If you’ve ever tried looking for a cloud scheduling or management tool, it’s likely that you’ve come across more than a few all offering the same service but each with a twist, from “instantly saving 20% on your bills” to “full automation of cloud servers”.
Managing cloud servers is important in ensuring that you are getting the most out what you are paying for. In doing this, you at least want some level of control over your servers and to know that they are being used efficiently. This in turn reduces waste and potentially costs.
Automation and Scheduling
Many of the cloud management tools out there list automation as a feature. Automation could be seen as a slightly dubious term and without evidence, it may not be clear how exactly some cloud management tools allow automation.
Scheduling is in some ways an example of automation, if we accept that automation is anything that doesn’t have to be done manually (although setting the schedules is a manual task). You can schedule your servers to turn on and off for specific periods of time i.e. scheduling servers to be active from the hours of 9am-5pm, and then they’ll automatically turn on and off based on your schedule.
The Pros and Cons of Server Scheduling
It’s always good to start with a Pro: Costs (and waste) are reduced because the servers aren’t on all the time.
Con: The complexity of scheduling servers with many cloud management tools reduces the accessibility to server management for some individuals within a company who don’t know much about technology.
Pro: Automation makes things easier for those using the servers.
Con: Schedules might not meet user’s own schedules if working times are erratic or multiple users work at different times.
Scheduling is a really good way to gain some control over when cloud servers are being used and does give you a cost reduction benefit. But it’s possible that you are looking for more than scheduled automation, and something that gives instant automation.
Instant Automation of Cloud Servers
The best way to think about instant automation is an automatic door. It doesn’t wait for you to manually open it or only opens at certain times, it opens, automatically, when someone needs it. This is how some people would like their cloud servers to operate, automatically when they need them.
If you are looking for a cloud management tool and this is the sort of thing you are looking for, check the ‘automate’ feature of the tool and see what they say. Not many of the tools are able to instantly turn on servers automatically but there are ways to enable this. Based on the server usage, some tools can switch servers off then they recognise there is no usage.
Automating servers based on usage can actually save more money that scheduling servers as it means you are only paying for the servers when they are actually used. It also solves the issue of erratic working hours.
The On-Demand Strategy
Although automation and scheduling of servers provide you with some level of control over your servers, they don’t quite provide true on-demand control of server activity. Think about it. Who in your organization actually schedules the server? Chances are that if your organization is large enough to house its own IT department, it’s these guys who look after server management.
So what does true, on-demand control of cloud servers actually look like? For starters, you don’t need to make a series of trips to the IT department to find out. With true, on-demand control of your cloud servers, you should be able to set schedules and thresholds and turn servers on and off instantaneously at the tap of a button, wherever you are located and across multiple platforms.
Like the instant automation idea, on-demand can ensure you cut cloud computing costs and waste based on how often the servers are used. By using an on-demand ‘switch’, you can literally just switch a server on for the hour or two it’s needed and then switch it off.
It allows a level of control you can’t quite grasp with scheduling.
It all comes down to scalability.
Whichever cloud management tool you use, check to see how scalable it is. If you are going through a growth period, or even just need the flexibility to change your service based on the servers you are provisioning, it’s important to make sure the service is scalable.
Find out more about the cloud management tools out there in our infographic.