Management is the key to effective cloud deployment

Although it's easier to focus on the sexier aspects of cloud computing, long-term operational health should be a core consideration

Typically, cloud management is the last topic of the day when I do a cloud workshop for IT pros. After sessions on big data migration and cloud bursting, eyes often roll when I move to the subject of cloud management. Most participants believe either that cloud-management features come as a part of a public cloud package or it's automatic. Neither is true.

The truth is public cloud management should be decoupled from any specific public cloud provider. Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft offer capable management platforms, but each typically focuses on its own cloud. Yet most enterprises deploy and maintain multiple public and private clouds from multiple providers and for different use cases.

Thus, to create a sound cloud-management strategy, you need to use cloud-agnostic technology.

The list of what to think about is long -- and getting longer. It includes performance, usage accounting, resiliency, machine management, and scaling. You must monitor these aspects continually so that you can identify issues before they become issues.

Cloud management has two key facets.

First is near-real-time analysis of data gathered through cloud operations to spot issues with the cloud-based systems and either automatically correct the issues (such as launching an additional server to handle increasing demands) or notifying a person who can correct the issue.

Second is the ability to layer into the cloud themselves. A cloud-management system can access the clouds' APIs to perform any number of tasks. It can react to data or carry out tasks on behalf of those charged with managing the cloud. This also means it must have the ability to set polices in the cloud management software, such as when to launch additional servers, what do when cloud subscriber groups are out of money, and what to do when servers fail.

Despite the rolled eyes I get during workshops, this is interesting, challenging stuff. Without a good cloud-management strategy and supporting set of technology, you won't have an effective cloud operation.

The time and money you spend on your cloud-management strategy and setup will pay off tenfold in the first year of operation. More important, your cloud-management strategy will largely determine the overall success of your cloud implementation.