The CloudLIVE event held recently in the metropolitan Boston area served as a venue for the give and take of practical cloud management advice. I attended the event and will focus here on what I heard from presenters and panelists who were users of public clouds—typically AWS, Azure and GCP. Of particular interest were the discussions around the cloud team or what is sometimes called the Cloud Center of Excellence within enterprise IT organizations.
One user outlined the formation of a cloud team in this way: Cloud usage among developers and business user groups was burgeoning. The monthly bill was skyrocketing. There was a need to manage cloud usage in a beneficial way and establish cost control. This led to the formation of the cloud team or as some call it, the Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE).
Cloud team advice I heard mentioned at the conference generally fell into three categories:
The team members should represent business governance and technical expertise in specific areas such as infrastructure (servers, networking, storage, IT architecture), application development, security, and standards. The technical aspect of the team focuses essentially on making things work in the cloud and ways to mitigate enterprise risk exposure in the cloud.
Presenters and panelists encouraged attendees to avoid operating in a way that stifles innovation and creativity. The team should not box-in developers and business user groups with inflexible operational standards. Rather, they should establish best practices, guidance and training to enhance cloud usage and the resulting productivity among developers and users. Otherwise, these users can and will go elsewhere.
As mentioned, teams can be formed initially on the fear that monthly OPEX spending on cloud resources has gotten to the point where it can no longer be forecast accurately. This spawns a comprehensive analysis of cloud usage and user behaviors. Cloud architectures are scrutinized for inefficiency and waste. The managerial thrust is first toward informing users of wasteful behavior and then using more forceful means to foster cost consciousness. One panelist spoke of a wall of shame – a dashboard that tallied and analyzed cloud spending by each cloud user group with an efficiency rating appended to each one. Others spoke of using a “show-back” process first to inform users of their spending practices followed by instituting chargeback later. This prompted one panel member to quip that show-back saved some money, chargeback saved serious money.
These three responsibility categories – technical, managerial, financial – define the opportunity for vendors that now offer cloud management platforms (CMPs), an example of which is VMware’s CloudHealth, the organizer and sponsor of the CloudLIVE event. Buyers of CMPs are cloud teams and CCoEs that need tools to reach their objectives. As usual, they can either build them or buy them. But now that they can get them on a SaaS subscription basis from CMPs, I believe users will prefer to acquire them that way.