Cloud operations, or CloudOps, generally refers to the methodologies deployed in support of a company’s cloud IT strategy, one that ensures the optimized delivery of cloud services, especially to achieve high availability. CloudOps is a high-level pattern that interconnects with other patterns including business processes, CloudOps strategy, CloudOps models, and DevOps. To this end, CloudOps serves both as a high-level model, but also can refer to the actual management and delivery of services for a company, including defining roles for people, outlining and detailing all processes involved, and integrating necessary technology.
CloudOps utilize three key concepts that support the normal provisioning of cloud resources. First, cloud operations attempts to monitor a company’s cloud activities through abstraction software that creates a “single-pane-of-glass” view, conveniently using a single administrative tool, of cloud resources and their interconnections. Second, CloudOps also utilizes automation for many critical processes, notably resource provisioning, which, while reducing human errors, significantly improves cloud efficiency and capabilities. Third, policy enforcement is made easier through monitoring and automation.
CloudOps and DevOps are two schools of thought born out of “agile” software development. While CloudOps overlaps DevOps practices, especially the use of automation, both are primarily concerned with achieving agility within their respective areas.
DevOps, which came before CloudOps, is a shortened combined form of software development and IT operations. DevOps aims to create a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) environment that supports short development cycles, reduced time to market, and continuous improvements through rapid feedback and development. In practice, this means that developers are able to receive change orders and then push updates or patches weekly, daily, even hourly, responding to dynamic needs. DevOps teams are able to accomplish this rapidity and agility by tightly integrating both the operational systems, making IT services available, with development workflows, largely through automated testing and deployment systems.
CloudOps borrows liberally from DevOps methodologies, namely using agile principles and tight integrations between DevOps and cloud operations to rapidly respond to demand. DevOps is a collaborative approach to keeping apps updated and running, likewise, CloudOps attempts to keep cloud operations up and running, ideally over 99% of the time, known as high availability.
A cloud strategy guides how all the business units in an organization adopt the cloud and how it aligns with greater business goals. A “cloud-first” strategy balances business goals with strategic and technical limitations, gives a high-level review of the technology capabilities needed, and addresses the risks for each technology considered. For example, a business may want a highly robust and flexible system, while possible, the more robust a cloud strategy, the more it may be offset by availability and cost. A cloud strategy is a roadmap rather than a detailed document.
A cloud operating model, on the other hand, is an operational blueprint that outlines the processes, people, and technology required to carry out the agenda laid out in the cloud strategy. Operating models, in short, define the operational processes that execute on your cloud strategy.
Technology forms the foundational layer of a cloud operating model, defining the major capabilities and limitations of the system. The cloud platform is the most critical of these technologies. Cloud platforms support the management of cloud operations in several ways: creation and management of cloud services, enforcement operational best practices, provision of application management, development and deployment tools, and provision of host database tools.
Similar to other operating models, cloud operating models must also define roles for people, and processes they must adhere to. People will remain the most important aspect of the operating model despite increased usage of automation. Consideration must be paid to organizational hierarchy, roles (including internal and external roles), responsibilities, accountability, or any new required skill sets. Because there can be hundreds of unique processes used in daily operations, defining processes is a necessity. Once processes are known, and optimized, those that can be automated should be.
CloudOps combines the dynamic benefits of cloud technology with the agile benefits of DevOps.
Major cloud service providers have gone to great lengths to ensure the security, and reliability of their technologies and so provide many solutions to overcome CloudOps challenges.
Organizations need to set themselves up for success by leveraging the benefits of the cloud. The following best practices remind companies to first plan and build upon previously successful strategies.