Business Production: Not just keeping the lights on, but making them shine brighter
The following is the second in a three-part blog series about the VMware Journey to your cloud in the public sector. The first installment introduced the VMware Journey and its multiple phases and outlined Phase 1 – IT Production: Lower Costs and First Steps through Virtualization.
This second installment describes Phase 2—Business Production.
Virtualization is an important technology in its own right, but in the context of cloud computing it’s best viewed as a foundational technology that gets the journey started. Virtualization helps lower costs and streamline IT services, but it’s in Phase 2—what we call Business Production—where the services being offered are enhanced and the benefits begin to accelerate.
We refer to this phase as Business Production because it focuses on business-critical applications that can benefit dramatically from the uptime, increased availability and easier maintenance afforded by virtualization. With IT operating more smoothly, the organization can shift its focus toward improving the tools that enhance the business – instead of constantly struggling to keep up with outages, updates and user demands.
Improving the business-critical application experience in public sector organizations starts with bringing key applications (e.g., a class registration application for students or an online driver’s license renewal tool for citizens) into the cycle. With automated IT tools reducing overhead and eliminating cumbersome maintenance tasks, the IT team can shift its focus to building or improving tools that deliver new services and capabilities to the ultimate end-users.
In education, the end user community includes the students, faculty and administration. In government agencies, it includes citizens, business owners, voters and drivers, among other stakeholders. Research shows that once word spreads about a more cost-effective, high availability solution for mission-critical applications, departments and divisions within an organization start sharing wish lists about the tools and features that will make their lives – and the lives of their constituents – much easier.
Consider what the cloud has done for Indiana University, part of the Big Ten Conference, but also recognized as a leading university for academia and research with over 110,000 students and 8 geographically dispersed campuses. Through VMware virtualization, they consolidated over 90 percent of their servers, including Tier 1 applications such as Oracle databases, ERP financial and HR systems, and even their online course management system, the university’s most publicly visible application. This university drastically cut costs, lowered energy usage, and provided a more efficient IT infrastructure for its students and faculty. The overall project was clearly a success- in terms of saving money, but also by building operational efficiencies and improving business agility.
It’s during this Business Production phase that developers can expand their vision for applications, bringing enhanced functionality to users and new services to key constituents, whether they are faculty, students, employees or the citizens they serve. A police department, for example, might place greater focus on developing applications to support mobile communications or identify suspects. School administrators, on the other hand, might channel more resources to tools for responding to emergencies and communicating in real time with security officers, faculty, students and their parents.
Consider the example of a national food inspection agency that was facing new regulatory challenges.
A cloud solution allowed the agency, among other things, to better monitor livestock; produce and processed food items in near real-time as they moved from source to supermarket. Beyond that, the agency started to look at how to enhance that information even further. To keep track of sources of food contaminants, for example, those data files can be integrated with information from other government agencies, as well as agencies from other countries.
At this point in the process, the benefits and the cost savings are obvious. But what’s the next step? Can organizations find other ways to leverage cloud technology to bring an even greater return-on-investment? In the third and final phase of the journey, as organizations deploy IT as a service, the possibilities become almost unlimited.