It’s been said that history repeats itself, and that old adage definitely applies to IT management. Remember when companies struggled to manage their networks, systems and applications without finger-pointing and without a single end-to-end solution? For the most part, that was solved with integrated enterprise management systems. Then came cloud, and as retail and consumer-packaged goods (CPG) companies shift their traditional environment to a hybrid environment that mixes on-premises and public cloud, they’ll also have to shift the way they monitor, manage and operate them.
Many retail and CPG firms have decided cloud is the way to go. They know cloud can cut costs, but more importantly it can deliver the agility, speed and innovation they need to bring products to market faster, quickly respond to customer and market demands and proactively adjust to supply chain fluctuations.
On-premises cloud is already in use, and we’re now starting to see an uptick in public cloud adoption and deployment. It’s expected that this hybrid cloud environment will exist in the foreseeable future, but combining traditional and cloud is complicating IT management efforts. By utilizing a strategy that focuses on workloads, drawing on the IT team’s institutional knowledge, incorporating advanced tools and automation and adopting an end-to-end mindset, companies can create a solution that successfully monitors, manages and operates a hybrid cloud environment.
Create a CloudOps team as a single point of accountability
At the start, enterprises should create a cloud operations team that serves as the single point of accountability and responsibility for the hybrid cloud environment. This team needs to understand the business objectives of the cloud environments and the networks, systems, storage and applications that make up those environments. With one team overseeing all the IT elements end-to-end, there’s less finger-pointing – a common consequence of disjointed teams that ends up wasting precious time during problem resolution. The hand-off between the traditional and the cloud environment is handled by the team in the background, allowing for a seamless integration at the management and operations level. The result: The CloudOps team is born!
This CloudOps team should develop a management plan that puts workloads front and center. With this workload-first perspective, the team will focus on monitoring and managing all the components – the networks, systems storage and applications – together. Mindsets need to change: No more silos. Successfully managing a hybrid environment requires end-to-end visibility and processes.
The CloudOps team will need engineers with various skillsets. Operations engineers will focus on finding and fixing problems, as they always have. Automation engineers will create tools that can resolve the problems automatically. Both will need to be well-versed in networks, systems, storage and applications, with end-to-end perspectives. The team will also need to take a page from the DevOps playbook and use agile methods. In addition, operations engineers will need to institute continuous monitoring and automation engineers will need to run continuous improvement.
Watch for warning signs
Almost all problems, whether related to performance, security or something else, exhibit advance warning signs. It’s important to see those before the problems become too big and begin to impact users. By establishing baselines and then watching for deviations, the CloudOps team will be able to take action. Monitoring and management tools need to be automated and operate in real time.
Catching and fixing problems in a hybrid cloud environment is simply too challenging for manual operations; there are too many data points to watch, and people’s reactions times are too slow. An automated system can pull from multiple sources, monitor any number of data points and management systems, correlate them to create an end-to-end view, apply analytics and, in many cases, automatically fix the issue. Another key point: These tools need to be built for cloud, not bolted on.
Remember, the shift to a hybrid cloud environment is a journey. No retailer or CPG is going to close up shop on Friday with a traditional cloud environment and walk in on Monday with a hybrid cloud environment. The same goes for managing them. It’s a continuous process, complete with continuous monitoring and continuous improvement. With a CloudOps team that focuses on workloads and end-to-end management and relies on the company’s institutional knowledge and automation whenever it can, the journey will be a successful one.