Industry Insights

Cloud Maintenance Is Very Important (Yet It’s Commonly Overlooked By Businesses)

Ask any IT professional on a cloud computing career path what their favorite part of maintenance is, and they’ll likely tell you it’s applying patches. Okay, maybe not. Patching might not be the most glamorous aspect of a career in cloud computing, but it is absolutely essential. Patching involves applying updates to operating systems, service components, and code to keep everything running smoothly and securely.

Why is this important? Well, if you don’t patch and update your cloud you’ll not be getting those crucial software updates that protect your data from new emerging threats online. This leaves your company data vulnerable to breaches and ransomware which is a way bigger hassle than taking the time to make sure your cloud maintenance happens.

First, for a quick overview of what the cloud is and how it works could be helpful in providing context to the points below:


Here are six key things small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) need to know about patching their cloud solutions.


1. Diagnosing Patching Needs for Your Cloud Solution

Before you start applying patches, you need to understand which components of your cloud technology need attention. Many people only think about operating systems and applications, but your patches should include every part of your cloud infrastructure. As you survey your cloud solution, make sure you check these components for patching:

  • Hypervisors
  • Virtual machines/operating systems
  • Virtual appliances
  • Networking components
  • Applications
  • Storage components
  • Clusters

Every element of your cloud infrastructure plays a role in its overall performance and security, so being thorough isn’t optional.


2. Production vs. Development vs. QA Patching of Cloud Technology

Depending on the resources available to your organization, you may approach patching with different strategies. Think of the difference between a large hospital and a small school’s health resources. A hospital has sophisticated equipment, while a school nurse might only have basic supplies. Both can treat their patients, but the approaches vary.

When developing applications for the cloud, you can structure your environment in multiple ways. Some cloud solutions have a single environment, while others may have two or three:

  • Development
  • Quality assurance (QA) or test
  • Production

Using three separate environments allows you to segregate development from testing and production, ensuring that patches are tested thoroughly before deployment. If a test environment isn’t available, consider deploying patches to a small pilot group to identify issues before a wide-scale deployment.


Tips for Effective Patching:

  • Mirror your production environment in your test environment as closely as possible.
  • Document baseline functionality and mission-critical components before deployment.
  • Check target platforms to ensure the patch installs correctly.
  • Ensure all functionalities perform as intended post-patching.
  • Develop a backup plan for patch failure.
  • Consider running multiple tests to fully assess the success of patches.


3. Understanding Rolling Updates

A rolling update is a patching strategy that deploys updates across several phases, reducing downtime and allowing continued functionality. Instead of updating all servers simultaneously, updates occur on a single server or subset of servers at a time. This method can apply to any group of cloud technology, not just servers or virtual machines.

Pro Tip:

Schedule updates during slow periods to minimize impact. Additionally, have a rollback plan if an issue occurs. Taking snapshots of virtual machines is a simple way to return to a previous state without uninstalling the patch.


4. Blue/Green Deployment Patching

Blue/green deployment patching is a failsafe that lets you fully test before implementing your patch. It uses two identical production environments—one active (blue) and one inactive (green). When an update is ready, it’s tested in the green environment first. Once testing is complete, the environments are switched, making the updated one active and the older one inactive.

Pro Tip:

To reduce resource strain, cut resources to the inactive environment.


5. Hotfixes: Quick Fixes for Urgent Issues

Sometimes, you’ll need to address critical issues quickly. Hotfixes are deployed to fix serious flaws or security vulnerabilities in an emergency. While hotfixes solve immediate problems, they are often deployed without thorough testing, which can cause some difficulties down the road. It’s important to weigh the risks of applying a hotfix versus not implementing it to determine the best course of action.


6. Cluster Patching for En Masse Updates

When patching or upgrading a cluster of cloud technology, you need a different approach than when working on a single solution. Clusters can be configured in a failover topology or a load-balancing topology.

Failover Patching:

Two environments are provisioned for a full load, but only one performs the patching. If one fails, the other environment takes over. This method is simplified but resource-intensive.

Load Balancing:

All cloud components bear a portion of the load during patching. If failure occurs, one environment takes over. This method is less resource-intensive but can complicate identifying failure causes.


Identifying Software Dependencies

Understanding how cloud components interact is crucial for your patching evaluation. Some software packages depend on specific versions of other software. Updating a dependent package can create issues and might even force a rollback. Identify and document all software dependencies to avoid such scenarios. You might need third-party solutions to manage dependencies if a suitable in-house solution isn’t available.


Best Practices for Patching Cloud Systems

Here are a few tips for patching your cloud technology:

  • Review all components that need patching.
  • Use a testing environment before applying patches to production.
  • Use pilot systems to test patches if a test environment isn’t available.
  • Schedule patch deployments outside of peak usage times.
  • Develop a patching order of operations for your organization.
  • Determine software dependencies that could be affected by patching.


Automate Cloud Technology Maintenance Tasks

Patching a cloud solution is time-consuming and can be error-prone. Automating patches and maintenance tasks can expedite the process and reduce errors. Automation can handle tasks like patch installations, creating test environments, rebooting patched systems, and other maintenance activities.

Consider Automating:

  • Snapshotting virtual machines
  • Cloning virtual machines
  • Patching systems
  • Restarting virtual machines
  • Shutting down virtual machines
  • Enabling/disabling alerts
  • Clearing logs
  • Deleting inactive accounts
  • Removing stale DNS entries
  • Removing outdated firewall rules


Scheduling Cloud Maintenance

Develop schedules for all cloud technology maintenance activities to ensure tasks get done and to preempt issues. Scheduling also allows for testing and implementation during non-peak times.

Patching may not be the most exciting part of cloud management, but it’s critical for maintaining security and performance. By understanding your patching needs, using appropriate strategies, and leveraging automation, you can keep your cloud environment healthy and efficient. The bottom line is that a lot of this is too technical or time-intensive for the average business owner to take on themselves. That’s where having a trusted IT consultant/MSP involved can really make a difference.


Get In Touch With BNC To Get Started

how to tell if your pc has been hackedYour company may be on the lookout for more comprehensive IT solutions than just secure browsing, and we’re here to help. If you’re looking for an managed service provider in Dallas or Denver with experienced IT/Security consultants, BNC will work closely with your team to evaluate your specific needs and provide tailored solutions that strengthen your cybersecurity defenses. Don’t wait until a cyber incident occurs to realize the importance of comprehensive cybersecurity measures. Contact BNC, a managed it services company in Dallas & Denver today to begin your journey toward a safer and more secure digital future. Together, we can safeguard your business and protect it from the ever-present threats in the world of cybercrime.



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