Now that we have discussed, what’s cloud, its different delivery and deployment model as well as its benefits, let us look at what steps enterprises should take to get on the cloud.
The first obvious step for the traditional IT is to consolidate the physical infrastructure. IT service providers are facing enormous challenges and rising costs in managing and operating a growing number of heterogeneous system and computing landscapes. It is not about managing just the hardware and software but also things like the power, cooling, location and many other resources that are required to run a data centre. The cost of managing all of these have forced traditional computing environments to reorganize computing resources within the data centre, as continuous growth leads to an inefficient utilization of the underlying hardware and software infrastructure. Reducing this management cost by server and Infrastructure consolidation and better utilization is one of the first steps towards transforming corporate data centres into compute clouds.
Gartner provides this interesting material for further details on IT Infrastructure Consolidation. IBM’s offerings in this space all the way from strategy and planning to consolidation of all the resources can be found here.Even after consolidation, the IT infrastructure or a compute resource is
- Physically constrained
- Capital intensive
- Hard configuration
- Difficult to acquire with the long purchase process.
Virtualization is the next logical step to cloud that can enable flexibility. Virtualization provides infrastructure abstraction and the flexibility to give out soft configured IT resources that can be recycled / reused with ease. This increases the utilization of the resources and at the same time makes the data centre energy efficient. Virtualization is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as an operating system, a server, a storage device or network resources. There are three areas of IT where virtualization is making head roads, network virtualization, storage virtualization and server virtualization. You can read more about it in this article. We will discuss each of this virtualization in detail in our subsequent lessons.
Even with virtualization there exists many configurations that are constrained and cannot be effectively managed. So it is important from the data centre perspective to standardize the IT service and offerings that it can provide to the IT consumers. The 80-20 rule applies here. We need to look for what configuration / services are mostly used that account for 80% of the IT service requests and then standardize them for better management. With standardization, the biggest outcome is simplification. We will have only few configurations to automate and support.
Even after standardization, many of the traditional IT process remain highly manual intensive, skill dependent, error prone and costly. The next major step towards cloud and that provides a huge ROI on cloud investment is automation. This step would remove human involvement to a large extent and provides rapid deployment and management of IT services. This would be a repeatable configuration/activity that also improves compliance.
The final steps to cloud comes from being able to optimally sharing the resources among common workload profiles and be able to dynamically provisioning of resources based on demand. This is possible only by providing a self-service User Interface for the IT Service Consumer. Such self-service capability gives complete control to the user as well as the he will have a wide choice of cost and usage models that can be select based on the requirement. Apart from these features the cloud environment should provide increased visibility and required IT/Business alignment.
Service management system is the capability that can provide this visibility, control and automation needed for efficient cloud delivery in both public and private implementations. Many of the aspects like Simplifying user interaction with IT, User friendly self-service interface, Service catalog, Automated provisioning & de-provisioning, increase system administrator productivity are provided by the Service management system. In fact 81%* of cloud payback is driven by labour savings enabled by service management. We will discuss service management in detail in the next chapter.