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Next-Gen Ops Management Needed in Cloud

While the basics of IT performance and availability management are the same as they have been for years, today's movement to next-gen, cloud-based infrastructures is introducing a new layer of complexity, which requires organizations to manage operational challenges that come with a dynamic environment.

Josh Duncan is a Product Evangelist at Zenoss where he is an active blogger on the topic of infrastructure and cloud monitoring. Josh has spent the last 13 years working for technology companies like Dell, Bank of America, and Accenture, implementing and setting technology direction.


Today’s IT operations management requirements are changing. While the basics of performance and availability management are still the same, extending traditional IT operations to the cloud introduces a new layer of complexity, which requires organizations to manage the operational challenges that come with a dynamic environment.

When organizations are considering scaling their operations to the cloud, attention is often spent on the basic setup of the infrastructure, and operations management typically gets pushed out to a later date. While the architecture is certainly a challenge in itself, overlooking the day-in and day-out management of a new, virtualized environment in the planning stages can create bigger problems down the road, not to mention undermine the success of the cloud-based infrastructure.

Consider service delivery and usage

More often than not, enterprises who are internally building a private cloud take a “if we build it, they will come” mentality. The problem with this approach is if you can’t guarantee service delivery, people will lose faith in your cloud. It’s that simple. If users don’t believe your shared resource is an advantage to them, there is going to be resistance. This lack of faith can cause a downward spiral, and before you know it, you won’t be able to get critical resources on it. The bottom line is, if you can’t guarantee service delivery, you can’t drive up utilization in your cloud environment. This will drive up costs and your cloud will be looked at as an under-utilized or wasted resource.

Start with a strong foundation

IT organizations need to prepare to manage the challenges of the cloud from the start. First, the cloud may be virtual, but behind the scenes, there is a lot of physical infrastructure required. The notion that once you move to the cloud the physical parts go away is simply not true. You still have to purchase, deploy, and provision the hardware to power the cloud. Second, the legacy physical management challenges that were never easy to deal with in the first place are now in an environment where dynamic resource allocation is the standard. Virtualization has added another layer of management challenges that must be managed and correlated with the physical dependencies.

Clear insight into activities in the cloud is necessary

Because all events are interconnected in the cloud, guaranteeing service delivery requires complete insight into everything that’s happening, and the ability to determine the likely impacts. The inability to answer important questions like “What applications are running on this server?” and “Can I allocate their resources over to a different device fast enough so the service isn’t impacted?” can create a ripple effect throughout the environment when a problem occurs. And before you can address the issue, your cloud SLAs have been impacted and your customers are contacting you about a problem you didn’t even know existed. That’s a scenario all businesses want to avoid.

The benefits of the cloud can only be achieved when an organization is solving traditional and dynamic management problems of IT and service delivery. Applying only traditional management approaches in a more complex and dynamic world is a recipe for disaster.

Think ops management from the beginning

Ultimately, those who are going to be successful in the cloud are the ones who figure out how to operate it effectively and efficiently. Cloud builders embarking on the journey to the cloud need to make operations management a priority from Day One. You simply can’t expect to bolt it on later and be successful. This is why designing a next-generation cloud-based infrastructure requires a next-generation operations management approach. Doing so will help eliminate problems down the road and increase your chances of success in the cloud.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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