Moving IT services to the cloud is currently a key issue for many companies. A critical factor in this move is not only making applications, databases and network structures cloud-appropriate, companies also need to consider how they’ll administer their cloud services in the future. In this blog article, we’ll share with you what we’ve learned from our practical experience regarding possibilities and success factors for good cloud management.
Using cloud services, such as the well-known public clouds offered by AWS, Azure and Google, provides businesses the following advantages:
- The resources they need can be scaled.
- Costs and administration are transparent and are traceable.
- Specialized services such as AI, blockchain and specialized caches are easy to access and use.
Case Example: Moving a Company into the Cloud
Let’s take the example of an international Austrian-based company which up to now has used servers in the data center of an external provider, who’s also responsible for server administration and for installing the applications used there. IT and other services are billed on a monthly basis. Before converting to cloud services, the company needs to ask itself how this relationship should be regulated. The following three items are essential at the very start for successful cloud management:
- Clearly defining the cloud administrator’s role
- Using container technologies such as Docker
- Making optimal use of scalability
Clearly defining the cloud administrator’s role
When moving up into the cloud, it’s a good idea to clearly define, and if necessary reorganize, interfaces between application developers, infrastructure providers (cloud providers) and the eventual cloud administrator.
The role of cloud administrator can be assumed either internally, or by an external service provider. If that role is taken on by an external service provider, the subscription should not be in the name of the cloud administrator but that of the client, and should also have clear guidelines for the actual users of resources. This makes it possible for the client to directly receive billing for the resources used and therefore have complete transparency, through the detailed bill itemization, of the structure of the costs which actually accrued.
The subscription should give the cloud administrator access to resources, but not the right to change the subscription itself (e.g. methods of payment). Should it become necessary to make change administrators (e.g. because the service provider becomes insolvent or just performs poorly), this can just be done through authorization (users and permissions granted).
Using container technologies such as Docker
Because of the complications involved in installing software applications, the interface between application development and administration is often complex. Container technologies such as Docker provide a good solution to this problem, especially when a business is using cloud services.
Relying on container technologies such as Docker then makes it possible for cloud administration to concentrate on essential tasks, namely using cloud resources (processors, storage, load balancing, CDN, managed databases, etc.) to create a system environment which is secure, scalable, high-performance and cost-effective.
Application developers are then responsible for completely provisioning software on the basis of containers. Application installation becomes unnecessary, since the container contains the fully configured runtime environment. As a result, this also rules out installation errors.
Making optimal use of scalability
Since they can be continuously kept at constant capacity, it’s currently still more cost-effective to maintain virtual machines in traditional data centers than in the cloud. Nevertheless, a key attraction of cloud packages lies in the fact that those services which a business cannot maintain in its own data center in a comparatively cost-effective manner infrastructure can be easily scaled, throughout the world if necessary.
By using scalable Docker containers, a cloud administrator can react quickly to additional demand, and through just a few simple commands can start up the number of container instances which were started simultaneously, and reduce them again when necessary. This process can even be automated, by using container management systems like Kubernetes.
In order to use scaling efficiently, the related responsibilities must be clearly defined between application development and administration, with the use of containers being a must, and development’s responsibility being to provision scalable applications.
Making Use of the Potential Provided by the Cloud
Cloud services mean companies have access to powerful, scalable infrastructure tools, which if used selectively and in combination with good cloud management will yield all sorts of potential – and not just for large companies.
Any business looking to procure cloud resources must consider their vastly different technical and organizational conditions as compared to traditional IT systems. Spirit in Projects specializes in developing cloud concepts and technical documents for procurement processes and invitations to tender. We bring in our technical expertise and work with our clients to develop viable, sustainable concepts, prepare the necessary documentation and provide support in the procurement process.