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Tag Archives: ITaaS

Successful IaaS Deployment Requires Flexibility & Alignment

Alex SalicrupBy Alex Salicrup, IT Transformation Strategist

When the CEO of a global food retailer announces his goal to triple revenues in five years, the IT organization knows it’s time to step up its plans to overhaul the IT infrastructure.

That’s just what happened in a recent customer engagement where we helped the IT organization automate provisioning, eliminate the need for a significant increase in headcount, and enable a new service provider approach to support their software-defined data center.

The engagement started off with a very aggressive, short interval, cloud service implementation plan. But halfway through the engagement we had to quickly pivot when the CIO accelerated a major service offering commitment to the business. Because of that course change, this engagement is a great example of why an IT organization’s journey needs to build toward an agile infrastructure and cross-team alignment to ensure success—even in the face of unexpected change.

The Goal

The IT department was eager to adopt an IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) model to support its transformation for two key reasons:

  1. It would help keep IT operations humming as the company continued to expand and innovate.
  2. It would showcase the IT team’s strategic value by improving IT services to other organizations.

We first worked with the customer to establish their end-state vision, complete with a timeline that would allow employees to learn the new technology and gradually get comfortable with the ITaaS approach. The client also chose to start by introducing Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) through a pilot to automate provisioning. Four weeks into the engagement, the CIO made the announcement.

A key business unit had been preparing to roll out changes to the company’s public website and needed an infrastructure platform for their testing, development, and QA efforts. Although the business unit’s IT staff was looking at a external cloud service provider’s infrastructure platform, the CIO stood firm: The pre-launch testing was to be conducted on the new IaaS foundation currently being built.

The original plan to gradually build project momentum instantly switched to a full-out sprint. The new plan was to execute on multiple project points simultaneously, rather than one step at a time. This is where our program design that combines organizational with technology development to meet the desired end-state IT transformation was key.

While we addressed the requirements for the new infrastructure, the customer’s IT infrastructure team continued to develop new functionality for the service offering, which would provide additional capabilities on top of the core infrastructure offering. Knowing success depended on a close partnership with the IT team, as well as buy-in across the business, we implemented a series of three workshops, wrapping up with a clear plan to move forward.

1. Organizational Readiness Assessment

Our team began by interviewing leaders in 30 functional areas of the IT business to score the retailer on its current level of efficiency, automation, and documentation. The areas with lower scores showed us where we needed to make improvements as we created the new infrastructure.

2. Organizational Readiness Discovery Sessions

These formal meetings with the retailer’s management team helped us reach an in-depth understanding of how the business unit operated its IT business, technically as well as operationally. After each concentrated session, we crafted a summary that outlined progress and achievements.

3. Validation Sessions

Conducted in parallel, these provided an opportunity to share observations from the previous sessions and compare notes. This also allowed the internal IT team to provide recommendations and alternatives early on and contribute to the decision-making process for next steps.

4. Validation Report

Finally, we presented a roadmap and plan for what we would build and how it would be done.

Simultaneously, we focused on integrating the organization’s diverse provisioning technologies using the findings from our readiness assessment. To get the company closer to its goal—to shorten provisioning from 10 weeks to 10 minutes—we needed to free IT from its current method of manually inputting information into one system at a time, one step at a time. After outlining a plan and identifying process areas with opportunities for automation, we successfully integrated directory and collaboration applications, security tools, and all of the IT management systems with a compressed schedule and minimum hiccups.

This project was particularly satisfying. Given the scale and the time pressure, everyone was in sync—including the customer. And it reminded me that with careful assessment, planning, and socialization, along with a flexible mindset, IT can adapt to rapid changes—from outside or inside the business.

Alex Salicrup is currently VMware’s Program Manager for the IT Transformation Programs effort at a major global food retailer. He has more than 17 years experience in the IT and telecommunications Industry and has held an array of positions within service providers. Read more insights from Alex on the VMware Accelerate Blog.

Get Your Hands on the Data Center of the Future

By John Steiner, Eric Ledyard and Shaun Millin

Today’s software-defined data center (SDDC) is helping IT organizations meet business demands by automating and managing a growing range of data center functions, freeing up resources for new projects that support IT as a service.

From talking to VMware customers, we know that up to 80% of deployment time has nothing to do with physical equipment—it’s all about the orchestration between the technology, the people and the migration process. Thus, implementing an SDDC architecture goes beyond virtualized computing to a fully integrated, highly automated IT environment.

You can see exactly how the VMware Professional Services team designed and built an SDDC environment based on the vCloud Enterprise product suite and the opportunities it presents during our hands-on demo at VMworld San Francisco this week. Stop by the VMworld Professional Services booth to have one of our skilled architects walk you through the data center of the future.

The SDDC hands-on demo will include:

  • A self service catalog based on vCloud Automation Center where users can provision different types of systems, including small, medium, and large environments, with a built-in costing model. With a couple of clicks, deploy Windows and Linux machines, along with a multi-tier application that provides a shopping cart interface for web servers, fully backed by network load balancing, as well as a database with communication networking built in.
  • A fully integrated management interface where administrators can easily determine which systems are available to users and automatically apply different approval workflows. Admins can also decide what kind of networking is put in place, including low, medium, and high security levels.  All of the automation and orchestration of the environment was achieved by integrating vCenter Automation Center with vCenter Orchestrator.
  • A workflow manager employing vCenter Orchestrator, the single workflow engine running behind the VMware live demo. When a system, network, or group is requested, vCenter Orchestrator runs predefined workflow components, such as additional installations. Once the system has been deployed, it’s also dynamically entered into the vCenter Operations Manager  environment, purpose-built for the software-defined data center.
  • The vCenter Operations management environment, which greatly improves on traditional green, yellow, red health ratings. In addition to dynamically managing virtual environments, it provides risk and trending information, allowing administrators to track the health of the environment, but also to see opportunities for future failures. Instead of today’s traditional “reactive” environments, a software-defined data center enables a proactive environment where administrators can fix problems before they occur by monitoring the health of the entire stack, not just the server interface.
  • The vCenter Configuration Manager, which examines the environment where a system is being deployed to determine if it is following predefined compliance and security rules. In addition, the virtualized networking environment allows administrators to look into all the security and networking capabilities offered by VMware to automate rule creation and to monitor compliance without having to chase down and scan different machines.

For details on how these products are deployed and integrated, contact VMware Professional Services or stop by and talk with our consultants and architects at our VMworld booth.

John Steiner is Chief Architect for VMware Professional Services. Since joining VMware in 2007 and VMware Accelerate Advisory Services in 2010, Steiner has pioneered the business solutions architect delivery model through the creation of architectural blueprints and multiyear roadmaps that help customers achieve maximum business value, data center efficiencies, cost reductions and ROI objectives.

As a business solutions architect for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services, Eric Ledyard utilizes the broad VMware portfolio and his own experience to design strategic roadmaps for transformation that lead organizations to their goals of building highly efficient IT-as-a-service environments.

Shaun Millin has worked at VMware for more than a year with the Integration Automation Team, designing and delivering custom IaaS and PaaS solutions. Shaun has extensive knowledge in data center virtualization, orchestration, and VMware API scripting.