As I visit customers, I have heard similar feedback about vRealize Operations (vROPs): “It’s a great product but we are not getting the best out of it.” The unfortunate reality is that they are probably right! There is often a large gap between the wide range of possibilities and functionalities that vROPs can offer to the SDDC/Cloud environment and the real way in which it´s being consumed. This could be preventing your IT organization from getting the best from the product and impacting your investment. For many companies that investment is not insignificant, as it includes licensing, professional and educational services, and dedicated resources to manage it.
The challenges are often related to more than just technology and require looking at the operational aspects of the solution such as your specific operating model / environment, how your IT organization is structured or what IT processes you have defined and are running.
Our proposed approach to maximize the vROps usage within your environment
A consistent methodology is crucial if you want to maximize your investments in vROPs, and this will include the identification of improvement areas (formulated into a set of actionable recommendations) and the subsequent implementation of them into your IT organization:
- Understand your specific environment through a set of discovery workshops with the key stakeholders focused on your IT strategy & organization, your existing roles & responsibilities and your defined processes related to performance and capacity.
- Produce an assessment report with the key findings & early state recommendations.
- Consolidate & transform the assessment report content into a comprehensive set of proposed recommendations and roadmap.
- Present assessment findings & roadmap to the executive team as a sponsorship checkpoint. This will reinforce commitment and will identify key initiatives.
- Implementation of the agreed recommendations across your IT organization.
- Measure and validate the success of the implemented recommendations focusing on the utilization of vROps and the stakeholder´s feedback!
Based on our experience delivering this methodology across many customers, we have been able to identify some key common considerations that will drive the success of this initiative:
- Every customer environment is specific: We see different levels of maturity across processes, political issues across the teams, change readiness of the IT organization, teams in siloes with collaboration issues, etc. That´s why the initial phases of the approach are critical for the success: the better we understand you, the better we will articulate the improvement recommendations and engage with the required impacted people!
- Sponsorship is crucial to promote the benefits and break the resistance to change across the IT organization. Motivate your IT organization using a top-down approach. Effective communication is the key to success.
- Stakeholder identification and involvement during the early stages of the assessment is key to ensure involvement and commitment and capture their unique viewpoint. Miss a key stakeholder and you will miss a key input!
- Leverage existing initiatives that are in place or planned to start in the organization that can have an impact on vROps (e.g. application monitoring, log management, cloud transformation). This will facilitate expanding the adoption of vROps by integrating smoothly into your ecosystem.
What typical areas do we focus on when identifying recommendations for our customers?
After reading about the methodology and key considerations some of you might be thinking that this is nothing really new. You may wonder what concrete examples of operational recommendations we can offer to enhance the adoption of vROps.
It is important that you first understand the methodology and how we normally get to those recommendations. It is a journey in which we discover information about our customers while at the same time educating and inspiring them to do things differently. If we present the recommendations directly missing this critical inspirational element, it is less likely that the transformation will be absorbed, and more likely that the implementation will fail.
Having reviewed the methodology and the key considerations, a high-level example of operational areas that we normally focus on may include:
- Expanding the information in vRealize Operations across other teams in the IT organization (e.g. Level 1 Operators, Level 2 Admins, Business teams, DevOps groups).
- Defining workflows in VMware Orchestrator that automate the execution of repetitive tasks and / or the resolution of detected events in vRealize Operations.
- Expanding vRealize Operations across your existing monitoring architecture.
- Standardizing the reactive capacity process to support incoming project demand requests (e.g. capacity policy, capacity & scalability plan, What-If scenarios).
- Defining a business right sizing capability to drive the proactive capacity management including resource reclamation (undersized VMs), VM recertification (idle or powered off VMs) and hot spot identification (oversized VMs).
- Defining a governance model to support the IT Infrastructure Capacity and foster the collaboration across systems, storage and networks teams.
- Identifying any specific recommendations across the SDDC/Cloud environment (e.g. upgrade paths, backup & recovery strategy, training needs).
- Identifying other future initiatives that could be critical to the success of your SDDC/Cloud strategy (e.g. cost models and IT business management strategy, disaster recovery strategies).
Sometimes it is important to step back from the day-to-day activities, analyze your current environment (including both the good practices and the areas of development), and then think about different ways to bring value to your existing solutions. And this is exactly why VMware offers our Ops Transformation Performance & Capacity Management services – to help our customers to maximize their vRealize Operations investments by driving them towards different ways of doing things…because if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get the same results!
Alberto Martinez is an operations architect with the VMware Operations Transformation EMEA practice and is based in Spain.