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 Sysco, Workfront, 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.
On this, the twelfth day of the second month in the fourteenth year of Public Cloud, I, one Cloud Waste Killer, vow to bring down my cloud computing cost.
The public cloud was founded in pursuit of elasticity, scalability, and efficiency. It is my duty to defend these principles to the best of my ability.
I will make a valiant effort to use my prowess to pursue that greatest good: optimization.
Thus, I declare:
I Will Value What Matters.
Before killing waste, I will take stock of my resources. I will thoroughly examine my environment to find what resources are used consistently and fully so that they shall not meet the wrath of my weapon. I will label them accordingly for governance and automation.
I Will Leave No Stone Unturned.
After applying virtual armor to the resources I intend to keep, I will examine what remains. I will use the tools at my disposal to discover sources of waste.
I Will Show No Mercy.
Be it dragons or oversized resources, I will face my demons and destroy them. There is no space for idlers in this domain. Upon gathering data, I will create my policies and enforce them, to turn resources off outside of necessary hours, resize them when diminishment is in order, and remove what is no longer needed.
I Will Remain Fearless in Times of Peril.
It is only natural that in this process, I shall encounter objectors, who feel tied to their resources or otherwise stand in the way of my mission to reduce cloud computing cost. These may include developers prone to the hapless deployment of enormous virtual machines, or those who carry willful ignorance of the “stop” function. I will remain a true stalwart in my efforts, and seek to educate before taking action. I will present facts about resource usage to expose the problem of cloud waste.
I Will Polish My Armor and My Sword.
A hero is only as good as his weapon. While I bestow faith in the powers of Automation, I shall not neglect the tools of my trade. I will use the cloud computing cost optimization tools at hand and take advantage of their automation capabilities. I will trust them, yet make time to review their recommendations.
I Will Defend the Realm.
I vow to fight against the rising tide of cloud computing cost in my organization.
I vow to protect my environment against idle and oversized resources.
Workfront is using ParkMyCloud as their go-to solution for cloud cost control, in addition to multi-cloud management and governance benefits they gain from using CloudHealth. We talked with Randy Goddard, Senior Systems Engineer, about how ParkMyCloud came at the “perfect time” and why he sees it being implemented company-wide over the next 6 months.
Randy, thanks for chatting with us. Can you start by telling us about Workfront, what the company does, and your role in the organization?
Workfront is a category-creating company with a platform centered around work management. We enable people to do their best work and to make it matter. If you think of a system of records, like Salesforce as a system of records for customer contact, or HR as a system of records for employee information, Workfront is a system for operational work.
My role began 5 years ago as a traditional systems engineer and over the last 3 years I have moved into a cloud governance role as we made our transition from data center to cloud services. In my cloud governance role I’m third down from the CTO, reporting to the infrastructure manager.
What public clouds are you using – and how many people at Workfront are using the cloud?
We are multi-cloud, using both AWS and Google Cloud Platform for different workloads — and we have about 200 Workfront employees using these two clouds.
So, you use CloudHealth. Tell us about your experience with their multi-cloud management platform – how did you get started and how does it help you?
We’ve used CloudHealth for roughly 2.5 years. Other members of them team piloted and demoed it to us. They left the company shortly after, so I picked it up right after it was introduced and went on to be part of the implementation.
We use CloudHealth for overall governance of all our cloud services. The benefit is the clear visibility into who is running what, where, and what it costs. The side benefits include rightsizing, security notifications, budgeting, and monitoring, in addition to the major benefit of visibility over resources.
How did you learn about ParkMyCloud?
We learned about ParkMyCloud through CloudHealth, actually. A colleague and I attended a webinar in which they talked about automation and the concept of shutting down of resources, introducing ParkMyCloud as the partner solution to accomplish that.
It was perfect timing, really. Just at the moment that CloudHealth and ParkMyCloud partnered and the information was provided in this webinar, one of our busiest units had started working on a homegrown solution. When we became aware of what ParkMyCloud could do, we were in the middle of looking for a solution ourselves, considering build versus buy and determining cost-benefit analysis. We saw the webinar that week, saw the benefit and the cost associated and thought – why would we build our own for the cost that we could get ParkMyCloud?
Was there any pressure from outside of your department to bring cloud costs down?
Since starting on the cloud journey, I have been very well aware of the cost, as has the cloud engineering team. We were really the ones that felt a sense of urgency and paid mind to the actual costs. Outside of this small group, there was a common misconception that the cloud is just free, and there wasn’t an awareness of the need for insight, diligence, and regimen in our cloud environment.
Our team was at the forefront of demonstrating to the business that we need a solution for turning resources off when not using them. We knew we needed to get ahead of costs as they climb and climb and climb, especially in developer environments where resources aren’t required to be on 24/7 and can be oftentimes left unattended for weeks on end. It made a lot of sense to adopt the ParkMyCloud model, pilot it, get it running, and show the business how easy it is to maintain that type of environment.
Funny that you mention the misconception of “it’s free – it’s cloud” – what do you think contributes to that mindset?
I think it’s the migration from traditional data centers in a product-oriented environment or a feature factory. The initial outlay and capital expenditure of buying hardware for a data center is traditionally the only insight that an organization has into how much things cost. But once that capital expenditure is made, the ongoing operational costs are completely obfuscated.
The beauty of cloud is the visibility into how much things actually cost to run. If we want to create widget X, we can now associate direct costs to the infrastructure resources involved into supporting that widget. We never had to pay attention before, but now we have this model where there is free reign in the data center, you get the keys, and you can do what you want. At the same time, there’s a budget associated with all of that and guess who’s in charge? You are. It raises that level of knowledge and awareness that it isn’t just dev costs, it isn’t just the widget, now it’s infrastructure that we have to start paying attention to and architecture around that.
How has your experience been with ParkMyCloud so far?
After a demo, we started a trial and put it to use with cloud credentials for an AWS account that had a lot of development resources. We let the tool model the usage patterns of those resources. After it had enough usage data, we went in to see how automated the process is to spin resources down and back up, and how the scheduling works.
After ParkMyCloud had been running for a couple of weeks, we saw that 7 out of 8 environments with these cloud credentials could be completely shut off for at least 12 hours a day. Because of that, and applying ParkMyCloud to all our enterprise accounts across just the USA, we saw that we could really save a lot of money.
How much are you saving with ParkMyCloud? Any estimates of how much you will save?
The piloting we just did was specifically with automated policy. We set is so that any cloud credential that has ‘-dev’ in the name would be turned off at 7PM our time, and turned on at 7AM. From adding our one cloud credential to see if it could really shut off everything without having to specify the resources by policy, we saw that sure enough it did what we needed it to do and flawlessly. As new things are spun up in that account, they’re shut off at night and turned back on in the morning.
Once we added all of our cloud credentials, we used data from ParkMyCloud’s recommendation screen and our own cost-benefit analysis to present our leadership a safe estimate of $200k in savings a year, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it ends up being more. Anytime you can show a cost-benefit analysis with a tool or a resource – that’s solid data you can bank on.
How many teams are using the tool now, and how many could be implementing them in the future?
The cloud engineering team was the poster child and right now we have 2 full teams. Another I am going to run through with next week, making 3 total. That team is probably where we will see some of the greatest savings.
Our implementation is ongoing. We recently presented ParkMyCloud and CloudHealth at a company-wide internal product user conference. We participated as individual contributors to demo how we were using the tools that could enable us to be cloud stewards around our cloud spend, prompting a lot of discussion and interest. We walked interested teams through all of our documentation around the tool, providing them with a short onboarding session.
Across the entire product organization, we have 25-30 teams that will be implementing ParkMyCloud.
How are you using ParkMyCloud’s automation functionality?
We’re making good use of SmartParking. One clear benefit is that you can go in and tune your settings to your environment, and once the analysis has been done on your resources, those come up as potential “smartparking recommendations”. It’s kind of a no-brainer – “yeah! turn these off at this time.” We do have some full, customer-facing production accounts that need to stay on, and we can’t spin those down at night, but the other 80% can and should be evaluated with SmartParking.
Another side benefit is that when we onboard teams with ParkMyCloud, the side discussion is always about rightsizing. We can look at the heat map through those SmartParking recommendation settings and see that it doesn’t really make sense to have this m42xl running 24/7 when it only gets hit certain times of day and max CPU is only going up to 35% – now we can have that rightsizing discussion around resources, opening a dialogue and providing data points. I have also heard some rumblings about automation around rightsizing and we look forward to utilizing that through CloudHealth and ParkMyCloud.
Are you using any other of our tools and features like the Slack integration?
Yes, we do use Slack. In fact, we had been using it since we turned ParkMyCloud on for our development account, and every night we see the report about which resources are spinning down and each morning which ones have been turned back on.
Do you use any other tools or processes in addition to CloudHealth and ParkMyCloud?
No other tools to control costs. We got started with CloudHealth so early on in our journey that I can’t see anything better, even AWS in providing their own dashboard and cloud-native tools hasn’t compared to the reporting, flexibility, and visibility across all of our accounts like CloudHealth does – and that doesn’t provide multi-cloud management. There aren’t any other tools that we have had to use or employ to get the information that we need.
Now we’re excited to be using ParkMyCloud. We were initially attracted to it because you chose to do one thing and do it well. You’re branching out now, with a couple of more things like rightsizing, which you will also do well instead of trying to do a broad spectrum of things poorly or mediocre. That’s what got us – it fits what we need to do.
That’s great to hear. Anything else you would like to add?
This is the beginning of a very good partnership. We have gotten great response and visibility into support and development around the product. I know when I see a problem and I throw it to the ParkMyCloud support team, I always get quick feedback.
That and the obvious: a lot of cloud customers will realize right off the bat that proper governance is not easy. You can’t go into being a cloud user thinking that it’s going to be cheaper or clearly visible, especially with the complexity of adding multiple accounts and then complicating it with multi-cloud management. You’ve got to employ tools that allow you to gain visibility into and management over those resources. Without ParkMyCloud and CloudHeath, we wouldn’t have that.