Stratalux, a Los Angeles, cloud-based managed services company, has put a stake in the ground regarding key considerations for cloud operators and cloud providers who are either in the process of moving toward the cloud, or in the process of optimizing the moves they have already made. The company claims that by following these best practices, cloud operators will be better positioned to help their customers leverage higher-level solutions, such as continuous integration and continuous delivery.
Learn from developers
In the old days, you had developers and you had IT people. The first group was responsible for developing code that brought new features and functionality to the table. Meanwhile, the IT team was focused on making sure that everything kept functioning, and that technology continued to support the business at hand. The developers wanted to move capabilities forward while IT wanted to make sure that such efforts would not hurt performance. Stratalux says the move toward automated configuration and operation strengthens the emphasis on code development. Therefore, IT personnel will need to establish strong familiarity with source-control systems and related methodologies that were previously the domain of the developers.
Many IT people take the position that once a system is successfully up and running, you want to touch it as little as possible. But some cloud providers use destruction in a way that helps to ensure resiliency and redundancy. According to Stratalux, some companies use software to randomly destroy individual servers and other assets in order to ensure that they can be quickly, seamlessly and dynamically replaced without causing a hiccup to the service. In other words, this strategy is employed to use destruction towards the ultimate improvement of the infrastructure’s availability and serviceability. Since most of the infrastructure runs the risk of failure at some point in time, the consistent tearing down and rebuilding of the infrastructure ensures that fixes can be easily made, and that everything installed is at its latest version.
Architect for failure
Keep in mind that large cloud services providers use commodity hardware in order to sell their services as cheaply as possible. Therefore, instead of adding additional CPUs to a more sophisticated machine, cloud partners are scaling horizontally by adding additional servers. The objective is to ensure that the service does not fail due to the loss of one of those servers. The infrastructure is therefore viewed as interchangeable parts that can quickly be replaced when something goes wrong.
Fully leverage your instrumentation
As more IT tasks are executed through code, capabilities such as server provisioning can now be extended to include higher-level services that can add value in a variety of ways. One example involves the use of “self-healing” technologies in which instrumentation regarding the health of your cloud can be used to trigger automatic responses to problems identified by the system. In addition to helping with the provisioning of servers, the management software also can dynamically set up new servers in the event of failure. Therefore, the system can automatically take down and replace a malfunctioning server instead of triggering a call to an employee in the middle of the night.
Automate wherever possible
The cloud provides a unique level of opportunity to leverage automation toward greater efficiency and expense reduction. Instead of manually configuring servers, a variety of products are available to push the configuration through the use of code, as opposed to separate tasks by system administrators. Configuration management software has emerged as an important enabler in the cloud world, and there are rich rewards for channel partners who can leverage this capability to the fullest extent. Thus, the work that would be necessary to configure one server could be extended to literally thousands of services with little extra effort by the partner.
Stop hugging your hardware
According to Stratalux, a lot of people are hesitant to embrace cloud computing due to fears that they will lose control of their hardware. In the past, most purchasing decisions around technology have been based primarily on hardware, and this can be a difficult habit to break. Cloud computing abstracts the hardware, which in a cloud environment becomes an instantiation of the hardware. Instead of thinking about hard drives, the emphasis now turns toward file systems. Similarly, the emphasis on CPUs now shifts towards compute units. Decision-makers need to focus on performance, SLAs, speed and capacity, as opposed to the underlying gear that supports these attributes.