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Cloud Services / DevOps / Observability

5 Observability Tips for Building a Cloud Center of Excellence

Maintaining a cloud center of excellence requires visibility into each moving part: automation, scaling, and managing stacks.
Aug 12th, 2021 10:00am by
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Kevin Downs
As solutions strategy director at New Relic, Kevin has deep knowledge of IT ops, the cloud industry and works with customers and partners to assist in their cloud adoption journeys. He’s been in the enterprise software industry for over 20 years and has spent 12 years as a customer-facing solutions architect, selling enterprise software solutions to all verticals.

As digital transformation initiatives accelerate, 85% of businesses use cloud computing to handle their critical business operations. The cloud has changed the way companies operate. Yet while the cloud solves many problems associated with legacy systems, it also creates new ones.

Chief among those challenges is attaining the observability into the ecosystem required to manage it correctly and ensure the operation of a cloud center of excellence. A cloud center of excellence (CCOE) is the team that develops and implements cloud solutions inside the organization. A CCOE is considered a best practice because it fosters operational efficiency while driving a fundamental shift toward higher levels of effectiveness within IT culture.

Maintaining a cloud center of excellence requires visibility into each moving part: automation, scaling and managing stacks across the entire ecosystem. Developers can’t fix what they can’t see, so keeping a high-level view into operations across the infrastructure streamlines processes, reduces operational costs and ensures visibility into issues as they arise.

Here are five ways to ensure businesses are practicing observability and thus elevating their infrastructure to a cloud center of excellence:

1. Keep Infrastructure Streamlined

Cloud adoption represents an attractive alternative to on-premises systems because it can attain computing power at a fraction of the cost. However, many businesses underestimate how difficult and expensive it can be to fine-tune cloud services to their unique needs.

In short, with cloud infrastructure, it’s easy to end up with bloated, complicated systems. Whether it’s poorly configured autoscaling, instances that get deployed and forgotten about or unknown features in an ecosystem, cloud infrastructure can become unmanageable and exceed expected budgets. With observability, DevOps teams can reduce unused services and resources, identify possible bottlenecks and ensure that infrastructure is streamlined for the organization.

2. Identify Problems Before Disruption

When problems within the infrastructure occur, time is of the essence. Having insight into what the problems are and how to fix them is mission critical. This is why observability is paramount for any CCOE. For every minute a disruption goes unidentified, the company suffers a direct hit to both customer trust and the bottom line.

As infrastructures become increasingly complex, problems and errors can creep in and cause larger disruptions to the ecosystem. Operational lack of visibility and observability in cloud systems means that IT teams must dig to uncover the root cause of an error. While they’re busy looking at logs, problems multiply in the pipeline.

3. Adhere to Compliance Requirements

Compliance with the cloud can be tricky, especially when dealing with public clouds. The modern tech stack must be secure and comply with an onerous web of regulations. Specific industries, such as healthcare and finance, have strict requirements for how data is transmitted, stored and managed. Failure to follow these regulations can lead to loss of customer trust, fines, or, most severely, a data breach.

Increased observability into a cloud ecosystem improves a company’s ability to adhere to regulatory compliance requirements. It allows the team to ensure that accounts are configured correctly, standardize processes and security practices, perform regular audits on data storage or account permissions, review data stored in the cloud and assess potential risks to the organization. Observability into the infrastructure allows organizations to reduce budgetary and human resources spent to keep up with compliance.

4. Develop Deeper Operational Insights

Data drives business decisions, meaning the quality of a company’s data affects the quality of its performance. Working from bad data leads to bad decisions, increasing costs and operational downtime. The same thing might happen if a company has access to too much data and cannot synthesize it into a coherent strategy. In both cases, the company might flounder in the face of opportunity simply because it cannot determine what to do.

Mature observability means not just visibility into a system, but also knowing which metrics to reference, structuring data into useful forms, eliminating information silos that may restrict decision-making, and visualizing relationships between operations, customers, markets and other actors.

5. Streamline Automation

The cloud thrives on automation, and that’s even more true when considering cloud native architecture. With automation, cloud infrastructure can scale up and down on demand and allocate resources as necessary, in addition to configuring new accounts. But while these processes can save time and energy for the humans guiding the ecosystem, they also lead to reduced visibility. Many teams adopt a “set it and forget it” mentality, assuming that automation will take care of itself.

In reality, increased observability can help a CCOE team make the most out of its automation. Rather than setting it and forgetting it, observability assists the deployment of automation by making it easier to analyze performance and adjust automated processes as necessary,  thus streamlining operations.

Having a clear, strategic view of the ecosystem, achieved through observability, will equip organizations with the tools they need to successfully run their cloud operations and scale the business as a whole.

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Pragma.
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