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Cloud Management 101

Cloud management refers to the monitoring, maintenance, and operation of data, apps, and infrastructure hosted on the cloud.

Wiz Experts Team
6 min read

What is cloud management? 

Cloud management refers to the monitoring, maintenance, and operation of data, apps, and infrastructure hosted on the cloud. Private, public, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments all require cloud management tools to identify and track the performance and utilization of cloud resources. 

Originally, IT teams managed cloud workloads manually, but it quickly became obvious that manual management was inadequate and inefficient for the highly dynamic and complex nature of the cloud. Organizations encountered challenges with data/infrastructure security governance, resource allocation, latency management, and dynamic resource provisioning in environments with intermittent real-time workload changes. 

Let’s consider some of these challenges, how cloud management addresses them, and best practices for effective cloud management.

Why is cloud management necessary?

Organizations transitioning to the cloud do so with certain goals in mind, like cost efficiency, faster deployments, improving service delivery, achieving greater accuracy, and increasing data resilience/availability. But these goals cannot be achieved without efficient cloud management because the cloud environment has the following challenges:

ChallengeDescription
Cloud sprawlCloud sprawl is the uncontrolled rise in cloud resources and instances. It occurs when the rapid expansion of an organization’s cloud services (resulting in the need for fast resource provisioning) is accompanied by poor cloud governance or decentralized management. Cloud sprawl hinders efficient resource tracking and results in excessive spending, wastage, smaller profit margins, and security risks.
VisibilityCloud deployments comprise multiple first- and third-party components, including IaC, SaaS, and PaaS. Achieving end-to-end visibility into the content and performance of all these diverse cloud resources can be cumbersome without centralized cloud management.
Security and access controlCloud management tools usually have next-gen security features baked into their suites. For example, many of them offer role-based access control (RBAC) authorization, which bolsters access management for the entire cloud infrastructure.
ComplianceSince multiple resources are usually domiciled in several distinct environments, assessing compliance is near-impossible without a platform that centralizes visibility and harmonizes governance of the entire cloud infrastructure. Cloud management tools serve this purpose.

How it works

Cloud management has two interwoven aspects: 

  • Cloud management through a built-in third-party CSP management tool deployed in a VM/data center 

  • Cloud management using an independent, integrable software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution 

Although built-in cloud management platforms (CMPs) are great for small organizations operating a single-cloud infrastructure, they can manage only the services they are built upon—an important drawback for multi-cloud users.

Independent CMPs, on the other hand, deliver all-inclusive cloud management to unify and ensure consistent resource efficiency across distributed cloud environments. According to Gartner, a cloud management platform typically offers two categories of functionalities: baseline and advanced functionalities. 

Baseline functionalities

Baseline functionalities include features that are absolutely necessary for cloud management: 

  1. Integration: CMPs must seamlessly integrate with both first- and third-party cloud services and resources in an organization's stack (including cloud storage platforms, hypervisor-based resources, and cloud security posture management solutions). Otherwise, management would be impossible.

  2. Rules/policies for orchestration and governance of cloud resources: Customizable governance frameworks are typically integrated into management tools to enforce resource allocation, workload admission control, performance optimization, and cost/quality of service (QoS) control policies. 

  3. Cost management: Accurate real-time and predictive resource utilization analysis is essential to cloud management. CMPs help with cost control by detailing aggregate and projected spending on resources, along with evaluating the effectiveness of such spending.

  4. Monitoring and customization interface: A CMP must provide centralized dashboards with alerting capabilities for real-time resource consumption and cost monitoring. Resource consumption and cost may be monitored and transmitted using metric templates that offer insights into metric billing and chargebacks. The dashboard may also include snapshots of a global view of your cloud at specific times, enabling seamless correlation of cloud resources and efficient cloud management.

  5. Security: Aside from integrating with security tools, CMPs must incorporate security features such as IAM, encryption management, authorization and authentication mechanisms, and RBAC.

  6. Cloud migration: Offline-to-cloud and cloud-to-cloud migration facilitation is a must-have in a CMP. Migration facilitation includes automating and speeding up data migration, backup, and disaster recovery to streamline migration and reduce downtime.

  7. Resource management: Automating resource discovery, performing continuous resource inventorying, offering synchronized tagging resources, and facilitating resource provisioning/deprovisioning are critical aspects of a CMP that prevent cloud sprawl and refine resource management.

Advanced functionalities

Advanced functionalities are features that further streamline cloud management. Ideal CMPs support:

  1. Pay-per-use self-service catalogs that enterprise customers can choose from and configure as required 

  2. Guest (CMP) observability, metering, and alerting for easy tracking of CMP performance 

  3. Optimized storage for metric data and network resources to improve the efficacy of performance analysis

  4. Threat monitoring and alerting for swift virus, malware, and threat detection

  5. Automatic failover to ensure consistent resource availability and minimize downtimes

Benefits of cloud management

Improved efficiency and app performance

CMPs’ centralized monitoring, reporting, and alerting helps stakeholders determine key resource allocation concerns, like 

  • when to use and when not to use public clouds and private clouds (factoring in traffic spikes vs. cost considerations); 

  • which instances or cloud components consume more/less resources, when, and why. 

IT teams can also use CMPs to regulate resource consumption and requests per workload to boost app performance.

Cost optimization

The visibility that cloud management enables is critical for channeling financial resources into third-party tools and platforms based on their performance, utilization, and revenue/cost savings. Complete visibility also helps identify excess, abandoned, or underutilized resources for informed financial-resource reallocation.

Faster TTM

By automating service provisioning/deprovisioning, tagging, tracking, and reporting, CMPs reduce errors, improve product quality, and speed up product delivery.

Security and compliance 

CMPs facilitate full resource control and governance, and as a result, they allow for effective cloud security, threat analysis and compliance assessment, along with implementation of endpoint security, IAM, and encryption. 

A few simple best practices

Here are ten cloud management best practices for cloud optimization:

  1. Have clear management goals that will set the stage for the practices and tools you will adopt, as well as the performance metrics and indices you will measure. Organizations usually find some degree of variation and tradeoffs in the offerings of different CMPs—another reason to examine your cloud management goals and the non-negotiable capabilities your ideal tool must have. Carefully examine and test your selected tool to ensure it aligns with organizational goals and needs. 

  2. Choose an effective management platform. The ideal CMP should offer both baseline and advanced functionalities for comprehensive monitoring and management. It should also authenticate and track alterations to cloud resources and enable seamless disaster recovery.

  3. Any management service provider will have access to vast amounts of your cloud resources, so choose a reputable service provider.

  4. Select a CMP that offers self-service and policy customization. Then, configure the management tool to collect important metrics.

  5. Use consistent, easy-to-identify tags for your cloud resources: For example, if you use multiple cloud storage platforms for different data types—such as PII, Kubernetes instances, and Kafka clusters—label them accordingly.

  6. An ideal solution should come with automatic resource utilization tracking and alerting. Set appropriate reporting and alerting thresholds for proactive decision-making and performance optimization.

  7. Choose a CMP that integrates with your security tools. The ideal security tool is a comprehensive CNAPP that can scan your entire cloud for vulnerabilities, resolve vulnerabilities it finds, isolate compromised components, manage identity and access, secure hypervisor-based components, and proactively detect and halt suspicious/malicious actions. An optimal security tool must seamlessly integrate with all cloud resources, including IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS tools; offer complete visibility into their security status; and provide context-sensitive alerting on security threats and vulnerabilities.

  8. Choose a CMP with built-in automation and orchestration functionalities. Automation and orchestration are key to cloud management: They enable swift app development, testing, and production. Automation and orchestration also minimize the need for configuration changes caused by manual development/deploy processes. Despite this, governance inconsistencies can render automation ineffectual. That’s why it’s important to use consistent policies across your cloud environments. Keep in mind that as traffic and utilization spike, cloud workloads and policies are bound to change. Frequently evaluate policy changes and propagate them across all necessary resources. 

  9. Migration is a central part of cloud management: When CSPs offer better performing or more cost-efficient services, cloud customers may need to migrate. To limit cloud cost, data loss, incompatibility, downtime, and other migration-related headaches, develop efficient migration policies. Additionally, be sure to configure your CMP to automatically delete abandoned resources after migration. 

  10. Continuously assess the success of your cloud management strategy and optimize whenever you can. It’s a good idea to regularly check if your management goals are met and if your chosen management tool is functioning as required. 

Conclusion

CMPs help organizations match the pressure to deliver the best services at the quickest pace by enabling comprehensive visibility and automating resource governance, provisioning, and monitoring. But the efficacy of cloud management is relative—it depends on your choice of tool. If you choose an ideal cloud management tool that offers seamless cross-platform interoperability and integration with security tools—like Wiz—your chances of success are sky-high.

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