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What Makes a Good CloudOps Organization?

Automation can hold the key to less waste, more efficient teams and happier site reliability engineers, according to Mekka Williams of Spot by NetApp in this episode of The New Stack Makers.
Dec 20th, 2022 1:59pm by
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During the pandemic, many organizations sped up their move to the cloud — without fully understanding the costs, both human and financial, they would pay for the convenience and scalability of a digital transformation.

“They really didn’t have a baseline,” said Mekka Williams, principal engineer, at Spot by NetApp, in this episode of The New Stack Makers podcast. “And so those first cloud bills, I’m sure were shocking, because you don’t get a cloud bill, when you run on your on-premises environment, or even your private cloud, where you’ve already paid the cost for the infrastructure that you’re using.

Automation for Cloud Optimization

What’s especially worrisome is that many of those costs are simply wasted, Williams said. “Most of the containerized applications running in Kubernetes clusters are running underutilized,” she said. “And anything that’s underutilized in the cloud equates to waste. And if we want to be really lean and clean and use resources in a very efficient manner, we have to have a really good cloud strategy in order to do that.”

This episode of The New Stack Makers, hosted by Heather Joslyn, TNS features editor, focused on CloudOps, which in this case stands for “cloud operations.” (It can also stand for “cloud optimization,” but more about that later.)

The conversation was sponsored by Spot by NetApp.

Automation for Cloud Optimization

Many organizations that moved quickly to the cloud during the dog days of the pandemic have begun to revisit the decisions they made and update their strategies, Williams said.

“We see some organizations that are trying to modernize their applications further, to make better use of the services that are available in the cloud,” she said. “The cloud is getting more complex as they grow and mature in their journey.

“And so they’re looking for ways to simplify their operations. And as always keep their costs down. Keep things simple for their DevOps and SRE, to  is not incur additional technical debt, but still make the most make the best use out of their cloud, wherever they are.”

Automation holds the key to CloudOps — both definitions — according to Williams. For starters, it makes teams more efficient.

“The less tasks that your workforce have to perform manually, the more time they have to spend focused on business logic and being innovative,” Williams said. “Automation also helps you with repeatability. And it’s less error-prone, and it helps you standardize. Really good automation simplifies your environment greatly.”

Automating repetitive tasks can also help prevent your site reliability engineers (SREs) from burnout, she said.

Practicing “good data hygiene,” Williams said, also helps contain costs and reduce toil: “Making sure you’re using the right tier of data, making sure you’re not over-provisioned. And the type of storage you need, you don’t need to pay top dollar for high-performing storage, if it’s just backup data that doesn’t get accessed that often.”

Such practices are “good to know on-premises, but these are imperative to know when you’re in the cloud,” she said, in order to reduce waste.

During this episode, Williams pointed to solutions in the Spot by Netapp portfolio that use automation to help make the most of cloud infrastructure, such as its flagship product, Elastigroup, which takes advantage of excess capacity to scale workloads.

In June, Spot by NetApp acquired Instaclustr, a solution for managing open source databases and streaming technologies. The company recognizes the growing importance of open source for enterprises. “We’re paying attention to trends for cloud applications,” Williams said, “and we’re growing the portfolio to address the needs that are top of mind for those customers.”

Check out the entire episode to learn more about CloudOps.

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Pragma, The New Stack.
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