One of the terms we have been hearing used more often when talking to prospects and customers alike is Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE). DevOps, CloudOps, Infrastructure and Finance teams are joining together to create a cloud center to improve cloud operations in the enterprise. These are also known as a Cloud Command Center, Cloud Operations Center, Cloud Knowledge Center, or perhaps Cloud Enablement Team.
Essentially, a CCoE brings together a cross-functional team to manage cloud strategy, governance, and best practices, and serve as cloud leaders for the entire organization.
Who Needs a Cloud Center of Excellence?
When we talk to prospects and customers that have adopted a CCoE, there seem to be a couple of common themes:
Cloud-centric organizations where the DevOps, Security and Finance teams want to ensure that the organization’s diverse set of business units are using a common set of best practices, as no one wants the wild west for cloud management
Large organizations who are now multi-cloud and they need to standardize on a set of tools and processes that work across the CSPs for security, governance, operations and cost control
MSPs who are developing cloud centers focused on creating best practices for their customers, for both single and multi-cloud; for example, you would have an Azure Cloud Center of Excellence (ACCoE) or a Google Cloud Center of Excellence (GCCoE)
For more, see this presentation from Zendesk and CloudHealth from AWS re:Invent 2018 to understand how a large, cloud-centric organization leverages the CCoE concept to improve governance and operational efficiency.
What Should the Cloud Center of Excellence Prioritize?
No matter why you have established a cloud center within your organization, there are a few important priorities in order to make your effort a success:
Interdepartmental Communication — the CCoE serves as a bridge between departments that use, measure, or fund cloud operations. All of these departments and stakeholders need to be on the same page about goals, timelines, and budgets for cloud operations, which is the entire idea of establishing a CCoE.
Technology Expertise — as a resource and driver of innovation throughout the organization, it is imperative that the CCoE are the experts on the cloud technology used in the organization. Given the rate of innovation by the cloud providers, this requires dedicated time and effort.
Governance — there are two major elements important for governance: authority and standardization. In order for the CCoE to be effective, it needs to be granted authority to set policies and standards for cloud security, compliance, and cost control — with the expectation that people throughout the organization will follow these policies. Once that authority is held, the CCoE needs to set, communicate, and enforce the policy standards as an initial priority.
Repeatability and Automation — once policies are established, it’s time to make deployment processes repeatable with reference architectures, and to get tools and platforms in place for governance and cost control.
End-User Buy In –– we all know that if a developer doesn’t want to do something, it’s pretty likely they’re not going to do it. Developing a sense of, if not excitement exactly, but engagement, is important for your new structure to succeed. Several of our customers with cloud centers regularly host tech talks, brown bag lunches, and other learning experiences to promote buy-in and adoption of tools and processes.
Call it What You Want: A Dedicated Effort is Key
Maybe Cloud Center of Excellence is too cheesy a phrase for your taste. What matters is cross-departmental collaboration and standardizing a plan for cloud migration, growth, and management.
Is your organization using a Cloud Center of Excellence model? How’s it going? We’d love to hear in the comments below!
Automated Cloud Cost Optimization Now Available for Public Sector Cloud Users on Amazon Web Services
February 26, 2019 (Dulles, VA) – ParkMyCloud, provider of the leading enterprise platform for continuous cost control in public cloud, announced today that it now supports AWS GovCloud (US). ParkMyCloud provides automated cost optimization through resource “rightsizing” and automated scheduling based on usage, which together can help cloud users eliminate wasted spend and reduce costs by 65%. In addition to AWS GovCloud, ParkMyCloud supports Amazon Web Services (AWS) commercial regions, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and Alibaba Cloud.
AWS GovCloud (US) is Amazon’s cloud region for sensitive data and regulated workloads. It is used by government customers, organizations in government-regulated industries, and other entities that meet security requirements. The region is highly secure, subject to FedRAMP baselines, operated by employees who are U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, and requires customers to pass a screening process.
ParkMyCloud for AWS GovCloud resides in a standalone ParkMyCloud SaaS deployment within AWS GovCloud. All ParkMyCloud products meet users’ security guidelines by requiring least-privilege access to cloud resources, so only the state of the resource can be accessed or managed – never the contents. Support includes both regions of AWS GovCloud: the US-West region that was launched in 2011, and the US-East region that was announced in November 2018.
“We currently use ParkMyCloud to manage our AWS commercial resources, which saves us about 45% of the cost,” said Pratap Chilukuri, Lead Enterprise Architect at an IT service management company. “We’ve been looking forward to ParkMyCloud’s AWS GovCloud support so we can achieve the same savings on our GovCloud resources.”
“AWS GovCloud customers have not had a lot of available options for automated cloud cost control and governance,” said ParkMyCloud CEO Jay Chapel. “We’ve received a growing number of requests for this support over the past several months, and we’re happy to deliver it.”
ParkMyCloud provides an easy-to-use platform that helps enterprises automatically identify and eliminate wasted cloud spend. More than 800 enterprises around the world – including Unilever, Sysco, Hitachi ID Systems, Sage Software, and National Geographic – trust ParkMyCloud to cut their cloud spend by millions of dollars annually. ParkMyCloud’s SaaS offering allows enterprises to easily manage, govern, and optimize their spend across multiple public clouds. For more information, visit www.parkmycloud.com.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides a treasure trove of documents and CloudFormation templates in their AWS Solutions portal, including AWS right sizing, the AWS instance scheduler, a chatbot framework, and more. These solutions can be used as-is for immediate integration into your existing environment, or can be the starting point for developing your own unique toolsets. Today, we’re reviewing the AWS Right Sizing tool to see how much it can help you optimize your infrastructure.
AWS Right Sizing: What It Does
AWS offers a variety of types and sizes of EC2 instances. That means that it’s perfectly possible to select an instance type that’s too large for your actual needs, which means you’ll be paying more than necessary. In fact, the data shows that this is happening most of the time. The AWS Right Sizing tool exists to help users find the correct instance size to meet their needs at the lowest cost.
The tool uses a CloudFormation template that deploys infrastructure and scripts needed to make right sizing recommendations for your AWS account. This infrastructure includes an EC2 instance that will run python scripts, a 2-node Redshift cluster for the right sizing analysis, and an S3 bucket for the raw CloudWatch data and the final CSV output. The total cost of this deployment in the us-east-1 region is $0.65 per hour.
The basis of the right sizing logic is to look at the Max CPU from the past 2 weeks of CloudWatch data for each EC2 instance. If the max CPU is above 50% at any point, then it will not recommend a change, but if it is always below 50% then it will attempt to find the cheapest instance size that matches the I/O, memory, network, and at least the max CPU that was found. The final output is a CSV file that includes information about the existing instance sizes, the utilization of those instances, the recommended instance size, and the cost saved per month.
Worth the hassle?
Based on the logic above, the AWS Right Sizing tool does a very basic level of recommendation for instance sizing. There are a few scenarios where these recommendations may not be helpful, such as applications that are memory-intensive or cases where the instance needs to be a larger size than it currently is. The tool also only spits out a CSV with the recommendations, which means you still have to make decisions and take actions based on those recommendations. The CSV file looks like this:
If those recommendations don’t seem to fit what you’re looking for, the nice thing is they offer the full stack, along with all scripts and CloudFormation templates, as an open-source repository. This means you can take the core of the recommendation engine and tweak it to follow your own logic for customized recommendations, or even use it to trigger the resizing of the instance. AWS also offers Trusted Advisor as a part of their Business-level and Enterprise-level support plans, which can offer right sizing recommendations in real time (amongst other health checks and recommendations).
Overall, this AWS right sizing tool can either be a useful check-up tool for your environment, or the basis for your own cost-optimization initiative, but many users will want a more out-of-the-box automated solution for this.
Since changing server sizes and timing this with maintenance windows can be a hassle, ParkMyCloud has introduced a feature to automate the resizing of your EC2 instances. Interested? Check it out with a free trial.
We’ve been hearing buzz about a new concept in AI, robotic process automation. The promise of the technology is that it can automate processes that employees are doing manually, saving your employees’ time and potentially reducing operational costs. It fits right in with the current trends in cloud computing toward optimization. We’re all about saving time and money – so let’s take a look at this trend to see if it can help you do either of these things.
What is Robotic Process Automation?
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a way to automate business processes by creating software robots to perform manual and mundane work-tasks. It allows users the ability to configure within an application the capability to handle a variety of repetitive tasks by processing, employing, generating and communicating information automatically. For example, you might program RPA bots to do first-level customer support tasks by searching for answers; copy and paste data from one system to another for invoicing or expense management or issue refunds. This video from IBM shows an example in action.
Furthermore, RPA tools can be trained to make judgments about future outputs. Many users appreciate its non-intrusive nature and the ability to integrate within infrastructures without causing disruption to systems already in place.
How can you use Robotic Process Automation?
Companies like Walmart, AT&T, and Walgreens are adopting the use of RPA. Clay Johnson, the CIO of Walmart, says they use RPA bots to automate pretty much anything from answering employee questions to retrieving useful information from audit documents. The CIO of American Express Global Business Travel, David Thompson, says they implement the use of RPA to automate the process for canceling an airline ticket and issuing refunds. In addition, Thompson is looking to use RPA to facilitate automatic rebooking recommendations, and to automate certain expense management tasks in the company.
More specific to cloud computing and IT, one great application for RPA is in automated software testing. If testing involves multiple applications and monotonous work, RPA can replace workers’ time spent testing. Additionally, RPA can be used to automate processes in monolithic legacy systems that are not worth developers’ time to update, to bring automation while work on newer microservices systems is in progress.
Is Robotic Process Automation the Best Way to Automate Cost Control?
A recent study found that not all automation is achievable with RPA. In the study, they conclude that only three percent of organizations have managed to scale RPA to a high level. Additionally, Gartner placed RPA tools at the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” in their Hype Cycle guide for artificial intelligence last year – another vote for more buzz than potential.
So can it save you time and money? If employees at your company are spending a large percentage of their time on repetitive tasks that require little to no decision making, then yes, it probably can. It’s also important to free up developer time that is spent on automatable tasks, like scripting, so they can focus on creating value for your business.
For complex and long-term automation, though, purpose-built software is a better solution. If there is already a solution to your automation needs on the market, it will probably serve you better than RPA, because there won’t be an upfront period needed to program bots, you won’t need to make frequent changes to your processes like many RPA bots will require, and it’s a better solution for the long run.
There’s a growing job function among companies using public cloud: the Enterprise Cloud Manager. We recently did a study on ParkMyCloud users which showed that a growing proportion them have “cloud” or the name of their cloud provider such as “AWS” in their job title. This indicates a growing degree of specialization for individuals who manage cloud infrastructure. In some companies, there is a dedicated role for cloud management – such as an Enterprise Cloud Manager.
Why would you need an Enterprise Cloud Manager?
The world of cloud management is constantly changing and becoming increasingly complex, which can make it confusing, expensive, and hard to control. If someone is not fully versed in this field, they may not always know how to handle problems related to governance, security, and cost control. It is important to dedicate resources in your organization to cloud management and related cloud job roles. This chart from Gartner gives us a look at all the things that are involved in cloud management so we can better understand how many parts need to come together for it to run smoothly.
Having a role in your organization that is dedicated to cloud management allows others, who are not specialized in that field, to focus on their jobs, while also centralizing responsibility. With the help of an Enterprise Cloud Manager, responsibilities are delegated appropriately to ensure cloud environments are handled according to best practices in governance, security, and cost control.
The role of an Enterprise Cloud Manager is to oversee cloud operations. They know all the ins and outs of cloud management so they are able to create processes for resource provisioning and services. Their focus is on optimizing their infrastructure which will help streamline all their cloud operations, improve productivity, and optimize cloud costs.
Automation Tools are Essential
With so much going on in this space, it isn’t possible to expect just one person or a team to manage all of this – you need automation tools. The great thing is that these tools work for companies of any size. Primary users can be people dedicated to this full time, such as an Enterprise Cloud Manager, as well as people managing cloud infrastructure on top of other responsibilities.
Why are these tools important? They provide two main things: visibility and action to act on those recommendations. Customers that were once managing resources manually are now saving time and money by implementing an automation tool. Take a look at the automation tools that are set up through your cloud vendor, as well as third-party tools that are available. Setting up these tools for automation will lessen the need for routine check-ins and maintenance while ensuring your infrastructure is optimized.
Do I really need one?
If you want your organization to be well informed and up to date, then it is important that you have someone or something in place to oversee your cloud operations – an Enterprise Cloud Manager and automation tools.