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It’s the Processes, Not the Technology!

As I travel the country and meet with many banks and firms, there is one constant I hear everywhere…how do we get to cloud? The primary reason for that question is based on the difficulty of overcoming legacy processes to get to an automated state, aka cloud.

The technology is there, ready and proven…but the mindset is not. Just like the hurdles of virtualizing in a physical world we faced a few years back, now the biggest hurdle is managing the processes of old and streamlining them to be automated and quick while maintaining compliance.

The few firms I have seen tackle this successfully all did the same difficult task…map out the legacy processes, get your facts, metrics and sales pitch together and without fail convince the decision makers that the processes need to change for the sake of growth and innovation into the future. There is no silver bullet for this, no quick fix, the sooner the discussions start the sooner IT as a Service and the path to cloud and reduced time to market and expense begins.

The successful models for this require due diligence and persistence. Map out the current processes, step by step, and study and determine “why” the processes have become what they are today. As an example, for change management, why are there 12 different approvers to add a server? What events happened in the past that made people say, “I need to approve this going forward so that does not happen again!” Build your case to show how current technologies can help avoid those issues of the past, etc.

Be ready to compromise, it may take time to get a process that takes several days to an automated 5 minute window. It may take a few iterations of change to get there, be patient. Use influence management to get the decision makers to support the changes in the processes, show how it will make them more successful, make it their idea.

Start with dev/test to show the technology and processes work, then push to expand to UAT then PROD and COB environments.

Be ready to show metrics…benchmarks of where you started and what you are gaining, or will gain, from the automation, like time to market increases for changes and capacity, savings (especially OPEX) and other things like admin to operating system ratios increasing, etc.

VMware is prepared to help firms with tackling these processes, we have an outstanding services organization staff with folks that have done this in the real work and ready to help you get over the legacy process hurdle and continue the journey to IT as a Service.

NYSE Technologies Enhances Their Community Cloud!

Earlier this month NYSE Technologies added a new service to their Capital Markets Community Cloud, it is called the Unmanaged Edition.  What is this you might ask?  It is the ability to have compute on demand from their Community Cloud and use your own OS build, rather than the OS build managed by NYSE Technologies. This new service will also open the door for Hybird cloud models using private VMware clouds and the NYSE Community Cloud, paving the way for workloads to be moved between the two cloud models seamlessly. More details of the release are below, also visit http://nysetechnologies.nyx.com/compute-demand for a fact sheet and other information.

This release from NYSE Technologies will offer a number of useful features, including:

  • Dedicated multicast network interfaces on a Linux or windows physical edition server.
  • Support for consuming SFTI and LCN multicast services on a windows physical edition server.
  • Bring your own x86 or x64 operating system to a virtual edition server. Upload an ISO image of any the below supported operating system distributions.
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 (x64)
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 (x64)
    • Window 7
    • Windows Vista
    • Windows XP/Embedded
    • Windows Server 2003
    • Windows Server 2000
    • Windows NT
    • CentOS 4/5
    • SLES 11
    • SLES 10
    • SLES 8,9
    • RHEL 6
    • RHEL 5
    • RHEL 4
    • RHEL 3
    • RHEL 2 (x32)
    • Debian GNU/Linux 6
    • Debian GNU/Linux 5
    • Debian GNU/Linux 4
    • Ubuntu
    • Oracle Enterprise Linux 4/5
    • Other 2.6.x Linux
    • Other 2.4.x Linux
    • Solaris 10

Subsequent to this release, NYSE Technologies will begin preparations for what they call the "service provider" release. This version opens up new possibilities for those interested in providing application services from the Community Cloud, such as Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors. Key features of this release include:

  • Publish unicast content services from any compute on demand server to the SFTI or LCN networks. These services will be available to the Capital Markets Community Platform and SFTI IP or SFTI LCN subscriber.
  • Self provision one or more load balancers to automatically distribute incoming unicast application traffic across multiple physical edition or virtual edition servers.

Welcome…now let’s dive right into your cloud!

Hello and welcome to BankinYourCloud.com.  My name is Scott Key and I joined VMware just over a year ago to start a Financial Services Industry vertical program for the company. Prior to joining VMware I spent 17 years in the Financial Services industry working at Citi.  I started a collector, then a collection manager, then stubbled into technology as our collection unit got their first x86 PC's and none knew how to use them or fix them when they did not work.  So by necessity I figured out how to use and fix the PC's and the rest is history, that was late 1994.  Over the years I held several different technology roles including the Chief Architect of Citi's Consumer International division for about 3 years.  In the last 3 years at Citi as a SVP, I started the server optimization programs at Citi, which included virtualization on all platforms, and grew that into a global program that included cloud strategies and saved the company hundreds of millions of dollars and yielded what today is one of the largest virtualization programs in the world.

Two years ago, when I was still at Citi, I wrote an eight part blog series on www.virtualization.info called The Hidden Challenges of Virtualization (give it a read).  The blog series focused on all the non-techincal challenges firms face as they try to move from physical to virtual.  Two years later, as I spend time with many financial firms in my new role at VMware, I have noticed there is a similar theme for cloud computing.

While there are definitely technical decisions to be made around cloud computing, those decisions and implementation of the technologies chosen are the easiest of the challenges…well  that may depend on what technology solutions you chose…but hopefully you get the point, and VMware can help you if you are struggling with the technology pieces.

Many financial firms are taking the steps of moving their virtual clusters to a private cloud model, and in doing so they are getting to an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) model.  Automating the creation and provisioning of VM's, the OS and often even the core tools (i.e. monitoring, capacity, security tools, etc.) are a step in the right direction but do not carry the impact and fanfare often expected.  Why not?

As an example, when a development team from a business unit request an environment for development purposes, they enter the request into some sort of system that kicks off a process…a process that takes anywhere from 30 to 90 days before they get the environment ready to use.  Even using virtualization, which has cut out days, if not weeks, from the past physical hardware provisioning timelines, we still see the 30 to 90 day windows.  Why is this?  Because all of the legacy processes for request, approvals, change records, application installations, security admin functions for accounts, configuration of applications, etc. are the bottlenecks in these processes that take so much time.

If you are providing virtual instances today for development environments through a manual process, it still probably only takes 1-3 days to create the VM's and put on the standard OS build and other tools.  If we call it 3 days, that is nothing in what could be up to a 90 day timeline for the complete environment ready to use and delivered to the developers.  So when you achieve IaaS and fully automated VM provisioning and cut that 3 days down to, oh let's say 1 hour, you have not made any impact to the business in their need for the environment ready to use.  This is why the step, although important and needed, of getting to IaaS is no more than a small feather in your cloud hat…there is much work to be done to make an impact for your business and create the agility they need and want.

This is what many banks are realizing today, few have attacked this head on and achieved PaaS (Platform as a Service), many are scratching their heads and trying to figure out how to get there.  There are some great lessons learned in this space and ways to take baby steps and achieve wins to get your firm to PaaS and make a real impact towards business agility.

As I continue this blog series, I will cover the following topics, and maybe a few more, on how others have achieved PaaS and created business agility.

  • Tackling legacy processes
  • Standards and centralization vs. the business silos
  • I have hundreds or thousands of applications, how do I automate and package them all?
  • Self-Service Provisioning
  • and many more we come up with during the journey!

Stay tuned for more!

Scott