What is Cloud Operations? (vs DevOps)

CloudOps is a combination of cloud operations, a methodology that combines the processes involved with DevOps and IT operations to create a set of best practices and procedures that support cloud infrastructure.

In the past, monitoring network and server performance required an on-premise network operations center, however, the rise of cloud computing has made it possible to cloud-optimize alerting and monitoring so that developers, IT, and security teams can respond to performance issues or deliver new products without an onsite presence. CloudOps can help define an effective cloud strategy that supports the success of DevOps efforts.

CloudOps vs DevOps

DevOps is a methodology that integrates development and IT operations teams to streamline processes and procedures associated with software development, system updates, and the resolution of performance issues. Improving the communication between development and IT teams allows for greater collaborative opportunity, with the intention of reducing the amount of time necessary to deploy software or updates while also minimizing disruptions such as outages or downtime. Merging development and testing with operations and support into one cohesive DevOps team allows for a more comprehensive view of the strengths and vulnerabilities of a system or application. 

Greater agility and operational improvement are two of the core objectives of a DevOps philosophy and a digital transformation that incorporates cloud services can facilitate those goals. CloudOps is short for Cloud Operations, and is the process of identifying and defining the appropriate operational procedures to optimize IT services within the cloud environment. It is the culmination of DevOps and traditional IT operations applied to cloud-based architectures.

Successful cloud migrations require a detailed understanding of the current capabilities of cloud resources rather than trying to adapt existing operational approaches to fit into the cloud platform. Consequently, CloudOps requires an organizational-wide change of thinking. Deviating from standard operations can be a challenging adjustment, but the temporary discomfort is worth the benefits, which include: 

  • Scalability: Cloud technology allows you to increase or reduce capacity at any time, without investing in additional space or hardware. Capacity planning and asset management will become virtualized.

  • Automation: Cloud resources automate many operations across the SDLC, which leads to self-healing systems and reduces disruptions to applications or users.

  • Accessibility: A lack of onsite servers allows teams to manage servers and operations from almost anywhere. 

  • Shared resources: Cloud-computing allows applications that share common services to co-exist without being interconnected. 

  • Backup management: Since data isn't centrally located or physically stored onsite, disaster recovery processes are automatically in place with cloud technology. 

  • Metered costs: Cloud resources track usage, making it easier to allocate expenses accordingly. 

Continuous operations: Cloud-based systems allow for continuous operations since software can be updated and deployed without disruption to service if the proper mechanisms are in place.


Challenges of CloudOps

Transitioning to serverless functions comes with its own set of obstacles. When the underlying infrastructure is based on traditional operations, it can be a challenge for CloudOps to merge seamlessly into existing DevOps systems. It's important to introduce best practices that streamline shared tasks, monitoring, and management between physical and cloud-based systems to avoid the two teams becoming more siloed. 

With an on-site data center, there is a physical server to be worked on. CloudOps relies on dashboards and tools that automate much of the monitoring process. It also means that alerting and monitoring need to be cloud-optimized. Although this has its advantages, it can also result in another layer of troubleshooting in the form of calling the cloud help desk and the traditional help desk without getting a clear answer from either. 

A successful CloudOps transformation requires a company-wide culture shift where every aspect of the organization is invested in using the same tools, following the same practices, and working together under the same leadership. If introducing CloudOps results in teams becoming more siloed, you're defeating the purpose of the DevOps philosophy of communication and collaboration. 

Combining DevOps with technical improvements in CloudOps will lead to a faster and more efficient CI/CD pipeline.


CloudOps Best Practices

The transition from onsite servers to a public cloud provider requires a significant paradigm shift. Due to the rising popularity of cloud computing, it's a change many organizations are in the process of adopting. Using CloudOps in conjunction with DevOps offers your operation more speed, scalability, and productivity. Facilitate your team's progression to CloudOps by implementing the following best practices.

Enable agility 

It's essential that your security or governance team is fully onboard with every aspect of cloud computing. If teams fail to work together and make usage more difficult, the end result will be less transparency and a lack of overall cohesiveness. Don't create more restrictions; instead clearly define and implement necessary guidelines. 

Empower users  

Although cloud resources require governance oversight and appropriate configuration for the sake of security and compliance, DevOps teams are responsible for the day-to-day use of the tools that manage the cloud platform and would ideally have input about resources. Allow users to self-provision their own machines, or to utilize auto-provisioning so that applications request more machines or decrease capacity based on usage. 

Automate security 

Reduce security risks by implementing processes that use automation to test the configuration of cloud resources. Automating security checks and establishing clear compliance policies to be followed by all teams ensures consistency as your cloud footprint grows and evolves. Remediation can also be automated, allowing developers to mitigate risk without workflow disruption. 

Implement redundancy 

One of the objectives of the DevOps philosophy involves continuous operations and zero downtime. Cloud-based systems make continuous operations possible since software can be updated or deployed without disruption to the application or service. Implementing automation and redundancy at both the cloud provider layer and the application layer helps ensure that the application will be available despite updates or software changes. 

Streamline change management 

Reducing the time between idea development and product deployment is one of the primary goals of DevOps, but change management can create its own workflow bottleneck. Encourage synergy between cloud security and change management by putting processes in place that won't hinder the development process. Automate change request tickets and orchestrate an agile change management system that encourages all teams to work seamlessly. 

Continuous improvement 

A successful CloudOps strategy isn't a one-size-fits-all approach and can't be accomplished in a single step. The ultimate goal is to integrate several teams with different focuses and skill sets into one fully integrated operation. Achieving that requires an assessment of existing strengths and weaknesses among team members and communication methods, as well as decisions about leadership, tools, processes, and budget management. Create a plan for not only the initial transitional period, but also for identifying future optimization opportunities.


CloudOps Resources

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