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Axel Hedengren

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05/01/24

Visibility: The Key to Cloud Exellence

Visibility in cloud infrastructure is crucial. Lacking insight into resource performance hinders optimization. This post talks about the importance of visibility, challenges, and solutions like AWS CloudFormation for effective cloud management.

With the risk of sounding a bit like a part-time philosopher, I truly believe that visibility is the foundation off most things. Many would perhaps argue that visibility is more of a convenience, but I would rather argue that it is an absolute necessity, especially when you are dealing with IT infrastructure, where the goal is to constantly try to optimise.

The problem with a lack of visibility can be illustrated by the following question: How can you optimise the infrastructure if you don't have a clear view of the resources in use? In other words, if you don't know how they are performing and interacting with each other, how are you supposed to improve them?

Perhaps the biggest issue for most people and companies operating on AWS, or any other public cloud for that matter, is that they don't even know they have poor visibility, simply because the infrastructure is still functioning.

Don't fix what isn't broken, right?

However, poor visibility in cloud is like navigating a ship in foggy waters—you might keep moving, but you constantly run the risk of veering off course and you never know if you are following the best route. In this post, I will focus on three aspects of visibility on Cloud: the challenges, consequences and solutions. Let's get into it.

What Does Visibility in Cloud Mean?

Visibility, on AWS, means having enough overhead of your resources that you are able to monitor, track and analyze the operations and performance of all the components within your cloud infrastructure. This includes compute instances such as EC2 instances, storage systems such as AWS S3, databases such as DynamoDB, application workflows, and much more.

Achieving this successfully ultimately leads to a sort of dashboard that not only displays real-time metrics but also creates the opportunity to view the infrastructure from a historical perspective to identify patterns and anomalies. Once you are able to this, opportunities for optimization will almost certainly appear.

The Challenges with Visibility in Infrastructure

One of the most common problems for companies operating in cloud is a lack of visibility. This is not really a surprise, given the fact that cloud offers a far more complex and dynamic digital environment than for example an on premise environment. One of the biggest advantages of cloud is being able to deploy microservices that interact and communicate with each other. However, the sheer volume of data generated by cloud resources and the complexity of these interconnected services make it extremely difficult to maintain clear visibility, especially as the infrastructure scales.

As an infrastructure naturally grows, it will inevitably be complex. Therefore, if the infrastructure is complex to begin with and you have trouble with visibility from the start, you're in trouble.

The Consequences of Poor Visibility

Poor visibility over resources in Cloud can cause many unexpected problems in your infrastructure. You can have many underutilized resources causing the costs to skyrocket. Likewise, you can have overutilized resources that impair performance and user experience. Furthermore, without a clear insight into the infrastructure, troubleshooting when things go wrong becomes a time-consuming detective game, taking valuable time from more pressing matters. In essence, poor visibility can potentially undermine all aspects of your cloud operations.

Solutions and Preventive Measures for Good Visibility

The best solutions are often those that, not only fixes the problem when it happens, but minimize the possibility of an issue occurring in the first place. One way of doing this is by using AWS CloudFormation. CloudFormation is a service that allows you to manage, configure, and provision your cloud resources, fully automated. You can describe your desired resources and their dependencies in a template file (written in either JSON or YAML format). CloudFormation then takes this template and creates those resources for you, in the right order and with the correct configuration.

Imagine you're planning to build a model village. Instead of constructing each house, tree, and lake by hand and individually deciding where everything goes, you draw a detailed map. This map specifies where each house should be, where the trees are planted, and where the lakes are dug. You then give this map to a team of builders who construct the village exactly according to your specifications.


🚀 If you don't feel like starting from scratch, Altostruct has an open-source repository with useful templates you can use. 🚀


Beyond this, depending on your specific needs and challenges, there is a great deal of services provided by AWS that can help you gain insight. Some examples are AWS QuickSight, AWS CloudWatch or AWS built-in tagging system.

Some final words

Visibility in Cloud and on AWS is, and should be, more than a technical convenience. As the infrastructure becomes more complex and an integral part of the business, the need for clear, actionable insights becomes imperative. By developing your infrastructure with this in mind, you can save yourself from a lot of headache down the road. Handovers to new teams or employees will be an absolute breeze for instance.

If you feel like you are navigating a ship on foggy waters and might get caught in the mist any moment, reach out and we'll help you go from chaos to clarity.

📧 Info@altostruct.se 📧

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