Tag Archives: VMworld

More Thoughts on the Benefits of Standardization

By: Pierre Moncassin

A couple of months back, Rohan Kalra and I looked at how modern IT organizations are helping their clients trade control over compute assets for control over business processes.

In the cloud era, we explained, IT can give developers and users immediate access to standard IT services that are accessed and then scaled on demand. By accepting this increased standardization, their users are gaining unprecedented agility at the business level.

For this to happen, though, IT consumers need to understand the business value they can reap by accepting increased standardization. If your job is to help them reach that understanding, here are three other points that might help you make the case:

1. The False Allure of Control Over Physical Assets

It’s good to be clear that in moving to standardized commodity compute resources, the associated loss in control over ‘nuts and bolts’ physical assets is much less of a problem than it might appear.

Traditional IT consumers might balk at the move, despite the real improvements it will bring to agility, because they like feeling in control of their technical environment. They might still feel the need for dedicated, physical servers that they can almost see and touch, for example. Or, they might still want an assigned applications team sitting in a nearby office that they can visit whenever a technical issue comes up.

But that ‘control’ can be both illusionary and restricting. When new business requirements come in and the existing infrastructure needs to evolve urgently, traditional IT consumers can find that:

  • They can’t respond to new requirements anywhere near fast enough
  • The cost of changing the environment they own is high, and even prohibitive
  • The current state of the infrastructure is only partially documented (or worse)

Moving to a cloud infrastructure (and, more generally, cloud services) does require that consumers let go of some control over the ‘nuts and bolts’ side of their IT. Instead of dedicated physical servers, for example, they may have to choose from a pool of virtual servers within a choice of standardized builds.

But what they gain massively outweighs that inconvenience: control over factors that really matter for the business. They now control which services to consume and when, for example. They gain choice over the cost and quality of these services, too. And they are agile in a way they have never been before.

2. The Problem of ad hoc Service Delivery

The move towards standardized service levels means moving away from ad hoc service delivery – where IT staff create tailored solutions to any problem that rears its head.

Ad hoc service can feel comfortable and become an entrenched custom. For example, we may be all-too happy with being able to walk over to the server administrator or service desk analyst from time to time for a ‘small’ request or fix. It can be hard to give up that kind of service – but it’s worth noting that ad hoc service delivery has a considerable downside, too.

Think about service levels. In organizations where the services are not standardized, SLAs might be severely out-of-date, or irrelevant – meaning there are no SLAs to speak of. Consumers instead just go directly to the IT staff for fixes or changes, a habit that makes planning a nightmare.

In moving to a cloud model, the consumer needs to shift from ad-hoc delivery to services with well-defined, standardized SLAs. Indeed, one of the first challenges in the journey to standardization is to accurately answer the question: ‘What service levels are we getting today?’

The primary benefit, though, is obvious. Service levels, commitments, and expectations are clearly outlined and therefore much more likely to be delivered and to match actual needs.

There is also a secondary benefit to standardization. It is more efficient to maintain and support a standardized service (with standard configurations and procedures) than an ad hoc one (sometimes featuring idiosyncrasies accumulated over decades)! I would call this a domino effect – standardizing one service can boost effectiveness and standardization in other areas.

Of course, the IT consumer might find that with standardized service levels, they can’t just call the IT staff directly to resolve an issue like they used to. But they also now know that if there is an incident after the usual IT staff are gone home, they can rely on resolution processes backed by well-defined SLAs.

3. Getting the Service Quality you Paid for

When moving towards a more standardized, cloud based service, it’s not just the true Service Levels that emerge, but also the true costs.

Standardizing the service means you can precisely define service cost versus quality. For example, a popular way to describe the quality/price ratio is to present the services in ‘Bronze, Silver and Gold’ flavors, each with a pricing band.

For some customers this can be the ‘Aha!’ moment where they realize that they may have been paying for ‘gold’ in the past, whilst actually getting ad hoc services closer to ‘Silver.’ And they might just decide the ‘Bronze’ quality does the job fine. Now that is a culture change!

Lesson learned: once the quality/price ratio comes into the light, you may not always need, or even want, to pay for ‘gold.’ It might be just fine to settle for ‘bronze’ once in a while, and to use the resulting savings to add value to your business elsewhere.

Summary

In sum, here are three more arguments for moving away from tightly controlled, ad hoc service delivery and towards delivering standardized services via the cloud:

  • There’s less value in controlling physical assets than your clients might think
  • Standardized service delivery is easier to plan around and more likely to reflect actual needs
  • With standardized service delivery you can make smart(er) budgeting trade offs

For more on this topic, join us at VMworld 2013 for the special session, Balancing Agility with Service Standardization: Easy to Say But Hard To Do (OPT5705).

The panel – featuring VMware’s Khalid Hakim, Paul Chapman, and Kurt Milne along with Dave Bartoletti of Forrester Research and Ian Clayton of Service Management 101 – will explore what works and what doesn’t when it comes to delivering standardized services that truly meet business needs.

Hope to see you there! For more CloudOps sessions at VMworld, check out our highlights of the Operations Transformations track.

Automated Development and Test in Private Cloud: Join VMUG CloudOps SIG Webinar 7/25

Are you an IT practitioner considering private cloud?

Hear from VMware IT leadership about what they learned using VMware products to build a private cloud on SDDC architecture. They will discuss how they transformed people, process, organization, structure, governance and financial model to make VMware’s private cloud IaaS successful. This Thursday, join Venkat Gopalakrishnan, Director of the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) and IT Transformation Initiatives, and Kurt Milne, Director of the VMware CloudOps Program for an exclusive webinar.

The webinar will cover:

  • SDLC lifecycle – supporting dev/test for 600 developers.
  • Using vCloud suite to automate end-to-end dev/test instance provisioning for complex application stacks.
  • Moving 4000 non-production dev/test VMs from traditional virtual to private cloud.
  • Improving agility and service quality, while also saving $6M in annual infrastructure and operating costs.

BONUS: This is a sneak peek of OPT5194 – VMware Private Cloud – Operations Transformation – one of the biggest sessions at VMworld 2013.

Register for this VMUG CloudOps SIG webinar today to see how you can take the private cloud from operational to transformational and learn how the private cloud can fit into your work environment. For a head start, take a look at our recent post, “Automated Deployment and Testing Big ‘Hairball’ Application Stacks” to hear more about the deployment from Venkat, one of the webinar’s speakers.

We will be also be live tweeting during the event via @VMwareCloudOps for anyone who is unable to attend the webcast. Feel free to join the conversation using the #CloudOps and #SDDC hashtags.

Automated Deployment and Testing Big ‘Hairball’ Application Stacks

By: Venkat Gopalakrishnan

What changes when you automate provisioning of complex, business-critical application stacks? Many good things, as it turns out.

As the director of IT Operations in VMware’s corporate IT team, I’m responsible for our portfolio of 140 enterprise applications. Some of these applications are mission critical and power the most important value chain activities we use to deliver value to our customers. My team’s customers are the 600 developers who update and modify our critical business applications on an ongoing basis. We support about 40 major development initiatives each year. For each initiative, we stand up a fully functional dev/test environment at multiple stages of the development lifecycle, before each project goes into production. Each time, it takes two to five weeks of calendar time for my team to stand up, functionally test and environmentally test each instance. During that time, developers (who are my customers) are forced to wait and become idle, or start on other projects that end up disrupting the flow of their efforts.

These are not simple deployments of a web server or Oracle database. Each instance contains full working copies of major applications like Oracle or Workday, as well as the supporting applications, middleware, databases, load balancers and integration points that are required to hand working copies of production systems to developers in order for them to do their work. See the below diagram of a typical dev/test instance we provision multiple times during 40 major development projects each year:

These complex instances can include many VMs. As a result, while we have roughly 500 production VMs, we have more than 4,000 non-production VMs related to these development projects.

Last year, using our vCloud Suite, VMware IT deployed a private cloud in a basic IaaS configuration and called it “OneCloud.” Just one year after its launch, there are now nine different internal groups (tenants) with over 35,000 VMs in OneCloud. By year’s end, we’ll have 12 tenants and 50,000 VMs! In fact, VMworld runs on OneCloud, as does our online training, global services and support. If a sales engineer gives you a VMware product demo, that demo instance is provisioned in OneCloud. The more tenants and workloads you add in OneCloud, the lower the cost per VM. As a result, the monthly cost per VM in OneCloud is much lower than the cost in the traditional datacenter environment we have been using for our 4,000 dev/test VMs.

This year, we started moving all 4,000 of our non-production enterprise application dev/test VMs to our private cloud. It offers basic Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). However, my team is still responsible for Operations related to these workloads: We monitor performance. We maintain instances during their lifecycle. We upgrade and patch components as needed, and we retire instances when development is done. The IaaS team provides resources on-demand and ensures that those resources are available and perform to SLA, but my team is responsible for everything else, including provisioning these complex instances.

We developed advanced capabilities using a range of products in the vCloud suite to automate provisioning and management of our non-production workloads on OneCloud, but not every tenant in OneCloud needs these advanced automation and management capabilities. If you deploy a working sales demo, you get one-click deployment from a stored VM image. But, in order to get the one-click deployment of big “hairball” enterprise application dev/test instances that we built for developers requires a more sophisticated solution. Our automation and management capabilities include multiple tools and manage work across dozens of steps. Provisioning a VM is one small step in a much bigger process.

So, what happened when we automated provisioning of these complex instances and moved to the private cloud?

  1. We will save $4.5M in annual infrastructure costs by moving 4,000 VMs to a low-cost private cloud;
  2. We will reduce our provisioning time of two to six weeks to only 24 hours, including functional and environmental testing – which will save us an additional $1.5M in operational costs;
  3. And (this is a big AND), we give back eight weeks of productivity improvement to 600 developers for every project. Now, when developers call and need a project started, we can finally say “yes” every time, regardless of how many other projects we are working on.

Developers are my customers – allowing my customers to shave two months off of a nine-month project and not saying “No, we are too busy?” That, as they say, is priceless!

So, how exactly did we do this?  What lessons did we learn using our own products?

To find out, join me during our VMUG CloudOps SIG webcast this Thursday, July 25th. I’ll share all the details about the operational changes we made to successfully deliver these benefits.

Also, if you’re attending VMworld, we’ll also go deep on the technical aspects of the automation, the management capabilities we developed, and the operational transformation changes that made it all work in the following sessions:

OPT5194 – Moving Enterprise Application Dev/Test to VMware’s internal Private Cloud- Operations Transformation

VSVC4948 – Moving Enterprise Application Dev/Test to VMware’s internal Private Cloud – Architecture, Implementation and Integration

Interested in more CloudOps sessions at VMworld? See our highlights of the Operations Transformation track. For more on automation, check out some of our previous blog posts:

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

CloudOps at VMworld – Operations Transformation Track

VMworld, taking place August 25th through August 29th in San Francisco, is the virtualization and cloud computing event of the year.

The Operations Transformation track offers 21 sessions designed to share real-world lessons learned about the changing IT Operations landscape in the Cloud era. Self-service provisioning, automation, tenant operations, hybrid cloud and SDDC architectures are all optimized when operations change.

You can find out how to get the most out of the latest VMware technology by attending sessions focused on these operations transformation topics. Some of the sessions include:

OPT5414 – Automating, Optimizing and Measuring Service Provisioning in a Hybrid Cloud

David Crane, Cloud Operations Consulting Architect, on service provisioning and how automated provisioning can help reduce costs, improve flexibility and agility, speed time to market and improve ROI of cloud deployments.

For more on this topic, check out our Friday Reading List on Orchestration and Automation.

OPT5705 – Balancing Agility with Service Standardization: Easy to Say But Hard To Do

A panel of seasoned IT experts, including VMware’s VP IT operations discuss what does and doesn’t work with service standardization, where services can be tailored to meet unique needs, best practices for driving a common service definition process across a set of constituents.

For more on standardization, check out our Friday Reading List on Standardization in the Cloud Era.

OPT5051 – Key Lessons Learned from Deploying a Private Cloud Service Catalog

John Dixon of GreenPages Technology Solutions discusses lessons learned from a recent project deploying a private cloud service catalog for a financial services firm.

John Dixon was a co-host in our last #CloudOpsChat on Reaching Common Ground When Defining Services. Check out some of his insights in the recap blog.

OPT5569 – Leveraging Hybrid Cloud to Transform Enterprise IT from a Cost Center to a Revenue Driver

What if you could transform a “cost center” into a consultative center of customer innovation? Learn how you can leverage hybrid cloud to turn your “cost center” into a revenue driver with Jeffrey Ton, SVP Corporate Connectivity & CIO, Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana and John Qualls, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Bluelock.

For more on this topic, read our webinar recap blog on 5 key steps to effective IT operations in a Hybrid world.

OPT4732 – Leveraging IT Financial Transparency to Drive Transformation

Achieving financial transparency is fundamental to IT transformation. This session shows you how to leverage IT financial transparency to drive the transformation your business needs.

Read Khalid Hakim’s recent blog on Calculating Your Cloud Service Costs for more on this subject.

OPT4689 – Operations Transformation – Expanding the Value of Cloud Computing

A forcing function for change, cloud computing helps IT organizations move away from focusing only on siloed technology challenges. Phil Richards and Ed Hoppitt explain how to expand the value of cloud computing.

Ed Hoppitt is also a writer for the VMware CloudOps blog. Check out his work here.

OPT5215 – Organizing for Cloud Operations – Challenges and Lessons Learned

Addressing the organizational changes that must take place for IT to successfully operate a cloud environment and  provide hybrid-cloud services, as well as lessons learned from customers who have experienced this change.

Want to learn more? Check out Kevin Lees’ 3-part series on this topic – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

OPT5489 – Pivot From Public Cloud to Private Cloud with vCloud and Puppet

Edward Newman and Mike Norris from EMC  explain how EMC has built a private cloud, pulled workloads back in from public cloud, and saved a bunch of money. Hard proof that private cloud is cheaper than public cloud.

OPT4963 – SDDC IT Operations Transformation: Multi-customer Lessons Learned

Technical account managers Valentin Hamburger and Bjoern Brundert of VMware share lessons learned from working with multiple customers, on how to overcome ancient, siloed IT processes and holistically enable your infrastructure to leverage an automated, policy-driven Datacenter.

OPT5697 – Symantec’s Real-World Experience with a VMware Software-Defined Data Center

Learn about the real-world experience of Symnatec’s IT organization who has deployed one of the world’s largest private clouds in a VMware-based Software-Defined Data Center.

OPT5474 – The Transformative Power and Business Case for Cloud Automation

Understand the terminology and the key success factors behind the concepts from two industry leading automation experts. Cut through the clutter and attend this session to learn from use cases that highlight the value of different types of automation, as well as proven approaches for building a business case for each.

Read this blog post by Kurt Milne for more information on task automation economics!

OPT5593 – Transforming IT to Community Cloud: A Canadian Federal Government Success Story

The story of Shared Services Canada, which scaled its private cloud to meet the needs of a community of 43 departments on a private vCloud deployment.

OPT5315 – Transform IT Into a Service Broker – Key Success Factors

The concept of an IT service broker is compelling. This session will explain key success factors in transforming IT into a service broker.

OPT5656 – VMware Customer Journey – Where are we with ITaaS and Ops Transformation in the Cloud Era

Kurt Milne Director of CloudOps at VMware, and Mike Hulme, Director of Enterprise Marketing at VMware, discuss where we are with ITaaS and Ops Transformation in the cloud era. Understand what your peers are doing that could benefit you, and learn what drives value across SMB, Commercial and Enterprise accounts on multiple continents.

Read more about how CloudOps represents a new way of managing IT in the Cloud Era.

OPT5194 – VMware Private Cloud – Operations Transformation

Venkat Gopalakrishnan, Director of IT at VMware offers operations transformation lessons learned from VMware’s own vCloud deployment. Ask the expert.  He has both VMware product and operations expertise.

We hope this guide will help you put together an unforgettable VMworld schedule!

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