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According to , “67% of enterprise infrastructure is now cloud-based. 92% of businesses have a multi-cloud strategy in place or in the works. The global cloud computing industry has a market size of $480.04 billion, as of 2022. The U.S. public cloud market is projected to reach $206.1 billion by the end of 2022.”

This is nothing new, as the benefits and versatility of the cloud have been made clear for years as businesses have profited from these advantages.

The cloud offers flexibility by reducing dependencies upon on-premises data centers , increasing cost savings by reducing unnecessary expenditures, lowering redundancy through multiple cloud servers and resources, and offloads basic or repetitive tasks to free up IT professionals for more meaningful work. Scalability is also a significant advantage, with businesses able to add or remove resources based on current trends or demands.

Furthermore, in today’s global operational culture, the cloud is an excellent fit for teams spread out across geographic regions in a 24/7 business model, as well as those who work entirely remotely.

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What you’ll need to transition to cloud administration

Whether you’re a system administrator, enterprise architect, database administrator , developer or something else, the switch from traditional on-premises system administration to cloud based administration isn’t just connecting to different servers to do the same tasks. There are different operational endeavors and processes to follow as well as an adjustment of perspective to move forward past the “old ways.”

Familiarity with an array of operating systems, detailed knowledge regarding the principles of data management and cloud applications, and risk management skills are a must for any administrator moving his or her efforts to the cloud.

In addition, communication, time management skills and a troubleshooting mindset, all important for traditional system administration as well, are equally essential when working in the cloud.

Tips for transitioning to cloud administration

Here are the top 12 areas of focus when transitioning from old-school system administration to cloud-based administrations:

  • Be aware of application rules and regulations for cloud operations that apply to your industry and field.
  • Determine appropriate vendors based on company needs and processes.
  • Assign roles and responsibilities to determine who will handle which duties.
  • Get the appropriate cloud training and certifications based on user industries and fields.
  • Identify the new focuses and endeavors administrators will engage with once freed from traditional hands-on operations.
  • Ensure that appropriate access is in place based on a least-privilege approach.
  • Ensure company or employee-owned devices used to access cloud services are patched, physically secured, utilize encryption and receive routine updates to cloud-based software.
  • Be aware of maintenance schedules which may limit or impact cloud operations.
  • Establish redundancy details.
  • Establish service level agreements for uptime and support response.
  • Record cloud vendor support contacts, contract information and relevant details in a local format.
  • Document the entire environment and make sure this is updated routinely.

What experts said about cloud administration

Three industry experts chimed in with some subjective tips on how employees and business executives can make the transition.

Ravi Mayuram, CTO of Couchbase, a NoSQL cloud database service, said DBAs should focus on a DevOps role in cloud operations in order to keep operations running. He also recommended organizations focus on the speed of development and delivery time, continuous integration and deployment, and release cadence. DBAs should understand the trends in Kubernetes as well as brush up on their programming skills, Python, scripting skills and learning Golang.

Vlad Friedman, CTO of DataBank, an IT service management company, said it’s important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of different cloud deployment models, because there is no one size fits all solution. Infrastructure design patterns should account for use-case factoring latency, performance and costs. He advocated moving towards an Infrastructure-as-Code model. Be mindful of utilizing containerization technologies for the most computationally intensive workloads to avoid driving up costs beyond unacceptable levels in the name of scaling to infinity.

Friedman also stated that while many executives believe the cloud is an infinitely-scalable, self-securing and self-healing technology unicorn, the reality is that the cloud is a set of technology tools to drive a business outcome. Understanding cloud cost management and starting the journey with the right tools and plan in place is crucial.

Every technologist starts in the cloud with the best of intentions, but after a short while realizes the challenges of server and infrastructure sprawl driving unexpected costs. The majority of “lift and shift” migrations from private to public infrastructure typically increase costs by over 30%. Friedman cautioned that once deployed, attribution becomes an impossibility.

Dennis Rich, senior director of technical operations at Backblaze, a cloud storage and backup company, emphasized that the cloud is designed for programmatic and software-driven deployment. Admins need to be more comfortable interfacing with APIs and an array of different services that exist to fulfill what was mostly internally hosted previously.

This software-driven focus is a big departure from hands-on creation in a console or GUI. Instead, operations are driven by code and automation to quickly create or adjust to changes due to availability or cost optimization. These are very different concepts and methods compared to traditional administration.

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