How to Use the Cloud Like a Pro

Becoming a pro in your cloud environment enhances your ability to fully utilize the resources available to you within your cloud. Understanding how your cloud works and how the interpret the data coming from the network operations center will further assist you as you make judgments about your environment.

Cloud Management and Optimization

Knowing how to manage and optimize your cloud environment is the most critical act you can do to ensure an optimized environment. This allows end users to receive the best possible user experience and provides the best results for their servers and applications. Cloud optimization and management includes: IOPS, MCAL/SPLA licensing, SAN requirements and configuration and version management.

IOPS is a measurement of the traffic moving into, out of and within your cloud environment. Setting up an alert system for unusual or undesirable IOPS traffic is one way that you can be sure you receive messages regarding this measurement. If the IOPS traffic becomes too great it can drastically slow down your servers, or cause them to stop functioning all together. Each server has its unique number of IOPS that it can tolerate, depending on page and database size, available bandwidth and other factors. For example, an email server will require more IOPS than a server hosting a static webpage (unless there is a high volume of visitors to the site). Monitoring this traffic to ensure that available IOPS is not maximized, or implementing a process for reallocation at a given threshold are ideal practices for IOPS management.

SAN (storage area network) refers to the amount of storage available in your cloud. If you are selling public cloud as a service to your customers, you need to make sure you have an adequate amount of storage to accommodate their needs. Some servers require more SAN than others, and your monitoring mechanisms can help you monitor how much SAN is being used. SAN issues, if severe, can also bring down an entire cloud environment, so pay attention to how much is left so you can identify when it may be time for an upgrade.

One of the distinct advantages of any cloud environment is the ease of maintaining different versions of software. For example, a customer that is using a Microsoft 7 server can easily upgrade to the new Microsoft 8 and migrate their data to the new system. This ability to easily move data allows for simple upgrades for your end users and lets you upgrade everyone in a business at the same time so that they can work cohesively as a team without worrying about a member not being able to open a version of a working document due to incompatibility.

Disaster Recovery

This is yet another feature of the cloud that you should be utilizing if you’re not already. Whether for your own business or selling it as a service to your customers, disaster recovery in the cloud is easy and faster than traditional recovery methods. Backups can be stored on an incremental basis, and you control how often. Incremental backups save SAN space in your infrastructure and reduce your IOPS traffic. Recovering from a disaster is never easy, but there are steps you can take to simplify recovery. You can start a pre-configured VM and add the last backup data to it within a few minutes, compared to hours or days using a traditional disaster recovery method.

Federated Cloud

Utilizing a federated cloud can be an excellent way to extend your market footprint and provide your customers with a true second site disaster recovery solution. A federated cloud environment lets you maintain your original cloud zone and then “lease” part of another zone elsewhere. This second zone can

  • Serve as an offsite location to store all of your backup data so that if one zone is struck by a catastrophe the other zone and your data will still be available.
  • Provide a method of load balancing in which overload from one environment, for example bandwidth, can be carried into the server with less demand. This keeps you system from becoming bogged down and helps provide a smoother, more efficient cloud environment for your end users.

There are several moving pieces in a cloud computing environment that need to be monitored and managed. These three points are just the tip of the iceberg, and each environment is different. Be sure you are partnering with a cloud service provider that can provide you the tools to monitor and manage your environment to its fullest.

Image courtesy of: zeusdb.com