This is part 2 of the series “10 Things Vmware Server Admins Should Know About Self-Service Catalogs and Lifecycle Management” that I’ll be publishing over the next couple of weeks.
Number 2. The service catalog is the place where your user can document (communicate) their request
Let me show you an example.
If you go to an e-commerce storefront and choose to look at Cisco UCS servers, they are broken down their servers into classes (Rack, Blade, etc), which then provides different models, which can then be customized within the parameters allowed for that model. I’m not saying this makes sense for your environment, but the break down between classes, models, and then self-service configuration is a useful construct for thinking about your templates.
What are your standard classes of environment you provide? Could it be production, development, QA? What about models? Could those be on-line transaction processing, extranet, intranet HR, basic web server, basic database?
We would want to ask entirely different set of questions and configuration options for an extranet, high transaction database than for a personal development environment, wouldn’t we?
It’d also make our job much simpler and faster if we know what parameters were involved for that particular request.
The service catalog is key to enable your customers to:
- Discover what’s available me
- Guide me based on my high level needs,
- Help me compare models, then
- Assist me in customizing my configuration.
And of course all the tracking, workflow and life-cycle management that the service catalog enables. This is what makes a service catalog different from a “web form front-end” to a help desk — automation is the big difference.
Tags: CIAC, Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud, cloud, Cloud Management, intelligent automation, orchestration, Service Orchestration, unified management
Will you be at the Gartner IT Infrastructure Operations and Management Summit in Orlando this week? The Cisco data center and cloud team is.
We’ll be featuring our Unified Data Center and Unified Management solutions, including UCS and Intelligent Automation for Cloud. And our experts will be on hand to discuss key topics including data center virtualization, desktop virtualization, and private cloud.
Even if you won’t be at the event, you can get a preview by watching this 20 minute video webcast on how to get started with a private cloud. Register and view the webcast here.
And if you are going to the Gartner summit this week, here are some Cisco activities that you won’t want to miss:
Read More »
Tags: Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud, cloud, data center, events, intelligent automation, private cloud, UCS, Unified Data Center, unified management
This is part 3 of the series “10 Things Vmware Server Admins Should Know About Self-Service Catalogs and Lifecycle Management” that I’ll be publishing over the next couple of weeks.
3. The catalog system is more than a document, it’s also used to manage the life-cycle of the resource
What’s great about VM’s is how fast and easy they are to provision, but sometimes they are hard to kill.
I see the emails going around that say: “no one is touched that instance, who owns it?”
Back when resources were scarce, our hunter gatherer customers in Application Development and QA learned to never let go of a server. Like woolly mammoth’s they were hard to catch and came only sporadically; in the summer of ROI funding, or when great migrations came. Most of the time, QA was starved for resources. So they hoarded.
And while executing the initial request for a server environment through the service catalog gives you a nicely documentation and speed, over time changes happen and configurations drift.
This process of managing a server or environment from “as offered,” to “as agreed,” to “as built,” and then managing the change requests against it, is what I mean by lifecycle management.
The service catalog, being the source of “as offered,” “as requested” and “as built,” contains the whole lifecycle for your VM, plus information on who owns it, for how long they need it, and any other relevant data that went into the build sheet.
Unlike a static spreadsheet, when looking at a server, you can see what the maintenance hours, SLA’s and OLA’s are. The lifecycle system an tell you what types of requests can be made against that VM (like add memory, for example).That server can be started, stopped, snapshotted, upgraded. Notice they are all verbs against a thing, the VM instance.
The result is we have complete business context information about the server, the history of requests about it, subscription information and of course the proper technical build sheet, including workload requirements. As one VMware admin recently said, “I wish I’d known that you can only work on that server on Saturdays after 5pm.”
Tags: Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud, Cloud Management, intelligent automation, orchestration, Service Orchestration, unified management
If you’re like me, you’ve ignored this sage advice a time or so. Thankfully my most recent rush to a solution was remedied by a trip back to the home improvement store and $100 or so. Most IT “goofs” extract a much dearer cost. In this third installment of Cisco Insights – Cloud, Bob Dimicco profiles a non-profit company who successfully resisted the pressure to jump straight on the Cloud project bandwagon. Instead they opted for a thoughtful, measured approach. Partnering with Cisco, they first conduced a thorough strategy and business justification assessment. By focusing on their key business drivers and desired outcomes, they were able to get a complete picture of benefits, costs, and a deep understanding of where the true ROI would be. They allowed the facts, not the hype or pressure to guide their direction. Watch the video find out where they went next on their journey to cloud.
Read about two other companies’ cloud stories in my previous two blogs:
- Good Help is Essential – A Software Company Partners with Cisco Services to Uncover Cloud Opportunities
- Public Cloud with Confidence – Find out how Cisco Helps a Leading Consumer Packaged Goods Manufacturer with Cloud Management
Tags: cloud, Non-profit, services
Leading IT shops like to have a single pane of glass that is the IT storefront to all employees. This is a very noble goal. Having worked at a few large companies this is indeed a moving target as supporting the end user employee can mean a lot of different entry points, contexts and presentation technologies. When it comes to have a central location for ordering services it is very important to on board all of the employee based and data center services in a consistent fashion. Some of the key use cases include employee on boarding (and off boarding), virtual desktops, virtual machines and physical servers in the datacenter and access to applications. Typical IT departments may have several hundred orderable services, many of which are bundled (think of employee on boarding).
Interestingly some organizations first drive towards a common catalog and then automate what they can afterwards. At first you can take orders through the service catalog and then work the tasks to fulfill the request through manual process tracking. Alternatively I have seen some shops say that they will only put services in the catalog that can be automated. Then there are all the intermediate cases. Organizations deploying automated request management have many issues to consider and standards to be set.
Can we declare victory when a process is mostly manual but yet orderable from a catalog in four clicks? Perhaps…
Your end users are happy. They can see where their request is in the process flow. Kind of like going to fedex.com and seeing where that DVD is on its journey to your house. But that package took 3 days to traverse its journey.
Considered an automated fulfillment or provisioning process. In my above analogy, you are no longer dealing with DVDs shipping to your house but on demand video streaming. A simple click sets into motion many automated processes that deliver the movie to your device. For end user services this means your remote access is provisioned with a simple click, your Linux server and application stack is delivered in less than 15 minutes for use. Key to making that happen is a full automated process. Is that achievable in all cases? Perhaps….
In most cases what we are provisioning requires a northbound API (an programming interface above the fulfillment system) to accomplish the instantiation of the service. Oftentimes, in legacy environments the target system is so dated or under invested-in that an API does not exist. It is pretty hard to automate a process that can only occur through a human interfacing with the system.
People ask me the question: So What? We have found that by automating processes we can save on average 30% of the process cost. Multiply that by tens of thousands of requests and it will really add up.
Investing in Self Service requires investing in automation and in some cases, wrapping an API around a legacy environment in order to get the desire result: IT as a Service, delivered at the speeds needed by our end users.
Tags: automated provisioning, data center, intelligent automation, orchestration