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Tag Archives: VMware vRealize Operations

Increasing the Adoption of vRealize Operations Across Your IT Organization

Alberto Martinez-cropBy Alberto Martinez

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:

vRealize Operations

  1. 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.
  2. Produce an assessment report with the key findings & early state recommendations.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

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Alberto Martinez is an operations architect with the VMware Operations Transformation EMEA practice and is based in Spain.

Turning IT Operations Management Dreams Into Reality

No one would blame you for dreaming about better IT operations management. You might dream up ways to make it smarter—say by anticipating problems and troubleshooting them in virtual and physical environments before they even occur.

Learn why this is no pipe dream in this infographic about VMware vRealize Operations Insight, a unified management solution with predictive analytics for performance management, capacity optimization, and real-time log analytics.

Turning IT Ops Mgmt Dreams Into Reality

Transforming Operations and Perception of the IT Organization

By David Crane

dcrane-cropA recent engagement with a long-established telecommunications firm presented a huge challenge—the solution for which is a great example of how operations transformation can drive technical transformation. The firm’s customer base spans various global regions, each of which presented a different customer experience. The IT organization functioned in extremely siloed environments, having grown organically over 25 years to support an aging, fragmented infrastructure.

A frustrated but motivated CIO laid down the following requirements for the VMware consulting services team, to be met over an aggressive six-month timeline:

  • Reduce operational costs
  • Improve agility
  • Provide more service offerings
  • Help IT become a service broker and eliminate shadow IT
  • Build a flexible architecture to meet the needs of the business
  • Reduce total number of physical data centers
  • Gain more control and compliance of IT infrastructure environments

The internal IT team lacked the expertise and resources required to implement a software-defined data center (SDDC) solution. Their service request process was time-consuming, manual, and inconsistent. Add to that an average provisioning time for a full end-to-end server of eight weeks, and it’s no surprise that internal customers were seeking out external solution providers for their IT needs.

The VMware team set out to remedy all of this with the following solution:

  • Implement a production SDDC platform
  • Make self-service automated provisioning the first available service
  • Assess the customers’ operating processes
  • Introduce an optimized organizational structure
  • Integrate operations transformation and technical implementation
  • Take a phased approach to the project with clearly defined milestones to deliver immediate results
  • Ensure the VMware team team worked closely with internal groups

Transforming the Operating Model
Breaking down the siloed IT organization, and introducing horizontal, cross-departmental communications was the first step to allow the customer to become service-focused.

The team did have the business analyst concept, but the analysts sat outside the IT organization. They didn’t understand IT and weren’t incentivized to do so. As a result, rogue users were going out and doing things themselves, leading to compliance and governance issues.

We introduced the concept of infrastructure operations and tenant operations. These were cross-functional teams that talk to each other—a virtual center of excellence within the IT organization. As part of this organizational change, we brought in new roles, the two most important being the customer relationship manager and the service owner. We brought customer relationship management back into IT, so the person in the role started to understand IT and what they could deliver (and how) against customer requirements.

One of these requirements was the revelation that customers did not really have an interest in availability.  This was not because they didn’t care, but simply because IT over the years has become robust enough that availability is expected.  What their customers really cared about was the speed, and standardization, of the service provisioning lifecycle, as it was this that allowed them to quickly respond to market demands, and support the business objective to be the first to market with new products.

This led to a technical requirement as the IT organization’s customers requested to see this information in a dashboard format, so that proactive monitoring of the provisioning process could take place.

Transforming Infrastructure Operations
The service owners played a key role in saying VMware vRealize Operations only looks at infrastructure—this resulted in a demand to change things within VMware vRealize Automation.

However, the dashboards needed to be delivered through vRealize Operations. To meet the technical requirement, we focused on the self-service provisioning portal and allowed consumers to monitor the status of their ordered services via that portal. To do that, we needed a dashboard in VMware vRealize Operations to monitor the KPIs involved in service provisioning. In order to build the dashboard to monitor provisioning time, we had to create a custom solution using vRealize Automation. The technical solution was necessary to enable the operating framework architecture and organizational model to support it.

Dashboard Solution
We ended up with a provisioned resources dashboard as shown in figure 1 below that lists each virtual machine (VM) and the number of minutes it took to be provisioned. Less than 30 minutes shows green, less than two hours shows yellow, and over two hours is red. It also shows the average, minimum, and maximum times to provision.

Time to Provision

Figure 1:  Provisioned resources dashboard

The dashboard also enabled the customer to use data to feed back into the service life cycle process. For example, they started to understand service demand. Service owners—who were expected to forecast demand for services—could now do so with more accuracy. Now that the team was forecasting capacity demand more accurately, they were able to increase credibility by sharing this information with the infrastructure team. And ultimately they saved money by having a better handle on demand.

The dashboard also allowed IT to develop proactive operational processes.  On several occasions the service owners started to see a degradation in performance of the provisioning process, while the infrastructure monitoring dashboards were still showing a healthy ecosystem.

On further analysis, changes to the underlying infrastructure, whilst keeping in tolerance and SLA for the IT infrastructure teams, were having an accumulative impact further down the chain to the service provisioning process.

The provisioning dashboard and further integration with the customers’ service desk platform and event, incident, and problem management processes allowed the IT infrastructure teams to tune the change management process so that service provisioning would not be affected.

In the end, IT became service-oriented because of the dashboard. Because internal customers could use that tool to see the incredible accuracy with which the IT team was meeting its 30-minutes-or-less goal, it had a huge impact on the way the IT was perceived within business. IT’s credibility skyrocketed, and suddenly it became easier to drive things like the “cloud first” policy within the organization.

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