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Monthly Archives: December 2015

Transforming IT into a Cloud Service Provider

Reg LoBy Reg Lo

Until recently, IT departments thought that all they needed to do was to provide a self-service portal to app dev to provision VMs with Linux or Windows, and they would have a private cloud that was comparable to the public cloud.

Today, in order for IT to become a cloud service provider, IT must not only embrace the public cloud in a service broker model, IT needs to provide a broader range of cloud services.  This 5 minute webinar, describes the future IT operating model as IT departments transform into cloud service providers.

Many IT organizations started their cloud journey by creating a new, separate cloud team to implement a Greenfield, private cloud.  Automation and proactive monitoring using a Cloud Management Platform was key to the success for their private cloud.  By utilizing VMWare’s vRealize Cloud Management Platform, IT could easily expand into the hybrid cloud, provisioning workloads to vCloud Air or other public clouds from a single interface.  Effectively, creating “one cloud” for the business to consume and “one cloud” for IT to manage.

However, the folks managing the brownfield weren’t staying still.  They too wanted to improve the service they were providing the business and they too wanted to become more efficient.  So they also invested in automation.  Without a coherent strategy, both Brownfield and Greenfield took their own separate forks down the automation path, confusing the business on which services they should be consuming.  We started this journey by creating a separate cloud team.  However, it may be time to re-think the boundaries of the private cloud and bring Greenfield and Brownfield together to provide consistency in the way we approach automation.

In order to be immediately productive, the app dev teams are looking for more than infrastructure-as-a-service.  They want platform-as-a-service.  These might be second generation platforms such as database-as-a-service (Oracle, MSSQL, MySQL, etc.) or middleware-as-a-service (such as Web Methods).  Or they need third generation platforms based on unstructured PaaS like containers or structured PaaS like cloud foundry.  The terms first, second and third generation map to the mainframe (1st generation), distributed computing (2nd generation), and cloud native applications (the 3rd generation).

Multiple cloud services can be bundled together to create environment-as-a-service.  For example, LAMP-stacks – Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (or Python).  These multi-VM application blueprints lets entire environments be provisioned at a click of a button.

A lot of emphasis has been placed on accessing these cloud services through a self-service portal.  However, DevOps best practices is moving towards infrastructure as code.  In order to support developer-defined infrastructure, IT organizations must also provide an API to their cloud.  Infrastructure-as-code lets you version the infrastructure scripts with the application source code together, ultimately enabling the same deployment process in every environment (dev, test, stage and prod) – improving deployment success rate.

Many companies are piloting DevOps with one or two application pipelines.  However, in order to scale, DevOps best practices must be shared across multiple app dev teams.  App dev teams are typically not familiar with architecting infrastructure or the tools that automate infrastructure provisioning.  Hence, a DevOps enablement team is useful for educating the app dev teams on DevOps best practices and providing the DevOps automation expertise.  This team can also provide feedback to the cloud team on where to expand cloud services.

This IT operating model addresses Gartner’s bimodal IT approach.  Mode 1 is traditional, sequential and used for systems of record.  Mode 2 is agile, non-linear, and used for systems of engagement.  Mode 1 is characterized by long cycle times measured in months whereas mode 2 has shorter cycle times measured in days and weeks.

It is important to note that the business needs both modes to exist.  It’s not one or the other.  Just like how the business needs both interfaces to the cloud: self-service portal and API.

What does this mean to you?  IT leaders must be able to articulate a clear picture of the future-state that encompasses both mode 1 and mode 2, that leverages both a self-service portal and API to the organization’s cloud services.  IT leaders need a roadmap to transform their organization into cloud service providers that traverse the hybrid cloud.  The biggest challenge to the transformation is changing people (the way they think, the culture) and processes (the way they work).  VMware can not only help you with the technology; VMware’s AccelerateTM Advisory Services can help you address the people and process transformation.

 


Reg Lo is the Director of VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in San Diego, CA.  You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

Technology is not a Magic Wand for DevOps

Theresa StoneBy Theresa Stone

All too often I walk into companies that want to implement DevOps as part of their software defined data center (SDDC) journey and hear conversations filled with frustration like:

We have implemented 8 new tools and our developers seem to be mostly happy with them; but we continue to have issues delivering anything on time!  Our operations staff are frustrated and internal customers won’t allow their applications in our virtualized environment.

OR

 We bought all these new tools and implemented them, I even paid for my people to have formal training on them, but I don’t feel like we’re any better off than we were before!

Many organizations have bought into the falsehood that DevOps is just a technology play.   That could not be further from the truth, so don’t fall for that trap.   Successful DevOps organizations must focus on a lot more than just implementing technology to achieve success.

IT leaders should invest in cultural changes, people, skills gaps and collaboration issues above all other issues to achieve DevOps success. Organizations embarking on a DevOps initiative need to take a step back and evaluate if you are on track for success by approaching DevOps holistically.   These initiatives require a transformation strategy built around clearly defined goals and the development of a well-defined roadmap that incorporates people, process, technology and culture.

Core Pillars of DevOps Transformation

Here are some activities that are often incorporated in a transformation roadmap for DevOps broken down across the core pillars required for success – note one is not like the others:

DevOps PillarsPEOPLE Transformation

  • Governance frameworks are put in place to support and enable value realization from DevOps
  • Organization and operating models are modified to facilitate holistic changes to culture
  • People are invested in with necessary training and skills enhancements

PROCESS Transformation

  • Operations and development engineers participate together in the entire service life-cycle from design through to production support
  • An incident command system is in place where the development team is involved in incident resolution
  • Processes are re-engineered to be more efficient, lean and repeatable

TECHNOLOGY Transformation

  • DevOps technology improvements place reliance on build, test and release automation along with orchestration across technologies and integrated tool chains using continuous delivery capabilities
  • Infrastructure is treated as code
  • The DevOps team delivers small chunks of value to the customer more often
  • Recovery oriented computing – fail forward

CULTURE Transformation

  • High trust, team culture demonstrating effective, seamless cross-functional collaboration, open communications, performance orientation and learning culture (generative organization)
  • Demonstrated Servant Leadership – enable and serve from the top down
  • Established collective ownership
  • Creativity is encouraged

(All of these culture items must be focused on and incorporated into the attributes and activities above.)

Why is Technology the Pillar Most Organizations Focus on First?

Even though new technology is important and usually required, most organizations focus only on tools and do not achieve desired outcomes.   Why does this happen over and over again?   I believe it is due to a couple of factors:

  1. IT leaders gravitate toward what comes easiest and what seems most important to them – i.e. implementing new technology
  2. Leaders in general have a hard time comprehending the importance of people, process and cultural changes and what that actually looks like; therefore, investments in seeking outside assistance from experts are not made where they may be needed the most

In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing landscape, filled with disruptive technology, successful companies must be strategic and operate efficiently to remain on top.  DevOps is not easy and it does not happen overnight; however, it can produce the desired results if you take a holistic approach.  There are many success stories of those that embraced the changes and transformation needed across people, process, technology and culture to be the new or rising leaders in their industry.    Are you next?

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Theresa Stone is a Transformation Process Architect with VMware and is located in Virginia.

Is Your IT Financial Model Fit for ITaaS and the Cloud?

Harris_SeanBy Sean Harris

IT as a Service (ITaaS) and Cloud Computing (Public, Private & Hybrid) are radically different approaches to delivering IT, from traditional IT delivery models, that require new operating models, processes, procedures and organisations to unlock their true value. While the technology enables this change, it does not deliver it.

Measuring the Business Value of IT as a Service

A question I hear often from customers is, “How do I measure and demonstrate the value of ITaaS and Cloud Computing?”  For many organisations, the model for measurement of value (the return) and cost (the investment), as well as the metrics that have context in an ITaaS delivery model, are unclear.  For example, most (surprisingly not every) customer I deal with can articulate the price of a server, but that metric has no context in an ITaaS delivery model.

Link IT Cost to ValueI have talked before on this very blog about the importance for IT in this new digital era to be able to link the investments in IT and the costs of running IT to the gains in business efficiency and true business value. This will link your business services, the margins and revenues they generate and the benefits they deliver to customers and the business as a whole to IT costs and investments. This is one step. The other side of this equation is how to represent, measure and track the cost of delivery of the IT services that underpin the business services, then present them in a form that has context in terms of the consumption of the business services that are delivered.

Have you mapped your business services to IT services in terms of dependency and consumption?

Have you mapped IT spend to IT services and IT service consumption?

What about your organisation and procedures? How do you account for IT internally?

The Project-Based Approach

Most of the organisations I speak to have a project based approach to IT spend allocations. There are variations in the model from one organisation to the next, but the basic model is the same. In this approach:

  • Funds for new developments are assigned to projects based on a business plan or other form of justification.
  • The project is responsible funding the work to design and develop (within the organisations governance structure) the business and IT services needed to support the new deployment.
  • The project is also typically responsible for funding the acquisition of the assets needed to run these services (although the actual purchase may be made elsewhere) – these typically include infrastructure, software licenses, etc.
  • In most cases the project will also fund the first year (or part year) of the operational costs. At this point responsibility for the operation is passed to a service delivery or operations team who are responsible for funding the on-going operational aspects. This may or may not include a commitment or ownership of tech refresh, upgrades and updates.

What is included can vary drastically. Rarely is there any on going monitoring of the costs mapping to revenues and margins. When it comes to tech refresh, in many cases, it is treated as a change to the running infrastructure and so needs an assigned project to fund that refresh. This leads to tech refresh competing with innovations for a single source of funds.

The Problem with Project-Based Accounting

Just for a second, imagine a car company offering a deal where you (the consumer) pay the cost of the car, the first years service, tax, insurance and fuel and then after that you pay NOTHING (no fuel, no insurance, no tax, no service). Would that not lead you to believe that after year one the car is free?

While the business as whole sees the whole cost of IT, no line of business or business service has visibility of the impact it is having on the operational cost of IT. It is also extremely hard, if not impossible, to track if a business service is still operating profitably, as any results are inaccurate and process of calculation is fragmented.

Surely this needs to change significantly if any IT organisation is to seriously consider moving to an ITaaS (or cloud) delivery model? Is it actually possible to deliver the benefits associated with ITaaS delivery without this change in organisation and procedure?

Applying a service-based costing approach can seem intimidating at first, but it is essential to achieving value from your ITaaS transformation and gets much easier with expert help.  If you are approaching this transformation, contact our Accelerate Advisory Services team at VMware who, along with the Operations Transformation Services team, provides advice and guidance to customers around constructing an operating model, organisation, process, governance and financial management approach that supports an ITaaS delivery model for IT.

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Sean Harris is a Business Solutions Strategist in EMEA based out of the United Kingdom.