What is your role in Cloud?

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As I interact with more & more customers who are onboarding on Azure which is the Microsoft Cloud solution, one of the common myth or assumptions which I hear or encounter is

 “We just need to deploy the application or database in cloud &  Microsoft will take care of the OS, Storage, patching etc”

“After applications move to cloud,  we no longer need Infrastructure team or DBAs to manage the platform”

The above statements may hold true to some extent when organizations adopt Cloud in Software as a Service (SaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) scenarios. However in Infastructure As a Service (IaaS)  & in Hybrid Cloud scenarios the above statements  are not completely true & In this blog post, I would like to (re)define the roles & responsibilities in an enterprise as they start their journey towards cloud.

In my opinion, Most Enterprise Organization will not be able to completely migrate to Public Cloud Infrastructure due to multiple reasons so hybrid scenarios would be the most common cloud adoption which is where Microsoft has a clear edge over its competition.

These roles & responsibilities are my personal imagination of future roles based on my experience on the field

But before I start, a disclaimer

“This is a personal weblog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. In addition, my thoughts and opinions change from time to time…I consider this a necessary consequence of having an open mind. This weblog is intended to provide a semi-permanent point in time snapshot and manifestation of the various memes running around my brain, and as such any thoughts and opinions expressed within out-of-date posts may not the same, nor even similar, to those I may hold today. “

System Administrators

In Cloud scenarios, System Administrator would be responsible for following

  • Building VM Images which adheres to the company standards which can leveraged by the DBAs or other application team to spin up & start within few mins.  It is one time effort which can be reused by DBAs or application team to spin up their Servers within few mins.
  • Update the VM Images with the latest patches & anti-virus updates.
  • Using or configuring Agents (runbooks, Chef & Puppet Add-ins)  to update & patch the Server VMs already in use in the organization’s environment.
  • Monitor System performance & Resource Utilization

Network Administrators

In Hybrid Cloud Scenarios, this will be the most important role since an enterprise cloud should be designed as an extension of on-premise datacenters which will be made possible by Network Administrators.

  • Configure site-to-site VPN to ensure seamless connectivity from on-premise to cloud data centers.
  • Configure IP Sec, Network Security & Firewalls for the cloud data centers.
  • Configure DNS Servers & assign IP address to the VMs running on cloud.
  • Monitor Network Performance & optimize performance over Internet by using network compression techniques or other options to get the max out of the bandwidth.

Domain Administrators

In Hybrid Cloud scenarios, the servers needs to be added to a domain which will allow the users, groups & service account to secure & access the resources based on the policies governed by Domain Administrators

  • Configure Azure Directory Sync to extend the on-premise AD & Exchange to Azure
  • Ensure the Group Policies are applied to the VM Images
  • Ensure Same Organizational account is integrated & used by users to login VMs, Office 365 or databases in cloud.

 Storage Administrators

In Cloud scenarios, this role can be thinned a bit & can be merged with System Administrators role nevertheless this role can have the following responsibilities

  • Configure Storage Pools to combine multiple Data Disks to obtain higher throughput & IOPS.
  • Configure Azure Storage for backups & BLOB storage.
  • Manage & govern storage to decide which storage should be used to achieve the desired throughput within a given cost budget
  • Monitor Storage performance

 Security Administrators

In Cloud scenarios, data security is a big concern which is where this role will be important & will have the following responsibilities

  • Based on the sensitivity of data define data classification layers to govern & decide which data can move to public cloud & which should remain within on-premise.
  • Harden the Network Security & Firewalls.
  • Govern & define policies on which data can be geographically replicated & which cannot for political reasons

 Database Administrators (My Favorite)

In IaaS Cloud Scenarios, the DBA role is almost unchanged & will have the similar responsibilities as on-premise

  • Setup SQL Instance, configure tempdb, create logins, install database, configure user roles.
  • Configure Server Properties .
  • Backups & restore of databases.
  • Monitor SQL Performance & identify blocking or bad performing queries.

In PaaS Cloud Scenarios

  • Configure database, create users, roles & assign permissions.
  • Backup & Restore Databases.
  • Manage SQL Performance & identify blocking or bad performing queries.

One of the skillsets which all the roles would need to possess is Powershell & leveraging Azure Automation to create orchestrator runbooks which will empower the roles to automate some of repetitive Jobs when managing large scale enterprise cloud environment.

In some organizations the above defined roles might overlap or merge across different teams while in large complex enterprise organization they might be isolated & very well defined.

Hope this helps !!!

Parikshit Savjani
Premier Field Engineer

One Comment

  1. Great short-list of how the world is changing for all of us. Thanks much for sharing this. Orch runbooks are so vital. For people who haven’t begun using, check it out, because it’s the future (and present) state of the admin in Microsoft technologies.

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