When MSPs are moving workloads or even their entire business to the cloud, you might not immediately think about what that means for governance and management of your digital estate. Planning and building the cloud environment itself already consumes enough time and effort. However, it is definitely wise to include management and governance in your strategy from your very first steps in the cloud. Especially since these processes are quite different from how things are done on premises.
Operations and business objectives align
One of the major differences in the cloud is that operations and business objectives are more closely aligned. In the on-premise datacentre, the key objective for operations is to support end-user business processes according to long-term SLAs that ensure maximum performance and minimal disruptions.
In the cloud, however, operations has a much more direct impact on business objectives in terms of performance and costs. Consequently, governance and management in the cloud play a far more prominent role in achieving business goals than on premises.
Cloud dynamics ask for a cloud mindset
A second difference is found in the dynamic nature of the cloud and the fact that governance and management are different from how they are done on premises. Perhaps one could argue that governance and management are more complex in the cloud – since there is so much more functionality – but they are certainly more important because of the dynamics. The cloud requires a new mindset for the IT management shift that is required to drive value for the business.
Different, yet simple
Instead of starting up 20 VMs for a given need, which would be quite normal on premises, you would rather use and optimize 10 VMs in the cloud and maintain them on an ongoing basis to get the most out of your assets. However, complexity or difference, if you like, also has another side: management in the cloud is definitely simpler: functionality for monitoring, alerts, patching and more intelligence is provided by the cloud vendor and readily available for use. This results in savings, but also offers peace of mind, for example, in terms of security.
How can MSPs address this shift in IT governance and management for the cloud?
Both the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) and Well-Architected Framework (WAF) offer a solid plan with best practices, documentation and tools for managing operations in the cloud that deliver on business outcomes. Both frameworks include extensive sections on governance and management in the cloud.
Governance and management in the cloud
In the governance phase, you look ahead to your business objectives in the cloud; similar to what you already do on premises. These are the first steps in the cloud journey, in which you establish the framework on how you will run your business, but also keep room for the changes that will come along the way. You will find this to be an iterative process. First, at the corporate level, you define the business risks, policies, and compliance and processes. Then you relate these to the five disciplines of cloud governance that support the corporate policies.
A similar guideline exists in the Cloud Adoption Framework for managing operations that deliver on business objectives. The define for each workload the degree of criticality for the business, its impact in terms of costs per hour or missed revenue when a certain workload is interrupted, and the commitments to balance performance and cost. This alignment provides the foundation to track and report on the different cloud operations disciplines for each workload.
This article started with the observation that governance and management need to be considered from the very beginning of the cloud journey. But as the Cloud Adoption Framework shows, they are in fact the foundation for all phases of the cloud journey. The journey does not have a destination, but is more like a round trip. You have to continuously govern, manage, optimize and control your assets to deliver on business objectives, especially in the cloud where new technology and services are released daily.
This is the approach we follow for our MSP partners, so that they can build a healthy, future-proof business in the cloud. And avoid disappointments like this:
A partner called us for support in their governance process. They had created Azure SQL database elastic pools with 80 cores and had let them run without using them. A month later, they received an invoice for the capacity they had not used. While they probably had a good reason to leverage the extra capacity, with proper governance and management adequate warnings would have avoided the extra cost.
Contact one of our cloud specialists to discuss how you can improve your governance and management policies in the cloud.
Cloud Transformation Specialist, Insight
Cloud Transformation Specialist, Insight