Solving Cloud Management Challenges

Cloud Management is an ever changing element of the work we do as automation engineers. Oftentimes, we are looking at a number of different platforms both on-prem and in the cloud. The amount of resources in our charge increases almost daily thanks to many advances in software engineering and automation. Security, compliance, and the cleanup of unused resources is creating more work for DevOps engineers by way of multiple cloud management tools for the different platforms in use. Attempts to centralize governance aspects are nearly impossible due to the prevalence of hybrid clouds and the multiple tools and subject matter experts needed to support them.

We want to discuss more about what today’s cloud management looks like. Beyond the tools meant to solve specific problems, there is more to learn about the cloud management services industry itself. Cloudify helps with making sense of the disparate systems that sometimes require a broad knowledge base or subject matter experts. When we discuss cost it isn’t always directly related to a dollar amount. Sometimes it is additional time spent due to additional complexity.

What is Cloud Management?

Today’s mixed bag of environments has created a bit of an issue in regards to proper cloud management. Let’s consider a typical development environment for a product or service. Beyond just the development aspect, proper cloud management keeps downstream effects in the forefront as well. How this is accomplished varies from one team to the next, but oftentimes it results in multiple tools or scripts to accomplish proper coordination.

Deployment scripts meant to bring up applications and their underlying infrastructure are tailored for the environments we have at our disposal. That may be via VMware host resources brought up using tools like Terraform interacting with the VMware vSphere provider in a datacenter situation. It could be resources in one or more cloud providers like Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services. More often than not, it’s a combination of two or more of the above. Not to mention any number of other available infrastructure.

Other aspects of cloud management tools are focused on security and compliance. Whether that be from company policy or from a higher source like EU’s GDPR or state requirements around data privacy. Regardless of how far along your DevOps automation has come, it should be taking these things into consideration. Using a proper cloud management system is one way to tackle these requirements as well as other factors around security and policy compliance.

Infrastructure needs, the homegrown management of internal and external resources, and security all comprise a cloud management strategy. It may help to look more into various solutions and tools available for use in your strategy.

Cloud Management tools and concepts.

Many tools are specific to targeted elements of cloud management. For most of us in the DevOps world, this means automating the needed infrastructure and using processes for Hybrid Cloud Orchestration. This type of automation may be simple in nature, or be a complex operation that requires aspects of infrastructure, configuration, and CI/CD to work as a well-oiled machine. It usually depends on platform-specific tools with many having their own CLI to write scripts for.

Cloud management in a hybrid cloud environment is commonly what we run into during day-to-day tasks. For these situations, managing the various resources requires quite a lot of team planning and dedication to the end-goal of having automated cloud management that is consistent and reliable. Cloudify has more information available that can help visualize the potential of proper hybrid cloud management.

Using a cloud management platform may be something your team has considered. There are a number of tools available if you know where to look. Some may be specific to an industry or cloud platform. Others have an all-in-one approach to lessen the need for more tooling. In terms of cluster management, consider Kubernetes. Several companies offer a hosted Kubernetes solution. The ability to utilize one or more of these services through multi cluster management is ultimately the goal.

Easing Cloud Management automation.

Tools for DevOps automation are a mixture of CLI scripting and CI/CD tools designed for completing a vast number of tasks. For this reason, a breadth of knowledge is often required for the architecture and design of various systems. Depending on the stack in use, the cloud management tools may be fairly disparate from those used for the build and deployment aspects.

Terraform Integration

Infrastructure automation via cloud management platforms is quickly showing enough adoption in mainstream use to transition other aspects to their control. Terraform is a perfect example of tooling used by DevOps and Cloud Engineers to help with the consistent spin up and teardown of resources. This is showing quite a bit of promise for extending this automation even further to support all aspects of cloud management services.

Leveraging the integrations available to multiple cloud providers, virtualization platforms, and legacy hardware, Terraform works hand-in-hand with Cloudify to handle all aspects of infrastructure automation. It is one thing to support one aspect of this depth of automation. Cloudify handles virtually every aspect, regardless of environment and tooling.

Keeping multiple concurrent Terraform versions in sync helps remove the need to upgrade Terraform files across the board. While we spoke in this article about cloud management platforms, the orchestration tools are also part of the bigger picture. This allows for a singular view via a centralized, multi-tenant management console.

Additionally, Cloudify’s offerings focus on a number of other aspects meant to enhance existing integrations. Items like:

  • Secret Management – Secret Management is built in. It supports many layers of input for each deployment, tenant, environment or any combination thereof. 
  • Dynamic Environments – One of the most common tasks for many automation teams is creating appropriate environments for the purpose given. This may be for Development, QA, all the way through to Production. By reusing templates, each environment comes with assurity that each matches the other. The ability to manage this across multiple datacenters and cloud environments helps control cost and maintain availability.
  • OpenSource Model – With help from the DevOps professionals around the world, the Cloudify platform maintains tight integrations with Jenkins, Terraform, and Kubernetes for advanced automation.
  • Day 2 Ops: Config Management – Beyond the initial creation and deployment, the goal is to keep configuration consistent. Day 2 operations like configuration management that is integrated with existing automation allows for parity across environments via SSH or Ansible playbooks.
  • Bulk Operations and Scaling – Imagine managing millions of concurrent deployments without major changes to the base deployment process. Similarly, running your Terraform modules across multiple environments, concurrently, extends the automation you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

It’s true that some tools can add additional complexity. Others are meant to take an already complex set of tools that we as DevOps engineers use, and tie them together in a way that makes sense. Not just from our perspective, but from the perspective of business that requires maximum uptime and responsiveness to new development. Solving cloud management problems isn’t just an ongoing conversation. Cloudify is ready to fill in the gap and overcome the challenges we face when automating everything we are responsible for.

For further reading look at:

Ansible vs Terraform

Docker vs Kubernetes

Terraform vs Cloudformation

Terraform vs Kubernetes

Azure ARM Vs Terraform Vs Cloudify

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