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Tag Archives: “cloud operations”

The Cloud Architect: Change Champion for the New IT

By Rohan Kalra

RohanKalra-crop“What direction should I take my career with all the changes happening in IT?”

I get this question a lot when working with my clients’ IT teams. The old way of doing things needs to change for the new IT. From an IT operating model standpoint, that means becoming more service-focused. And that’s not all that’s changing—roles within the IT organization are, too.

As practitioners, we need to adapt. For me, it’s always much more fun to be the change champion, imagining how things could be done differently and in completely new ways, than to get left behind in the old world.

I discuss adapting to be a cloud architect in this short video below. There’s also an infographic that ran earlier in this blog that you might be interested in—The Forecast Is Sunny for Cloud Careers—with stats on what’s driving demand for IT professionals with cloud-related skills.

I’d be interested in hearing from you—@kalrarohan.

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Rohan Kalra is an operations architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice. Follow him on Twitter @kalrarohan

 

How to Take Charge of Incident Ticket Ping Pong

By Pierre Moncassin

Pierre Moncassin-cropWhen incident tickets are repeatedly passed from one support team to another, I like to describe it as a “ping pong” situation. Most often this is not a lack of accountability or skills within individual teams. Each team genuinely fails to see the incident as relevant to their technical silo. They each feel perfectly legitimate in either assigning the ticket to another team, or even assigning it back to the team they took it from.

And the ping pong game continues.

Unfortunately for the end user, the incident is not resolved whilst the reassignments continue. The situation can easily escalate into SLA breaches, financial penalties, and certainly disgruntled end users.

How can you prevent such situations? IT service management (ITSM) has been around for a long while, and there are known mitigations to handle these situations. Good ITSM practice would dictate some type of built-in mechanisms to prevent incidents being passed back and forth. For example:

  • Define end-to-end SLAs for incident resolution (not just KPIs for each resolution team), and make each team aware of these SLAs.
  • Configure the service desk tool to escalate automatically (and issue alerts) after a number of reassignments, so that management becomes quickly aware of the situation.
  • Include cross-functional resolution teams as part of the resolution process (as is often done for major incident situations).

In my opinion there is a drawback to these approaches—they take time and effort to put in place; incidents may still fall through the cracks. But with a cloud management platform like VMware vRealize Suite, you can take prevention to another level.

A core reason for ping pong situations often lies in the team’s inability to pinpoint the root cause of the incident. VMware vRealize Operations Manager (formerly known as vCenter Operations Manager) provides increased visibility into the root cause, through root cause analysis capabilities. Going one step further, vRealize Operations Manager gives advance warning on impending incidents—thanks to its analytical capabilities. In the most efficient scenario, support teams are warned of the impending incident and its cause, well ahead of the incident being raised. Most of the time, the incident ping pong game should never start.

Takeaways:

  • Build a solid foundation with the classic ITSM approaches based on SLAs and assignment rules.
  • Leverage proactive resolution, and take advantage of enhanced root cause analysis that vRealize Operations Manager offers via automation to reduce time wasted on incident resolution.


Pierre Moncassin is an operations architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice and is based in Taipei. Follow @VMwareCloudOps on Twitter for future updates.

 

Incorporating DevOps, Agile, and Cloud Capabilities into Service Design

By Reg Lo

ReginaldLo-cropShadow IT is becoming more prevalent because the business demands faster time-to-market and the latest innovations—and business stakeholders believe their internal IT department is behind the times or hard to deal with (or both!). The new IT requires new ways of designing and quickly deploying services that will meet and exceed customer requirements.

Check out my recent webcast to learn how to design IT services that:
• Take advantage of a DevOps approach
• Embody an Agile methodology to improve time-to-market
• Leverage cloud capabilities, such as elastic capacity and resiliency
• Remove the desire of the business to use shadow IT

BrightTalk webinar

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Reg Lo is the Director of the Service Management practice for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in California.

 

 

What Metrics Should Be Measured for Change Management?

By Kai Holthaus

kai_holthaus-cropThat, of course, depends (favorite answer of consultants everywhere…). As an IT executive, start by asking yourself what you want to achieve. Once you select a critical success factor (CSF), key performance indicator (KPI) or associated metrics and start to report on those metrics, you will see two types of behavior within your IT organization.

Most of your employees will want to be good team players, and they will work to meet the desirable metrics (and avoid undesirable ones). For example, if you start reporting on the number of changes implemented without proper authorization (which could be discovered through configuration audits), and you start disciplining staff for implementing changes without authorization, you will see the number of unauthorized changes go down (in most cases). However, you will also find that some staff will try to game the system by implementing changes without proper authorization, then making it look as if (in your tracking system) they’d had the authorization.

Also keep in mind, that metrics can have unintended consequences. Sticking with the example of tracking (and trying to reduce) the number of unauthorized changes, you may be surprised to see the backlog of changes waiting to be approved grow, because your approval process was not yet ready to handle all the change that was going on in your environment. So, it’s a good practice to be prepared to adjust your metrics accordingly. This also applies to metrics that have been in place for a while. If you have driven the number of authorized changes to zero, and have held it there for the last 12 months, you may want to consider adjusting your focus to other issues (but don’t lose sight completely…unauthorized changes can quickly creep back in).

Finally, make sure that you can actually measure the things you need to measure to report on CSFs and KPIs. Setting a goal of no unauthorized changes is laudable but will remain a goal until you have found a way to detect unauthorized changes.

To conclude, here are some examples of KPIs to consider for your change management process:
kai graphic

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Kai Holthaus is a transformation consultant with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Oregon.

Making IT Go Faster – Forrester Research Sheds Light on How

By Kurt Milne

kurtmilne-cropToday’s IT managers face increasing pressure to be more responsive and move faster. However, most IT organizations have built their IT organization to promote control and safety. People, process, and tools have traditionally been deployed to strictly limit change in order to optimize service quality and efficiency. In fact many of the most successful IT organizations have built their reputation by deploying elements of ITIL or other control frameworks to ensure critical system uptime.

Latest Forrester Research lays out a path forward for IT organizations that want to increase agility without losing control

orrester coverIt is easy to say – “Let’s use the cloud to move faster and be more responsive to the business.” But how do those with investment in ITIL, or who have thoughtfully developed process control methodologies, adapt to new demands for speed? Demands forcing IT to do things it may not be comfortable with? A new Forrester study based on interviews with 265 IT professionals in North America and Europe sheds some light on the best path forward.

Forrester found that:

  • IT organizations are quickly moving to on-demand, dynamic IT infrastructure
  • Users demand faster provisioning and want IT to be easy to consume
  • Those companies that have already deployed more dynamic change models are moving away from a centralized CMDB strategy
  • Developers are the primary consumers of ready-to-use application middleware stacks
  • IT can support rapid change without sacrificing configuration, compliance, and governance controls

If you have investment in IT process maturity and are looking to improve IT agility and deploy more automation without sacrificing control, then read the full Forrester report.
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Follow @kurtmilne on Twitter.

It’s Time for IT to Come Out of the Shadows

Chances are shadow IT is happening right now at your company. No longer content waiting for their companies’ IT help, today’s employees are taking action into their own hands by finding and using their own technology to solve work challenges as they arise—a trend that likely isn’t fading into the shadows anytime soon.

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A New Angle on the Classic Challenge of Retained IT

By Pierre Moncassin

Pierre Moncassin-cropWhen discussing the organization models for managing cloud infrastructure with customers, I have come across situations where some if not all infrastructure services are outsourced to a third party. In these situations my customers often ask – does your (VMware) operating model still apply? Should I retain cloud-related skills in-house? If so, which ones?

The short answer is: Yes. The advice I give my customers is that their IT organization should establish a core organization modeled on the “tenant operations” team as defined in Organizing for the Cloud, a VMware white paper by my colleague Kevin Lees.

Let’s assume a relatively simple scenario where a single outsourcer is providing “standard” infrastructure services — such as computing, storage, backups. In this scenario, the outsourcer has accepted to transform at least some of its services towards software-defined data center (SDDC), which is by no means an easy step (I will return to that point later).

For now let’s also assume a cooperative situation where customer and outsourcer are collaboratively working towards a cloud model. The question is — what skills and functions should the customer retain in-house? Which skills can be handed over to the outsourcer?

The question is a classic one. In traditional infrastructure outsourcing, we would talk about a “retained IT” organization.  For the SDDC environment, here are some skill groups that I believe have to be preserved within the core, in-house team:

  • Service Design and Self-service Provisioning is clearly a skillset to keep in-house. The in-house team must be able to work with the business to define services end-to-end, but the team should also be able to grasp accurately the possibilities that automation offers with software such as VMware vCloud Automation Center.  Though I am not suggesting that the core team needs to be expert in all aspects of workflows, APIs or scripting, they do need a solid grasp of the possibilities of automation.
  • Process Automation and Optimization.  A solid working knowledge of automation software is useful but not enough.  The in-house teams are required to decide which processes to automate and how. They need to make business-level decisions. Which processes are worth automating? What is the benefit of automation versus its cost?
  • Security and Compliance is often a top priority for cloud adopters. The cloud-based services need to align with enterprise policies and standards.  The retained IT function must be able to demonstrate compliance and where needed, enforce those standards in the cloud infrastructure.
  • Service Level Management and Trend Analysis. Whilst the retained IT organization does not need to be involved in the day-to-day monitoring and troubleshooting, they need to be able to monitor key service levels. Specifically, the business users will be highly sensitive to the performance of some business-critical applications. The retained IT organization will need to keep enough knowledge of these applications and of performance monitoring tools to ensure that application performance is measured adequately.
  • Application Life Cycle (DevOps). We have assumed in our scenario an infrastructure-only outsourcing — the skills for application development remaining in-house.  In the SDDC environment, the tenant operations team will work closely with the application development teams. Amongst other skills, the retained IT will need detailed knowledge not only of application provisioning, but also the architectures, configuration dependencies, and patching policies required to maintain those applications.

I have reviewed skills groups needed as more automation is used, but there will be less reliance on skills that relate to routine tasks and trouble-shooting. Skills that can typically be outsourced include:

  • Routine scripting and monitoring
  • System (middleware) configuration
  • Routine network administration

The diagram below is a (very simplified) summary of the evolution from traditional retained IT to tenant operations for SDDC environments.

Retained IT modelIt is also worth noting that the transformation from traditional infrastructure outsourcing to SDDC is a far from obvious step from the point of view of an outsourcer. Why should the outsourcer invest time and cost to streamline services, if the end customer has already contracted to pay for the full cost of service? Gaining buy-in from the outsourcer to transform its model can be a significant challenge. Therefore it is prudent to key to gain acceptance either:
–  early in the contract negotiations, so that the provider can build in a cloud delivery model in its service offering,
– or towards the end of a contract when the outsourcer is often highly motivated to obtain a renewal.

Finally outsourcers may initiate their own technology refresh programs, which can create a win-win situation when both sides are prepared to invest in modernization towards SDDC.

3 Key Take-Aways

  1. Organizations that undertake their journey to SDDC with an outsourcer are advised to establish a core SDDC  organization including most tenant operations skills; a key focus is to leverage automation (whilst routine, repetitive tasks can be outsourced).
  2. The exact profile of the tenant operations (retained IT) will depend on the scope of the outsourcing contract.
  3. Early contract negotiations, renewals, or technology refresh can create opportunities to encourage an outsourcer to move towards the SDDC model.

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Pierre Moncassin
is an operations architect with VMware’s Global Operations Transformation Practice and is based in the UK. Follow @VMwareCloudOps on Twitter for future updates.

VMware vCenter Operations Manager Users: Raise Your Hands!

Keng-Leong-Choong-cropBy Choong Keng Leong

I innocently asked attendees in a workshop I was delivering at one of my clients, “Who uses VMware vCenter Operations Management Suite in your company?“ I got two simple answers: “Cloud administrator” or “VM administrator.”  This triggered me to write this blog and hopefully will change your thinking if you have the same answer.

The vCenter Operations Management Suite consists of four components:

  • vCenter Operations Manager : Allows you to monitor and manage the performance, capacity and health of your SDDC infrastructure, operating systems and applications
  • vCenter Configuration Manager : Enables you to automate configuration management across virtual and physical servers, and continuously assess them for compliance with IT policies, regulatory, and security compliance
  • vCenter Hyperic : Helps to monitor operating systems, databases, and applications
  • vCenter Infrastructure Navigator : Automatically discovers and visualizes application components and infrastructure dependencies

If I were to map the vCenter Operations Management Suite to the IT processes it can support, it would look like the matrix shown in Table 1:

Table 1: A Possible vCenter Operations Management Suite to Process Mapping

What Table 1 also implies is that multiple roles will be using and accessing vCenter Operations Manager, or be a recipient of its outputs, i.e., reports. For example, the IT Director can access the vCenter Operations Manager Dashboard to view the overall health of the infrastructure. The Application Support team accesses it via a Custom Dashboard to understand applications status and performance. The IT Compliance Manager reviews the compliance status of IT systems on the vCenter Operations Manager Dashboard and gets more details from the vCenter Configuration Manager to initiate remediation of the systems.

Table 2 below shows a possible list of roles accessing the vCenter Operations Management Suite.

Table 2: Possible List of Roles Using vCenter Operations Management Suite

Tables 1 and 2 illustrate clearly that vCenter Operations Management Suite is not just another lightweight app for the cloud or VM administrator — it supports multiple IT operational processes and roles.

Taking a step further, you need to embed vCenter Operations Management Suite into operational procedures to take maximum advantage of the tools’ full potential and integrated approach to performance, capacity, and configuration management. To draw an analogy –  if you deploy a new SAP system without defining the triggers or use cases for a user to access the SAP system; establishing the procedural steps on which modules to access and how to navigate in the system; what to input; how to query and report and so on; it is unlikely the system will be rolled out successfully.

Although vCenter Operations Management Suite is not as complex, the concept is the same. You need to define procedures with tight linkage to the tools to ensure they are used consistently and in the way it is designed or configured for.

I hope that my blog motivates you to start thinking about transforming your IT operations to make full use of the capabilities of your VMware technology investment.

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Choong Keng Leong is an operations architect with VMware Professional Services and is based in Singapore. You can connect with him on LinkedIn

How to Create a More Accurate, Useful, and Equitable Service Costing Process

By Khalid Hakim

In my last post, I described the pressing need for a more effective IT service costing process (as a solution to the pressing need for tighter business/IT alignment!). The question now… is how.

How can companies create a service costing process that is fast, accurate, transparent, granular, fair, and consistent—without introducing yet another time-consuming and expensive project to the IT docket?

To answer this question, I’ll use a real-world example—a company that has recently been through the process and achieved excellent results.  I won’t name the company but I can assure you it’s a real enterprise, and the results were also quite real. I’ll refer to it as “The Company.”

In the past, The Company charged for IT services by simply allocating the total IT costs among service consumers based on the number of desktops and laptops they used. This “lump sum” cost allocation of course led to the perception that “IT is always expensive.” The Company knew it needed to move to a more service-oriented, customer-centric model.

Our team provided guidance in setting up a better service costing process. The implementation began with three key steps:

1. Create a service-based cost model diagram.
A cost diagram depicts the flow of IT costs from the general ledger or cost sources all the way to the services being provisioned—in such a way that IT can present consumers with a statement showing all service costs.

2. Develop a service-based cost allocation strategy.
The Company already had a cost allocation process in place, but it did not deal with service-to-service cost allocation. So The Company’s lump-sum allocation did not demonstrate any IT value but only the cost of IT when running the business. That’s why a service-to-service costing method was needed that would account for everything:

  • Servers and their related hardware
  • Network and security allocation to servers
  • Data center, storage and data center facilities costs
  • Software and enterprise license agreements
  • Support and operations contracts
  • IT project costs
  • Labor costs
  • IT overhead

This way The Company was able to fully load IT costs into services being delivered and transfer these costs to the business.

3. Develop a service-based cost classification strategy.
The Company classified all IT service costs into the following categories:

  • In/Out Service Costs: All direct service-related costs should be part of a service cost, while non-related service costs should be part of accounting period costs.
  • Fixed vs. Variable costs. Variable costs vary based on usage or time (i.e. data center utility bills, support tickets, or service consumption). Fixed costs are fixed regardless of service or resource usage (i.e.  software license costs, hardware purchases and support contracts).
  • Direct vs. Indirect. A direct cost is directly related to a service and can be easily traced. Indirect costs are indirectly related to a service and are typically spread over a number of services.
  • CapEx vs. OpEx. Capital expenditures are major expenses incurred whose costs have to be depreciated (split over) over the useful life of an IT asset, while operational expenditures are incurred periodically.

After the strategic IT/business processes were carried out, service-specific tasks began. These included defining and charting individual services, developing service-specific cost packages, and tracking and managing service costs over time.

Next it was time to consider the “people” aspects of service costing. Technology cannot provide a solution on its own; it must be developed and deployed in conjunction with stakeholders.

Along the same lines, handling IT financial management (ITFM) activities is not a one-man show. At The Company, the following roles were defined, along with specific responsibilities:

  • Financial Controller
  • IT Financial Manager
  • Service Manager
  • IT Manager
  • CIO
  • Customer Relationship Manager
  • VP of Infrastructure Services

Developing a roles/responsibilities chart (known as a RACI) then provided a concise and easy way to track who does what along with the level of contribution and accountability.

Next came identifying the right technologies to use in the service costing process. In this case The Company made a strategic investment with VMware and deployed the VMware IT Business Management Suite. This is the technology that will help them gain cost transparency, align with the business, enable the CIO’s transformation agenda, and control and optimize the IT budget and costs.

In addition, The Company has implemented basic CIO and Service Manager dashboards to provide insight into the financial performance of all managed services. The dashboards define the visual layout of the user experience. Each dashboard is composed of frames that display customized information designed for the intended user. The dashboards enable the CIO, IT Financial Manager, and Service Managers to gain access to cost information and make data-driven decisions.

SCP white paper coverToday The Company’s IT department is well on its way to being more business-oriented and service-oriented through better service costing. The Company can now trace IT costs from general ledger all the way to all business units consuming IT services. The new costing model also lays out the key roles and responsibilities, and VMware technology helps provide cost automation, transparency, and service-based cost modeling.

I’d encourage you to get full details about the service costing process outlined in this blog post by reading my white paper, Real IT Transformation Requires a Real IT Service Costing Process.”

Until next time—may all of your IT service costs be allocated with fine granularity and full transparency!
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Khalid Hakim is an operations architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice. You can follow him on Twitter @KhalidHakim47.

VMworld-graphicAnd if you’re heading to VMworld, don’t miss Khalid’s session #OPT1572!

Accelerate Your IT Transformation — How to Build Service-based Cost Models with VMware IT Business Management (ITBM)
A recent VMware survey showed 75% of IT decision makers list the number one challenge in IT financial management as lack of understanding of the true cost of IT services. ITBM experts and VMware Operations Transformation Architects Khalid Hakim and Gary Roos shed light on this alarming figure, and give practical advice for obtaining in-depth knowledge of the cost of IT services so you can provide cost transparency back to the business.

When you visit the VMworld 2014 Schedule Builder, be sure to check out the SDDC > Operations Transformation track for these and other sessions to help you focus on all the aspects of IT transformation.

 

How to Drive Tighter Alignment Between Business and IT

Many IT stakeholders have limited trust in the IT organization as a result of the way it has operated in the past. In this short video, Kevin Lees shares tips on how IT can deal with this real-world problem that is almost always overlooked.

Kevin Lees is principal architect of the VMware Global Operations Transformation Practice. Coming to VMworld? Don’t miss his session OPT1547 – Organizing for the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC): Practical Advice for Practitioners

Driving Biz Alignment front coverRelated: Read Kevin’s recent post 5 Ways Cloud Automation Drives Greater Cost and Operational Transparency and download eBook Driving Business Alignment Through IT Transformation for more information.