Management leveling across cloud management disciplines

The keys to proper management in any environment are consistency and repeatable processes. There are endless of options for the things that can be done in Azure. Likewise, there are countless approaches to cloud management. To provide consistency and repeatability, it's important to narrow those options to a consistent set of management processes and tools that will be offered for workloads hosted in the cloud.

Suggested management levels

Because the workloads in your IT portfolio vary, it's unlikely that a single level of management will suffice for each workload. To help you support a variety of workloads and business commitments, we suggest that your cloud operations team or platform operations team establish a few levels of operations management.

Manage management levels and maturity in the Cloud Adoption Framework

As a starting point, consider establishing the management levels that are shown in the preceding diagram and suggested in the following list:

  • Management baseline: A cloud management baseline (or management baseline) is a defined set of tools, processes, and consistent pricing that serve as the foundation for all cloud management in Azure. To establish a cloud management baseline and determine which tools to include in the baseline offering to your business, review the list in the "cloud management disciplines" section.
  • Enhanced baseline: Some workloads might require enhancements to the baseline that aren't necessarily specific to a single platform or workload. Although these enhancements aren't cost effective for every workload, there should be common processes, tools, and solutions for any workload that can justify the cost of the extra management support.
  • Platform specialization: In any given environment, some common platforms are used by a variety of workloads. This general architectural commonality doesn't change when businesses adopt the cloud. Platform specialization is an elevated level of management that applies data and architectural subject matter expertise to provide a higher level of operational management. Examples of platform specialization would include management functions specific to SQL Server, containers, Active Directory, or other services that can be better managed through consistent, repeatable processes, tools, and architectures.
  • Workload specialization: For workloads that are truly mission critical, there might be a cost justification to go much deeper into the management of that workload. Workload specialization applies workload telemetry to determine more advanced approaches to daily management. That same data often identifies automation, deployment, and design improvements that would lead to greater stability, reliability, and resiliency beyond what's possible with operational management alone.
  • Unsupported: It's equally important to communicate common management processes that won't be delivered through cloud management disciplines for workloads that are classified as not supported or not critical.

Organizations might also choose to outsource functions related to one or more of these management levels to a service provider. These service providers can use Azure Lighthouse to provide greater precision and transparency.

The remaining articles in this series outline processes that are commonly found within each of these disciplines. In parallel, the Azure Management Guide demonstrates the tools that can support each of those processes. For assistance with building your management baseline, start with the Azure Management Guide. After you've established the baseline, this article series and the accompanying best practices can help expand that baseline to define other levels of management support.

Cloud management disciplines

Each suggested management level can call on a variety of cloud management disciplines. However, the mapping is designed to make it easier to find the suggested processes and tools to deliver on the appropriate level of cloud management.

In most cases, the previously discussed management baseline level consists of processes and tools from the following disciplines. In each case, a few processes and tools are highlighted to demonstrate enhanced baseline functions.

  • Inventory and visibility: At a minimum, a management baseline should include a means of inventorying assets and creating visibility into the run state of each asset.
  • Operational compliance: Regular management of configuration, sizing, cost, and performance of assets is key to maintaining performance expectations and a management baseline.
  • Protect and recover: Minimizing operational interruptions and expediting recovery can help you avoid performance losses and revenue impacts. Detection and recovery are essential aspects of this discipline within any management baseline.

The platform specialization level of management pulls from the processes and tools that are aligned with the platform operations disciplines. Likewise, the workload specialization level of management pulls from the processes and tools that are aligned with the workload operations disciplines.

Next steps

The next step toward defining each level of cloud management is an understanding of inventory and visibility.