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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Building a Resilient Integration from Your Cloud to your IT Service Management Platform

Pierre Moncassin-cropBy Pierre Moncassin

In the vast majority of cloud implementations the integration between the self-service provisioning workflow and the configuration management system (CMS) will need to be addressed.

On the surface the use case is a ‘no brainer’. Once a cloud infrastructure service has been provisioned we want to ensure that the newly created configuration items are recorded in the CMS so that IT can support the new service. Incidents occurring in the newly created infrastructure need to be detected, managed and resolved.

In most cases the IT Operations team will be relying on an IT Service Management toolset for its day-to-day activities. In this typical scenario, we would need a technical integration between the provisioning workflow engine and the IT Service Management toolset.

In order to enable IT Support with Event and Incident Management, we need the newly created workloads (or applications) to be “visible” from the Service Management toolset. This means creating the configuration items in the service management toolset’s configuration management system (CMS). Vendors of service management tools have various approaches to their configuration management system, but in principle this will require the creation of configuration records in their CMS.

Here’s the simplified diagram:

Cloud ITSM Integration

However the range of integration scenarios is by no means limited to event/incident management. There is actually a broad range of possible scenarios including:

  • Change Management – tracking updates to the configuration items that have been created
  • Financial Management – being able to evaluate the cost of newly created item, which In turn will enable chargeback, billing and more broadly help meet the financial requirement
  • Compliance & security – being able to verify that the infrastructure meets corporate policy and security standards as appropriate
  • Business Continuity Management – ensuring resilience, disaster recovery, backups/archiving etc.

Given the number of possible use cases, it is important to decide early on which the key scenarios will be. Which processes do you want to enable as a priority?

That initial decision will drive the complexity of the technical integration, especially the number of parameters and values being passed around.

The Technical Side of Integration: Tools & Guidance

Fortunately when it comes to the technical side, there are many options to integrate VMware vRealize Operations into a third party tool. The typical avenue is to leverage the connectivity features of VMware vRealize Orchestrator.

On the other side of the integration, we will have an IT Service Management (ITSM) toolset (from vendors such as BMC, HP, CA, ServiceNow, and many others).

Here are some example resources for the some commonly used toolsets:

The integration workflow reflects the process requirements: typically, creating Configuration Items (CI’s) in the Service Management toolset and passing on CI information.

However one aspect that can be easily overlooked when first setting up the integration, is to build in resilience. For example, the ability for this integration to handle exceptions and errors.

Another key to resilience is to consider the operational aspects of the integration itself.

  • Maintenance is often where integrations fail over the long run – the organization lacks the resources or roles to keep the integration up to date. It is recommended to assign someone the responsibility for maintaining this integration.
  • The skills to maintain the integration may need to be developed and refreshed.

Your Take-Aways

These three angles must be covered to produce a robust integration SDDC-ITSM:

  • People: decide how your organization will maintain this integration for the long term (and who will maintain it). Ensure than the relevant skills (and knowledge) is retained to keep the integration up to date in the future.
  • Process: decide on the key process (use cases) for the integration – and document them.
  • Technology: Leverage exiting tools and know-how – no need to re-invent the wheel. Build in resilience early on: plan for exception handling, testing and future version upgrades early in the development of the technical integration.

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Pierre Moncassin is an operations architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice and is based in the UK.

Top 3 Tips for Optimizing DevOps

More collaboration is a noble goal. Make the reality match the promise.

Optimizing DevOpsThe concept of DevOps is so appealing. Who wouldn’t agree that better communication between development and operations teams will expedite release cycles, improve software quality, and make the business more agile? Just one question: why is DevOps still a “concept” at most companies rather than an operational reality? The short answer is that DevOps requires new ways of working, and that can create cultural upheaval.

Download 3 Top Tips for Optimizing DevOps from our Consultant Corner for guidance around addressing the people and process issues of DevOps in a VMware environment—so you can reap the business benefits sooner.

Staffing Your Cloud Organization – A Heuristic Model

Approximating staffing ratios in a cloud organization as a logarithmic function of infrastructure metrics.

Pierre Moncassin-cropBy Pierre Moncassin

Customers who want to establish true cloud services based on VMware’s SDDC solution (or any other provider for that matter), realize that in order to fully leverage the technology, they need to adapt their IT organization.

More specifically, they need to setup a dedicated team – a cloud Center of Excellence (COE) to manage and operate their cloud services.

The structure and roles of that team are described in detail in ‘Organizing for the Cloud’.

During practically all Operations Transformation projects, a question frequently asked is: what is the optimum staffing level to setup this cloud organization (FTE a.k.a. Full Time Equivalent)?

The standard consultant answer is of course  ‘it depends’. But in this blog, I will explain in more detail what “it depends” means in this context.

In an earlier blog, I described “10 key factors to estimate staffing ratios to operate platforms with vRealize Automation and vRealize Operations Manager”.

  • Number of lines of business
  • Number of data centers
  • Level staff skill/experience
  • Number of cloud services
  • Workflow complexity
  • Internal process complexity (includes support requirements eg 5 days/5 or 24 hour/7)
  • Number of third party integrations
  • Rate of change
  • Number of VM’s
  • Number of user dashboards/reports

Now these 10 factors, and probably hundreds of other factors will determine the complexity of the tasks that the cloud organization needs to perform and therefore, the staffing level. Clearly there are thousands of possible combinations of these factors. But if I want to see how the FTE count evolves with a single , easy-to-quantify parameter (such as number of virtual machines or any other ‘simple’ infrastructure metric’), we need to make strict assumptions to ‘tie down’ the other factors.

So let’s assume that we are looking at a single organization evolving over time; as time passes the number of virtual machines gradually increases, but so does the number and complexity of the services, as well as the demand for support coverage:

  1. Between 1 and 100 VM’s, the COE is running as a pilot, there are no support requirements, only a small number of services to run.
  2. Between 100 and 1000 VM’s., the COE is running cloud services regionally with some basic service levels.
  3. Over say, 30,000 VM’s, the COE is now running a global operation with 24/7 support requirement and a broad range of services.

Practical observation of a number of real-life examples suggests an evolution broadly similar to the logarithmic curve in figure 1. Now this is still a model that deliberately simplifies and ‘smooths out’ the FTE curve, but there are two practical implications:

  • The staffing levels may rise most steeply at the beginning of the curve. When the organization transitions from a pilot to a fully operating COE, the staffing need levels rise significantly.
  • The FTE curve flattens out then the organization matures and can handle high volumes. Once the COE is operating with a high level of automation with experienced staff, adding workload only requires a marginal increase to the FTE’s count.

In reality of course the complexity – i.e. the demand on FTE – never grows quite linearly.

We would see threshold effects. For example when we reach 300 worksloads, a new 24×7 service may be added to the portfolio, which requires a rapid increase in FTE.

Take-aways:

  • The faster rise in FTE will occur in the early stages of build-up of cloud services; this is ‘normal’ given that we see an increase altogether of the number of services and the service levels and therefore significantly increasing the demands on the cloud organization;
  • Once well established and automated, the FTE level should only increase marginally with rising infrastructure volumes – your organization will have learned to cope with increasing quantities.
  • We need to caveat that although the FTE curve may look broadly logarithmic, threshold effects are inevitable: new demands on service level (eg new compliance requirements, 24×7 etc) can create an ‘uptick’ in FTE without necessarily a prior ‘uptick’ in volumes.

What we have presented here in an intuitive model to understand how increasing volumes impact FTE. You are welcome to share your experience and perhaps refine this heuristic model.

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Pierre Moncassin is an operations architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice and is based in the UK.

VMworld 2015 – Day 4 Recap

Wednesday Sept 2

dc2105-150x150By Andy Troup

Kevin Lees, our principal architect in our Operations Transformation Services practice, spoke today about Best Practice Approaches to Transformation with the Software Defined Data Center. Kevin speaks from experience, spending most of his time with customers on-site with transformation projects. Kevin has seen firsthand what works and what certainly doesn’t. Recommendations he shared this morning included:

  • Start with a formal service definition process—include all stakeholders (LoB, Ops, Infrastructure, Dev, Finance)
  • Include Security and Compliance right off the bat
  • A 360 degree service definition exercise drives technology decisions, not the other way around
  • Look at the new roles that will be needed: e.g. Business Relationship Manager, Service Owner
  • Create a Service Marketing Plan for key stakeholders in the organization
  • Assume change will be constant—adopt an agile planning methods (e.g. 2 week sprints); release features on a regular basis rather than waiting for final project completion
  • Take an iterative approach rather than a sequential approach. Start simple, gradually expand (this applies to the process side as well as the service offering side.)
  • Merge workstreams: technical workstream, operations transformation workstream, cloud service management
  • Break down silo’s (Kevin has some really good advice here arming and rewarding champions or change agents in the functional groups to help this happen. Exec sponsorship is also critical.)

You can find the session recording on the VMworld mobile app or vmworld.com to get the benefit of all of Kevin’s insights.

Last day of the conference is tomorrow! Here’s what to attend:

  • 10:30 AM
    OPT 5029 How to Use Service Definitions to VMware vRealize Business to Build Highly effective, Service-Based Cost Models
  • 10:30 AM
    OPT 4707 Integrating vRealize Automation with ITSM and Service Catalog
  • 12:00 PM
    OPT5709 Building a SDDC with CIT (customer presentation)
  • 1:30 PM
    OPT 5369 Proactive Monitoring of a Service: People, Process and Technology

Don’t forget to use the VMworld mobile app to easily locate these final day sessions.

And, thanks for sharing the week with us! Please do reply to this post with any observations about the subject of transformation of your own, either from your own experiences or as a result of any the Operations Transformation sessions you attended this week. Looking forward to hearing from you.


Andy Troup is a Cloud Operations Architect with over 25 years of IT experience. He specializes in Cloud Operations and Technology Consulting Service Development. Andy is also a vCAP DCA and VCP. Andy possesses a proven background in design, deployment and management of enterprise IT projects. Previously, Andy co-delivered the world’s first and subsequent vCloud Operational Assessments (Colt Telecomm & Norwegian Government Agency) to enable the early adoption of VMware’s vCloud implementation.

 

 

 

 

VMworld US – Day 3 Recap

Tuesday Sept 1

dc2105-150x150

By Andy Troup

It was another highly rewarding day in the Operations Transformation track at VMworld today. If you missed Ed Hoppitt speaking about DevOps Transformation, be sure to find the recording (With your conference pass you have access to recordings to any sessions you might have missed within 24 hours—find them on the VMworld mobile app or vmworld.com). Another highlight of the day was a customer group discussion on the subject of Organizational Change. Customers shared their challenges with siloed organizations, internal resistance to role changes, and more. Discussion points also included the need to find change agents or champions within IT to lead the charge to a service model, the need for executive sponsorship, and the importance of formally updating performance requirements or MBO’s.

“Can’t miss” real-world insights coming out tomorrow:

ITaaS at the Boeing Co., a Federal agency hybrid cloud case study, VMware IT on their internal cloud journey, and SDDC best practices from our operations transformation principal architect Kevin Lees, who spends a majority of his time on-site with customers helping shape their transformation journeys.

  • 8:00 AM
    OPT 5232 Cloud Native Apps, MicroServices and Twelve-Factor Apps: What Do They Mean for your SDDC/Cloud Ops?
  • 9:00 AM
    OPT 5069 Enterprise Hybrid Cloud—a Federal Case Study (DoE customer presentation)
  • 11:00 AM
    OPT 5361 Best Practice Approaches to Transformation with the SDDC
  • 12:30 PM
    OPT5509 Building an Enterprise Hybrid Cloud Strategy and Operating Model
  • 2:00 PM
    OPT5793 Organizational Change Management and SDDC: Why Getting Your People and Processes Aligned are the Key Ingredient in Ensuring Maximum Value to You
  • 2:30 PM
    OPT 5972 80k VM’s and Growing: VMware’s Internal Cloud Journey Told by the People on the Frontlines
  • 3:30 PM
    OPT 4684 Engineers in the Cloud: the New Model of Data Center Operations (customer presentation)
  • 4:00 PM
    OPT 6227 Developing a new IT: How the Boeing Company IT Dept. is Empowering its Customers through Internal Cloud and Services (customer presentation)

See the VMworld mobile app to easily locate these sessions, and be sure to follow us on Twitter @VMwareCloudOps for all of the latest information coming out of VMworld!


 

Andy Troup is a Cloud Operations Architect with over 25 years of IT experience. He specializes in Cloud Operations and Technology Consulting Service Development. Andy is also a vCAP DCA and VCP. Andy possesses a proven background in design, deployment and management of enterprise IT projects. Previously, Andy co-delivered the world’s first and subsequent vCloud Operational Assessments (Colt Telecomm & Norwegian Government Agency) to enable the early adoption of VMware’s vCloud implementation.