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Tag Archives: cloud infrastructure

EMC, VMware Release ‘State of IT Transformation’ Report

The ‘State of IT Transformation’ report takes a look at more than 660 EMC and VMware enterprise customers across 18 industries, and identifies gaps, progress and goals in their current IT Transformation initiatives.

By focusing on data provided by CIOs and their direct reports who participated in a transformation workshop led by EMC or VMware, this analysis provides deep insight into the biggest goals and challenges for organizations who are actually in the midst of an IT transformation.

The full State of IT Transformation Report (PDF) can be downloaded here.

Where do Organizations Want to Improve Most in 2016?

State of IT TransformationCloud Infrastructure

While more than 90% of organizations are only in the early stages of evaluating a well-engineered hybrid cloud architecture, and 91% of organizations have no organized, consistent means of evaluating workloads for hybrid cloud, 70% want to standardize on a hybrid cloud architecture across the organization within the next two years.

Operating Model

Running IT like a customer-focused business is a high priority for IT organizations, but 88% of companies have not begun, or are only in the preliminary stages of developing skills in business-facing service definition, and only 24% have a well developed service catalog in place.

Organizations recognize that collaboration is key to meeting customer expectations, with 95% of organizations expressing that having no silos and working together to deliver business-focused services at the lowest cost this is critical.  However, less than 4% of organizations reported that they currently operate like this.

Agility is also critical to success.  For over half of the participants it currently takes between a week and a month to provision infrastructure resources.  The goal this year for 77% of participants is to be able to do this in less than a day, or dynamically when needed.

Applications

Accelerating application development is a high priority for CIOs this year.  68% of the organizations surveyd take 6-12 months to complete a new development cycle.  This is likely due to the fact that 82% of the companies currently don’t have a scalable, infrastructure-independent application delivery framework on which to rapidly and consistently build mobile-friendly, cloud-native apps.

How does your organization stack up?

Are you curious about how the results changed by industry, or by geography?  Read the full State of IT Transformation Report to see how your organization compares to your peers.

If you need assistance identifying the gaps in your own organization, and developing a comprehensive strategy and roadmap for moving forward, contact your VMware Advisory Services strategist or your local VMware representative today.

Top 5 Tips for Organizing the Cloud

You’re ready to reap the rewards. Is your organization ready to deliver?

5 Tips for Organizing the CloudThe technical and business advantages of the software-defined cloud era are well understood. But all too often a critical aspect of adopting the cloud model is overlooked: the organizational impact. The fact is the transition to the cloud changes roles, skills, processes and organizational structures. Yet, many IT leaders become so focused on the vision of the cloud—or its technological requirements—that they lose sight of whether their IT staff is properly prepared for the new world.

The resource, Top 5 Tips for Organizing the Cloud, will help you prepare for—and execute—a successful move to the cloud.

The Case for Upstream Remediation: The Third Pillar of Effective Patch Management for Cloud Computing

By: Pierre Moncassin

Patch Management fulfills an essential function in IT operations: it keeps your multiple software layers up to date, as free of vulnerabilities as possible, and consistent with vendor guidelines.

But scale that to an ever-dynamic environment like a VMware-based cloud infrastructure, and you have an extra challenge on your hands. Not only do the patches keep coming, but end users keep provisioning and amending their configuration. So how to keep track of all these layers of software?

In my experience there are three pillars that need to come together to support effective patch management in the Cloud. The first two, policy and automation, are fairly well established. But I want to make a case for a third: upstream remediation.

As a starting point, you need a solid patching policy. This may sound obvious, but the devil is in the details. Such a policy needs to be defined and agreed across a broad spectrum of stakeholders, starting with the security team. This is typically more of a technical document than a high-level security policy, and it’s far more detailed than, say, a simple rule of thumb (e.g. ‘you must apply the latest patch within X days’).

A well-written policy must account for details such as exceptions (e.g. how to remedy non-compliant configurations); security tiers (which may have different patching requirements); reporting; scheduling of patch deployment, and more.

The second pillar is Automation for Patch Management. While the need for a patching policy is clearly not specific to Cloud Infrastructure, its importance is magnified in an environment where configurations evolve rapidly and automation is pervasive. And such automation would obviously make little sense without a well-defined policy. For this, you can use a tool like VMware’s vCenter Configuration Manager (VCM).

VCM handles three key aspects of patching automation:

  1. Reporting – i.e. verifying patch levels on selected groups of machines
  2. Checking for bulleting updates on vendor sites (e.g. Microsoft)
  3. Applying patches via automated installation

In a nutshell, VCM will automate both the detection and remediation of most patching issues.

However, one other key step is easily overlooked – upstream remediation. In a cloud infrastructure, we want to remediate not just the ‘live’ configurations, but also the templates used for provisioning. This will ensure that the future configurations being provisioned are also compliant. Before the ‘cloud’ era, administrators who identified a patching issue might make a note to update their standard builds in the near future – but there would rarely be a critical urgency. In cloud environments where new machines might be provisioned say, every few seconds, this sort of updates need to happen much faster.

As part of completing any remediation, you also need to be sure to initiate a procedure to carry out updates to your blueprints, as well as to your live workloads (see the simplified process view above).

You need to remember, though, that remediating the images will depend on different criteria from the ‘live’ workload and, depending on the risk, may require a change request and related approval. You need to update the images, test that the updates are working, and then close out the change request.

In sum, this approach reflects a consistent theme across Cloud Operations processes: that the focus of activity is shifted upstream towards the demand side. This also applies to Patch Management: remediation needs to be extended to apply upstream to the provisioning blueprints (i.e. images).

Key takeaways:

  • Policy and automation are two well-understood pillars of patch management;
  • A less well-recognized third pillar is upstream remediation;
  • Upstream remediation addresses the compliance and quality of future configurations;
  • This reflects a common theme in Cloud Ops processes: that focus shifts to the demand side.

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

Outside-In Thinking: A Simple, But Powerful Part of Delivering IT as a Service

By: Paul Chapman, VMware Vice President Global Infrastructure and Cloud Operations

Moving to deliver IT as a Service can seem like a complex and challenging undertaking. Some aspects of the move do require changing the organization and adopting a radically different mindset. But, based on my experience helping lead VMware IT through the IT as a Service transition, there are also straightforward actions you can take that are simple and provide lasting and significant benefits.

Using outside-in thinking as a guiding principle is one of them.

Thinking Outside-In Versus Inside-Out

Here’s just one example that shows how outside-in thinking led us to a very different outcome than we otherwise would have achieved.

Until fairly recently, there was no way for a VMware ERP application user to self-serve a password reset. Raising a service request or calling the helpdesk were the only ways to do it. Like most organizations, we have a lot of transient and irregular users who would forget their passwords, and this in turn created an average of 500+ password reset requests a month.

Each ticket or call, once received, took an elapsed time of about 15 minutes to resolve. That equated to one and a half people on our team tied up every day doing nothing but resolving ERP log in issues, and, even more importantly, to unhappy users being placed in a holding pattern waiting to log in and perform a function.

As the VMware employee base grew, so did the number of reset requests.

The traditional, brute force IT approach to this problem would have been to add more people (volume-based hiring) to handle the growing volume of requests. Another, more nuanced, approach would be to use task automation techniques to reduce the 15 minutes down to something much faster. In fact, the initial IT team response was an approach that leveraged task automation to reduce the resolution time from 15 minutes to 5. From an inside-out perspective, that was a 66% reduction in process time. By any measure, a big improvement.

However, from the user – or outside-in – perspective, elapsed time for password reset includes the time and trouble to make the request, the time the request spends in the service desk work queue, plus the resolution time. Seen that way, process improvement yielded a shift from hours plus 15 minutes, to hours plus 5 minutes. From an outside-in perspective, then, reducing reset task time from 15 minutes to 5 minutes was basically irrelevant.

Moving to Single Sign-On

Adopting that outside-in perspective, we realized that we were users of this system too and that eliminating the need for the task altogether was a far better approach than automating the task.

In this case, we moved our ERP application to our single sign-on portal, where VMware employees log on to dozens of business applications with a single set of credentials.

With single sign-on, those 500 plus IT support requests per month have gone away. IT has claimed back the time of 1.5 staff, and, more importantly, we’ve eliminated wait time and IT friction points for our users.

It’s a very simple example – but it illustrates how changing thinking can be a powerful part of delivering IT as a Service. Even before you reach anything like full game-changing digitization of IT service delivery, a shift in perspective can let you gain and build on relatively easy quick-wins.

Key Takeaways:

  •  You can make big gains with small and simple steps en route to IT as a Service;
  • Take an outside-in perspective to IT;
  • Drive for new levels of self-service (a ‘zero touch,’ customer-centric world);
  • Think about operating in a “ticket-less” world where the “help-desk phone” should never ring;
  • Measure levels of agility and responsiveness in seconds/minutes not hours/days;
  • Adopt the mindset of a service-oriented and change-responsive organization;
  • And understand that transition is evolutionary and make step-wise, evolutionary changes to get there.

To learn more about outside-in thinking for IT, view this webcast with Paul Chapman and Ian Clayton.

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

How to Manage Your Cloud: Lessons and Best Practices Direct from CloudOps Experts

Rich Benoit, a Consulting Architect at VMware, and Kurt Milne, VMware’s Director of CloudOps Marketing, are experts when it comes to managing cloud infrastructures. But they didn’t acquire their expertise overnight. When it comes to cloud management, the process of transitioning can take time and leave even seasoned IT pros scratching their heads, asking, “What should I do first? How do I get started?”

Join Rich and Kurt this Thursday, December 12 at 10am PT as they share the fruits of their experience as cloud managers. This webinar will dive into tangible changes that organizations need to make to be cloud-ready, including how to:

• Introduce new, specialized roles into the equation
• Improve event, incident, and problem management processes
• Establish analytics to provide visibility into the cloud

Wondering what to do and how to get started with your cloud infrastructure? Register now to save your spot!

We’ll also be live-tweeting the event via @VMwareCloudOps – follow us for updates. Also join the conversation by using the #CloudOps and #SDDC hashtags. We look forward to seeing you there!

Implementing a Cloud Infrastructure Is About Changing Mindsets: Three Ways Cloud Operations Can Help

By: Pierre Moncassin

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the first in a series of cloud operations customer roundtables in Frankfurt, Germany. The workshop was expertly run by my colleague Kevin Lees, principal consultant at VMware and author of “Organizing for the Cloud” as well as numerous VMware CloudOps blog posts.

Customer participation in the round table exceeded our expectations – and was highly revealing. It quickly became obvious that process and organization challenges ranked at the top of everyone’s priorities. They needed no convincing that a successful cloud deployment needs operations transformation in addition to leading-edge tools.

Even so, I was amazed how rapidly the conversation turned from technical strategy to organizational culture and, most importantly, changing mindsets.

I remember one customer team in particular outlining for us the challenge they face in operating their globally-distributed virtual infrastructure. They were acutely aware of the need to transform mindsets to truly leverage their VMware technology – and of how difficult that was proving to be.

For them, changing mindsets meant looking beyond traditional models, such as the monolithic CMDB (an idea deeply entrenched in physical IT). It also meant handling the cultural differences that come with teams based in multiple locations around the world: and, more than ever, the need to align teams with different functional objectives to common goals and gain commitments across boundaries.

To state the obvious, changing organizational mindsets is a vast topic, and many books have written about it (with many more to come, no doubt). But here I want to explore one specific question: How can cloud operations help IT leaders, like our customer above, in their journeys to mindset change?

For them, I see three main areas where cloud operations can bring quick wins:

1) Create Opportunities to Think Beyond ‘Classic’ IT Service Management

Part of the journey to cloud operations is to look beyond traditional frames of reference. For some of our customer teams, the CMDB remains an all-powerful idea because it is so entrenched in the traditional ITSM world. In the world of cloud infrastructure, the link between configuration items and physical locations becomes far less rigid.

It is more important to create a frame of reference around the service definition and everything needed to deliver the service. But adopting a service view does require change, and that’s not something that we always embrace.

So how do you encourage teams to “cross the chasm?” One simple step would be to encourage individuals to get progressively more familiar with VMware’s Cloud Operations framework (by reading ‘Organizing for the Cloud,’ for example).

After that, they could take on a concrete example via a walk-through of some key tools. For example, a VMware vCenter Operations Manager demo can illustrate how a cloud infrastructure can be managed in a dynamic way. It would show how dashboards automatically aggregate multiple alerts and status updates. Team members would see how built-in analytics can automatically identify abnormal patterns (signaling possible faults) in virtual components wherever they are physically located. A demo of vCloud Automation Center’s use of blueprints to automate provisioning of full application stacks would show how new tools that leverage abstraction can help break through process-bound procedures that were developed for more physical environments.

All of this would build familiarity with, and likely excitement at, the possibilities inherent in cloud-based systems.

2) Break Down Silos with the Organizational Model

A key principle of VMware’s cloud operations approach is to break down silos by setting up a Center of Excellence dedicated to managing cloud operations. You can read more about how to do that in this post by Kevin Lees.

The main point, though, is that instead of breaking processes up by technology domain (e.g. windows/unix etc.) or by geography, Cloud Operations emphasizes a consistency of purpose and focus on the service delivered that is almost impossible to achieve in a siloed organizational structure.

Simply by creating a Cloud Infrastructure Operation Center of Excellence, you are creating a tool with which you can build the unity that you need.

3) Boost Team Motivation

Lastly, although a well-run cloud infrastructure should in itself add considerable value to any set of corporate results, don’t forget the influence held by individual team members facing a change in their work practice.

In particular, consider their likely answer to the question “What’s in it for me?”

Factors that might positively motivate team members include:

  • Acquiring new skills in leading-edge technologies and practices (including VMware certifications, potentially)
  • Contributing to a transformation of the IT industry
  • Being part of a well-defined, well-respected team e.g. a Center of Excellence.

So, remember to make that case where you can.

Here, then, are three key ways in which you can leverage cloud operations to help change mindsets:

  1. Understand that moving to cloud is a journey. Every person has their own pace. Build gradual familiarity both with new tools and concepts. Check out more of our CloudOps blog posts and resources!
  2. Build a bridge across cultural differences with the Center of Excellence model recommended by VMware CloudOps.
  3. Explain the benefits to the individual of making the jump to cloud e.g. being part of a new team, gaining new skills – and a chance to make history!

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