Journey to the Cloud, Better with Incident Management
Many IT organizations have come to learn that leveraging cloud infrastructure is not just unavoidable, it’s one of the most effective paths for IT organizations to become more responsive to business needs.
Yet with the cloud comes new challenges, including minimizing downtime, decreasing the cost of operations, and preventing employee burnout to name a few. As companies migrate their processes and procedures to their new reality of a cloud-based infrastructure, an incident management solution can and should be adopted to help overcome these challenges. This is particularly true when larger enterprises operate with a hybrid environment, which mixes traditional infrastructure with cloud-based infrastructure and, by extension, requires a hybrid approach to incident management. It takes time to migrate to the cloud, it’s not something that can be done in one sweep.
Let’s take a look at why organizations are embracing this new paradigm and migrating to the cloud, as well as how they’re handling incident management for a seamless cloud migration.
Why make the move to the cloud?
There are many paths organizations can take when migrating to the cloud — from development teams looking at cloud-native apps, to infrastructure teams looking at different combinations of private and public clouds and how to build a hybrid infrastructure to interconnect them. Let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits migrating to the cloud offers:
- Reduced Infrastructure Management: By leveraging cloud services, employees are freed up from having to patch and maintain underpinning components and able to focus instead on providing business value.
- Increased Agility: The ability to update, add, and remove services on top of a cloud infrastructure drastically changes how fast businesses can respond to new opportunities.
- Cloud-Native Apps: Combining agile development practices with continuous integration, continuous delivery, and microservices allows teams to deliver business functionality at a speed and scale that make sense.
- Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: Leveraging cloud infrastructure’s built-in data replication features allows for secondary sites primed for rapid recovery. Over time, this can morph into having applications running in multiple availability zones, or full regions.
- Always-On: Cloud services are generally up 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with no extra effort or staffing required beyond the migration to the service.
- No Capital Investment: Cloud services work on a subscription basis, which eliminates major capital expenditures, and moves costs to operational budgets without the need to deal with amortization and depreciation. The cloud service provider maintains the physical environment, with all the capital expenses that would entail.
- Reduced Time-to-Market: Without the full purchase cycle that goes along with a capital expenditure, teams can start testing new ideas in days, as opposed to traditional models, which can mean weeks or months of lead time.
Moving to the cloud makes sense for many organizations — both big and small — as the benefits it provides allows businesses to be more agile. Moving to the cloud is becoming a matter of when, not if. As a result, IT teams must learn how to build, operate, and support applications within this new paradigm.
Get real-time visibility into your cloud environment
Not having an incident management processes in place before and after a migration to the cloud can often lead to blind spots and cause delays in incident response when issues arise. These issues can lead to risk to the business, impact to customers, and delays in the migration process. And once you have a hybrid infrastructure, or have completely moved to a public cloud infrastructure, these weaknesses will start to interfere with real incident response if left unaddressed. It’s crucial to manage hybrid cloud environments with effective incident response, so you can get real-time visibility into what’s working in your cloud-based applications and taking action if an issue happens during or after migration.
Incident management challenges during cloud migration
As we mentioned, migrating to the cloud comes with its own set of new challenges to overcome, including:
Integrating with cloud infrastructure providers and monitoring
With the introduction of cloud-native apps into an organization’s application portfolio, it is essential to be able to see and report on all its instances across multiple cloud providers, even as it dynamically adds and removes instances. It’s not only important to pull in signals from modern, cloud-based tools, it’s just as important to pull in digital signals from more traditional tools, as organizations are likely to exist in a hybrid environment. This is a huge risk during migration, as not all applications will migrate at the same time, but in order to deliver an existing service or app, both on-premises and cloud components are needed.
Solution: Have an incident management platform that understands and can integrate with modern and traditional application performance management suites and the native tooling that all cloud infrastructures have available.
Always-on means always supported
Customers have grown accustomed to an always-on experience, they expect their services to be generally available 24/7, and they won’t hesitate to become vocal about not wanting to wait until Monday morning to report a problem.
Solution: Invest in an incident management platform which is built to handle 24/7 support, and can handle knowing who to notify on which team when a monitoring solution proactively detects a fault, or even when a client submits an incident. Then, support that team through the lifecycle of the incident response.
Now that more services are available from cloud-based providers, how do you ensure your team has the visibility they need into events and alerts within supporting applications, middleware, and infrastructure to allow them to head-off issues before customers are impacted or your projects are delayed?
Solution: Invest in solutions that can consume information from multiple sources and support your team’s ability to see into the impact of issues. It’s important to make sure your responders have the right information to take action and minimize the risk to the business and project teams. This ensures the cloud migration lifecycle is moving quickly and that quality application changes are introduced into production.
With the cloud comes a more mobile-friendly platform, and with more and more organizations with multiple geographically dispersed offices, having a single unified and centralized communication channel is key.
Solution: It doesn’t matter if it is a traditional telephony conference bridge, or more modern collaboration solutions like Slack or HipChat. The goal is one place to find the people you need to talk to. The benefits of a tool like Slack or HipChat are integrations that hook into incident management and monitoring solutions to bring information and action into the chat without leaving the conversation.
As part of any cloud migration, it is important to consider the needs of supporting teams at the same tier as the needs of the developers and business units pushing for the change. If the supporting teams don’t have all the processes and tools they need to stand behind what the developers are deploying, then all the added layers of complexity are of zero value to the business, because they can’t be used reliably.