Torbjorn Zetterlund

Thu 13 2012

Underestimating cloud sprawl – tips to avoid cloud failure

by bernt & torsten

The cloud has matured and is now a great proposition for any type of business to take advantage of. Cloud computing has the potential to offer organizations dramatic operational efficiency and cost savings, but when improperly managed it can have disastrous results. Planning to move to the cloud, first learn about some common mistakes others have made when moving to infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service offerings.

Don’t rush

Some people are so focused on cost it’s like they’re putting blinders on to some best practices. Sooner or later they’re going to get burned so do not rush your cloud strategy, do proper planning, and always design for that powerful resilient architecture and select your Cloud vendor accordingly.

Redundancies for disaster scenarios

One of the most common errors companies make when moving to cloud services, is failing to set up redundancies for disaster scenarios. Developers, who are commonly the people in an organization who start using cloud services first, often assume that the cloud service takes care of security, application availability, backup and recovery, and ensuring service performance, in most cases, this isn’t true.

A good understanding of what cloud service providers fits in the cloud stack is a must-read of this blog entry about what you need to know about cloud services.

Businesses don’t always accommodate for data center failures. When planning makes sure to architect your systems so that they are load balanced, shifting workloads to different zones in the event of an outage. Systems administrators alike need a sound plan along with deep performance monitoring in place before moving to the cloud in order to ensure the end result isn’t a new job hunt.

Underestimating cloud sprawl

Provisioning in the cloud is convenient and quick, which provides both agility and a huge potential for abuse. Migrating too much or moving too quickly can lead to complete loss of control by IT and exponential costs. Additionally, it will become even tougher to monitor and report on service level agreements (SLAs) as applications move between physical, virtual and cloud environments. On top of that, you may be required to purchase individual cloud services tools to manage it all.

Failing to monitor performance

Visibility into application performance in the cloud is critical, especially with your user-facing applications. Whether it’s software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), without cloud performance monitoring tools in place there is no visibility into how applications are performing. If you can’t monitor and report on cloud performance and availability, then you are not providing business value.

Bandwidth issues

Another mistake that some users of cloud services make is failing to accommodate for potential bandwidth issues. App performance matters, selecting a cloud service provider make sure that they support a distributed platform where applications can be run on infrastructure closer to your business location in order to improve performance for users.

The health of the service provider

As many new service providers enter the cloud space, businesses would do well to examine the health of the service provider before moving critical applications to cloud service provider platforms.

Tracking cloud services/applications your support

As applications are provisioned to the cloud, it can be easy to miss what is actually running without proper tracking. Beware of getting caught in the “out of sight, out of mind” dilemma of losing track of applications residing on-premise or in the cloud. If applications get lost in the shuffle now, imagine the nightmare down the road when your cloud infrastructure grows even more complex.

Perils of platform lock-in

Be sure to pick your cloud platform carefully and do your homework. Once you have chosen a cloud vendor and have provisioned applications, it is tough to move them elsewhere if you are unhappy with the performance or service. Once you have signed the dotted line, you are essentially locked in.

Mismanaged performance guarantees

Once in the cloud, applications are at the mercy of the platform now carrying them. For instance, performance latency can be caused by the simple geographical location of the servers your applications are now housed on. As the IT team, you will need to set expectations both internally and externally concerning how applications will perform, taking into consideration those on-premise applications vs. those that run in the cloud.

Compromised privacy and security

A challenge to running applications in the cloud is knowing where the server that now houses your applications is physically located. There could be jurisdiction issues associated with the applications that you have running in the cloud-based on the location of those new servers. Unless the correct processes and performance monitoring are in place, your critical data is at the mercy of the cloud.