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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Does IT Financial and Business Management Matter When Implementing Your Cloud?

 By Khalid Hakim

This is one of the common questions that I keep getting from my clients when building IT operations transformation roadmaps. In fact, one of the key considerations of a transformation roadmap is the business management side of your cloud, which often gets deprioritized by key stakeholders.

Let’s think it through: Can you tell me on the spot what your total cloud spend is, and, what that spend is comprised of? Here’s another one:  What’s the cost for you to deliver a unit of infrastructure as a service (IaaS)? And what about your consumers: Who consumes what service and at what cost?

Can you identify the services used and the cost allocation for each service? How is your cost efficiency compared to that of other public cloud infrastructures? How can you use that type of information to optimize the cost of your existing and future operations? How can you create a showback report to each of your stakeholders?

Let’s say that you’re the VP of Cloud Infrastructure — think through how you would justify your data center investments. Have you proactively analyzed demand vs. capacity along with operations cost of your cloud services?  How can you scale dynamically to fulfill your consumer needs? Have you thought about your goal to optimize the cost of delivering cloud services? Don’t you need closer monitoring to the quality of your delivery, such as continuous analysis and improvement?

(I can hear you thinking, enough with the questions already…)

If you are the IT financial manager, imagine how you can reduce your long-term commitments by moving from CAPEX to OPEX if appropriate. With financial and business management capabilities, your planning and IT budgeting would be based on actual cloud service demand and consumption practices. You would also be able to leverage benchmarking and “what if” scenarios for your cloud service costing optimization opportunities.

What keeps CIOs awake at night during a cloud implementation is the challenge of how they will demonstrate and deliver value for the cloud investment, as well as contribute as an innovator to the business by dynamically supporting growth and transformation as a result of their cloud cost optimization.

In fact, your ability to respond at the speed of business through fact-based decision making and responsiveness to changing needs in a dynamic environment is key to your success. The transparency of your cloud delivery value in context of demand, supply, cost, and quality will help improve your alignment with business goals to cloud services delivered.

In my next blog, I’ll cover some of the built-in functionality and business disciplines of the VMware IT Business Management Suite that can help you succeed in your cloud delivery and accelerate time to value.

Khalid Hakim is an operations architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice. You can follow him on Twitter @KhalidHakim47.

VMworld-graphicCheck out the VMworld 2014 Operations Transformation track for opportunities to hear from experienced VMware experts, practitioners, and the real-world experiences of customers transforming their IT infrastructure and operational processes.


The People and Process Behind the Service Portal

By David Crane

dcrane-cropAs more IT organizations move away from the traditional, siloed model of IT and toward becoming a service provider, new questions arise. Running a smooth, cost-effective, efficient service portal can ease a number of the issues that IT faces, but only if done correctly.

The portal serves as the interface that helps consumers navigate through available service options and select them as needed. Behind the scenes, IT is serving as a contractor, comparing service requirements to different capabilities that may be internal, on premise, or from other providers. The user doesn’t care, so long as they are getting what they need.

So you have a portal, and you have a cloud. Now what?

Consistently Capture Service Requirements
With the right foundation, managing the service portal can be a smooth process,. The first step is to understand the unique requirements that your users have, and deliver the resources that are going to meet their needs. The best way to understand that is to step outside the traditional organizational silos and engage directly with the lines of business.

Once you understand the various service needs, create service charts, such as the example below:

Service chartThese will serve to identify all the different components required in each service. Most of these components will be common across different services, and can then be built out separately. Take a “cookie cutter” approach to these components, so that when mixed and matched they will create the services needed. Part of correctly understanding these components will involve a deeper understanding of the service definition process. What tasks will need to happen across all operational levels? Who will be responsible for those tasks?

Right People, Right Services
Oftentimes, IT organizations feel anxiety about the level of automation that stands behind a portal. It’s challenging to think of users that have previously been carefully walked through specialized processes suddenly having the ability to requisition services through an automated process. Creating clearly defined roles and restricting access to the catalog based on those roles can alleviate these fears.

Once you have the roles defined, deploy provisioning groups to different IT resources consumers. Allow these provisioning groups to handle the issue of deployment capabilities and instead focus on using policies to govern how those deployments will take place. Use the defined roles for the portal to determine which users can perform which actions within their environment. The policies will dictate which components will be required in each context.

When Is a Service Ready to Go in the Catalog?
Some IT organizations, once their portal is set up, try to lump the service portfolio process in with the service catalog management responsibilities. This can lead to frustration and inefficiency down the line, and can undermine the cost savings and automation value that the cloud provides. Instead, use your senior technical resources to create the service definitions and components. This will be the best use of their skills, and is also the work that they are going to find challenging and interesting.

Once that is done, more junior resources can combine and deploy those components into the catalog. It becomes a simple process of handing the service configuration document to the person responsible for deployment.

Integrated Transition to Catalog
The transition process — getting services out of the catalog and into the portfolio — can be difficult and technical. Avoid a lot of the messiness by getting operational input early in the process so that all the requirements are understood up front. Here, again, is where it’s important to keep your senior resources working on high level issues: getting components aligned to the corporate enterprise structure, security, and any other issues that require IT’s attention. If the components are aligned to the business needs, the services that are composed of those components will also align by default.

Once the business and IT agree that there is a need for a service, the service owner and service architect should ensure that the required components exist. For any component, security, access policies and provisioning processes should already be determined — no need for testing, change process or QA. From there the service architect can take the components out to create the service configuration. Keep this streamlined and simple.

New Roles
Making all this work smoothly requires some new roles within the organization. A customer relationship manager (CRM) will act as the interface between the tech teams and the consumer. The CRM captures the requirements, keeps the consumer happy, and keeps IT aligned and communicating with the business. Unlike a managed service provider, the CRM should operate within the cloud tenants team to ensure and understanding of internal IT. The service owner, discussed above, is responsible for taking the requirements gathered and doing something with them, including negotiating contracts with the cloud providers.

The service portfolio manager will know the portfolio inside and out, and create a standardized environment. The service architects will combine components and author a configuration document whenever a new service is required. The service QA will test the created services. The service admin will be responsible for taking the configuration requirements and deploying into the catalog.

The service portal should serve as a powerful tool that connects consumers, both internal and external, with the services they need. By building strong component foundations, creating well-defined roles, and assigning resources where they will be most effective, IT organizations can ensure that their portal process runs smoothly and efficiently.

David Crane is an operations architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice and is based in the U.K.

A New Kind of Hero

By Aernoud van de Graaf

AERNOUD VDG crop-filterIn every IT organization there is that special person. Let’s call him Phil. Phil is the kind of person who…
– knows everything
– can fix anything
– knows everybody
– and gets things done in hours that would take others days or weeks to accomplish.

Phil is a hero. If the system goes down, call him, and he will fix it — even if it takes him all night. You can call Phil any time of the day, and he will rise up to the challenge and make sure that the system is up and running in no time. And you love him for it.

One day before a project was to go live, the project leader found out that to implement the new application required a change to the firewall rule, which normally takes two weeks. He called Phil, and after a friendly cup of coffee with the network guys, the firewall change was made in just two days (instead of two weeks).

But during the installation of the application, the test database was accidentally connected to the application instead of the production database. Chaos ensued. The lines of business (LOBs) were furious because customers were getting the wrong orders and threatening to end their contracts. Phil fixed it within a day — and though a lot of money was lost due to wrong orders, not one customer ended its contract. It could have been much worse, had it not been for Phil.

Because of his history of “saved the day” work, Phil gets recognized in the organization — not just within IT, but also with the LOBs. Everyone knows and loves Phil, and he gets high scores on his reviews. After a particularly nasty problem took him an entire weekend to fix, Phil got an extra bonus and a nice weekend with his family in a 5-star hotel. He earned it.

As we said before. Phil is our hero.

And then there is John. John has a vision. He is convinced that things need to change. The current environment is far too complex and needs to be simplified and standardized. Also, most things are done manually, taking way too much time and causing a lot of problems — because people make mistakes.

John envisions a world where IT users have access to a portal that will automatically provision what they need, without any human intervention. Applications, workplaces, middleware, servers, storage, network, and security — all at the push of just a few buttons. The user simply classifies the business requirements, and the policies will ensure the application is provisioned to meet the requirements. John did his research and found that this way, implementation errors can be nearly eliminated and time-to-market greatly improved.

No longer would IT need loads of people monitoring and managing the operations and health of the infrastructure. No more firefighting 24X7. Most things would be handled by the tooling. If manual intervention were required, the tooling would give context and advise on where to look and what could be done. This may be the opportunity to put Phil to good use. Instead of spending time fixing things, Phil can start creating solutions that would add real value to the business.

Phil is the only one with the technical skills and the influence with the CIO to bring this vision to reality, so John sets up a meeting with him. John explains to Phil all the advantages that standardization, virtualization, and automation will bring to the organization. No more weekends spent fixing problems, no more last-minute interventions. Everything will run smoothly. The business will profit because the quality of service will go up, costs will go down, and IT can change at the speed of the business — speeding up innovation and time-to-market. John asks Phil to help design and build the solution and to support him in presenting it to the CIO.

But Phil is not as enthusiastic as John would have thought. In Phil’s opinion, no tools can replace the knowledge he has of the IT environment. And he is already far too busy with today’s work to spend time on John’s project. Automation maybe useful, but virtualization and automation will only make things worse for Phil. He would lose insight of where the applications are running and is afraid he could no longer fix things because of constant changes based on rules a tool determines are useful. Phil states that IT should stay the way it is, where he knows all the little nooks and crannies and how to fix them. He will not support John’s initiative and will advise the CIO to leave things status quo.

John is surprised. He does not understand why Phil would not want to improve the current situation.  Having IT run smoothly may not provide as many opportunities to save the day, but it will ensure that IT is really enabling the business.

It is time for a new kind of hero.

Aernoud van de Graaff is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in the Netherlands. You can follow him on Twitter @aernoudvdgraaff 

Follow @VMwareCloudOps on Twitter for future updates, and join the conversation by using the #CloudOps and #SDDC hashtags on Twitter.

VMware #1 in IDC Worldwide Datacenter Automation Software Vendor Shares

Today’s VMware Company Blog announces that market research firm IDC has named VMware the leading datacenter automation software vendor based on 2013 software revenues.(1)

IDC’s report, “Worldwide Datacenter Automation Software 2013 Vendor Shares,” determined that VMware’s lead in 2013 jumped 65.6 percent over 2012 results and its market share now stands at 24.1 percent, more than 10 percentage points above the second place vendor. Overall, the worldwide market for datacenter automation grew by 22.1 percent to $1.8 billion in 2013. Download full IDC report here.

(1)   IDC, “Worldwide Datacenter Automation Software 2013 Vendor Shares,” by Mary Johnston Turner, May 2014

How IT Can Transform “Trust Debt” into True Business Alignment

By Kevin Lees

Kevin_cropIn my previous post, 5 Ways Cloud Automation Drives Greater Cost and Operational Transparency, I wrote about how automation can help alleviate tension between IT and and the lines of business. Let’s continue to explore that theme as we look into ways to bring in tighter alignment between business objectives and IT capabilities.

“Instead of cost centers that provide capabilities, IT organizations must become internal service providers supplying business-enabling solutions that drive innovation and deliver value…true business partners rather than increasingly irrelevant, cost-centric technology suppliers.” This quote comes from the white paper How IT Organizations Can Achieve Relevance in the Age of Cloud[1], which provides insight into the ways IT needs to change to become a true partner with the entire business to help meet overall objectives.

So to get to that place of true partnership and business agility, all IT has to do is become an internal service provider and deliver business-enabling solutions, and then the business will regard IT as a true partner, right? If only it were that simple.

While there’s nothing wrong with the goal of adding business value and increasing responsiveness to business requirements, there is another problem that has been largely overlooked: The “trust debt” that has built up between IT and its business customers.

As a result of the way it has operated in the past, IT must overcome trust debt to gain true business alignment. Business alignment must be achieved before the optimal “business-enabling solutions” can be designed, developed, and deployed to meet business users’ needs.

As is the case with financial debts, IT must make payments on this accumulated trust debt, with interest. The interest comes in where IT must go above and beyond end user expectations to prove its willingness and ability to ensure that technology helps, rather than hinders, the business. The payments themselves can take many forms, including: implementing new technology that delivers new capabilities, demonstrating a service-oriented mindset, or even taking the extra step of becoming truly transparent.

Overcoming Trust Debt: Starting Point and First Steps
Making any change starts with a bit of exploration and personal reflection. Ultimately technology and IT’s role as a whole is about meeting the needs of the business at the speed business requires. This, of course, demands greater agility — enabled by the ability to offer cloud computing capabilities on top of a software-defined data center.

To overcome trust debt, IT must first get out of its comfort zone, which is firmly rooted in enabling technology. IT leaders may first need to ask: What is IT “enabling” with technology?

Start with the Stack
Let’s face it: Agility demands a dynamic technology stack. To be dynamic at the level that business requires today can only be achieved in software; hardware is too static and difficult to change. A software-defined data center uses a fully virtualized stack that can quickly and dynamically change to meet the needs of the business.

Automation, coupled with the key cloud capability of self-service, on-demand provisioning provides agility. More than anything else, automated self-service, on-demand provisioning alone can be the compelling reason businesses are drawn to cloud. Imagine what would happen if business constituents could select the service offering to deploy, along with the level of service they desire, and some very short time later the virtual server would be available with that service (a marketing demo, for example). That’s a huge win and a step closer to eradicating trust debt.

This level of service alone could become IT’s calling card. The marketing demo example mentioned above is not hypothetical—I saw this recently at a large financial institution. A marketing team needed to stand up a demo that customers could access externally so they could beat the competition to market. Traditional IT said that demo could be available in about six weeks. But the marketing person driving the initiative had heard about this thing called a cloud that had been set up in a separate IT initiative. She contacted the responsible IT team who gave her access. Within 24 hours she had her demo up with customers actively using it.

This one occurrence launched the company’s cloud initiative. Word spread like wildfire throughout the organization and demand ramped so quickly that IT had to gate it to bring on more infrastructure. (If only they’d had a hybrid cloud!)

Simply put, agility sold the cloud. And what better way to regain trust and create new opportunities to drive business alignment?

Kevin Lees is Global Principal Architect, Operations Transformation Practice. Follow @VMwareCloudOps on Twitter for future updates, and join the conversation by using the #CloudOps and #SDDC hashtags on Twitter.

 [1] CIO white paper: “How IT Organizations Can Achieve Relevance in the Age of Cloud,” 2013