Steps To Success With Private Cloud Computing Initiatives

Johan Milbrink, Data Center Practice Manager

The following is one of a collection of articles that addresses strategy around hybrid cloud architecture and IT as a Service.

The IT industry is once again undergoing another great transformation. Cloud computing, by replacing operational heroics with business driven speed and agility, will spur a lot of innovation. As an IT leader for your organization it is important you ask yourself, “Are we ready? Are we, as an organization, well-suited or ill-suited for the future of IT, and can we afford not to be ready?”

Many legacy data centers are built on old technology that just wasn’t designed for the demands and pace of today’s business.  Many IT organizations are therefore ill-equipped to meet business requirements for faster service delivery. Their process is manual, cumbersome, inconsistent, and often takes a week or longer for the end-to-end delivery of the requested service. But cloud computing has the potential to turn that complex and drawn out delivery process on its head and make it fast, agile, self-service, and on demand.

Presidio has developed methodology around helping our clients achieve success on their journey to cloud. Too often, inquiries and discussions concerning private cloud computing start with: “What technology should I buy?” But as with virtualization, the real challenges with private cloud computing lie with processes, business management and people. Private cloud computing is primarily a change in the relationship between IT and the business and a change in how IT is managed and funded.

 

CLOUD INTEGRATION

The journey starts with forming a cloud computing strategy that is right for your business, and that has executive level support and consensus. From that context, a cloud computing roadmap and execution plan can be formed. Every private cloud computing initiative requires supportive leadership and executive support. This is because cloud computing affects the relationship between IT and the business, how IT is consumed, and the jobs within the IT organization. Overall it requires a change in culture and processes. The organization leaders must all buy-in to the strategy and collectively help drive these changes past any organizational friction. The alternative is an unsuccessful initiative.

The next step is to identify the roadmap components that align with the cloud computing strategy. A set of individual projects tailored for your environment must be designed, initiated, and executed - sometimes in parallel. These projects will address the areas of finance, infrastructure, organization, policy, security, and applications. All of these areas must align with your strategy.

Step three is to design the service catalog and self-service portal. Carefully assess, understand, plan, standardize, and re-evaluate the services IT needs to offer on demand to your organiza-tion including what services will be used, who will use them, and how will they be used? Make the self-service portal as easy to use as possible to drive stickiness and adoption. The importance of this cannot be overstated. If you do not drive adoption or offer the right services, your cloud initiative is almost guaranteed to fail. This warrants spending time with your end users to clearly understand what services to offer them and how to make the consumption of those services as easy as possible. We’ve found that a great job on the first project results in positive word-of-mouth and increased adoption.

Next, adopt a phased and targeted approach. Instead of biting off more than you can chew, move from limited test to small pilot to larger production implementations over a period of time, learning along the way. This phased approach enables gaining experience in running and supporting a cloud while expanding your readiness. Unanticipated events related to end user behavior or requests, necessary changes, or technical glitches can more easily be addressed when a project is implemented in phases. Additionally, a phased approach will allow you to establish clear project objectives and be very targeted during the initial implementation, addressing for exam ple a small part of a test/development environment, rather than a bigger environment with more demands.

Once the foundation of your cloud is in place, you will continually be improving the infrastructure. This requires lifecycle management, asset management, configuration management, usage metering, and event monitoring. These complementary services ensure that you can build an enterprise class, mission critical cloud. Initially, you can start with a shared infrastructure and portal to validate that you can actually provision services. Once you showcase that the cloud works, you can surround it with service management and business management.

Another important step is to evaluate and select a cloud platform that is Enterprise-class, extensible, and can easily be customized to offer the services the end users in your organization need. The core platform on which to execute your journey to the cloud should require no future fork-lift upgrades in order to scale, and it should offer multiple service and deployment models. It should be an extensible framework on which to add functionality for your enterprise and datacenter such as: image management, multiple hardware vendors, multiple hypervisors, CMDB and ticketing integration, financial show-back, and chargeback.

Using a house construction metaphor: before all else, a builder must ensure that a strong sub-foundation and foundation are in place, whether building a new structure, adding to an existing one or making renovations. The sub-foundation and foundation must be able to support any new construction or changes added to an existing building. The solid sub-foundation is essential in order to support the foundation that supports the house. The cloud platform should be viewed similarly. Take some time to compare and contrast different cloud platform vendor offerings and make sure your selection meet your organization’s strategy, roadmap, and service requirements. Selecting the wrong platform may prove to be a costly mistake and it could be difficult to recover.

 

SUMMARY

FORM A STRATEGY THAT HAS BUY-IN. Getting support, inspiring employees, driving organizational changes, and overcoming objections are all critical to a successful private cloud computing initiative.

IDENTIFY SPECIFIC COMPONENTS WITHIN THE ROADMAP. Ensure that individual projects are in alignment with the overall strategy.

WORK WITH END USERS. Determine the standard offerings to deliver in a private cloud by that provide quantifiable business benefits. Focus on providing services that are easy for the end user to consume.

START SMALL. Using a phased approach, start with a simple private cloud service offering with minimal support needs. Use these pilot services to discover what additional services and capabilities are in high demand, and evolve the private cloud over time.

COMPARE/CONTRAST CLOUD PLATFORM SOLUTIONS. Select the one that makes sense for your organization’s cloud strategy and offers the most scalability and extensibility.

 

STEPS TO SUCCESS WITH PRIVATE CLOUD COMPUTING INITATIVES is one in a series of articles that create the conversation of “High Availability in a Hybrid World.” These assets are meant as a resource for IT decision makers who are faced with the challenge of creating either a hybrid cloud or IT as a Service strategy.

 

HYBRID CLOUD DEFINED

Hybrid cloud is a composition of two or more clouds (private, community or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together, offering the benefits of multiple deployment models.  By utilizing hybrid cloud architecture, companies and individuals are able to obtain degrees of fault tolerance combined with locally immediate usability without dependency on internet connectivity. Hybrid cloud architecture requires both on-premises resources and off-site (remote) server-based cloud infrastructure. Hybrid cloud provides the flexibility of in-house applications with the fault tolerance and scalability of cloud based services.

 

IT as a SERVICE DEFINED

(ITaaS) is an operational model where the IT organization of an enterprise is run much like business, acting and operating as an internal service provider. In this model, IT simplifies and encourages service consumption, provides improved financial transparency for IT services, and partners more closely with lines of business. This type of IT transformation is business focused rather than cost focused, leading directly to improved levels of business agility. Typically, ITaaS is enabled by technology models such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS), all of which are part of cloud computing.

 

For more information please contact us at Presidio.com