Want to try it for yourself?
Cloud management is the oversight and control of cloud services, applications, infrastructure, and resources. As cloud use grows, a well-planned cloud management strategy helps administrators control resources, automate orchestration processes, and monitor usage and cost.
Cloud Management vs Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)
Cloud management refers to the structure and organisation of your cloud resources, ensuring that your resources are visible, easily monitored, and well orchestrated. CSPM is more specific to security and helps companies automatically detect and mitigate security and compliance risks across cloud infrastructure, though aspects of cloud management can help with CSPM.
Enterprises are running more applications and storing more data in cloud environments — whether public, private, or hybrid multi-cloud — due to their flexibility and scalability. With cloud environments, organizations can take advantage of on-demand computing and storage without the upfront investment required for on-premise infrastructure.
One of the biggest challenges facing IT teams as they move workloads and data to cloud environments is cloud sprawl. It’s easy to lose track of cloud-based services and resources. Costs can quickly multiply, and security challenges emerge.
A cloud management strategy helps control these risks by establishing guidelines and policies for how and when to use cloud services. Administrators can then oversee cloud activities such as resource deployment, data integration, and access controls, making sure that their use of the cloud is cost-effective and secure.
There are many facets of cloud management, and the most effective approach implements them concurrently. Cost-monitoring tools help navigate complex cloud pricing models while balancing against organization requirements. Performance optimization tools ensure applications run as efficiently as possible. Monitoring tools help improve reliability and contain costs. Cloud-native security tools help developers secure and deploy applications at scale. Many of these tools and practices also conform with environmental sustainability measures for lowering energy consumption.
Public cloud vendors typically have proprietary tools for cloud management, security, and cost containment. However, these tools are basic in scope. They provide limited reports and lack more sophisticated views into performance – such as insights around user-based resource consumption that help to prevent a single user from overwhelming servers, or broad resource usage data that helps prepare for spikes in resource demand. If organizations need more in-depth insights or are using a hybrid multi-cloud approach, they need a third-party tool to manage their operations across clouds.
Typically, such a cloud management tool is installed on target cloud environments. It captures data around user activity, performance, and resource usage, then communicates that data to a web interface where administrators can visualize performance and use it to make decisions. The cloud management tool serves as a single platform for control. Administrators can then deliver commands back to the cloud through the user interface.
A key feature of cloud management tools is monitoring, which gives insights into how resources are used and the corresponding costs. This helps guide decisions for how and where to run workloads in a multi-cloud environment. Cloud management platforms can also automate the orchestration of workloads, then monitor their performance and cost and feed those insights back to administrators.
Cloud management strategy starts with documenting data and workloads, to ensure that resources are only moved off-premise if absolutely necessary. At the planning stage, organizations should address how they will manage hybrid multi-cloud deployments, how users will access management tools, and how workloads and resources will be provisioned and managed through their lifecycle.
Monitoring is key for management over the long-term, so it’s important to establish guidelines for what you want to measure and track. This can include application metrics that give insights into app health and performance, how much storage is consumed on each cloud service, metrics around database and cache instances, and the performance of load balancers.
It’s important to consider other factors around cost optimization as well. Numerous strategies exist for optimizing cost based on redundancy requirements, uptime requirements, whether work can be scheduled in advance or needs on-demand compute resources, and how often data will be moved.
Single pane of glass
Organizations often have dozens of applications and terabytes of data in the cloud. With a CM platform, IT teams have visibility and control over everything in the cloud in one place, integrating operating systems, storage systems, applications, provisioning, security protocols — anything running in the cloud.
This “single pane of glass” allows for consistent resource allocation, governance, and cost monitoring. Admins can use a web-based interface accessible from anywhere to control everything hosted in the enterprise cloud.
Manage workloads across multiple clouds
For most organizations, the future of cloud computing is a mixture of private, public, and hybrid multi-cloud deployments. Cloud management platforms provide seamless and secure management of workloads across these cloud types, allowing for full leverage of the benefits of each deployment type.
By using a cloud management platform, IT teams can eliminate everyday tasks and workflows associated with deploying and maintaining cloud infrastructure. This reduces errors associated with human intervention while boosting efficiency.
A cloud management platform provides a self-service model by enabling IT professionals to deploy, monitor, and adjust cloud resources through a single interface, without having to bring in external experts to handle deployments or changes.
Cost monitoring is a difficult task for cloud IT admins. Pricing models of public cloud service providers differ, making it difficult to directly compare hosting costs. It’s not easy to track usage and the associated cost. Cloud management allows IT teams to understand the pricing breakdown associated with each cloud vendor, forecast future spending, and develop long-term plans. Some platforms automatically create recommendations for containing cloud costs by allocating resources more efficiently.
Hybrid cloud infrastructure becomes increasingly difficult to manage as it grows in size and complexity. Cloud management platforms reduce that complexity and replace it with an intuitive platform that tracks cloud resources and usage. Admins can see how cloud infrastructure is used, understand how applications are performing, and ensure compliance with policies and security protocols – all through a web-based interface that runs regardless of where the infrastructure is.
Hybrid and multi-cloud provisioning
Assuming responsibility for cloud management gives IT teams a consolidated view of how infrastructure is used. Cloud management tools typically integrate with Infrastructure-as-a-Service offerings, allowing you to provision resources, then maintain and monitor them in real time. They can also analyze clouds to determine where to host content based on accessibility requirements. For instance, archived content that does not require on-demand access can be stored in a lower-cost cloud with higher latency.
Governance and compliance
Corporate and government requirements for cloud usage are becoming more rigorous and complex, especially where security and privacy are concerned. Public cloud vendors offer proprietary compliance tools, but these do not work across clouds. A cloud management strategy can guarantee compliance across clouds by giving administrators a single dashboard for monitoring the status of all their users and cloud services, identifying instances of non-compliance, and quickly addressing any issues.
The on-demand nature of public clouds means it’s easy to procure cloud resources – it’s also easy to use more than you’ve budgeted for or to lose track of capacity. Cloud management platforms include reporting and analytics that allow you to better understand what workloads are processed in the cloud. This helps you optimize resource usage and make intelligent decisions about when to use public, private, or hybrid multi-cloud options. Monitoring can extend to cloud-native applications to determine when it’s necessary to scale up processing or storage resources.
Public cloud vendors are typically more expensive than private cloud hosting, but you don’t want to build a private cloud that’s larger than necessary. A common solution is to use public clouds for periods of peak workloads. A cloud management platform can help you analyze when workloads should be run on public clouds, and automatically redirect workflows to a public cloud at the right time. Other tasks – like data backups, policy enforcement, infrastructure provisioning, and resource maintenance – can also be automated to reduce the need for human intervention.
Cloud management platforms and methodologies help monitor application workloads and performance to identify a configuration that optimizes performance.
Public cloud vendors have teams of thousands of security professionals working around the clock to protect against threats such as distributed denial-of-service and network intrusion attacks. At the same time, they cannot ensure that you are following cloud application security best practices like updating software, managing configurations, and using logging and access management. Cloud management platforms streamline compliance and security monitoring. Automated policies guide access to cloud resources and configurations and confirm that you’re compliant with external regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS, as well as internal corporate policies.
Guardrails integrate security procedures into development and deployment process, including infrastructure as code checks and CI/CD pipelines. Cloud management platforms can monitor IT services, set rules based on different users and use cases, identify any issues or deviations, and even automatically fix issues that are identified.
Cloud security is a special area of concern for organizations embracing cloud-native technologies: over 80% of respondents to Snyk’s 2021 “State of Cloud Native Application Security” report recognized security as a very important element in their cloud-native strategy.
Respondents reported that over 78% of production workloads are deployed as containers or serverless applications, and over 50% are also being deployed with some form of Infrastructure as Code. Meanwhile, misconfigurations and unpatched known vulnerabilities were the top two causes for security incidents during 2021.
A variety of cloud security posture management (CSPM) tools detect vulnerabilities in production environments. But with developers more often in charge of cloud security management, and cloud resources running from infrastructure as code Snyk recognized the need for an IaC security tool that enables developers to swiftly address cloud issues by automatically connecting them to the relevant IaC source code in Git workflows, ensuring faster remediation. Simply fix, retest, and redeploy.
What is a cloud management platform?
A cloud management platform is a single platform for controlling cloud environments. It captures data about user activity, performance, and resource usage from the cloud, then communicates it to a visual interface for administrators. They can then send commands back to the cloud from directly within the platform.
What is the role of cloud management?
Cloud management helps control the risks around cloud deployments. The primary risk is cloud sprawl, where organizations lose track of the services and resources they've deployed to the cloud. Using cloud management tools and strategies, administrators can oversee cloud activities to be sure that their use of the cloud is cost-effective and secure.
What is cloud management automation?
Cloud management automation replaces manual workflows around cloud deployments with rule-based workflows that are carried out by a cloud management platform. This can include activities like analyzing and redirecting workflows, backing up data, enforcing policies, maintaining resources, and provisioning infrastructure. Cloud management automation reduces the need for human intervention, increases efficiency, and eliminates errors.
Next in the series
Cloud Security Automation
Organizations working towards adopting cloud computing report that security and compliance are two of the top three barriers they face: 35% of cybersecurity professionals stated security is their biggest barrier, while 31% reported compliance (Statista).Keep reading