Cloud computing promises an entirely new level of flexibility through pay-as-you-go, readily accessible, infinitely scalable IT services, and executives in companies of all sizes are embracing the model. At the same time, they are also posing questions about the risks associated with moving mission-critical workloads and sensitive data into the cloud. eWEEK’s Knowledge Center contributor Richard Whitehead has four suggestions for managing private clouds using service-level agreements and business service management technologies.
“Private clouds” are what the industry is calling hybrid cloud computing models which offer some of the benefits of cloud computing without some of the drawbacks that have been highlighted. These private clouds host all of the company’s internal data and applications while giving the user more flexibility over how service is rendered. The transition to private clouds is part of the larger evolution of the data center, which makes the move from a basic warehouse of information to a more agile, smarter deliverer of services. While virtualization helps companies save on everything from real estate to power and cooling costs, it does pose the challenge of managing all of the physical and virtual servers—or virtual sprawl. Basically, it is harder to manage entities when you cannot physically see and touch them.
A more practical move into the cloud can be facilitated through technology, with private clouds being managed through the use of service-level agreements (SLAs) and business service management (BSM) technologies. The following guide is a continuous methodology to bring new capabilities into an IT department within a private cloud network. Its four steps will give IT the tools and knowledge to overcome common cloud concerns and experience the benefits that a private cloud provides.
Step 1: Prepare
Before looking at alternative computing processes, an IT department must first logically evaluate its current computing assets and ask the following questions. What is the mixture of physical and virtual assets? (The word asset is used because this process should examine the business value delivered by IT.) How are those assets currently performing?
Rather than thinking in terms of server space and bandwidth, IT departments should ask: will this private cloud migration increase sales or streamline distribution? This approach positions IT as a resource rather than as a line item within an organization. Your private cloud migration will never take off if your resources aren’t presented in terms of assets and RIO.
Step 2: Package
Package refers to resources and requires a new set of measurement tools. IT shops are beginning to think in terms of packaging “workloads” in the virtualized world as opposed to running applications on physical servers. Workloads are portable, self-contained units of work or services built through the integration of the JeOS (“just enough” operating system), middleware and the application. They are portable and able to be moved across environments ranging from physical and virtual to cloud and heterogeneous.
A business service is a group of workloads, and this shows a fundamental shift from managing physical servers and applications to managing business services composed of portable workloads that can be mixed and matched in the way that will be serve the business. Managing IT to business services (aka the service-driven data center) is becoming a business best practice and allows the IT department to price and validate its provide cloud plan as such.
Step 3: Price
A valuation must be assigned to each IT unit after you’ve packaged up your IT processes into workloads and services. How much does it cost to run the service? How much will it cost if the service goes offline? The analysis should be presented around how these costs effect the business owner because the costs assessments are driven by the business need.
One of the major advantages of a service-driven data center is that business services are able to be dynamically manages to SLAs and moved around appropriately. This allows companies to attach processes to services by connecting workloads to virtual services and, for the first time, connects a business process to the hardware implementing that business process.
The business service can be managed independent of the hardware because they aren’t tied to the business server and can thus be moved around on an as-needed basis.
Price is dependent on the criticality of the service, what resources it will consume or whether it is worthy of backup and/or disaster recovery support. This shows a new approach not usually disclosed by IT and transparency in a cloud migration plan can be seen as a crucial part of demonstrating the value the cloud provides in a way that is cost-effective.
Step 4: Present
After you have an IT service package, you must present a unified catalog to the consumers of those services. This catalog must be visible to all relevant stakeholders within the organization and can be considered an IT storefront or showcase featuring various options and directions for your private cloud to demonstrate value to the company.
This presentation allows your organization the flexibility to balance IT and business needs for a private cloud architecture that works for all parties; the transparency gives customers a way to interact directly with IT.
Although cloud computing remains an intimidating and abstract concept for many companies, enterprises can still start taking steps towards extending their enterprise into the cloud with the adoption of private clouds. An organization can achieve a private cloud that is virtualized, workload-based and managed in terms of business services with the service-driven data center. Workloads are managed in a dynamic manner in order to meet business SLAs. The progression from physical server to virtualization to the workload to business service to business service management is clear and logical.
In order to insure that your private cloud is managed effectively—thus providing optimum visibility to the cloud’s business value—it is important to evaluate and present your cloud migration in this way. Cloud investment can seem less daunting when viewed as a continuous process and the transition can be make in small sets which makes the value a private cloud can provide to a business more easily recognizable to stakeholders. For more information, visit Nubifer.com.