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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Is Security Your Roadblock to Agility?

AUTHOR: Craig Stanley

Most IT organizations would agree that cloud computing as a concept and as an enterprise game changer, is a great idea.  There’s almost no opposition to virtualizing test and development environments, since the applications are usually non-mission critical.  But to create a true cloud environment, you need to virtualize all that can be effectively virtualized including the mission critical — tier 1 applications.

However, moving virtualization into the production environment increases the complexities of maintaining security, compliance, and enhancing risk mitigation.  With higher risk comes the need to fully understand and address cloud functionality issues that extend beyond simple virtualization.

Here are some of the challenges:

  • How do you manage a more complex cloud security structure built on a virtualized server platform?
  • How do you monitor and control change while relaxing  your security policies without sacrificing compliance and introducing unacceptable risk into the environment?
  • How can you create a more agile enterprise when governance, risk and compliance constraints are holding you back?

VMware believes the current key strategic objectives of IT are to become more efficient, agile and reliable.  Infrastructure virtualization yields significant benefits in efficiency and making IT more cost-effective, but there’s a lot more to creating a benefit-realized cloud than simply virtualizing servers.  While infrastructure virtualization is the first step of the journey, agility and reliability require automated management processes and the implementation of a development fabric to leverage smart apps and big data.  Furthermore, reliability and elasticity require additional layers of self-aware and self-healing functionality to address governance, risk and compliance in addition to the tradition measures of availability, uptime, and so forth.

To this end, VMware provides an integrated and robust set of solutions that enable IT to reduce infrastructure complexity through automation, create workload-based security profiles that move with the virtualized workload, and deliver cloud-era compliant architectures.  IT transformation is the direct result of increasing cloud maturity and competence.  And as IT transforms from reactive to proactive to innovative, the business is also transformed in ways that enable it to:

  • Grow while maintaining operational efficiency
  • Attract and retain customers
  • And reduce unit costs of technology based sales and services.

Accelerate Advisory Services help address the challenges of moving to the cloud by predicting and defining the many impacts to your organization,  as well as providing architectural knowledge and operational strategies.  We have worked with many customers to understand their business dynamics and craft pragmatic roadmaps and actionable steps to achieve a secure, manageable and compliant cloud environment.

Every enterprise is striving to become more agile, but agility requires IT leadership to let go of its traditional role as the controller of all things technical.  However, you are still expected to own the risk and compliance exposure.  Leveraging VMware’s deep understanding of virtual datacenters and cloud operations maturity will enable you to become a more informed and secure IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) provider .

Craig Stanley is the Benchmarking Practice Lead for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services. You can follow him on Twitter @benchmarkguru.

Accelerate can help you undertake your journey to the cloud and IT transformation. Visit our Web site to learn more about our offerings, or reach out to us today at: accelerate@vmware.com for more information.

Want to continue the conversation with your C-level executive peers?  Join our exclusive CxO Corner Facebook page for access to hundreds of verified CxOs sharing ideas around IT Transformation right now by going to CxO Corner and clicking “ask to join group.”

 

VMworld 2012 – It’s amazing!

AUTHOR: Eric Ledyard

Someday, I will reminisce about a few major mile markers I was a part of during my IT career. I remember VMware announcing its 4.0 products and releasing ground-breaking technologies like VMware Fault Tolerance—demonstrating concepts that were years ahead of anything anyone else was working on. As CTO for a VMware reseller, at the time I thought the innovation was incredible. Now, as a VMware employee attending VMworld 2012, I am absolutely blown away at what we’ve announced this year.

Yesterday, Pat Gelsinger and Steve Herrod presented so many incredible technologies we’re releasing – all of which I could completely geek out about. This morning, we continued to see more incredible innovation announcements for products that manage the diverse world of multi-device end user communities, which all companies are now challenged with. In this post, I want to capture my thoughts, from the VMware Accelerate perspective, on how VMware’s announcements made over the past two days will revolutionize the capabilities of modern CIOs, enabling them to truly evolve the way they operate IT going forward. Rather than go into deep technical detail, I’m capturing the business impact these product and services announcements will have on the industry in the next few years. If you are looking for detailed technical analysis, I urge you to check out many of the other blogs in the VMware community.

First, I would like to talk about announcements Pat and Steve discussed on day one. To summarize all the technologies down to the core of the message, the first announcement focused on an end-to-end suite of technologies that enable you to build a Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC). Steve captured his presentation in his blog. So, what does this mean to the CIO? It means a few things that I’ll try to capture here:

  • The last physical barriers in the datacenter are being torn down.
    • This allows CIOs to look at every application in their datacenter and analyze their IT supply chain to determine which services should be hosted internally and which are prime candidates for leveraging vendor services outside the datacenter. Accelerate Advisory Services Americas executive Michael Hubbard recently blogged about the changing role of the CIO, and yesterday’s VMworld session presentations filled in the gaps for explaining the technology enablers that will help free up the limitations that were previously limiting IT agility.
  • There is no reason not to virtualize tier 1 business critical applications.
    • At the heart of the platform, I believe the technology capabilities of the hypervisor have completely eliminated any and all discussions of not being able to run business critical applications in a virtualized world.
    • In fact, Steve announced that EPIC recently stated it will finally support its software running in a x86 environment, but only if it’s running on VMware’s hypervisor. This statement really reinforces the message that if you want to provide x86 environments with the levels of performance and reliability that previously only UNIX environments were known for, you must run these x86 workloads in a completely virtualized environment.
  • The future is a brokered multi-cloud environment.
    • Many of the announcements yesterday were focused on demonstrating what life looks like in a multi-cloud environment. These technology enablers are at the core of what allows modern CIOs to truly transform their IT services and bring vendor cloud partners into their IT supply chain seamlessly.
    • Steve’s keynote also featured a demonstration of an environment in which an entire virtual datacenter entity was deployed, applications were deployed in that environment, and the environment was managed from a single plane of glass. The environment then burst into an external cloud environment, and the software defined network “magically” expanded across both datacenters, allowing for seamless elasticity of the environment. Such capabilities will help the modern CIO answer the previous challenges of: “How would I possibly move workloads from my datacenter to another datacenter seamlessly? How do I ensure network security and services across both sites? How do I manage an environment that is not a single, internal entity in my own datacenter? How do I leverage a highly elastic infrastructure without having to build it myself?”
  • Platform is only valuable if you can abstract value out of it.
    • In the new architectural design, the single most important challenge is how to manage a heterogeneous cloud environment and get accurate consumption data on utilization. Steve’s most revealing comment yesterday was that managing a heterogeneous cloud environment becomes a big data problem. This is really a key shift in IT management. In the past, most of us were very caught up in traditional change management efforts. In a completely dynamic, elastic, multi-cloud environment, it would be impossible to try to implement any type of traditional change management-based suite to handle operations.
    • The future will be to abstract real-time value from your cloud operations systems on your multi-cloud environment and be able to make informed analytics-based decisions on your ever-changing environment. This allows you to fully realize your position as a broker of IT services and gives you the flexibility to fully leverage external cloud vendors in your IT supply chain.

Day two, the discussion shifted to how we are helping address how services are consumed by the end user community. More specifically, how do you transform your legacy desktop environment into end user services, and how do you do this while supporting the new multi-device end user profiles that you are challenged with today? In the last couple of years, technology enablers were still developed to address many of the technology challenges that existed, which ranged from performance capabilities, to deployment challenges, to access and security challenges, and finally to support any device anywhere.

Steve announced the first unified suite to address those challenges—a tremendous step forward for the industry. The key takeaways I found compelling were:

  • Transform, broker, and deliver
    • This is the path we have defined to transform legacy environments into services, broker access and control security, then deliver services to a multi-device user community.
  • Helping abstract the OS image from the service delivery.
    • VMware’s Wanova acquisition will help us assist companies with completing their Windows 7 migrations by providing in-place upgrades and migrations.
    • The Wanova software then abstracts OS images from devices and manage images at a much more granular level.
  • Data services will now be integrated into the service broker.
    • The announcement of Horizon Files will help the modern CIO capture the capabilities and functionality of services like Box.net and others while maintaining much higher levels of security and control over sensitive company data and IP.
  • The virtualized end user experience is now indistinguishable from the physical experience.
    • From a raw performance perspective, the end user suite has made tremendous breakthroughs in increasing the performance of the end user experience. One of the most amazing reflections of this is 3D gaming on a virtualized desktop—there are business applications, but nothing is as demanding as 3D gaming for testing a virtualized protocol. What does this mean to the modern CIO? It means that past arguments that you can’t provide an end user experience similar to what your users have had in the past are no longer valid.

Overall, this has been an incredible VMworld 2012 so far. My discussions with customers have been focused on how VMware’s announcements this week will really define the future of datacenters and the IT industry as a whole. Leaders who are genuinely excited to see the pieces of the multi-cloud and end user environments puzzles come together cohesively through a suite of products defined specifically to accelerate your IT transformation. Read more here VMworld 2012 Experience Now

Accelerate can help you undertake your journey to the cloud and IT transformation. Visit our Web site to learn more about our offerings, or reach out to us today at: accelerate@vmware.com for more information.

Want to continue the conversation with your C-level executive peers?  Join our exclusive CxO Corner Facebook page for access to hundreds of verified CxOs sharing ideas around IT Transformation right now by going to CxO Corner and clicking “ask to join group.”

 

 

You Are Here…But Where is “Here” and Is “Here” Where I Need to Be?

AUTHOR: Craig Stanley

VMware has found that the major CIO business strategies in 2012 are to grow the business, attract and retain new customers, and reduce enterprise costs.  Across every industry, CIOs are aligning their IT strategies to these objectives by becoming more cost efficient, more agile in delivering business solutions and increasing service reliability.  Specifically, they are devoting attention to delivering better and more innovative business solutions, actively looking for ways to architect core efficiencies into IT, and building a more responsive, agile and resilient infrastructure.

We are seeing a great deal of progress in increasing virtualization and cloud capabilities, but there is another challenge CIOs are facing that’s almost as daunting as the transition to the cloud: how to communicate this progress to the business.

  • Do you have the information you need to garner executive and line of business (LOB) support for transforming IT to meet these challenges?
  • Do you have a process and plan for evangelizing the enterprise value of IT and demonstrating its value as a business transformation enabler?
  • Do you know where your transformation efforts are with respect to your peers and industry?

Benchmarking methodologies define the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter most and give IT the insight to answer these questions.

The Accelerate team offers a high-level view of performance on seven critical cloud KPIs today called a “Move the Needle” (Figure 1).  These KPIs are compared against best industry peers and estimates the potential value to IT in reaching comparable performance levels.

Each of these major KPIs has an impact on making IT more effective, agile and reliable, which in turn support business growth, keeping and retaining customers and reducing costs.

  • Making improvements in the percentage of x86 servers virtualized has a huge impact on efficiency and reliability by reducing CapEx and OpEx costs and reducing downtime.  A higher virtualization footprint also improves agility as workloads as far easier to scale and burst with capacity demand.
  • Making improvements in the percentage of end-user computing devices virtualized significantly impacts reliability, as virtual desktops are far less prone to physical damage, hardware and software failures.  To a lesser degree, OpEx costs are reduced and CapEx savings can be realized through reductions in hardware refresh cycles. Furthermore, having the ability to access your desktop anywhere, anytime, on any device significantly impacts user agility.
  • An improvement in the percentage of tier 1 applications virtualized generates large savings potential in reliability.  Through high tier 1 virtualization, mission critical workloads can be moved around as workload, throughput and availability conditions change, providing users with uninterrupted service.  When tier 1 apps are not being closely monitored, IT can then redeploy resources into agility and infrastructure improvement becoming more proactive and predictive.
  • Achieving a higher VM:Admin support density mostly impacts efficiency as IT admins are able to effectively support more workloads with the same amount of labor. Personnel motivation and morale can also be improved by automating repetitive, tedious, low-tech tasks.  With these resources doing less “keeping the lights on” (KTLO) work, admins can devote more effort to agility and reliability improvement.
  • Reducing the length of time it takes to provision a VM has the greatest impact on agility in the organization.  By getting VMs in the hands of developers faster, innovative customer facing solutions are easier to build, test and deploy.  In addition to the impact on the business growth and customer attraction, improvements here also reduce the labor time and support required from VM admins, thereby driving additional efficiency and reliability.
  • Making improvements in the ability to chargeback or at least support a consumption-based showback process largely impacts the ability to be more agile as resources can be acquired and released as workload demand changes. With a fully implemented consumption model, IT can typically have fewer resources tied up and potentially unused resources assigned to specific users or departments.  Chargeback enables IT to more fully leverage the capacity of all the resources it supplies, and thereby deliver a more agile and timely service to its customers. Chargeback can also impact efficiency by reducing the tendency for business users to over allocate and hoard resources. Likewise, having reserve capacities can impact reliability as well.
  • Making improvements in the level of self-service ability represents a huge opportunity to increase agility in the enterprise.  By having common user applications and services prepackaged and pre-staged, users don’t have to wait for IT to get around to set them up.  IT can recognize additional efficiency improvements as more repetitive tasks can be automated and by using automation, fewer human errors occur leading to improvements in reliability and standardization as well.  This improvement, in conjunction with chargeback, leads to significant opportunities to improve the enterprise’s technology agility.

Additionally, VMware is leading the way with a more comprehensive IT Transformation Dashboard framework. This framework is designed to help customers plan and measure the impact of the cloud, provide a repeatable way to demonstrate improvement over time, and create a communication vehicle to articulate the value IT is making.

Having this information enables the IT organization to measure internal progress, obtain insight into what peers are doing and where they are, compare the speed of technology progress with peers, and develop a baseline for comparing and communicating the cost of technology and operations.

Understanding and managing cloud capabilities helps IT transform from reactive, to proactive, to innovative.  Defining strategic objectives along the lines of efficiency, agility and reliability and implementing a robust measurement methodology will help enable the organization to achieve those goals.

Come visit the Accelerate Advisory Services demo booth at VMworld 2012.

Craig Stanley is the Benchmarking Practice Lead for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services. You can follow him on Twitter @benchmarkguru.

Accelerate can help you undertake your journey to the cloud and IT transformation. Visit our Web site to learn more about our offerings, or reach out to us today at: accelerate@vmware.com for more information.

Want to continue the conversation with your C-level executive peers?  Join our exclusive CxO Corner Facebook page for access to hundreds of verified CxOs sharing ideas around IT Transformation right now by going to CxO Corner and clicking “ask to join group.”

 

Enterprise IT services delivery methods are changing quickly, so must the role of the CIO

AUTHOR: Michael Hubbard

Enterprise IT services are maturing rapidly, in areas of both standardization/commoditization (email, general ledger software) and inversely in areas of true innovation (cloud operating systems and software defined data center operations and management software). This rapidly changing landscape presents CIOs, and as importantly, the rest of the C-suite the opportunity to re-calibrate the portion of the IT budget consumed by creating and producing IT services to one that truly creates business advantage.

Traditionally the IT budget has been focused on code development, maintenance and “keeping the lights on” in datacenters full of infrastructure and business critical applications. As we discussed in a previous blog, a savvy CIO has the ability to affect massive change for the company by leveraging IT as a competitive differentiator in the marketplace. This business advantage could be based upon reduced cost to provide services to customers, reduced time to market, which allows them to stay ahead of their competition, unique functionality built into their products, and so forth.

To leverage this opportunity, the first step is to recognize the fact that the CIO role is changing at the same pace as IT services. The modern CIO has to analyze their department in an entirely different light given the opportunities that exist today. Essentially, the CIO is facing the same opportunity for optimizing the IT supply chain that a COO has been tinkering with for a hundred years. The modern CIO should be asking themselves: “Where do I remain vertically integrated in my IT supply chain?” If I were to start a company (for example) that wanted to have its primary business be the manufacture of springs, should I mine the ore, coal fire my own blast furnace, make the metal, extrude and coil the metal, package and sell the springs?

Or, should I allow supplier relationships to permeate deeper into portions of that supply chain? That is, should I buy coiled metal from a company whose primary business is creating coiled metal and then cut out all of the operational steps necessary just to get to that point at the benefit of a huge reduction in time to market and expense of building all of those pieces into our business and having to manage them? After all, the coiled metal manufacturer is able to produce its product at a fraction of the cost that I can produce it myself, because it produces its product as a supplier to many large manufacturers.  As the manufacturer, it has a much more robust factory and process.

Similarly, I should challenge myself to think of all of my IT services in the same way. That is, I don’t produce my electricity today; do I really need to own my own datacenter floor space, hardware and OS images? Or, should I begin to leverage supplier relationships to offload the commodity IT service delivery, so I could spend the majority of my time and effort driving true innovation within the company?  Never before has the ability to make this trade off been available to the C-suite. In the past it was more “all or nothing” outsourcing whereas today it can be focused on a single service such as email or application DR through the cloud.

The basic premise is that you outsource all that is tactical and keep in house all that is strategic. To make the decision around which stages of this process “to own” should depend on the strategic advantage or niche market position of the company. If the goal is to be the lowest-cost provider in the industry, then I may want to focus special attention on material procurement or processing to ensure lowest cost. If our strategic advantage is high-end springs used in high-performance vehicles, then it may be better to focus on R&D and outsource the manufacturing. If our strategic advantage is in the marketing and distribution of the springs, then I should outsource everything up through product packaging.

Similarly, CIOs need to determine the strategic advantage of the business and ensure IT’s supply chain model aligns. For example, mobile devices may be fairly tactical to most companies, so CIOs might want to outsource this. However, a bottled water company in China uses mobile devices to track inventory and collect payments—for this CIO, this is a competitive advantage that needs focused attention and can not be outsourced. Email may be fairly pedestrian for most IT organizations, so it’s often outsourced or given low priority. However, for a legal firm in the Northeast U.S., emails are used in conjunction with Adobe PDF files to exchange confidential documents and obtain client signatures. For this CIO, outsourcing email is out of the question. The old adage still holds true: If you want something important done right, you need to do it yourself.  Everything else—outsource.

In many of our Accelerate customer engagements, we are being brought in to help the CIO look at how they should examine their existing IT environment to determine what services should be kept internally sourced and what services are better served from vendor partners. In this way, the CIO is transforming themselves into a role of a service broker—continually looking for the best bang for the buck for each service that IT provides the company.

In the same way that computing replaced paper processes and allowed those services to be performed more efficiently, so too cloud computing allows CIOs to spend more time focusing on business impact rather than spending the majority of their time worrying about the stability and efficiency of their internal infrastructure, the majority of which is not providing business differentiation. Paul Strong, CTO, Global Customer and Field Initiatives at VMware, has a great quote that points to the core of this: “It is my goal to transform the CIO from the Chief Infrastructure Officer back to the role of Chief Information Officer.”

One of the primary challenges to making this transition is the question of whether or not the CIO has the information needed about service delivery to make timely, data-driven decisions to make versus buy, own versus rent, and so forth. Many companies’ IT organizations have not made the transition to operating their groups “as a service” and do not measure themselves in ways that service providers do. This makes it extremely challenging when trying to compare supplier-based IT services to those of internally-produced services.

We believe the place to start is to develop an actionable strategy that will put the appropriate processes and tools in place to fully understand what your internal capabilities are versus those of the industry suppliers. The next step is to look for a suite of tools that are built to provide the ability to manage software defined datacenters and centralized datacenter management from the top down. I know that last thing a CIO wants is yet another set of management tools, but are you getting the information you need from your existing suite of cobbled together management and monitoring tools?

VMware Accelerate has been helping CIOs get the information they need through a comprehensive set of offerings designed by CIOs for CIOs—offerings that can navigate you through your transformation efforts. Our portfolio combines benchmarking, transformative offerings, and in-depth strategic offerings to assist you in each step of information gathering and strategic planning. We will collaborate with you to assess your current environment and help you begin to look at how VMware can help you change the way you provide services in the future.

Accelerate can help you undertake your journey to the cloud and IT transformation. Visit our Web site to learn more about our offerings, or reach out to us today at: accelerate@vmware.com for more information.

Want to continue the conversation with your C-level executive peers?  Join our exclusive CxO Corner Facebook page for access to hundreds of verified CxOs sharing ideas around IT Transformation right now by going to CxO Corner and clicking “ask to join group.”

Turning Soft Costs Into Solid Benefits

Author: Bill Kirwin

Operational expenditure (OpEx) savings are some of the most controversial claims that IT suppliers make. The bulk of OpEx costs are in labor. Study after study has shown that very few IT initiatives actually reduce labor at the enterprise level. How can the claim of headcount reduction be valid if no positions are eliminated?

However, the business case justification for IT investments invariably is largely based on OpEx savings. The case will show in detail where time and tasks are reduced in the automation proposed.

This creates a credibility gap between the consumer and the provider of IT services. So where does the truth lie?

I think labor cost needs to be repositioned. A simple claim of 20 percent labor reduction converting a organization with 1,000 employees into 800 is simplistic, naïve and just wrong. It will be universally dismissed as a soft, indirect or unprovable part of the solution. This can soften an otherwise strong business case.

When I present the business case for an IT initiative to senior management, I rarely claim an enterprise headcount reduction, nor do I fall on the crutch of leaving the headcount issue up to the customer. This is a business decision that is created by the reduction of resources delivered by people, process or technology opportunities.

Each technology proposal will have a target asset or process that can be improved by implementing the solution. A server, for example, is often the focus of a virtualization business case. Presumably, this is an area where improvement is desirable, that is, less is more. This asset is composed of hardware, software, and fees for power, cooling, space, and the labor of maintenance, management and administration. These elements should be the focus of both the costs and the benefits of the business case. It’s important to keep the focus on the target, which is the server.

Then, I can demonstrate that the target process or asset will have labor surgically taken out of it. If servers can be removed or the number reduced, then the number of ancillary costs can be reduced including labor. The argument then becomes that labor is being taken out of the asset – not the enterprise. Labor is only one savings factor among all the others listed above. The other factors – space, energy, and tangible assets – are real, and so is the labor component. Energy can be translated into dollars and environmental impact. Space has real estate value.

So what value does labor have? A second part of the argument revolves around what to do with the labor that has been taken out of the server asset. Often, this resource is loosely relegated the categories of repurposed or redundant, or blithely elevated to more strategic activities. My goal is to specifically recommend how these resources should be reallocated. If my customer is on a journey to IT as a service (ITaaS), there are many new roles for people. These roles include but are not limited to, customer facing business and IT analysts, vendor relationship managers, service developers, and a new IT financial management capability to determine service pricing and cost management.

These jobs will probably require new training and a new organizational structure to go with the new job descriptions. These change costs need to be factored into the overall cost/benefit analysis. However, the cost and drama of repurposing current employees is often less expensive than hiring new people. Studies show that, in general, the cost of recruiting, hiring and ramping up a new employee is 150-200 percent of the cost of retaining and retraining existing staff. (Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?It-Costs-How-Much-to-Replace-an-Employee?&id=2555834) With the specialized requirements for IT staff, these costs would certainly be at the high end of that range.

I have worked with a number of IT organizational restructuring engagements and while it is not easy or rapid, the change has generally produced a more relevant, energized and capable IT organization. By doing this complete and focused analysis, a soft cost can be treated like a hard asset and thus assume a firmer position in a business case. For example, you need to change and reallocate your staff to run your cloud systems. The labor savings of new automation solutions become a tangible benefit if you take the savings and allocate them to a real issue such as retooling and training your staff for the next leg of your transformation journey. It’s important to represent not only the savings in soft costs but also illustrate the solid benefits that these solutions will realize for the company.

Accelerate Advisory Services can help you undertake your journey to the cloud and IT transformation. Visit our Web site to learn more about our offerings, or reach out to us today at: accelerate@vmware.com for more information.

Want to continue the conversation with your C-level executive peers? Join our exclusive CxO Corner Facebook page for access to hundreds of verified CxOs sharing ideas around IT Transformation right now by going to CxO Corner and clicking "ask to join group."

Bill Kirwin is an analytics consultant for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services.