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Tag Archives: Data Center

3 Steps to Put You on the Path to the Software-Defined Data Center

The software-designed data center (SDDC) was the hot topic at VMworld 2013, which wrapped up this week. Our consultants and the VMworld speakers helped answer lots of SDDC questions, but we know that there are still plenty out there—especially for those of you who couldn’t join us in San Francisco.

To begin at the beginning: How do we define the software-defined data center? As VMware Professional Services Chief Architect John Steiner points out in this video, SDDC is not just virtualization of servers, networks, and storage. He instead describes it as “cloud done right,” and outlines the other processes that allow IT organizations to realize the full benefits of a software-defined data center architecture.

We know organizations are also looking for specific steps to help them design an efficient transition to the software-defined data center. In this second video, John explains three key questions for organizations to answer, pointing out, “It’s not about doing it all at once—it’s about understanding how I can drive virtualization and server definition into all the key components in all my endpoints.”

For more details on getting the full benefits of the software-defined data center, please contact VMware Technology Consulting Services. They will be happy to help!

Have You Included Education in Your SDDC Transformation Budget?

By Ryan Dohm, VMWare Professional Services Consultant

This may be the most incredible time in history for emerging technologies and integrated information systems. As a VMware consultant, I see many new and seasoned companies growing larger and more profitable in what most consider “hard economic” times. On numerous occasions I see these environments becoming so advanced and “state-of-the-art” that the support staff fall behind the technology.

Successful companies must upgrade to the latest core systems to be able to run the newest versions of software demanded by their customers. As my peer David Gallant mentions in his article, as Tier 1 applications (database, web and unified communication) advance, they require the latest virtual hardware platforms, plus virtualized servers, network and storage systems. This is pushing the  “standard datacenter” to evolve into the “software defined data center” (SDDC).

Having the latest software and hardware systems in the data center provides many advantages, including:

  1. Faster, more efficient hardware that handles more users with a smaller physical footprint
  2. The ability to run the latest applications, allowing mobile devices and “always-on” resources
  3. Information systems can offer more services with fewer support staff to maintain availability

Unfortunately, more than half of the companies I visit are squandering the advantages of their data center upgrades by failing to adequately prepare the IT staff tasked to run and configure the new hardware/software. Time and again, the technical personnel I interact with request professional training to provide them with the skills they need to successfully support the new environment. Too often they are struggling to keep their heads above water as the vendors implement new software.

While the data center becomes very efficient, the operations side lags behind until management realizes the importance of increasing the budget to train IT staff. In my opinion, the architecting of a new technology should include a plan to educate the staff supporting the new environment after its implementation. This is too rarely the case.

Movement to the SDDC can also be hindered by counterproductive ideas lodged within the technical teams themselves—like the “silo” mentality. In other words, if a problem doesn’t specifically match the support staff’s job description, it is “not their job” to address the issue. (My eyes roll as I type that.)

This “old IT” paradigm must shift to meet the needs of the new SDDC reality. The silos must be rebuilt into a large integrated collection of knowledge resources. The old lines, “this is what I was hired for” and “this is what I am required to do” are now relics of the past. Many technical staff cringe at the idea of change. I encourage them to remember that, with new technology comes new and exciting opportunity. It’s up to today’s technical support staff to become a more versatile asset to their teams—and, luckily, they have many tools to help them do this.

One I’m obviously fond of is VMware’s comprehensive professional services capabilities, which provide timely implementation of solutions, as well as hands-on experience to the operational teams expected to maintain that solution. Although VMware offers an array of pre-defined professional service engagements, it also allows customers to define an entirely custom scope for any services desired. For a comprehensive list of services, please visit www.VMware.com/services/full-services-portfolio.html

Ryan Dohm has worked at VMware for more than a year with the End User Computing team, driving Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, Data Center virtualization and Private/Hybrid Cloud environments engagements.

Knowing Your Applications is Key to Successful Data Center Transformation

By Eiad Al-Aqqad, VMWare Professional Services Consultant

This decade has offered more Data Center transformation options than most IT Professionals were able to keep up with. Virtualization has dramatically changed the way things were traditional done in the datacenter. Having the largest Data Center is not something to brag about anymore, as it might be a symbol of inefficiencies. Next, the Cloud Computing storm hit the datacenter and while IT Professionals started to digest it, the Software Defined Data Center concept has evolved. While each of these Data Center Transformations has offered great advantages to adopters, it had its own challenges and quite frankly, planning was not optional for a successful implementation.

Planning is critical for Data Center transformation and does not stop at the infrastructure planning, but extends to understanding your applications.

Most organizations are good at conducting the infrastructure portion of planning, but have difficulties in planning their applications for transformation. I’ve witness many transformation efforts where the customer team has a hard time answering these  simple questions:

  1.      What are your Applications Priorities?
  2.      What are your Applications RPO/RTO and how are you planning to achieve them?
  3.      What are the security requirements of each of your APPs ?
  4.      What does your Application Dependency look like?

It is critical to know your applications well enough before starting any transformation effort. The four questions above are a good start. While the first three questions can normally be answered by collecting bits and pieces from contacting the right SMEs & business units, Application Dependency is more challenging and is what I want to focus on in this article. For more thoughts on workload classifications, please check out my colleague David’s post:  Business as Usual with Tier 1 Business Critical Applications? – Not!

Application Dependency has proved to be more challenging due to many reasons including:

  1.      Applications Dependencies aren’t static and can change on daily basis.
  2.      Most organizations have inherited legacy applications with very little   documentation.
  3.      Current Change Management systems while helping to document changes are still lagging when it comes to documenting Applications Dependencies.
  4.      Application Dependencies are always filled with unexpected surprises that no one wants to admit, like having a critical application dependent on a DB running on a PC hidden under a developer’s desk.

While Application Dependency Planning without the right tools might be challenging, the point is, before any data center transformation, thorough planning and investigation is required for a successful end game. Tools definitely help with your efforts but even more importantly, making sure you ask yourself the questions above is really the first step before anything.

At last the good news is the availability of tools and services that help automate the process of creating an accurate application dependency mapping of your environment.  ADM & the Virtualization Assessment service (includes the use of Capacity Planning & Application Dependency Planner (ADP)) offered by VMware can be quite handy in creating an Application Dependency Mapping for applications within your environment. For more information about ADP, please visit:  My VMware Application Dependency Planner Post

Eiad AlAqqad is a Senior Consultant within the SDDC Professional Services practice. He has been an active consultant using VMware technologies since 2006. He is VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX#89), as well an an expert in VMware vCloud, vSphere, & SRM.