|By Gregor Petri||
|December 20, 2010 09:15 AM EST||
With a private cloud strategy and dynamic data center you can quickly respond to rapid business fluctuations. But how do you get there?
This post was originaly published as thanksgiving weekend special at virtual-strategy.com.
In the article I discussed some approaches for building a dynamic data center that not only addresses complexity and reduces cost, but also accelerates business response time, to ensure that organization realizes the true promise of cloud computing, business agility and customer responsiveness.
Cloud computing presents an appealing model for offering and managing IT services through shared and often virtualized infrastructure. It’s great for new business start-ups who don’t want the risk of a large on-premise technology investment, or organizations who can’t easily predict what the future demand will be for their services. But for most of us with existing infrastructure and resources, the picture is very different. We want to capitalize on the benefits of the cloud ― on demand, low risk, affordable computing ― but we’ve spent years investing in rooms stacked high with hardware and software to run our daily mission critical jobs and services.
So how do organizations in this situation make the shift from straight-forward server consolidation to a dynamic, self-service virtualized data center? How do they reach the peak of standardized IT service delivery and agility that is in step with the needs of the business? Many virtualization deployments stall as organizations stop to deal with challenges like added complexity, staffing requirements, SLA management, or departmental politics. This “VM stall” tends to coincide with different stages in the virtualization maturity lifecycle, such as the transition from tier 2/3 server consolidation to mission-critical tier 1 applications, and from basic provisioning automation to a private/hybrid cloud approach.
The virtualization maturity lifecycle
The simple answer is to take it step-by-step, learning as you go, building maturity at every step. This will earn you the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to progress from an entry-level virtualization project to a mature dynamic data center and private cloud strategy.
It’s called the virtualization maturity lifecycle, and it builds in four steps. Just like pilots start their training on small planes (going full cycle from take-off to landing) before they move onto large commercial jets, it is advisable for organizations to implement these virtualization maturity steps iteratively. For example, start a full maturity cycle on test and development servers before moving to mission critical servers and applications.
Start easy, by consolidating servers, to increase utilization and reduce your current carbon footprint. To ensure deep insight and continuity in support of the migration from physical to virtual, you might want to leverage image backup and physical-to-virtual restore tools that allow you to move your physical IBM, Dell and HP images directly to ready to run VM images for VMware, Sun, Citrix and Microsoft.
The next step involves optimizing the infrastructure. Apart from maintaining consistency, efficiency, and compliance across the virtual resources (which is proving fast to be even more complex in virtual than in physical environments), we analyze, monitor, (re-)distribute and tune our applications and services.
While optimizing, we also discover and document the rules we will automate in the next phase. Rules about which applications best fit together, what areas are suitable for self service and which type of services are most important. As you can imagine the answers to this last question will be very different for a nuclear plant (safety first) compared to an online video rental service (customers first), which it is why it is such an important step. If you skip this stage and go straight into automation, you’ll likely end up in the same situation that you’re in today, just automated.
A successful cloud strategy is all about agility and flexibility, and the next step in the virtualization maturity lifecycle helps take care of automation and the orchestration of your (now) virtual services. You can empower users to help themselves ― industrialize processes ― without calling IT for every service request. Automation has many advantages here. It is the catalyst to standardize your virtual infrastructure, integrate and orchestrate processes across IT silos, and accelerate the provisioning of virtual cloud services. Once the industrialized provisioning process is live, automation technologies can then also be used to monitor demand volumes, utilization levels and application response times and to assist root-cause analytics to help isolate and remediate virtual environment issues.
The final stage is the centerpiece of a cloud strategy, a position which allows you to manage the definition, demand, and deployment of IT services: the dynamic data center. Your now agile infrastructure, delivered from a secure, highly available data center, enables you to quickly respond to rapid business fluctuations. To reach a dynamic data center, you need to automate the entire process of service delivery from request to fulfilment. This includes centralized service requests, automating the approval process so that department heads can quickly approve or reject requests, a standard and repeatable provisioning process, and standard configurations.
This goes much further than the traditional dream of a “lights out” data center, which basically was a static conveyor belt-like factory where all labor was automated away. The dynamic data center is like a modern car factory, where robots perform almost all tasks, but in ever changing sequences and configurations, guided by supply-chain-lead orchestration.
The new normal
As we all know, technology changes fast. This advancement in technology is creating a “new normal” where relationships with customers are increasingly in a digital form and technology is no longer an enabler or accelerator of the business― it has become the business.
This is a theme picked up by Peter Hinssen, one of Europe's thought leaders on the impact of technology on our society. He evangelizes this new normal, arguing that in a digital world there will be new rules that define what is acceptable for IT, including zero tolerance for digital failure, an era of “good enough” functionality (60% functionality in six weeks rather than 90% in six months), and the need to move your architectures―including your new cloud architecture―from “built to last” to “designed to change”.
The lifecycle approach described earlier may be just what you need to help align your IT organization to what Hinssen calls the new normal. First you determine where opportunities exist for consolidation and rationalization across your physical and virtual environments ― assessing what you have in your data center environment and establish a baseline for making decisions that take you to the next stage. Next, to achieve agility, you have to automate the provisioning and de-provisioning of virtualized resources, including essential elements, such as identities, and other management policies such as access rights.
The next step in delivering an on-time, risk-free (zero failure) cloud computing strategy is service assurance. You need to manage IT service quality and delivery based on business impact and priority — top-to-bottom and end-to-end. That includes, for example, delivering a superior online end-user experience with low-overhead application performance management, and end-to-end visibility into traffic flows and device performance. The new normal also needs to be secure. IT security management technologies must be applied against current regulations and end-user needs, which enable the virtual layer to be more secure.
All these factors combined ultimately lead to agile IT service delivery. With agility, you can build and optimize scalable, reliable resources and entire applications quickly. By embarking on the virtualization maturity roadmap, you can move closer to a dynamic data center and successful cloud strategy.
This evolutionary approach may sound very procedural (and safe). You may also be thinking, is this the only way? What if I need it now? Is there no revolutionary approach to help me get straight to a private cloud much more quickly? Just like developing countries, which have skipped the wired POTS phone system and moved directly to a 100% wireless infrastructure, a revolutionary approach does exist. The secret lies in the fact that – in addition to the application itself - the infrastructure required to deploy an application can be virtualized – load balancers, firewalls, NAS gateways, monitoring tools, etc. This entire entity – the application and the required infrastructure it needs to be successfully deployed – can then be managed as a single object. Want to deploy a copy of the application? Simply load the object and all of the associated virtual appliances are automatically loaded, networked, secured and made ready. This is called an application-centric cloud.
With traditional virtualization, the servers are the parts that are virtualized, but afterward, these virtual servers, networks, routers, load balancers and more, still need to be managed and configured to work with the other parts of the data center, a task as complex and daunting as it was before. This is infrastructure-centric cloud. With full application-centric clouds, the whole business service (with all its involved components) is virtualized becoming a virtual service (instead of a bunch of virtual servers) which reduces the complexity of managing these services significantly.
As a result, application-centric clouds can now model, configure, deploy and manage complex, composite applications as if they were a single object. This enables operators to use a visual model of an application and the required infrastructure, and to store that model in the integrated repository. Users or customers can then pull that model out of the repository, reuse it and deploy it to any data center around the world with the click of a button. Interestingly, users deploy these services to a private cloud, or to an MSP, depending on who happens to offer the best conditions at that moment. Sound too futuristic? Far from it. Several innovative service providers, like DNS Europe, Radix Technologies, and ScaleUp, are already doing exactly this on a daily basis.
For many enterprises, governments and service provider organizations, the mission for IT today is no longer just about keeping the infrastructure running. It’s about the critical need to quickly create new services and revenue streams and improve the competitive position of their organization.
Some parts of your organization may not have time to evolve into a private cloud. For them, taking the revolutionary (or green field) approach may be best, while for other existing revenue streams, an evolutionary approach, ensuring investment protection, may be best. In the end, customers will be able to choose the approach that best fits the task at hand, finding the right mix of both evolutionary and revolutionary to meet their individual needs.
Software delivery was once specific to the IT industry. Now, Continuous Delivery pipelines are used around world from e-commerce to airline software. Building a software delivery pipeline once involved hours of scripting and manual steps–a process that’s painful, if not impossible, to scale. However Continuous Delivery with Application Release Automation tools offers a scripting-free, automated experience. Continuous Delivery pipelines are immensely powerful for the modern enterprise, boosting ...
Jan. 16, 2017 06:00 AM EST Reads: 1,761
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addres...
Jan. 16, 2017 04:00 AM EST Reads: 5,252
Docker containers have brought great opportunities to shorten the deployment process through continuous integration and the delivery of applications and microservices. This applies equally to enterprise data centers as well as the cloud. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Jari Kolehmainen, founder and CTO of Kontena, will discuss solutions and benefits of a deeply integrated deployment pipeline using technologies such as container management platforms, Docker containers, and the drone.io Cl tool...
Jan. 16, 2017 03:00 AM EST Reads: 803
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
Jan. 16, 2017 01:45 AM EST Reads: 2,651
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed ...
Jan. 16, 2017 01:45 AM EST Reads: 6,136
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Robert Doyle, lead architect at eCube Systems, will examine the issues and need for an agile infrastructure and show the advantages of capturing developer knowledge in an exportable file for migration into production. He will introduce the use of NXTmonitor, a next-generation DevOps tool that captures application environments, dependencies and start/stop procedures in a portable configuration file with an easy-to-use GUI. In addition to captur...
Jan. 16, 2017 12:15 AM EST Reads: 2,695
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and Containers together help companies to achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, reviewed the current landscape of D...
Jan. 15, 2017 10:45 PM EST Reads: 4,760
"We got started as search consultants. On the services side of the business we have help organizations save time and save money when they hit issues that everyone more or less hits when their data grows," noted Otis Gospodnetić, Founder of Sematext, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jan. 15, 2017 10:30 PM EST Reads: 4,787
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Jan. 15, 2017 10:15 PM EST Reads: 3,489
We call it DevOps but much of the time there’s a lot more discussion about the needs and concerns of developers than there is about other groups. There’s a focus on improved and less isolated developer workflows. There are many discussions around collaboration, continuous integration and delivery, issue tracking, source code control, code review, IDEs, and xPaaS – and all the tools that enable those things. Changes in developer practices may come up – such as developers taking ownership of code ...
Jan. 15, 2017 09:45 PM EST Reads: 1,611
The proper isolation of resources is essential for multi-tenant environments. The traditional approach to isolate resources is, however, rather heavyweight. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Igor Drobiazko, co-founder of elastic.io, drew upon his own experience with operating a Docker container-based infrastructure on a large scale and present a lightweight solution for resource isolation using microservices. He also discussed the implementation of microservices in data and application integrat...
Jan. 15, 2017 06:30 PM EST Reads: 3,468
I’m told that it has been 21 years since Scrum became public when Jeff Sutherland and I presented it at an Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages & Applications (OOPSLA) workshop in Austin, TX, in October of 1995. Time sure does fly. Things mature. I’m still in the same building and at the same company where I first formulated Scrum. Initially nobody knew of Scrum, yet it is now an open source body of knowledge translated into more than 30 languages People use Scrum worldwide for ...
Jan. 15, 2017 05:45 PM EST Reads: 2,883
Much of the value of DevOps comes from a (renewed) focus on measurement, sharing, and continuous feedback loops. In increasingly complex DevOps workflows and environments, and especially in larger, regulated, or more crystallized organizations, these core concepts become even more critical. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, showed how, by focusing on 'metrics that matter,' you can provide objective, transparent, and meaningful f...
Jan. 15, 2017 02:00 PM EST Reads: 5,896
"We're bringing out a new application monitoring system to the DevOps space. It manages large enterprise applications that are distributed throughout a node in many enterprises and we manage them as one collective," explained Kevin Barnes, President of eCube Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jan. 15, 2017 01:45 PM EST Reads: 5,182
As the race for the presidency heats up, IT leaders would do well to recall the famous catchphrase from Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 campaign against George H. W. Bush: “It’s the economy, stupid.” That catchphrase is important, because IT economics are important. Especially when it comes to cloud. Application performance management (APM) for the cloud may turn out to be as much about those economics as it is about customer experience.
Jan. 15, 2017 01:30 PM EST Reads: 4,557
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and containers together help companies achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, reviewed the current landscape of Dev...
Jan. 15, 2017 01:15 PM EST Reads: 3,863
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Jan. 15, 2017 12:15 PM EST Reads: 4,963
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long developm...
Jan. 15, 2017 12:15 PM EST Reads: 3,268
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dataloop.IO, an innovator in cloud IT-monitoring whose products help organizations save time and money, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Dataloop.IO is an emerging software company on the cutting edge of major IT-infrastructure trends including cloud computing and microservices. The company, founded in the UK but now based in San Fran...
Jan. 15, 2017 11:45 AM EST Reads: 2,371
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Jan. 15, 2017 11:15 AM EST Reads: 3,301