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Cloud management services: Tips for implementation

Cloud management services are useful for organizing the ever-growing, complex and sophisticated interconnections within the cloud structure.

Managing computerized systems is complicated because of their nature. Computing systems seem straightforward to the inexperienced, but once IT teams begin managing any type of integrated computing system, the complexity and "house of cards" tendencies are clear. Managing clouds is not that different. Cloud management is still undergoing change and adjusting to end-user needs, but cloud management services have come along to manage the growing, complex and sophisticated interconnections within the cloud structure.

Comprehensive cloud management includes monitoring, alerting, configuration management, auto-scaling and disaster recovery tools that make it possible to move an application from source code repository to end users, taking into account ongoing coding updates and system service interruptions. To be effective and efficient, a cloud management tool or service provider must have the capability to:

The point of a cloud management service is to make the cloud system understandable, trackable and clear.
  • manage a pool of various resources from a single control point,
  • provide access to end users with flexible and custom options,
  • monitor security using customizable settings,
  • manage capacity and resource allocation,
  • manage tracking and system monitoring using customizable settings,
  • provide multi-tenancy,
  • manage system failures automatically with explicit notification and full failover handling,
  • deploy application code automatically,
  • provide cost forecasting and reporting of exact cost figures against functionality,
  • integrate with multiple integration platform, software and infrastructure-asa-service providers, and
  • provide source control, including version and configuration management.

It's important to remember that the point of a cloud management service is to make the cloud system understandable, trackable and clear. An organization needs a clear picture of cost and use, and it must be protected from catastrophic failures that impact the bottom line. The cloud is designed for programmatic management: Automated deployment and configuration tools replace manual processes. A cloud management system is best when it clearly provides capacity management, continuous integration and resource orchestration in order to reduce the burden on development, operations and other IT team members. The simpler and more effective the service, the more efficient it becomes as application development team members focus on application creation rather than assisting DevOps or IT with system configuration and management.

Handling hybrid, public and private cloud combinations

A major advantage of using a cloud management service is that it keeps a system with multiple types of clouds operational and trackable. Many organizations use a mix of hybrid, public and private clouds, which means that all clouds have to integrate smoothly and remain operational. This integration is tricky because public clouds are managed by a public cloud provider; individual users do not have access to servers, data storage, networking details or status information. An organization is at the mercy of the public cloud provider.

Managing private clouds gives an organization more control and insight into the network, resource allocation, tracking and billing. However, because the cloud is private, it is restricted in its ability to share data and connect to other resources.

With a hybrid cloud, both public and private clouds exist and must be managed across multiple domains and security systems. Access control is critical, as is controlling the configuration, budgeting use and keeping private data out of public servers.

Cloud management services provide a distinct business advantage when IT is trying to balance different integrated cloud systems. Integrating clouds using APIs involves configuring IP addresses, subnets, firewalls and data functions for storage. Each of these pieces is complex to manage. It's essential that a cloud management service allow all the different cloud types and structural pieces to connect and share application data while still remaining under the controls defined by each cloud and its provider.

The cloud management service an organization selects controls access and authentication security. Frequently, access control involves using single sign-on so users can access multiple systems with one login. The cloud management service provides the access security, handles the possible role changes between systems and tracks usage. It's a useful way to know who is in the system and what exactly they are doing.

Security is a critical concern when choosing a cloud management provider. Features necessary to ensure security across cloud systems include:

Tenants of tenants for control delegation: essential when an organization has resellers, multiple brands or business units, or other corporate divisions. It allows access security to be configured to match the control level desired. Instead of designating access to administrators or end users, a cloud management service must include a configurable number and type of user access to handle different access types.

Role definition: enables the configuration of roles to fit an organization's needs. In other words, it's a way to define the "tenant" and grant distinct access by tenant and role.

Different security policies for services: services may require different capabilities and permissions based on function. For example, a certain tenant group is allowed to customize and deploy, but another tenant group is allowed to deploy only with a defined configuration.

The cloud is a complex computing system that requires management, control, reporting and security. A successful business must be able to track and manage its cloud system. Selecting the right cloud management service starts by getting the features an organization truly needs to properly secure, understand, monitor and track its cloud system.

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Are you considering a cloud management service? If so, what are your criteria?