Remember the days when virtualization was the new bright shiny object that everyone in IT (and the business) was interested in? VMware was just beginning to become a household name in IT shops. Many IT folks were both excited by this, and somewhat suspicious of implementing multiple VMs on a physical server. Ultimately, VMware and other virtualization vendors proved out that the concept worked well and was very compelling from an agility and cost perspective. So the teams went marching off and virtualized R&D, test, and some production applications. The results were very positive and the era of virtualization was born. Years have gone by and users have experienced all the benefits while at the same time experiencing a new set of issues and complexity that required a new model for IT.
It is very important for IT staff to understand the journey that they are on. I learned very early in my IT career that it is critical to have a vision for where you are going and to set up the early phases correctly, or you will be dealing with a jumble of projects, too many tools, and a silo for every technology. You can view this new era as 5 distinct phases: pre-virtualized, virtualized, PODs of unified infrastructure, on-premises private cloud, and hybrid models including public cloud. In reality, enterprises have different IT applications at different phases of this “maturity journey”. It is also important to realize that IT organizations cannot jump from pre-virtualized to private cloud in a single deployment weekend. This journey takes careful planning and a infrastructure/tools partner to work with you.
A few key technical themes are very important as one contemplates moving from mixtures of physical and virtual services to a private cloud include self service, orchestration, and integration across existing (legacy) and new, hardware as well as across the existing IT operations management tooling.
Self service is very critical as end users of the Private Clouds want the ability to order infrastructure, say Windows or Linux infrastructure, or Oracle DB, or SAP ERP applications and have all of the underlying underpinnings of network and storage provisioned as well. This IT storefront is absolutely critical for end users to find what they require in a service catalog, order that service, and keep track of the private cloud infrastructural elements they have ordered. Moving the consumers of IT services to a self-service model should be very straightforward as everyone is used to this model with internet ecommerce and the emergence of IT service catalogs in the last decade.
The next key theme is orchestration, where the coordinated task automation across servers, virtualization, network and storage happens. It is critical here in the back office that the various teams responsible for the different areas to get coordinated through an automation tool doing that orchestration. Orchestration is where all the work gets done. This is where we reduce the time from provisioning infrastructure from my earlier career experience of 43 days to 5 minutes. Orchestration of all the technical workflows and activities that provision the infrastructure in an intelligent way with low cost of ownership in maintaining the automation is key.
Finally, we all have to realize that there are many existing investments that IT organizations have made over the years. Existing ITIL workflow/ticketing systems, monitoring, consoles, reporting, charge back, etc. It is imperative that the private cloud orchestration solution to get integrated into the existing investments of HP, CA, BMC, and IBM and the plethora of tools that they provide. Being able to work across different virtualization technologies, and server / network / storage providers is very important. Being able to stand up a private cloud “pod” alongside legacy infrastructure and integrated to existing management tooling is the easier way to start down the journey of private cloud.