Cloud Operations Management: Is the cloud really making operations easier?

Cloud Operations Management: Is the cloud really making operations easier?

As cloud becomes more mature, the need for cloud operations management becomes more pervasive. In my world, it seems pretty much like IT Operations Management (ITOM) from decades ago. In the way-back machine I used to work at Micromuse, the Netcool company, which was acquired by IBM Tivoli, the Smarter Planet company, which then turned Netcool into Smarter Cloud … well you get the drift. Here we are 10+ years later, and IT = Cloud (and maybe chuck in some Watson).

Cloud operations management is the process concerned with designing, overseeing, controlling, and subsequently redesigning cloud operational processes.  This involves management of both hardware and software as well as network infrastructures to promote an efficient and lean cloud.

Analytics is heavily involved in cloud operations management and used to maximize visibility of the cloud environment, which gives the organization the intelligence required to control the resources and running services confidently and cost-effectively.

Cloud operations management can:

  • Improve efficiency and minimize the risk of disruption
  • Deliver the speed and quality that users expect and demand
  • Reduce the cost of delivering cloud services and justify your investments

Since ParkMyCloud helps enterprises control cloud costs, we mostly talk to customers about the part of cloud operations concerned with running and managing resources. We are all about that third bullet – reducing the cost of delivering cloud services and justifying investments. We strive to accomplish that while also helping with the first two bullets to really maximize the value the cloud brings to an enterprise.

So what’s really cool is when we get to ask people what tools they are using to deploy, secure, govern, automate and manage their public cloud infrastructure, as those are the tools that they want us to integrate into as part of their cost optimization efforts, and we need to understand the roles operation folks now play in public cloud (CloudOps).

And, no it’s not easier to manage cloud. In fact I would say it’s harder. The cloud provides numerous benefits – agility, time to market, OpEx vs. CapEx, etc. – but you still have to automate, manage and optimize all those resources. The pace of change is mind boggling – AWS advertises 150+ services now, from basic compute to AI, and everything in between.

So who are these people responsible for cloud operations management? Their titles tend to be DevOps, CloudOps, IT Ops and Infrastructure-focused, and they are tasked with operationalizing their cloud infrastructure while teams of developers, testers, stagers, and the like are constantly building apps in the cloud and leveraging a bottoms-up tools approach. Ten years ago, people could not just stand up a stack in their office and have at it, but they sure as hell can now.

So what does this look like in the cloud? I think KPMG did a pretty good job with this graphic and generally hits on the functional buckets we see people stick tools into for cloud operations management.

So how should you approach your cloud operations management journey? Let’s revisit the goals from above.

  1. Efficiency – Automation is the name of the game. Narrow in on the tools that provide automation to free up your team’s development time.
  2. Deliverability – See the bullet above. When your team has time, they can focus on delivering the best possible product to your customers.
  3. Cost control – Think of “continuous cost control” as a companion to continuous integration and continuous delivery. This area, too, can benefit from automated tools – learn more about continuous cost control.

 

$12.9 Billion in wasted cloud spend this year.

Wake up and smell the wasted cloud spend. The cloud shift is not exactly a shift anymore, it’s an evident transition. It’s less of a “disruption” to the IT market and more of an expectation. And with enterprises following a visible path headed towards the cloud, it’s clear that their IT spend is going in the same direction: up.

Enterprises have a unique advantage as their cloud usage continues to grow and evolve. The ability to see where IT spend is going is a great opportunity to optimize resources and minimize wasted cloud spend, and one of the best ways to do that is by identifying and preventing cloud waste.

So, how much cloud waste is out there and how big is the problem? What difference does this make to the enterprises adopting cloud services at an ever-growing rate? Let’s take a look.

The State of the Cloud Market in 2018

The numbers don’t lie. For a real sense of how much wasted cloud spend there is, the first step is to look at how much money enterprises are spending in this space at an aggregate level.

Gartner’s latest IT spending forecast predicts that worldwide IT spending will reach $3.7 trillion in 2018, up 4.5 percent from 2017. Of that number, the portion spent in the public cloud market is expected to reach $305.8 billion in 2018, up $45.6 billion from 2017.

The last time we examined the numbers back in 2016, the global public cloud market was sitting at around $200 billion and Gartner had predicted that the cloud shift would affect $1 trillion in IT spending by 2020. Well, with an updated forecast and over $100 billion dollars later, growth could very well exceed predictions.

The global cloud market and the portion attributed to public cloud spend are what give us the ‘big picture’ of the cloud shift, and it just keeps growing, and growing, and growing. You get the idea. To start understanding wasted cloud spend at an organizational level, let’s break this down further by looking at an area that Gartner says is driving a lot of this growth: infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

Wasted Cloud Spend in IaaS

As enterprises increasingly turn to cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to provide compute resources for hosting components of their infrastructures, IaaS plays a significant role in both cloud spend and cloud waste.

Of the forecasted $305.8 billion dollar public cloud market for 2018, $45.8 billion of that will be spent on IaaS, ⅔ of which goes directly to compute resources. This is where we get into the waste part:

  • 44% of compute resources are used for non-production purposes (i.e. development, staging, testing, QA)
  • The majority of servers used for these functions only need to run during the typical 40-hour work week (Monday through Friday, 9 to 5) and do not need to run 24/7
  • Cloud service providers are still charging you by the hour (or minute, or even by the second) for providing compute resources

The bottom line: for the other 128 hours of the week (or 7,680 minutes, or 460,800 seconds) – you’re getting charged for resources you’re not even using. And there’s a large percent of your waste!

What You Can Do to Prevent Wasted Cloud Spend

Turn off your cloud resources.

The easiest and fastest way to save money on your idle cloud resources is by simply not using them. In other words, turn them off. When you think of the cloud as a utility like electricity, it’s as simple as turning off the lights every night and when you’re not at home. With ParkMyCloud you can automatically schedule your cloud resources to turn off when you don’t need them, like nights and weekends, and eliminate 65% or more on your monthly bill with AWS, Azure, and Google. Wham. bam.

Turn on your SmartParking.

You already know that you don’t need your servers to be on during nights and weekends, so you shut them off. That’s great, but what if you could save even more with valuable insight and information about your exact usage over time?

With ParkMyCloud’s new SmartParking feature, the platform will track your utilization data, look for patterns and create recommended schedules for each instance, allowing you to turn them off when they’re typically idle.

There’s a lot of cloud waste out there, but there’s also something you can do about it: try ParkMyCloud today.

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah we Park %$#@, but what really matters to Enterprises? – Frequently Asked Questions

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah we Park %$#@, but what really matters to Enterprises? – Frequently Asked Questions

Here at ParkMyCloud we get to do product demos for a lot of great companies all over the world, from startups to Fortune 500’s, and in many different industries – Software, IT, Financial, Media, Food and Beverage, and many more. And as we talk to industry analysts and venture capitalists they always ask about vertical selling and the like — we used to do this back at Micromuse where had Federal, Enterprise, Service Provider and SMB sales teams, for example. But here at ParkMyCloud we notice in general the questions from enterprises are vertical-agnostic, and since cloud is the great IT equalizer in my book, we decided to summarize the 8 Most Frequently Asked Questions we get from prospects of all shapes and sizes.

These are the more common questions we get beyond turning cloud resources off / on:

How does ParkMyCloud handle system patching?

Answer: The most common way of dealing with patching is to use our API.  The workflow would be to log in through the API, get a list of the resources, then choose which resources you want and choose to “snooze” the schedule (which is a temporary override of the schedule, if you haven’t played with that yet) for a couple of hours, or however long the patching takes.  Once the schedule is snoozed, you can toggle the instance on, then do the patching.  After the patching is complete, you can either cancel the snooze to go back to the original schedule or wait for the snooze to finish and timeout.

If your patching is done on a weekly basis, you could also just implement the patch times into the schedules so the instances turn on, say at 3am on Sunday.

How do I start and stop instances in a sequential order?

Answer: ParkMyCloud has created a feature that we call ‘Logical Groups’, basically you group cloud resources into a group or cluster within the platform and then assign the order you wish them to stop and start, you can also set how long it takes before resource 1 starts / stops and then resource 2 starts / stops and so forth. This way, your web server can stop first and the database can stop second so all the connections close properly. As this feature is very popular, we have had many requests to fully automate this using our policy engine and tags, a work in progress – that will be way cool.

My developers hate UI’s, how does he/she manage the schedules without using your UI?

Answer: Yes, this is an easy one but always gets asked. If you are anti-UI or just don’t want to use yet another UI, you can use the following channels to manage your resources in ParkMyCloud:

Can I govern user access and permissions?

Answer: Yes, we have support for Single-Sign On (SSO) and a full on Role-based Access Control model (RBAC) in the platform that allows you to import users, add them to teams and assign them roles. The common scenario around this is ‘I only want my SAP QA team to have access to the cloud resources they need for that project and nothing else, and limit their permissions’ – handled.

Can I automatically assign schedules based on tags?

Answer: Yes, and in general this what most companies do using ParkMyCloud. We have a Policy Engine where you can create policies that allow you to fully automate your cloud resource scheduling. Basically the policy reads the AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud metadata that is brought into the platform, and based on those tags (or even other data like resource name, size, region, etc.) and the corresponding policy, we can automatically assign schedules to cloud resources. And we take that a step further, as those resources can also be automatically parsed to Teams and Users as well based on their roles (see RBAC).

You can only park stuff based on tags? That’s so weak!

Answer: Not so fast my friend … I must admit we sort of threw this one in there but it does come up quite often, and we recently solved this problem with our release of SmartParking, which allows you to bring in metric data, trend it for a period of time, and then automatically create schedules based on those usage patterns – cool stuff.

Can we pick which instances we bring into ParkMyCloud?

Answer: Sort of, through their API the cloud providers don’t allow you to choose which cloud resources in an account you bring into the platform, if you link a cloud account to ParkMyCloud all the cloud resources in that account will populate (assuming our API supports those resources and the cloud provider allows you to ‘park’ them). But we do let you choose which accounts you bring into ParkMyCloud, so link accounts and bring in as many or as few accounts as you wish, and by the way AWS recommends you create accounts based on function like Production, Dev, Test, QA, etc., and then breaks that down even more granular to Dev 1, Dev 2, Dev 3, etc. – this is ideal for ParkMyCloud.

Where is ParkMyCloud located?

Answer: Northern Virginia of course, in Sterling at Terminal 68 to be precise. It’s a co-working space we share with several other startups; we would also be remiss if we did not mention this area is also one of the finalist locations for Amazon’s H2Q – it’s a hotbed of cloud and data center activity.

We hope this was helpful and would value your feedback on the 8 Most Frequently Asked Questions we get, and if yours are the same or different, or of course our favorite … have you thought of XYZ as a feature? Let us know at info@parkmycloud.com.

Introducing SmartParking: Automatic On/Off Schedules based on AWS CloudWatch Metrics

Introducing SmartParking: Automatic On/Off Schedules based on AWS CloudWatch Metrics

Today, we’re excited to bring you SmartParkingTM – automatic, custom on/off schedules for individual resources based on AWS CloudWatch metrics!

ParkMyCloud customers have always appreciated parking recommendations based on keywords found in their instance names and tags – for example, ParkMyCloud recommends that an instance tagged “dev” can be parked, as it’s likely not needed outside of a Monday-Friday workday.

Now, SmartParking will look for patterns in your utilization data from AWS CloudWatch, and create recommend schedules for each instance to turn them off when they are typically idle. This minimizes idle time to maximize savings on your resources.

With SmartParking, you eliminate the extra step of checking in with your colleagues to make sure the schedules you’re putting on their workloads doesn’t interfere with their needs. Now you can receive automatic recommendations to park resources when you know they won’t be used.

SmartParking schedules are provided as recommendations, which you can then click to apply. This release supports SmartParking for AWS resources, with plans to add Azure and Google Cloud SmartParking.

Instance utilization report from AWS CloudWatch data

SmartParking schedule created from instance utilization data

Customize Your Recommendations like your 401K

Different users will have different preferences about what they consider “parkable” times for an instance. So, like your investment portfolios, you can choose to receive SmartParking schedules that are “conservative”, “balanced”, or “aggressive”. And like an investment, a bigger risk comes with the opportunity for a bigger reward.

If you’d like to prioritize the maximum savings amount, then choose aggressive SmartParking schedules. You will park instances – and therefore save money – for the most time, with the “risk” of occasional inconvenience by having something turned off when someone needs it. Your users can always log in to ParkMyCloud and override the schedule with the “snooze button” if they need to use the instance when it’s parked.

On the other hand, if you would like to ensure that your instances are never parked when they might be needed, choose a conservative SmartParking schedule. It will only recommend parked times when the instance is never used. Choose “balanced” for a happy medium.

What People are Saying: Save More, Easier than Ever

Several existing ParkMyCloud customers have previewed the new functionality. “ParkMyCloud has helped my team save so much on our AWS bill already, and SmartParking will make it even easier,” said Tosin Ojediran, DevOps Engineer at a FinTech company. “The automatic schedules will save us time and make sure our instances are never running when they don’t need to be.”

Already a ParkMyCloud user? Log in to your account to try out the new SmartParking. Note that you will need to have AWS CloudWatch metrics enabled for several weeks in order for us to see your usage trends and make recommendations. If you haven’t already, you will need to update your AWS policy.

New to ParkMyCloud? Start a free trial here.

Cloud Computing 101, the Holidays, DevOps Automation and Moscow Mules – How’s that for a mix!?

Cloud Computing 101, the Holidays, DevOps Automation and Moscow Mules – How’s that for a mix!?

I’m back to thinking about Cloud Computing 101, DevOps automation, and the other topics that keep my mind whirring at night – a sure sign that the 2017 holiday season is now officially over. I kicked mine off with an Ugly Sweater Party and wrapped it up with the College BCS games. In between, we had my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary (congrats to them), work-related holiday functions, Christmas with family and friends, New Years Eve with friends, and even chucked in some work and skiing. My liver needs a break but I love those Moscow Mules! Oh, and I have a Fitbit now to tell me how much I sit on my arse all day and peck away at this damn laptop – thanks kids, love you :).

What does this have to do with the cloud, cost control, DevOps and ParkMyCloud? At the different functions and events I went to, people who know me and what we do here at ParkMyCloud asked how business was going. In short, it’s great! In case you didn’t notice, the public cloud is growing, and fast. According to this recent article in Forbes, IaaS is growing 36% year on year – giddy up! Enterprises all over the world use ParkMyCloud to automate cloud cost control as part of their DevOps process. In fact we have customers in 20+ countries now. And people from companies like Sysco Foods rave about the ease of use and cost savings provided by the platform.

Now, when I talked to folks who don’t know what we do or what the cloud is, it’s a whole different discussion. For example, here’s a conversation I had at a party with Lindsey – a fictitious name to protect the innocent (or perhaps it’s USA superstar skier Lindsey Vonn… you will never know.) I like to call this conversation and ones like it “Cloud 101.”

Lindsey: “Hey Jay, how’s it going?”

Jay: “Awesome, great to see you Lindsey. Staying fit I see. How’s the family?” (of course I am holding my Mule in my copper mug – love it!)

Blah blah blah – now to the good stuff.

Lindsey: “So what do you do now?”

Jay: “Do you know what the cloud is?”

Lindsey: “You mean like iTunes?”

Jay: “Sort of. You know all those giant buildings you see when driving around here in Ashburn (VA)? Those buildings are full of servers that run the apps that you use in everyday life. Do you use the Starbucks app?”

Lindsey: “Yes – I’m addicted to Peppermint Mochas.”

Jay: “I am an Iced Venti Skim Chai Tea person myself. So the servers in those data centers are what power the cloud, Starbucks develops apps in the cloud, servers cost money when they’re running, just like the lights in your house. And like the lights in your house, those development servers don’t need to run all the time – only when people are actually using them. So we help companies like Starbucks turn them off when they are not being used. In short, we help companies save money in the cloud.”

Side note to Starbucks — maybe if you used ParkMyCloud to save on your cloud costs with Microsoft and AWS you could stop raising the price of my Iced Venti Skim Chai Tea Latte… just a thought.

It’s thanks to all our customers and partners that I’m able to have this Cloud Computing 101 conversation and include ParkMyCloud in it – with a special thanks to the “Big 3” cloud service providers – AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Without them, we would not exist as there would not be a cloud to optimize. Kind of like me without my parents, so glad they came together.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2018, we will have lots to write about here at ParkMyCloud — multi-cloud is trending up, automated cloud cost control is trending up, and DevOps will make this all more efficient. And ParkMyCloud will introduce SmartParking, SmartSizing, support for AliCloud and more. It’s all about action and automation baby. Game of Thrones better be back in 2018, too.