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The Journey to the Cloud

While there is more and more talk of cloud computing lately,  it’s not clear how data center managers can integrate this into their capacity planning in a standardized way. Most of the various approaches to both internal and external cloud computing offered today work differently from vendor to vendor, and vary by the type of application problem being solved or cloud service required. For example a business may choose to access an application in the cloud such as Salesforce.com, or choose to move a particular infrastructure or platform stack to an internal cloud technology or external cloud provider.  And for cloud computing to be truly valuable, it needs to offer the data center manager a range of technologies that work seamlessly together, deploying services as required to meet business needs.

As regular virtualization has shown, it has become far easier for a new environment to be brought online. This is a huge boost to datacenter flexibility, allowing for far easier management of environment growth, whether  ongoing or with a temporary response to spikes in demand or seasonality. It also allows for rapid failover of environments and easier launch planning when new environments are needed.

But these advantages  have downsides. They can lead to environment sprawl and a lack of control in terms of change management. This can lead to security risks, reliability issues and a lack effective business continuity planning. The addition of new capacity still requires the use of traditional IT processes which may now be at higher risk of error for the reasons stated.

To reduce this risk, the management of the infrastructure that underpins these computing environments needs to move away from complex IT provisioning requests to the presentation of a series of standardized services.  The capabilities of these services should be summarized at a high level that the target audience can understand without the need to be thoroughly versed in—or even aware of-- the underlying processes needed to provision that service. Making this transition removes the service requester from knowing the implementation details and constraints, allowing for the provisioning of the underlying compute, networking, storage and virtualized or physical application environments in a way that maximizes usage of the limited and shrinking datacenter resources available.(Many bloggers have earlier talked about the resource crunch in data centers, including Tere’ Bracco).

Through the use of standardized processes and workflows implementation risk is minimized, while established change management practices are supported.

Reaching this state is the beginning of the journey to the cloud. By implementing a series of service templates, profiles and policies, each layer of the architecture can be provisioned using standardized workflows. Interfacing with resource pools, CMDBs and other resource tracking systems, the most appropriate datacenter resources can be put to use at the time they are needed, in essence implementing a private cloud.

Once the approaches outlined here have been implemented, moving to the public cloud is a logical step. The same resource pools and workflows can be extended to interface with public cloud technologies, allowing for deployment of service requests across both internal and external resources as needed,  meeting SLA, cost and responsiveness commitments, without expanding the datacenter footprint. Peak loads can now be dealt with quickly and efficiently, with IT reliability rising and upward cost pressures decreasing.

These same modeling approach used in the private cloud can be implemented by public cloud providers themselves, allowing private cloud users to approach their public cloud needs from a service versus an infrastructure provisioning perspective. Taken to its logical conclusion this will allow internal IT departments to concentrate on their company’s business challenges and opportunities, while leaving the expertise of hardware and software procurement, management and utilization efficiency to public cloud providers, with all the economies of scale they bring to truly make a difference.

IASBU has a series of technologies that facilitate your journey to the cloud. From a first step of developing basic services to drive virtual environment provisioning, to full scale service catalog implementations, managing the deployment of all datacenter components needed across private and public clouds, our cloud orchestration products and services will help you move to the cloud in a structured and scalable way.

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