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Tag Archives: Software-defined Data Center

Collaboration Between AppDev & Infrastructure for ITaaS

Mark SternerBy Mark Sterner

Traditionally, IT organizations operated in a siloed environment. AppDev teams were tasked with meeting the needs of the business and Infrastructure teams provided the environment to support AppDev. These two organizations had little interaction and even less collaboration. Even worse, the infrastructure provisioning process was viewed as a roadblock to getting the business with what they needed when they needed it.

In today’s IT world two factors have turned this scenario upside down. The first is the trend toward virtualization and automation, which enable the infrastructure team to provide the supporting environments at the speed of business. The second is the desire of companies to adopt an ITaaS (IT as a Service) approach in which IT focuses on the outcomes the business needs and functions much like a business itself.  Evolving to an ITaaS approach requires a great deal of collaboration between all levels of the IT organization, including effective and structured collaboration between AppDev and Infrastructure.

One of the most powerful results of an ITaaS approach is the provision of cost effective, nimble solutions at the speed of business. To achieve this it is important for all IT teams to clearly define and understand the services they provide, particularly the end-to-end services delivered to the business itself.  Historically, defining end-to-end services has often fallen to the AppDev team who took an application-centric approach to the process. This led to a disconnect between AppDev and Infrastructure.  Ideally, this process is a collaborative effort between the two teams to clearly define the services, taking all aspects into consideration, including not only the applications, but also the infrastructure, the service level agreements for elements such as availability and performance and the relative importance of each service to the business operations.

While the process of defining IT services provides the basics of ITaaS, it is only the first step in truly transforming an IT organization. In order to deliver IT as a service, IT must provide the business with metrics that illustrate the benefits provided, particularly the financial value through increased productivity at a lower cost. To meet that goal the AppDev and Infrastructure teams need to collaborate on many different levels to realize these efficiencies.  Streamlining and effectively managing the allocation and deployment process is the first step to lowering the cost of IT.

Typically, AppDev teams of the past chose their solution to the business need with little thought to maximizing the efficiencies of the supporting infrastructure. Additionally, the Infrastructure team provided the environment with little understanding of the application architecture.  Leveraging the efficiencies of a virtualized environment can certainly provide a more agile environment, but only through a collaborative effort can IT truly provide the most effective solution.  AppDev and Infrastructure need to consider all aspects of delivering the solution. This includes availability, security, performance and scalability and reporting requirements. They must also understand and agree upon the application’s importance to the business. This will determine the disaster recovery strategy and define the support levels provided by both teams. Once all these factors are determined and defined, only then can the IT teams develop the most effective solution by aligning the application architecture with the most efficient infrastructure.  This effort will help to lay the groundwork for standardizing the integrated AppDev and Infrastructure processes and delivering measurable metrics that illustrate the success of the transformation to ITaaS.  Additionally, the standardization work can be leveraged to help implement Platform as a Service (PaaS), bringing even greater efficiencies to a virtualized environment.

Collaboration across the entire IT organization is not a new and trendy concept. Several models have emerged as best practice pathways to building and maintaining agile IT teams.  DevOps, for example, addresses the need for IT to provide rapid deployment of systems by breaking down the traditional barriers between IT teams. The “Dev” in DevOps does not simply refer to the AppDev teams, but includes all IT resources such as network engineers, sys admins, security teams and DBA’s. They are all part of the development lifecycle and have a role in the development of the most effective solutions to meet the needs of the business.  Through DevOps, IT organizations become a valued service provider and not a bottleneck to providing business solutions.

ITaaS requires organizations to rethink how they provide solutions to the business. Collaboration between AppDev and Infrastructure is central to successfully transforming to ITaaS. Traditional silos need to be broken down, blurring the lines between internal IT teams.  This may require an internal reorganizational effort to facilitate a more collaborative environment, but even without changes to organizational structure, working together towards a common, outcome-focused objective, is the key.  While managing this entire endeavor may seem a bit overwhelming, changes in the market, competition and technology are requiring most IT organizations to re-evaluate how they can keep up with the demands of today’s business environment.


Mark Sterner brings over 14 years of experience in IT Service Management. He has worked in both the process development and ITIL implementation areas for large IT organizations. Mark is currently a Transformation Consultant at VMware, Inc.

Living in the Age of the Software-Defined Taxi

Kipp_Bertke Co-authored by: Kipp Bertke and Scott Weinstein

How on-demand service, on time delivery and full cost transparency make Uber customers very happy—and what that means for enterprise IT

If you’ve ever tried to hail a taxi when it’s raining, you know it can be nearly impossible. But Uber—an app-based service that connects users with a taxi, private car or a rideshare in minutes—has leveraged innovations in software and smart phones to ensure that a dry car ride is always just a few clicks away. With just a few taps, Uber has completely disrupted the traditional taxi business in 200 major cities across 45 countries—and they’re just getting started.

Why is the software-defined taxi service so compelling?

The rising popularity and adoption of Uber highlights the fact that customers are turning to software-defined services in droves, and coming to expect the service on-demand model in more and more areas of their lives. And that paradigm is carrying over into enterprise IT departments. How will that affect your IT department? To answer that question, let’s compare the traditional taxi service to the traditional IT department:

Traditional taxi service Traditional IT department
Delivery Time  Unpredictable at best, unavailable at worst. The time for traditional IT to deliver a new service can exceed weeks to months.
Cost Transparency  You get the bill at the end of your ride, and you hope you have enough money. IT spend is hidden in the costs of projects – and emergency funds might be requested mid-project.
Operations  They use an inefficient, outmoded system (hand gestures, telephones and CB radios) to attempt to match taxis to customers. Siloed teams work on core competencies, which can result in disparate views of the health of a service, and no desire to share whatever visibility IT has with others.

As you can see there, are a lot of similarities to the pre-Uber taxi industry and the traditional IT department. Ask yourself this: if you could pick the size and type of car, the exact location where the taxi picks you up, and get complete transparency of the cost to get to your destination, would you ever take a traditional taxi again? Now, ask yourself the same question in the context of IT: if you were working on a project with aggressive timelines and high business value and you could provision your own services—including all security needs—in minutes with just a few clicks of your own mouse, would you ever go back to waiting months trying to get IT to do it for you?

Now, ask yourself the same question in the context of IT: if you were working on a project with aggressive timelines and high business value and you could provision your own services—including all security needs—in minutes with just a few clicks of your own mouse, would you ever go back to waiting months trying to get IT to do it for you?

  Uber Transformed IT
Delivery Time

 

Real-time and adaptive End-to-end services fulfilled in hours
Cost Transparency

 

Cost before commit Reasonable cost estimation and interactive cost modeling and reporting
Operations

 

Customer focused transparency of service availability Single window of a services health and proactive corrective actions

It’s time for a change

Delivering on the growing demand for end-to-end delivery of cataloged services, resources on-demand, and “pay-for-what-you-use” resources  is simply not possible with existing models used in traditional IT environments. If you have an entrenched workflow and no interest in finding a different—better—way to deliver services to your end-users, you just may be replaced by the new guard, one that lives in software, imagines a world without boundaries, and embraces capabilities with no dependency on people, processes or technology. The software-defined enterprise represents a sea change, similar to the one Uber brought down on the traditional taxi industry. Navigating the shift to a service delivery model—based on a software-defined foundation and abstracted from the physical world of traditional IT—calls for a transformation, and not just with technology. The people and processes used to deliver IT services must transform as well. This calls for a total enterprise-wide transformation to deliver IT-as-a-Service (IaaS) for business users.


Kipp Bertke is a Business Solutions Architect for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services.


Scott Weinstein_Profile1 Scott Weinstein is a Senior Systems Engineer at VMware.

Exclusive Report: CIOs on Innovation and the Software Defined Enterprise

By Laurent Finck, VMware Advisory Services Lead, South EMEA

Laurent FinckAs the software defined enterprise becomes an inevitability, rather than a possibility, how can CIOs move their departments from the Industrial Age of IT to the Digital Age of IT?

Report

Download the full report

In preparation for the upcoming VMware EMEA CIO Summit in October 2014, we spoke to eight CIOs about their top priorities in managing the changing expectations for their role in light of business digitalization. Business digitalization is both an opportunity and a risk for companies – successful digitalization could increase revenue, while failed digitalization could mean a loss of momentum and market share. As a result, CEOs are turning their attention toward IT departments, and the work of the CIO.

Given this increased level of exposure, we asked these CIOs for their perspectives on the highest priority changes that need to occur within IT departments to keep up with the delivery and operational changes required to support business digitalization. They offered their insights on the importance of data management, refreshing IT governance, and adjusting their strategy to pivot toward service brokerage.

The future of IT requires more agility, scalability and service quality. To meet these demands, the CIOs delved into how the software defined enterprise frees up internal resources that once supported infrastructure to refocus on cloud, application and enterprise architecture. Shifts in culture and operations will be required to stay aligned with the needs of the business and the priorities of other departments that will require a high level of responsiveness and flexibility.

Download the full report for more CIO insights into the changing state of IT and the challenges and opportunities ahead.


Laurent Finck leads the VMware Advisory Services team in Southern Europe, a team of strategy consultants who help CIOs and IT organizations understand how VMware solutions can help them better serve their business needs. Prior to VMware, Laurent has been an IT strategy consultant at Accenture and Gartner, where he focused on IT organizations and IT transformation efforts, and then leveraged this experience to design and deploy go-to-market strategies for large IT vendors, on an international basis.

How Do You Know if IT is Truly Transformational?

By Daryl Bishop

Daryl Bishop-crop“Transform your organisation by leveraging the convergence of cloud with the inherent synergies between the information superhighway and the innovation confluence between crowdsourcing and viral inputs.”

We’ve all sat in meetings and presentations listening to meaningless strings of words like these being thrown around with reckless abandon. The biggest offender among these terms is the word transformation. It seems that every IT organization is undergoing a transformation of one type or another.

In the dictionary, transformation is defined as a marked change in form, nature, or appearance. By this rationale, any IT project could be considered a transformation, however I think it’s a little more nuanced than this.

For example, a number of years ago I was involved in a mail platform migration from Lotus Notes to Exchange. Within the technology department, this project was heralded as a major transformation. Was this really a transformation? The first step in deciding is ensuring that we’re all speaking the same language, i.e., we have a common definition.

To decide whether an initiative is truly transformational, there are some key attributes to consider:

  • Aligned to a business transformation
    The surest indicator of an IT transformation is whether it is aligned to a business transformation. When the business undergoes a transformation, for example moving into digital markets, then IT needs to follow suit.
  • Touches technology, process, and people
    Transformation should not be limited to just technology; it needs to reach across the IT organization to include the elements of people and process. The software-defined data center (SDDC) vision is a great example of a transformation that drives efficiency and automation across the entire IT organization and fundamentally changes the way IT does business.
  • Usually a large program of work
    Larger programs of work have more touch points across the IT organization. This is not solely an attribute of transformation, but it’s certainly an indicator. In my earlier example, if the mail migration were a component of a larger activity based working (ABW) program, then it would be a transformation!
  • Often has a cost reduction coupled with a productivity dividend goal
    IT is continually being asked to reduce cost while delivering improved service levels. As a result, transformation almost always has cost reduction, efficiency, and productivity dividends. Otherwise, why would you bother?
  • Is innovative, introduces something new, or modernizes
    By definition a transformation is a change — and real transformation is driven by innovation within the IT organization. Businesses survive and thrive based on driving new innovations within their markets. IT is no different and must continually innovate to remain relevant and deliver the services the business needs, all within budget.

Using my previous mail exchange migration example, the outcome was not transformational as it was purely technology-focused with the business impact being a change in mail platform; evolutionary perhaps — certainly not revolutionary.

Now that we understand and have defined what constitutes a transformation, I’ll talk about how to transform your IT organization using VMware’s end-user computing vision in my next post.

In the interim, if you think of other elements that are required for a transformation or have any feedback, please drop me a line.

——
Daryl Bishop is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Melbourne, Australia.

Navigating Your Approach to an SDDC

By Enrico Boverino

In my last post, I introduced a banking scenario where my customer was focusing far too much on running at status quo and not enough on evolving the business – and by extension, IT — for continued success. Read on for two software-defined data center (SDDC) approaches that will help the CIO and IT set sail toward supporting innovation and meeting business goals.    

Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca once said, “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” This quote doesn’t just apply to sailors. It extends to IT organizations and data center strategies as well and underscores just how important it is to set the destination, navigate there, adapt to changing conditions, mitigate risks, and continuously measure improvements to recalculate the ideal route.

Let the software-defined data center (SDDC) be your favorable wind.

 

A typical software-defined data center (SDDC) architecture

A typical software-defined data center (SDDC) architecture

When identifying which SDDC approach should fill your sails, different priorities require setting appropriate strategic approaches to meet the objectives. I usually facilitate the conversation with questions like:

  • Is your priority as IT to RUN the bank and above all cut costs?
  • Is there a strong demand for innovation that can no longer be ignored?
  • Do you require a sign of discontinuity to accelerate collaboration of people and consolidation initiatives?
  • Is agility, now enabled also by new technologies and cloud services, your main priority to support the bank direction?

Two approaches commonly identified by the outcomes of these questions are:

1. SDDC New Platform (Greenfield)

Create a brand new SDDC platform for new and existing services, built on x86 infrastructure. This means implementing a converged virtualized architecture, which includes compute, network, and storage, and automated through predefined policies, operated proactively with analytics to meet SLAs and managed with granular cost allocation by usage to support budget and investment processes.

Applications can be decoupled from the underlying infrastDownload white paper for more information on optimizing the IT operations organization for cloudructure and deployed with greater flexibility by using hybrid cloud resources.

This approach also requires the definition and adoption of new processes that go beyond established best practices, which may not be sufficient to operate a completely new environment. Therefore, an optimized organization[1] will be shaped with fewer dedicated silos and more service-oriented tenants that can support business demands at new speeds and generate differentiation in the services delivered. Implementing cloud infrastructure operations centers of excellence and cloud tenant operations is both a transformative and disruptive process. However, there are a few key factors that can help a company achieve a successful outcome and avoid pitfalls. (Download white paper for more information on optimizing the IT operations organization for cloud.)

Recommended steps for a Greenfield strategy:

  • Address business urgency with pre-integrated frameworks and simplified business models.
  • Introduce innovative technologies that mitigate the risks of pioneering new delivery models.
  • Manage changes that the new platform creates on existing processes and organization.
  • Establish cloud centers of excellence and tenant operations for convergence.
  • Partner with the lines of business (LOB) in co-funding initiatives as driven by business demand.

2. SDDC Build and Replace (Brownfield)

Define a multi-phased approach based on SDDC use cases and management planes (infrastructure, operations, automation, and financials) to develop an actionable roadmap. Within this option, you respect relevant current investments and leverage existing skills to clear current bottlenecks while introducing new SDDC structural elements and functions.

Operations processes will be updated gradually in relation to the SDDC structural elements introduced, which will also deliver efficiencies and quick wins to support the long-term roadmap and goals. Once these are in place, you will continuously improve to reach the complete SDDC model as well as the modernization of all management planes.

Recommended steps for a Brownfield strategy:

  • Address platforms and data complexity with a multi-phased value approach via SDDC use cases and management planes.
  • Build on top of current systems, mitigating the risks of data migration and decommissioning.
  • Establish cloud centers of excellence and tenant operations for convergence (as with Greenfield).
  • Gain LoB commitment by sharing transformation plan to pursue swap of current modules.

After clarifying both SDDC models, I work collaboratively with my customers to start to design an actionable roadmap and business justification to pursue one of the two options (or both at the same time). With a plan in place, this actionable roadmap can help you reach your desired destination and achieve results for both IT and the business.

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Enrico Boverino is a senior business solution strategist for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services based in Italy. You can follow him on Twitter @eboverino


[1] VMware white paper: “Organizing for the Cloud.” Kevin Lees, Principal Architect, August 2012.

Software-Defined Data Center Adoption in the Banking Industry

By Enrico Boverino

While organizing my notes on my flight home after meeting with the CIO of the IT Shared Services organization for a large global bank, the metaphor “selling ice in the Arctic” came to my mind. Like me, some of you may have been subjected to play it out during a job interview, in order to demonstrate your creativity and persuasive skills.

The main topic of my meeting with the CIO was how a software-defined data center (SDDC) could help his IT organization accelerate its ability to modernize the delivery of services while achieving the 3-year cost-saving objectives set forth in the company plan. However, our meeting was not about me (as amazing salesperson) trying to sell a technology solution to someone who didn’t need it, or to persuade him to go against his best interests. My role was to understand my customer’s business needs and the unique challenges the banking industry presents to his IT organization.

Our discussion centered on how technology, processes, and organizations can be managed to achieve business objectives faster and more efficiently. Today’s banking industry is moving past a few challenging years. And while many banks are still executing for cost savings in back-office optimization or making the necessary investments to adhere to new regulations such as SEPA payments or Bank of Italy Continuity Controls, I do see a strong movement to quickly modernize. In fact, many banks are embracing technology innovations to adopt a digital strategy and to create new services to transform from a transaction-centric to a customer-centric model.

This innovation leads to the development of new personalized services such as digital wallets, new online payment processes, and personal finance applications that can be offered as value-add services to the existing online banking experience. These new services also create requirements for dynamic customer front ends that address mobility and new social behaviors. There are examples of banks developing two unique customer experiences that are demography-based—simpler and limited interface for traditional customers; richer and more dynamic interface to attract Generation Y. And of course, there’s the rising demand for more data storage and richer data analysis—mostly related to customer transaction history, spikes of trades, and social data insight.

In the banking industry, innovation can have different meanings to different IT organizations, based on their resources and constraints. And, there are tradeoffs and negotiations on how to fund “RUN the bank” versus “CHANGE the bank” initiatives that shape corresponding IT strategies, as shown below:

RUN the Bank

  • Front-to-back office modernization
  • Financial transparency of IT services
  • Regulatory compliance and operations continuity
  • Efficient procedures and selective sourcing

CHANGE the Bank

  • Accelerate M&A and geo expansion
  • Share commodity functions across bank communities
  • Enhance customer experience and grow mobility offerings
  • Data consolidation and rich analytics to create new offerings

So how can a software-designed approach enable my customer’s IT organization to deliver on new service requirements and accelerate innovation for his business stakeholders? Today, he manages to distribute budget and resources to support both sides of the bank’s initiatives, but I pointed out that his IT organization remains too anchored to the RUN side, which is slowing the outcomes he could realize from innovation.

In my next blog, I’ll compare an SDDC greenfield approach to a build-and-replace model. While there are different approaches the bank can pursue, creating a new data center platform—an SDDC greenfield strategy—can put the CIO and his IT organization on a fast track toward meeting business objectives.
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Enrico Boverino is senior business solution strategist for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services based in Italy. You can follow him on Twitter @eboverino.

Move at the Speed of Business with an ITaaS Model

Salicrup-cropby Alex Salicrup

I knew this would be no ordinary customer engagement when the CEO of a global food retailer announced he expected to triple revenue in five years. I also knew an ITaaS model could exploit the cost and operational benefits of a software-defined data center.

But was their existing IT infrastructure capable of meeting his business goal? Simply put—no. Read the story behind our strategic approach and the company’s progress toward an end-to-end transformation in my post on the VMware Consulting blog.

Alex Salicrup is an IT transformation strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services.

Cloud Transformation and Its Impact on IT Service Delivery

By Franck Besnard

I believe that 2013 was the inflection point for private cloud adoption within large enterprises embarking on their journey to cloud computing. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure estimates that approximately two thirds of x86 workloads are on virtualized infrastructure.[1] We’ve now entered the post-x86 virtualization era, with large enterprises such as SAP—with 80 percent of its global infrastructure virtualized—touting the benefits of virtualizing business critical applications.[2]

Last October, I participated in VMware’s CIO Event Europe in Barcelona, and many of the senior IT leaders attending acknowledged that now is the time to embrace private cloud and reap the associated benefits.  In addition to taking advantage of lower costs, improved operational efficiency, and increased business agility that cloud computing brings, IT now has the opportunity to provide real business value through innovation that can drive growth and directly impact the bottom line.

Yet these same IT leaders also understand that it’s not simply a technology or architecture play, but a true transformation that will occur over multiple years, impacting people and processes within their IT organization. One participant asked me how he could reduce TCO by an additional 50 percent if his data centers were already 80 percent virtualized, and my answer was straightforward: “By changing your IT operating model.

A private cloud infrastructure solution allows IT to achieve cloud service provider economics in the data center by leveraging a software-defined data center architecture. This architectural approach delivers virtualized infrastructure services (compute, network, security, and availability) with built-in intelligence that provides benefits allowing IT to:

  • Automate through software-defined environments, especially networking
  • Streamline complex business critical application deployments
  • Orchestrate IT service management processes
  • Standardize IT systems deployed on the infrastructure
  • Deliver true self-service and chargeback to lines of business
  • Provide predictive analytics on business usage

The dynamic environment of a private cloud presents challenges to IT operations that have been established for static data center architectures, but it also represents a major opportunity. Changing the operating model for the way in which IT delivers services will provide significant savings, and it will also require an investment in people and processes—for example, the training costs of developing new skills, or the change management involved as a result of moving to a model of automation.

To achieve the benefits of operational efficiencies gained from cloud computing, existing IT processes must be streamlined and new ones implemented while your IT organization is transitioning to become much more proactive. In my experience, most large enterprises will take at least three to five years to realize the full transformative benefits of cloud computing.

Keep in mind that the IT evolution is a journey. The way that successful CIOs leverage virtualization to transform the IT organization to become more service-oriented will be a combination of innovative technology and adapting to a new way of operating that’s focused on delivering business value.

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Franck Besnard is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services based in France. Follow him on Twitter @besn0847



[1] Source: Gartner “Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure” by Thomas J. Bittman, George J. Weiss, Mark A. Margevicius, Philip Dawson, June 27,  2013

[2] Solution brief: “Virtualize Your SAP® Environment, A Joint Solution Offering from SAP and VMware to Increase IT Agility and Minimize  Virtualization Risk

 

Is the SDDC a Reality Today?

With all the talk about the software-defined data center (SDDC) being the future of IT, it’s no surprise that organizations are eager to know more about what it looks like today. In this recent video, Accelerate chief technologist Eric Ledyard explains the key business values for SDDC—agility, efficiency, and choice—and speaks to specific, real-world applications for the infrastructure of the future.

Eric Ledyard is chief technologist for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services. Follow him on Twitter @ericledyard

Join this Live Hangout to Get a Glimpse of the Future of IT

( Access replay here )

Join VMware for a live Google Hangout on Thursday, Dec. 5, at 10 a.m. PST to talk about the future of IT with futurologist Paul Saffo, Mark Burgess of CFEngine, eWeek‘s Chris Priemesberger, VCDX Michael Webster, and VMware’s VP, Global Infrastructure & Cloud Operations, Paul Chapman. Details on how to participate available here.