Cloud Services are becoming more commonplace in the Enterprise. As a result, our ability to learn from past successes and failures becomes vital for the effective launch of new IT strategies. One way to ensure this is applied in practice is through the development of an Operational Framework. An Operational Framework is a key element of cloud strategy that needs to be developed, reviewed, and executed to ensure that organizational goals are achieved and lessons applied.

The items outlined in an Operational Framework provide guidance to Organizations and help them to create, operate, and support IT Services while ensuring that their investments in IT delivers business value at acceptable levels of risk*.

Operational Frameworks can be broken down into two separate categories: IT Operations and Business Operations. IT Operations consist of Security, Fault Tolerance, and Performance. As you develop your operational user guide within your organization, you want to think about these things in parallel.

Security Operations are about taking the time to do things right the first time. Security Groups need to be addressed so that ports are not left open. CIDR configurations need to be examined along with IAM use for the account. S3 Bucket Permissions need to be reviewed so that you don’t have potential data loss. IAM password policies need to be implemented and RDS Security Group access restricted to combat against potential vulnerabilities. Organizations can eliminate many potential headaches by examining these aspects early in your strategy.

Similarly, Fault Tolerance reviews can help you increase availability and redundancy within your environments. By taking advantage of health checks, you can increase your uptime and take advantage of the full benefits of cloud technology. Within this part of your Operational Framework, you should review that you are:

  • Snapshotting your EBS Volumes frequently enough
  • Architecting your environment to take advantage of Multiple Availability Zones or even multiple regions.
  • Taking advantage of Elastic Load Balancers and Auto-Scaling Groups and that they are configured in an optimal way that allows for peak traffic flow and performance.
  • Reviewing your VPN tunnel redundancy so that is it configured ideally.

Fault tolerance is vital to an organization’s IT Operations and should be reviewed often and in detail.

Lastly, within IT Operations, review your performance matrix within your cloud environment. Cloud deployments offer you the ability to take advantage of a suite of powerful services, but often we see that customers will unintentionally over or under prevision their environment, leading to waste. By improving performance of your services and using just what you need, you can greatly maximize your operational budget

For Performance Operations, you should:

  • Review your EC2 Instances, making sure you are not over/under provisioned.
  • Review your service limits, so that when your auto scaling groups do kick in you can do so to meet your demand. Provisioned IOPS are commonly misunderstood and overestimated.
  • Review your EBS configurations and make sure that you are utilizing your PIOPS accordingly.

Other things to consider within this group are:

  • Your DNS provider
  • Using Glacier for Archiving
  • Utilization of yearly 3rd party audits. Having a second set of eyes audit your environment can usually pay itself off after a few months.

Business Operations and Corporate Governance are a bit easier because they focus strictly on utilization. Most importantly, you want make sure that you optimize your use of Reserved Instances. By developing a proper strategy for reservations, you will not only save money but will guarantee that the resources your environment needs are available, even in the event of an outage. Over & under utilization are equally detrimental to your bottom line. Plan to review your usage quarterly and take advantage of billing software as needed to help tighten your understanding of your environment. ELBs, EBS volumes, unused elastic IPs, and idle RDS instances should also be examined, as waste can occur easily with these services as well. Within your business operations framework communication should flow freely between your IT Department, User Groups, and the Finance Department. The free flow of information will allow for future innovation, increased budget parameters, and a unified corporate direction that everyone can agree with.

By taking a few of these simple steps, you are setting yourself up for a successful cloud strategy and implementation for years to come.

*Source: paraphrased internet website

-Blake Diers, Sales Executive