Operating mission critical IT infrastructure is never easy. So many internal and external customers to keep happy. Plus, it’s pretty much a thankless job, like backup. The only time someone thanks the IT department for backups are when IT restores the data they deleted by mistake but now desperately need. No wonder so many organizations are turning to public cloud and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) to offload the mundane duties of managing the technical stack. IT staff can focus on projects and business imperatives and let someone else provision the storage, patch the OS or update the application.
of cloud spending is wasted according to a March 2021 survey of 750 executives*. This admission comes apparently with no guilt and little shame as the same executives said they will be investing even more in the cloud this year. They seek lower costs and agility. Yet once organizations allocate budget and start their migration to cloud there can be many lessons learned along the way. Cloud technologies are changing daily and keeping that all working smoothly across on premises, private, and multiclouds becomes very complex, very fast. Here are 9 public cloud challenges and tips to avoid or overcome them.
Let’s be frank. It’s a complex cloud world out there based on an always-changing interconnection of technologies; APIs, containers, microservices, serverless computing, and underneath it the networks and tools to manage it all. Organizations can struggle with the rapid pace of change across a multicloud infrastructure. They want to be serviced yet remain in control. The answer to this challenge is in the power of self-service management consoles and good old fashioned personalized service. You remember, like when you are treated as a human not one of millions? Businesses need the ability to see their infrastructure, costs and performance up to the minute and take action on it. And be able to pick up the phone and talk to someone about it. The management interfaces must be highly functional and intuitive to ensure costly mistakes aren’t made. Couple that with great customer service and now a sense of control can replace the fear, panic and anger of the past.
Once migrated to cloud, vendors make it really easy for companies to incur new costs, spin up landing zones, add users to work areas, provision compute or storage as needed or performance dictates. While pricing is available for planning purposes it’s the unpredictability of final monthly costs that cause the real budget pain. Fluctuation in market demand is out of your control. Here it’s all about negotiating and using alternatives like private, hybrid and mutlicloud strategies to keep the cloud vendors pricing competitive and prevent complacency with your business. Also tracking your spend carefully so you can take action if public cloud costs suddenly skyrocket. Right sizing instances and shutting down some workloads after business hours or overnight can help as well.
Performance is always a top concern for any IT Architect. API driven architecture, containers, microservices, and serverless computing have accelerated todays’ innovation cycle but managing ongoing workload or application performance is challenging in the cloud. From memory or cpu leaks, to outright outages like the major outage AWS had in November 2020, just employing public cloud services doesn’t guarantee optimal performance. Organizations need to keep an eye on workload and application performance to ensure business and cloud vendor SLAs are being met. Also ensure their network architecture can support the performance needs of the organization from remote to on premises to public cloud, or edge to core to multicloud.
Another common mistake is over provisioning during migration or original onboarding. Typical capital purchases are oversized by at least 20% to keep up with expected growth. This strategy is not only useless, but costly in the cloud. The idea is to pay as you go, scaling up as you grow. There is no need to provide room for growth and pay for capacity or compute you will never use.
The business is concerned when major IT changes take place. Always with the best intentions but often critical players don’t show up when needed or the testing inevitably doesn’t go far enough. Seek business unit leader or executive sign off that end to end testing of critical workloads and application functionality has passed to their approval.
Often application interdependencies can be overlooked sparking performance or data availability issues for the business. Network bottlenecks can occur and often never really go away. Ensure your cloud provider has qualified network experts on staff and available during the migration process and well after to help if any performance issues arise.
Data theft or specifically personally identifiable information (PII) data theft is a top risk surrounding public cloud. It’s hard to secure everything when you don’t have an easily accessible view of the entire organization’s data in the cloud. Without that visibility, risk increases. It’s difficult to protect highly mobile data that may not of been on public cloud yesterday but low and behold is somehow there today. Multi-tenancy, or the sharing of public cloud resources adds additional risk to public cloud. Data security requires the attention of IT and line of business executives and they should take part in the oversight. ISO certifications and ITIL best practices should be easy to get from your cloud provider.
While it’s relatively easy to spin up some compute and storage in the cloud, adding core network architecture, which impacts performance and reliability greatly, is not so easy. A well architected global content delivery network (CDN) can give new life to slowing global applications, a poorly architected network infrastructure not only slows performance but opens up the company to security threats. Seek a cloud vendor that has cloud networking experts and the ability to demonstrate their network expertise as well as their security knowledge as they are forever intertwined with public cloud-based services.
Finally, watch for hidden remnants, resources, or assets across all your public cloud instances. Deleted files may remain for days in trash when they were meant to be destroyed. Cloud capacity reserves are often left untouched by companies unable to take advantage of all the resources they are paying for. It’s like throwing money in the trash. By keeping an eye on your service provider organizations can avoid common cloud mistakes and compete in the highly competitive digital marketplace that has now become the norm.