the cloud.

New versions of VMware NSX will also allow for greater flexibility in software-defined network (SDN) configuration for high availability and backup across multiple clouds. NSX services, firewalls, routers and load balancers will now be consumable in the cloud as a service. The on-prem and cloud versions of NSX come together and provide the ultimate options for a customer when it comes to networking and security. Businesses can now choose the networking and security services that are critical to the business – whether they are in the cloud or on-prem.

Meanwhile, VMware Cloud on AWS is growing. New features like Elastic Block Storage (EBS) integrated into VSAN and Relational Database Support (RDS) native to the virtual machine enable much greater application flexibility.  Customers can now truly take advantage of software services to modernize business applications. They can also reduce costs and increase performance and agility for business applications. VMC on AWS has a robust global scale. And it’s the only solution that allows companies to get the cloud within hours instead of months and years by having the ability to immediately drag and drop applications with VMware from on-prem to the cloud.

I’m also looking forward to learning more about announcements relating to VMware on Azure and Google cloud. I see this development making VMware the provider of choice for many organizations looking for a fast, secure solution for moving applications to the cloud. VMware and the CloudHealth platform will also play an important role in managing applications in the cloud.

John Long, VMware Technical Architect

At this year’s conference, I’m excited for content and sessions that dive deeper into two emerging products: VMware VeloCloud and VMware CloudHealth, (whose acquisition was announced at VMworld last year).

VeloCloud is an SD-WAN solution that can be deployed in minutes from remote sites. It’s has taken the market by storm. It’s arguably the most strategic purchase VMware has made since it acquired Nicira (now called NSX) in 2012.

VeloCloud is changing the way we think about internet connectivity and the way customers are bridging between data center to co-location, data center to the cloud, and cloud-to-cloud. NSX provides the ability to stretch Layer 2 networks over Layer 3. From there, VeloCloud comes in to ensure connectivity through multiple connections that upgrade ordinary broadband connections into enterprise SD-WAN.

It also assures optimal application performance – a growing requirement for VoIP, video and other bandwidth-intensive applications. One of the most compelling reasons we are excited about VeloCloud is how the quality of service (QoS) is provided through public and private cloud-based management as a service. Branch deployment is also virtually automated.

But the VeloCloud SD-WAN “secret sauce” is Dynamic Multipath Optimization. This provides continuous path monitoring along with automated bandwidth discovery. In turn, this enables application-aware dynamic per-packet steering as well as on-demand remediation with QoS.

It’s certainly feature-rich as it exists today (with SD-WAN artificial intelligence and machine learning). But we’re excited to see how this offering will evolve in the coming months and year.

At the same time, CloudHealth is fast becoming one of the most trusted multicloud management platforms. Some organizations are transitioning to hybrid cloud strategies. But many are moving to multi-cloud. With so many clouds to manage, there is a need for a solution to wrangle all of them before a storm happens.

CloudHealth provides customers with cloud visibility, cost management, security and governance. By providing visibility into usage, performance and the way each workload consumes resources, CloudHealth can support decision-making on workload placement. This, in turn, helps to save management resources and enable organizations to make decisions faster. This visibility extends into container orchestrators, such as Kubernetes, Mesos or Amazon ECS and EKS and helps to maximize utilization of container platforms.

CloudHealth also allows enforcement of security policies to minimize risk along with governance to maintain control over cloud environments through policies and workflows.

Organizations building their multicloud strategy should consider the value CloudHealth could play. So should those who are already on this journey,

Learn more about hybrid vs. multicloud and get help with your strategy.

 

Jacy Townsend, Sr. VMware Technical Architect

I’m very excited for VMworld this year! No doubt there’ll be several new product and feature announcements.

In anticipation of this year’s conference, I spent some time going through the catalog of sessions. There is a lot of content and themes that piqued my interest. What I’m most excited about this year is seeing the direction VMware is headed when it comes to supporting the industry shift toward containerization of workloads.  I’m most looking forward to “Architecting VMware PKS on HCI Powered by vSAN”.

For those who don’t know, VMware PKS is also known as “Pivotal Container Service.” It’s an enterprise Kubernetes platform that simplifies container orchestration on any infrastructure. On the other hand, vSAN is the policy-based storage piece of VMware’s hyper-converged infrastructure solution. I’m very curious to see how these play off of one another.

See You in San Francisco!

VMworld is full of exciting sessions, labs, keynotes and exhibits all focused on technology that will take IT to the next level. The Softchoice team is excited to see you there! Learn more about VMworld.

Attending VMworld US and want to connect? Reach out at vmware@softchoice.com