Five steps to cloud nirvana with IBM CCRA

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A common question raised by a number of my clients is about how to transform their existing IT delivery to a private cloud. The easiest approach here would probably be to use something like the IBM Private Modular Cloud and build a private cloud from scratch. Many, though, would like to reuse existing infrastructure as much as possible and have a staged approach of the transformation to a private cloud.

A structured approach to this dilemma is described in the IBM Redguide IBM SmartCloud: Building a Cloud Enabled Data Center by Pietro Iannucci and Manav Gupta. In this guide, the authors combine the use of the IBM Common Cloud Reference Architecture (CCRA) with a maturity model approach, which provides a five-step roadmap for the transformation to a private cloud, where each step has a set of distinct capabilities that need to be implemented prior to pursuing the next step on the roadmap. Each step is aligned against CCRA defined patterns, which have use cases and suggested technologies for the implementation of these patterns. I will give you an introduction to their approach here, but I recommend the IBM Redguide for detailed information.

macropatterns mapped to cloud enabled data center

Macropatterns mapped to Cloud Enabled Data Center maturity model

So, what are the steps to get to cloud nirvana?

1. Virtualized

The first step on the journey is to get your hardware infrastructure virtualized. Many organizations are far down this path, which gives them a lot better resource optimization and an easier way of pooling resources through simplification and some standardization. At this point automation is very limited; thus a lot of activities require system administrators to fulfill tasks.

2. Deployed

At the next level automation is introduced as well as basic processes. Here IT can meet business requirements without acquiring new infrastructure with every request. The key capabilities that are established at this point are the following:

• Standardization of services
• Basic provisioning automation
• Service catalog
• Usage metering

3. Optimized

At this level the focus is on additional capabilities to manage the infrastructure. This will reduce operational cost and allow improved service level agreements (SLAs) and quality of service. Mature management processes are implemented that will monitor infrastructure health and use monitoring data for capacity planning and forecasting in order to optimize utilization. The following capabilities are required to deliver an optimized cloud infrastructure:

• Image management
• Monitoring
• Backup and restore
• Patch management
• Security compliance

4. Enhanced

In level 4 you will capitalize on the capabilities established earlier and focus on high-value services as provisioning of application topologies and disaster recovery of the cloud environment.

You will establish capabilities that will orchestrate provisioning across data centers as well as provisioning to off-premise public clouds in order to scale out. Capabilities established at this level include the following:

• Pattern-based provisioning
• Service orchestration
• Hybrid cloud capabilities
• Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) integration

5. Monetized

In the final step you will have a well functioning cloud environment and have the opportunity to become a full blown service provider. As such, the focus here is on usability and integration with support services such as client management and billing. Typical capabilities developed at this level are:

• Service storefront with e-commerce capabilities
• Integration with required support services
• Federated identity management

As you can see, a structured approach like this will allow you to easily define where you would like to take your infrastructure on the cloud journey as well as establishing what capabilities are needed. By using CCRA you will also have a prescribed way to get there.

Have you started you journey to cloud yet? Connect with me on Twitter @hans_zai.

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