September 2, 2014 | Written by: Eduardo Patrocinio
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Technology has progressed immensely in the last 50 years.
I remember my parents saying that placing a telephone call initially required you calling a switchboard operator who would stick a pair of plugs into jacks in order to connect two parties.
Fast-forward 30 years and mobile phones became very popular. Their use expanded beyond just phone calls. One common use of a phone is to send and receive text messages.
And you don’t call an operator to send a text message.
As technology progressed, phones could automatically connect the parties in a call, making the work of a switchboard operator obsolete.
Another important aspect is that the cost of placing a call has decreased significantly over the last 20 years (I remember paying $1,000 of phone bills 20 years ago for just calls), so the risk of having the user placing the call without the intervention of another person is reduced.
Now let’s transpose the same situation to a different context.
The availability of cloud resources has increased a lot in the last five years. Individuals can go to a public cloud provider, request a virtual machine and get it in a matter of minutes. There is cost associated with the virtual machine and the individual is aware of this when she receives the bill.
Now looking at the enterprise side, many companies are adopting cloud (whether public, private or hybrid) for their IT infrastructure. However, many are still relying on having a group of cloud administrators to fulfill user requests.
Apart from the possibility of error when provisioning the request, the fact that the process of requesting cloud resources is not fully automated and available to the user is reducing the effectiveness of the cloud environment.
It’s understandable that the analogy with the phone and operators falls short, as the diversity of options a user would want in a cloud is much bigger than a combination of 9 or 10 digits. There are an uncountable number of variations in applications, sizes, locations, resilience and more. A user needs access to a service catalog where she can specify and order service.
Another aspect to consider is cost. Some cloud services might cost hundreds of dollars a month. Depending on the service request, there needs to be an approval process from the requestor or financial department. Also, the user needs to be aware of the cost for the service being requested.
Anyway, in order to have the full benefit of a cloud environment, an enterprise needs to have a service catalog for the user to request the cloud service directly and an automated process to fulfill the request.
What should be done with the cloud administrators? Although cloud brings great benefits, implementing cloud is not a trivial task. A private cloud requires the automation of many processes that are currently done manually by the administrators. Hence, the cloud administrators can be redirected to implement these automated scripts and to manage the cloud infrastructure.
Just as automating telephone services allowed for expansion and things like texting and mobile devices, automation in a cloud environment helps give clients access to the full benefits of the cloud.