By Ford Donald, Principal Architect, GTS PSE, VMware
In my last post, I introduced an optimized consulting approach called the SDDC Assess, Design, and Deploy Service. The post focused on the technical blueprint, designed with common core elements, and the flexibility for custom implementation using modular elements. In this post, we’ll explore the process improvements that lead to holistic, mutually beneficial engagements.
The Work Stream Process
The six-step process takes into account both our prescribed starting point—the technical foundation—and the unique needs of the customer, with an eye towards a predictable outcome.
1. Solution Overview. We begin with an overview of the technical foundations and the new approach to help the customer understand the benefits of holistic consultation and the specific solution design. This sets a level discussion between the modeled approach and the pre-conceptions of how things work. Stepping back to review the approach gets us to the assessment phase quickly so we are all on the same page about how we’ll be working together.
2. Assessment Phase. In this phase, we assess what the customer already has in place, and where they would like to be at the end of the project. Some customers have strong opinions of design, others don’t. Defined gaps are where we come in with adaptations to the prescribed design, with layers and snap-ins added as desired.
3. Design Phase. Here, we bring forward the adapted solution, shaped to meet the customer’s needs and requirements, relative to our good starting point with the prescribed solution.
4. Deploy Phase. Given all the up-front work up to this point, deployment should be straightforward. We add what’s missing, modify what’s not right, and bulk up or whittle down to get to the adapted solution. Here we would add in things like Orchestrator if it’s not currently deployed, along with the Orchestration workflow library. These pre-defined, generalized, well-documented workflows are field-tested and designed so that we can easily provide support—this ensure that they are consistent across the board.
5. Knowledge Transfer. I like to call this the cool-down period. Here we take two steps back and let the environment learn, stabilize, and cool off a bit. For example, VCOps does best if it’s given three or four weeks to understand what normal is. This is a great time to train administrative staff on the new implementation and announce any operational or organizational transformations needed. It’s important to take the time to get a feeling for what’s new or changed, from interfaces and APIs to dealing with resources and loading up templates.
6. Solution Validation. In this phase we come together to look back and compare the results to the prescribed beginnings. If we haven’t hit the mark, remediation is required.
The Project Timeline
It’s important to note that each phase of the technical transformation has its own work stream process. No engagement should take on the entire thing as one major project. Rather, it should be a series of engagements that meet the customer’s timeline and adoption capability. The various stages will take place over a lengthy time period.
Traditionally, customer engagements have focused on the assessment or the design and deliver phase. By adding in the Solution Overview, and ensuring we’re all starting from the same point, we lay the foundation for success.
Ford Donald is a Principal Architect and member of Professional Services Engineering (PSE), a part of the Global Technical Solutions (GTS) team, a seven-year veteran of VMware. Prior to PSE, Ford spent three years as a pre-sales cloud computing specialist focusing on very large/complex virtualization deployments, including the VMware sales cloud known as vSEL. Ford also served as coreteam on VMworld Labs and as a field SE.