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Moving Forward on the Path to the Private Cloud
Moving Forward on the Path to the Private Cloud 

A Contributed Article by Mark Jamensky, vice president of engineering at Embotics

Ask any change specialist what is required for organizational transformation, and he will tell you it's a combination of three things: a vision of the future, dissatisfaction with the status quo, and a willingness to take the first few steps. All of these factors exist in the movement to establish private clouds.

Creating a private cloud is a priority for a growing number of IT organizations, but getting there is easier said than done. Datacenters must first grapple with resource, complexity and adoption challenges. The path to change can seem fraught with obstacles. There are, however, several pragmatic steps enterprises can take to reach their private cloud visions and solve many of their pressing virtualization challenges.

A three-point plan to make the move successfully

1. Don't try to do it all at once. Private cloud implementation is a significant change involving people, process, technology and politics. Trying to do it all at once or even trying to create a single, complete and integrated plan can result in disaster. Instead, set your vision and take your first steps towards it. As you progress along the path, you can build on previous steps and prioritize future ones as they become clear.

2. Decide what management features you need to get started. Organizations have evolved their virtualization environments differently and consequently face different priority concerns. For some, capacity management is an immediate need. For others, it may be configuration and change management. Use your immediate priorities to create an initial management feature list, and then look for an integrated solution that includes them, as well as the others that you will need over time as you move to the cloud.

3. Establish your management platform and grow it over time. Select and implement a management system that provides the features you require immediately, as well as those you know you will need later. The important thing is to maintain momentum, meet your immediate needs, and then use both your management system's knowledge base and your own organizational needs to identify and prioritize next steps.  

A four-part template for change

With a three-point overall plan in mind, it's time to move forward incrementally. While every organization must consider its individual needs, the following template can benefit almost any datacenter.

  • Implement your reporting and monitoring "pane of glass." This will provide oversight across the whole environment, reporting suited to various stakeholders, best practice visibility, and insight into your immediate problem areas.
  • Get line-of-business buy-in. Offer a self-service portal to create a separation between the "front office" and the "back office" by allowing other organizational teams to view, report, and operate on their own environments in real time and submit requests for additional virtual machines as needed. A service portal should allow you to do this without creating and managing multiple accounts in VMware's vCenter. There are typically various potential stakeholders for service portal use, which can include business units, security teams, management, and help desk. Prioritize the rollout in your organization thus providing increasing amounts of private cloud visibility.
  • Add workflow and policy-based automation as needed. Try to resolve each problem once, implementing the required policies, best practices and automation to ensure that you won't need to revisit similar issues. Automation is key: It will ensure consistency, free up your team's valuable time, and allow you to properly and confidently scale your virtualization and cloud infrastructure.
  • Grow into your private cloud management at your own speed. Make sure that you are confident in the current state of your private cloud implementation before evolving it further. Building on a solid foundation is critical in ensuring continued success.

As enterprises scale their virtual environments and run more business-critical applications on virtual servers, complexity increases, as does the workload on the virtualization teams. These resource-challenged organizations are feeling the pressure to build and maintain supporting virtualization infrastructure that is robust and reliable. The push toward the private cloud is intensifying due to all the complexities inherent in the virtualized datacenter.

If you are dissatisfied with where your virtualized environment is now and know where you want to go, you don't need to get there in a single leap. What you need are the first few steps and a willingness and method to proceed beyond them. This pragmatic path toward the private cloud permits you to take your time to ensure you have the right solution in place, while simultaneously maintaining momentum and proceeding in a controlled and planned manner.

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About the Author

Mark Jamensky is vice president of engineering and operations for Embotics, the virtualization lifecycle management company. He is a seasoned R&D manager with more than 21 years of experience in software and hardware development.

Published Monday, March 14, 2011 5:01 AM by David Marshall
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