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Leverage a Cloud Management Platform to Convert Your Data Center

There was an article in InformationWeek recently that caught my attention.  Written by Andrew Froehlich, “7 Reasons to Convert to a Private Cloud” highlights some solid benefits you should consider as the rationale for embracing a move to a Private Cloud.  The article was short and didn’t really provide much opportunity to get into the “why” or “how” to achieve these benefits so I decided to take this opportunity to expand on both the why and how by highlighting the role that a Cloud Management Platform (CMP) like the VMware vRealize Suite plays in a Private Cloud.  While there were seven benefits discussed in the article I’ve consolidated the discussion into four major areas of benefits and requirements to consider.

Cloud Management Platform for your Private CloudBetter Resource Management

The first reason you should consider a Private Cloud over a traditional data center is that you simply get more out your gear in a Private Cloud.    That’s because when done right, you’ll have better control over the use of data center resources – not only at the time of provisioning but also throughout the life cycle of those same resources.

When you automate the delivery of infrastructure or infrastructure plus applications through the use of a CMP you have the opportunity to decide with great precision what level of resource is needed to support any specific application.  The level of resources needed is layered in from the get go into a model representation of the environment that needs to be built.  When an application is actually provisioned, the amount of resource provisioned to support that application is not the result of whim but instead the result of careful and thoughtful planning.

If you have the right management solution in place for your Private Cloud you also have the ability to continuously right-size the environment if you find that adjustments (up or down) need to be made to an application that is up and running.  The biggest adjustment you may want to make is to reclaim the entire resource stack when the team that requested the resources are no longer using them.  Consequently a good management solution for Private Cloud will also provide the ability to place provisioned resources under a lease.

The lease assigned can be for any amount of time.  For developers it might makes sense to be on time frames of a day, a week, or a month.  For production systems it might be for a year or more.  You’ll generally want to provide requestor’s the ability to renew a lease but even on production systems you’ll want something that forces a periodic check-in to ensure that resources are still needed.

Better Data Center Visibility

The best Private Cloud management solutions provide more than just the ability to provision resources.  They also provide the ability to manage these same data center resources from a complete life-cycle perspective.  Beyond lease management and the ability to right-size resources there other capabilities that should exist as part of a Private Cloud.

When it comes to life-cycle management, the ability to monitor, manage performance and troubleshoot the services you have provisioned is essential.  The need to ensure SLAs doesn’t go away just because services are received from a Private Cloud.  It’s also ideal if your cloud can provide service requestors a window into the performance of their services so they can easily stay informed on how the services they are using are performing.

Not surprisingly, once you make it easier to order and consume resources you often get a lot more requests for those resources.  Being able to easily stay on top of an ever changing capacity picture is a must have for successful cloud operations.  And even if you don’t have a formal charge-back process, you’ll still want to be able to facilitate conversations with line of business stakeholders on which teams are driving the need for increased capacity.  Having the ability to continuously cost the environment and to be able to understand who is consuming resources should be considered a fundamental capability for your Private Cloud.

Better End User Experience

Many organizations I talk to are only automating the IT processes that happen between request and fulfillment.  Meaning that they continue to use their existing help desk based processes to order services and have not implemented any form of true self-service.  The focus for these organization is on reducing the manual work (through automation) that is carried out by the many teams that get involved in providing production ready infrastructure to end users.  Even without offering end users true self service, just speeding up the process to deliver resources has a huge impact on boosting end user satisfaction.

Having said that, most IT teams do have aspirations of eventually providing end users self-service access to a catalog of items that allow a requestor to simply hit a button and order any number of production ready infrastructure or infrastructure plus application stacks.  These organizations just aren’t yet ready today to implement the incremental work associated with implementing self-service.

One thing to keep in mind when thinking about the self service capabilities your likely to eventually want is that when it comes to application teams there are many kinds of developers.  Some developers are fine requesting resources through a portal but an ever growing number of developers would rather directly access infrastructure resources through an API.  This is particularly true of developers that first experienced cloud computing through a Public Cloud such as Amazon.

An extension of providing API access is the ability for your cloud management solution to directly consume infrastructure as code.  In this scenario the provisioning solution is capable of consuming a manifest that specifies the infrastructure requested.  The ability of an individual to specify infrastructure as code means that teams can treat IT automation like code and apply processes that resemble formal software design practices.  These practices help developers carefully control code versions, test code iterations and limit deployment until the software is proven and approved for production.

No Solution is an Island

It is important to remember that there are no solutions in IT that stand apart from everything else.  Make sure to consider a few additional aspects when considering a Cloud Management Platform.  The first is the depth of out of the box (OOTB) support the solution offers for integrating with some of the most common third party solutions that IT uses.   As important are capabilities that support integrating with the many other solutions in your environment for which there is no OOTB support.   Some form of marketplace where integrations with third parties are available for free or fee is a big bonus.

One last area to consider related to the No Island concept.   My experience is that even the most diehard VMware fans have at least small amounts of other hypervisors in the environment.  Also, as I stated in a prior blog “Multi-Cloud, Hybrid Cloud the New Normal”, the need to manage a multi-cloud environment is an increasing reality for large enterprises.  The upshot of both these points is that you think beyond your Private Cloud and realize that in short order your likely to want to manage a multi-cloud environment.

Learn More About How VMware Can Help Teams Accelerate IT Service Delivery

VMware’s vRealize Suite is an Enterprise-ready, cloud management platform that delivers the industry’s most complete solution for managing a heterogeneous, hybrid cloud.  vRealize Suite supports companies addressing cloud management requirements across day one service delivery and day two operations for compute, storage, network and application level resources.  The easiest and quickest way to learn more about VMware Cloud Management Platform solutions is to visit us online at VMware vRealize Suite.