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Provisioning machines takes more time and effort than you think.

We find that most companies we talk to spend an average of 4-6 man hours over multiple days to provision a new IT resource. For some, those days can stretch over weeks. For ongoing management tasks, a similar effort is required. These delays aren’t uncommon, nor are they immune to the cloud where everything seems to happen much faster. A Gartner survey shows 68% of those polled (86 respondents) indicated that it took a day or more to provision their virtual machines. For VMware’s own IT organization, a group that serves a world-class R&D organization and is very much kept to a high standard, stated that provisioning took anywhere from 3 days to 8 weeks.

This is shocking because most of us know it only takes 5-10 minutes to clone a virtual machine and a few minutes more to spin that VM back up. But it’s the details that take time. The cloning VM task often represents less than 10 % of the total effort required to provision a new system for a user.

Most provisioning processes are completely un-automated—they are email-driven, highly manual, and involve a number of steps. Take a quick count of the steps for yourself. There can be dozens and dozens of steps, and they are usually performed by multiple people with different tools and applications. While the work may only take 4-6 hours in total, service level lead times cause tasks to sit in queues for days before the tasks are executed. The duration might be weeks.

For those who request compute resources as part of their job, universally you all have experience with the process—email after email, IM after IM, and spreadsheet-form-update after update. These status updates happen in large volumes for tons of apps. Where automation does exist, it is usually provided through service desk software that orchestrates the interaction of many people who perform the manual tasks. This automation is advantageous; however, there are all the little steps in between where people are kicking off jobs, waiting and checking on servers while they finish, then swivel-chairing over to the service desk software to update it. Of course, smarter sys-admins create more automated scripts to help simplify and automate individual tasks. Still, companies’ waste precious, experienced, and expensive personnel watching progress bars as machines are configured, software deployed, and systems updated.

How to Make IT More Efficient Through Better Cloud Service Provisioning

In a previous post, we outlined the business benefits of a move toward a Cloud Service Provisioning model, with the benefits including reduced cost, faster time to market and better overall IT productivity.  So now let’s take a look at how to get there.

There are three key, high-level requirements to improve efficiency:

  1. Full automation for IT processes. The key to success is to eliminate the IT human-factor for the end user process. Keep your requestor in the drivers seat. Set up a full self-service user interface where they can select from IT’s service catalog and all the processes for deploying, configuring and approvals are done programmatically. For a look at how this looks in real-life for a requestor check out our video on VMwareTV.
  2. Multi- or cross-vendor technology support. It is important to think of your solution for your end users. So since your goal is to get them to land applications on your application, you can not prevent them from picking the right tools or technologies that will support their end users. Having a Cloud Service Provisioning solution that is open and supports a variety of technologies is important to your long term success, especially for those applications your company hasn’t even dreamed up yet.
  3. User-aware, IT-controlled governance.  While the goal may be to put application owners in the drivers seat for deploying their own applications, IT still needs to be in charge of the road. IT should have ways to standardize the service catalog, control the size and cost of compute resources allocated to application owners, and ensure security policies are built in. The system should recognize the user and invoke policies and controls as appropriate.

When these core requirements are met by an operations and virtualization platform, IT can provide a private cloud where compute resources are provisioned and managed automatically. The combination of these three requirements is the only path to an end-to-end solution that works in your existing IT infrastructure and ecosystem.

For VMware customers, this their Cloud Service Provisioning solution consists of two main products that round out their vCloud infrastructure:

  1. vCloud Automation Center. Think of this as the self-service portal with a built in service governor. This is where application owners will manage their IT resources from a user-specific menu of options. >> Learn more
  2. vFabric Application Director. This is the design tool that puts the users in the drivers seat. It comes with a drag-n-drop canvas that lets users design application infrastructure, update configurations and map out dependencies, Once the design is done, it can be deployed with a touch of a button. >> Learn more

Customers Quantifying Private Cloud ROI

We have already mentioned the benefits achieved by VMware’s own internal IT organization, citing how deploying Cloud Service Provisioning solutions can dramatically cut operational expenses and shorten service delivery times from days to hours or even minutes. But let’s take a look at some other customers and their experience in their own words:

Analysts also agree, IDC published an article called “Private Cloud ROI: Look Beyond Server Savings”, that highlights operational savings as one of the more significant ROI areas of private cloud computing.

On average, VMware customers have improved their operational efficiencies by 80% or more, utilizing their resources on more strategic initiatives. This can translate into big dollars for large organizations. A good benchmark to estimate your savings is to consider a average 1,000 VM implementation growing at 30%, a company can achieve operational savings of $130,000 annually. Within VMware’s IT department, we’ve seen that just the governance and policy related capabilities can save as much as $6MM.

If any of this resonated with the needs of your organization, we suggest you learn more about  avoiding hidden costs in building a private cloud and and start building your business case to deploying your Cloud Service Provisioning solution.

Certainly if you would like some help, feel free to contact us and we can have our experts help your team build the business case and the solution that will maximize your IT productivity.

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