In the previous post we looked at what a cloud operating model is and what the typically journey is for enterprises today. It showed that I&O organizations today need to transform their existing infrastructure to become a private cloud and that over time there also would be a need to evolve for the management of multiple clouds. That of course has an impact on the operational model: transitioning from private cloud to multi-cloud.

This means for most I&O organizations that they will need to transform their current mode of operations to become an organization that :

  • Delivers a unified cloud experience;

  • Operates like an Cloud Services Provider;

  • Manage and operate consistently across clouds.

All of this is supported by the cloud operating model. And as we discussed int the previous post their are two operational modes : private and multi-cloud. In this post we will have a closer look at these two operational models and what that means for the people responsible for managing these clouds.

Private Cloud Operating Model

The private cloud operating model is entirely focused on creating services on the infrastructure that is running in customer owned or rented data center. Over the last decades enterprises have build their own infrastructures to host their business applications. I&O organizations were the departments within IT that were responsible for delivering the infrastructure that host these applications.

In the early days IT was not seen as a core process by most organizations. However over time that role changed and IT became more and more important in delivering services and products to end customers. Nowadays the business relies heavily on IT and in some cases IT is the business. That has resulted in an increasing demands on IT from the business. Consumers of infrastructure, typically developers and lines of business, over time also changed their requirements when it came to the delivery of infrastructure and application services. It needed to be deliver on-demand, in real time through self-service.

That required I&O to rethink how they delivered their services and resulted in a lot of them moving towards a model for building a private cloud.

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In order to move to a cloud you need to be able to implement a cloud management system on top of the infrastructure that is hosted within a customer data center or the data center that is provided by the cloud provider. The cloud management platform provides the private cloud capabilities that need to deliver a “public cloud like experience”. The cloud management platform is going to provide the private cloud services that will then be used to build and support the applications and the associated application data.

The cloud management platform is the control plane that manages the infrastructure and application resources, necessary to deliver the services, that are hosted on top of the infrastructure. In most cases the infrastructure is (partially) virtualized. It then becomes a Software Defined Data Center (SDDC). The physical infrastructure for the SDDC is managed and maintained by internal server, storage and network teams. However more and more we see that the infrastructure is outsourced. And even SDDC nowadays can be consumed as a services with the likes of VMware Cloud on AWS, Azure VMware Solution, Google Cloud VMware Engine and Oracle Cloud VMware Solution. Delivering a virtualized infrastructure platform as-a-service that can host virtual machine and container workloads.

For the consumers of private cloud the infrastructure platform is less relevant. For them it is important that they can consume their services that are needed to deliver the applications to the business. The I&O organization is responsible for delivering those private cloud capabilities to those cloud consumers. They need to transform towards a private cloud operating model.

For that the I&O organization needs to put the following things in place :

  • Infrastructure & applications operational control;

  • IT services automation (a.k.a. cloud services);

  • Cost insight for cloud services.

The most important things when moving towards a private cloud are the fact that the work to deliver infrastructure and application resources is automated. Cloud is delivering those IT resources fully automated through self-service. Taking away the manual operations and making sure that consumers of IT can access the IT resources without having to wait for the I&O organization to deliver them. The I&O organization is responsible for building and maintaining these private cloud services and making sure that the management of these IT services is in with the guidelines and policies as defined by the business for operational and cost control.

The Private Cloud Providers & Consumers

The transformation to private cloud is not something that has an impact on the technology, but also on the people that need to operate the cloud. Traditionally I&O organizations are typically siloed. When moving to cloud there needs to be more closely aligned collaboration between the teams that manage the servers, storage and network that have been virutalized and deliver an SDDC. These teams become the providers of infrastructure resources to the private cloud administrators.

Private cloud administrators are the group that is responsible of delivering the infrastructure and applications resources that the cloud will provide towards the cloud consumers. They are the ones that are responsible for the building, deployment and maintenance of private cloud services that the cloud consumers need to have in order to deliver applications to the business.

Those cloud consumers consists out of different roles within the organization. They reside within the lines of business and are there to make sure that the right services are used and / or created in order to deliver the applications. Developers build the applications, platform engineers are there to create the right infrastructure and applications resources to run the applications and applications operators make sure the applications run smoothly in production. All are the consumers of private cloud services.

Multi-Cloud Operating Model

Not only have enterprises shifted their traditional IT model towards an operating model enabling private cloud, they also started the consumption of public cloud resources. Over the last decade cloud companies like AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google have build clouds where they offer IT services to their customers. These so called public cloud providers can deliver IT services that companies can use to build and host their enterprise applications.

For the lines of business and developers within enterprises this was a very appealing alternative to the IT services offered by the internal I&O orgnanisation. They started to use cloud services from public cloud providers to build and host their applications. This resulted, in some cases, in a “shadow IT” situation as the enterprise IT I&O organization was not involved.

However, within most enterprises it has been acknowledged that the usage of public cloud has to be managed and maintained by the I&O organisation. So in the end most enterprises end up in the situation that the I&O organization has the responsibility to manage and maintain the internal, private cloud and the public cloud(s) that are going to be used be used by the business to build and host their applications.

This usage of multiple clouds forced the I&O organisation also to evolve the operational model to become a multi-cloud operating model.

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This means that besides operating a private cloud, the I&O organization, with the help of the business and consumers of cloud, needs to put governance in place to manage multiple clouds : both for the private cloud and the public cloud(s).

The focus for the I&O organization when it comes to managing multiple clouds is different than the management of a private cloud. With the management of private and public clouds the focus is more on cost control and making sure that security and compliance are in line with company policies and regulations.

Cloud Center of Excellence

This evolution towards multi-cloud management has an impact on how clouds are managed. There needs to be governance across clouds and that requires various disciplines within IT and the business to come together and form a team that will be responsible for managing and maintaining all clouds that are used to run the applications for the business.

It is the recommendation to form a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) when continuing the cloud journey toward multi-cloud. The CCoE is a multi-disciplinary team that consists out of private and public cloud operations, financials operations, security operations and additionally representation of the developers, application operations and platform engineers.

The CCoE will be responsible for governing and controlling the usage of both private and public clouds. This is executed by :

  • Creating and maintaining an operational model that aligns with business needs and requirements as outlined in the cloud strategy;

  • Defining policies with regards to cost, security and usage of cloud;

  • Sharing knowledge with regards to private and public cloud in line with best practices;

  • Accelerate the adoption of both private and public cloud(s);

  • Continue updating the cloud strategy and roadmaps in line with business needs and requirements.

The CCoE is the central point of governance and control that has the mandate to make sure that applications are available to the business wherever these applications run in private or public cloud.

Shift from Provider to Consumer Operated Cloud

With multi-cloud making it’s way as a reality within most enterprises we see that there is a shift happening in who controls the cloud(s). Traditionally everything that is related to IT is controlled and managed by the I&O organization. But as IT becomes a crucial part of delivering the products or services for the business we see that the business also takes more control when it comes to managing cloud.

Delivery of IT has always been a provider – consumer model. Meaning that business needs applications and applications run on infrastructure. So in the end the lines of business needs a reliable (cloud) infrastructure to do its business through applications. The shift that digital transformation brings with it is the fact that the lines of business also wants to have more control over the clouds (private or public) that run the applications that are critical for the business. Business leadership needs to have control over the cost, security and compliance and overall cloud operations in order to get the best out of IT and deliver competitive value or even just to remain relevant in the world of today.

Originally cloud management has always focused on the private cloud operating model. Which is focused more on the infrastructure side of IT and controlled and operated by I&O organizations. But with the consumption of multiple clouds and the focus on becoming a digital business has resulted in the fact that the governance of all the clouds also moves more into the field of the consumers of cloud within the business. Finance, security and applications developers / operators get more influence on what clouds should be consumed, how they are consumed, how they are managed and what the cloud strategy should be.

As a result of the move towards a multi-cloud operating model the control and governance moves more from the providers to the consumers of cloud: a consumer operated cloud.

Also read part 1 of this series : Cloud Operating Model for Multi-Cloud by Martijn Baecke

Related content in this article :

Blog : Multi-Cloud : What’s in a Name? by Martijn Baecke

Blog : The Cloud Operating Model by Mandy Storbakken

Whitepaper : Organizing for the Cloud by Kevin Lees

Whitepaper : Hybrid and Multi-cloud Complexity Requires Unified Cross-Cloud Management and Control by IDC (sponsored by VMware)

Whitepaper : The Next Generation of Cloud Management Starts with a Cloud Center of Excellence by CloudHealth by VMware

Whitepaper : VMware Multi-Cloud Architecture : Enabling Choice and Flexibility by Martin Hosken