Looking to get started with IaaS cloud hosting? Depending on your background and the cloud platform you choose, you may discover it’s not all that dissimilar from setting up an environment based around physical hardware - you still need the familiar combination of servers, storage, network connections and more.
Of course, there are also a handful of key differences, and it pays to remind yourself of them as you go if you want your move from cabinet to cloud to be successful.
To start you off, here are three of our top tips for good housekeeping when setting up an IaaS cloud hosting environment.
1. Set up user accounts and permissions
Just as you’d want to stay in control of who could get their hands on your physical hardware, so too is it important to ensure your cloud environment can only be accessed and manipulated by authorised personnel - and this is a very different proposition to locking your server room or using a secure data centre.
We recommend taking the time to understand how your particular cloud platform handles user accounts and permissions, and to work to the principle of least privilege (so no indiscriminate handing-out of admin rights). In our VMware cloud platform, for example, it's possible to set user permissions for specific virtual machines (VMs).
This is often one of the first things that we tend to help our customers to achieve, as it allows personnel to carry out updates, make snapshots and restore data to specific servers without necessarily having access to other VMs or the environment as a whole.
2. Set up virtual machines - but don’t overspec
Once you know your way around your cloud platform’s management tools, setting up virtual machines (VMs) should be a quick and painless process - certainly more so than it would be to set up a similar environment with physical hardware.
That said, a common mistake made by first-time cloud users is to overspec their VMs, which can affect both the performance and the cost of their cloud environment in the long run. Much as it might be tempting in a cloud world to hand out virtual CPU cores like it’s going out of fashion, this can have a complex and unpredictable impact on performance predicated on the specs of the host machine. On a more basic level, it’s also more resource to pay for - and it’s much easier to increase the spec of a VM than to scale it back.
Our recommendation? Get to grips with VM rightsizing and then start small. (A comprehensive guide to rightsizing best practices in a VMware environment can be found here.)
3. Connect to external networks
Finally, chances are you’ll want your cloud environment to connect to an external network (such as the public internet). You’ll also want to take steps to ensure this connection is as secure as possible and not a data breach waiting to happen (as has happened a few times to companies using unsecured AWS S3 buckets, for example).
As such, an important part of getting started with IaaS cloud hosting is to familiarise yourself with how your cloud platform connects to external networks and what features are available to secure those connections.
In a new VMware cloud data centre, for example, we will often provide guidance for first-time cloud customers on how to create a connection between their internal (virtual) network and external ones via a virtual router called the Edge Gateway. This can be used to deliver a range of familiar network services such as VPNs and firewalls, so it’s also your key to a secure cloud environment.