Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Gopala Krishna Behara, Sridhar Chalasani, Tirumala Khandrika, Kelly Burford

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Virtual Strategy - Virtually Right

With a private cloud strategy and dynamic data center you can quickly respond to rapid business fluctuations

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.

Any shortcuts?
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.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Gregor Petri

Gregor Petri is a regular expert or keynote speaker at industry events throughout Europe and wrote the cloud primer “Shedding Light on Cloud Computing”. He was also a columnist at ITSM Portal, contributing author to the Dutch “Over Cloud Computing” book, member of the Computable expert panel and his LeanITmanager blog is syndicated across many sites worldwide. Gregor was named by Cloud Computing Journal as one of The Top 100 Bloggers on Cloud Computing.

Follow him on Twitter @GregorPetri or read his blog at blog.gregorpetri.com

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
The past few years have brought a sea change in the way applications are architected, developed, and consumed—increasing both the complexity of testing and the business impact of software failures. How can software testing professionals keep pace with modern application delivery, given the trends that impact both architectures (cloud, microservices, and APIs) and processes (DevOps, agile, and continuous delivery)? This is where continuous testing comes in. D
The goal of Microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases. Microservices being modular these are faster to change and enables an evolutionary architecture where systems can change, as the business needs change. Microservices can scale elastically and by being service oriented can enable APIs natively. Microservices also reduce implementation and release cycle time and enables continuous delivery. This paper provides a logical overview of the Mi...
Some journey to cloud on a mission, others, a deadline. Change management is useful when migrating to public, private or hybrid cloud environments in either case. For most, stakeholder engagement peaks during the planning and post migration phases of a project. Legacy engagements are fairly direct: projects follow a linear progression of activities (the “waterfall” approach) – change managers and application coders work from the same functional and technical requirements. Enablement and develo...
For DevOps teams, the concepts behind service-oriented architecture (SOA) are nothing new. A style of software design initially made popular in the 1990s, SOA was an alternative to a monolithic application; essentially a collection of coarse-grained components that communicated with each other. Communication would involve either simple data passing or two or more services coordinating some activity. SOA served as a valid approach to solving many architectural problems faced by businesses, as app...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone in...
Many IT organizations have come to learn that leveraging cloud infrastructure is not just unavoidable, it’s one of the most effective paths for IT organizations to become more responsive to business needs. Yet with the cloud comes new challenges, including minimizing downtime, decreasing the cost of operations, and preventing employee burnout to name a few. As companies migrate their processes and procedures to their new reality of a cloud-based infrastructure, an incident management solution...
Some people are directors, managers, and administrators. Others are disrupters. Eddie Webb (@edwardawebb) is an IT Disrupter for Software Development Platforms at Liberty Mutual and was a presenter at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. His talk, Organically DevOps: Building Quality and Security into the Software Supply Chain at Liberty Mutual, looked at Liberty Mutual's transformation to Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and DevOps. For a large, heavily regulated industry, this task...
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...
Gaining visibility in today’s sprawling cloud infrastructure is complex and laborious, involving drilling down into tools offered by various cloud services providers. Enterprise IT organizations need smarter and effective tools at their disposal in order to address this pertinent problem. Gaining a 360 - degree view of the cloud costs requires collection and analysis of the cost data across all cloud infrastructures used inside an enterprise.
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
Gone are the days when application development was the daunting task of the highly skilled developers backed with strong IT skills, low code application development has democratized app development and empowered a new generation of citizen developers. There was a time when app development was in the domain of people with complex coding and technical skills. We called these people by various names like programmers, coders, techies, and they usually worked in a world oblivious of the everyday pri...
Our work, both with clients and with tools, has lead us to wonder how it is that organizations are handling compliance issues in the cloud. The big cloud vendors offer compliance for their infrastructure, but the shared responsibility model requires that you take certain steps to meet compliance requirements. Which lead us to start poking around a little more. We wanted to get a picture of what was available, and how it was being used. There is a lot of fluidity in this space, as in all things ...
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
The notion of improving operational efficiency is conspicuously absent from the healthcare debate - neither Obamacare nor the newly proposed GOP plan discusses the impact that a step-function improvement in efficiency could have on access to healthcare (through more capacity), quality of healthcare services (through reduced wait times for patients) or cost (through better utilization of scarce, expensive assets).
Admiral Calcote - also known as Lee Calcote (@lcalcote) or the Ginger Geek to his friends - gave a presentation entitled Characterizing and Contrasting Container Orchestrators at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. Okay, he isn't really an admiral - nor does anyone call him that - but he used the title admiral to describe what container orchestrators do, relating it to an admiral directing a fleet of container ships. You could also say that they are like the conductor of an orchestra, directing...
Cloud Governance means many things to many people. Heck, just the word cloud means different things depending on who you are talking to. While definitions can vary, controlling access to cloud resources is invariably a central piece of any governance program. Enterprise cloud computing has transformed IT. Cloud computing decreases time-to-market, improves agility by allowing businesses to adapt quickly to changing market demands, and, ultimately, drives down costs.
Recent survey done across top 500 fortune companies shows almost 70% of the CIO have either heard about IAC from their infrastructure head or they are on their way to implement IAC. Yet if you look under the hood while some level of automation has been done, most of the infrastructure is still managed in much tradition/legacy way. So, what is Infrastructure as Code? how do you determine if your IT infrastructure is truly automated?
Every few years, a disruptive force comes along that prompts us to reframe our understanding of what something means, or how it works. For years, the notion of what a computer is and how you make one went pretty much unchallenged. Then virtualization came along, followed by cloud computing, and most recently containers. Suddenly the old rules no longer seemed to apply, or at least they didn’t always apply. These disruptors made us reconsider our IT worldview.