Technology has gone through significant and rapid changes, with the transition from in-house managed data centres to virtualised infrastructures. These virtual environments are once more evolving as enterprises move their IT into a cloud offering, enabling a scalability and flexibility of on-demand resources that has never before been witnessed. As businesses continue to realise the efficiency, cost and operational benefits offered by this model of IT delivery, the coming year will mark a tipping point for cloud adoption.
Those who have delayed the decision to move IT into the cloud over earlier fears about the loss of control and security will look internally toward a private cloud to reap the benefits of both worlds. However, with the alluring incentives and reassurance provided by private clouds, there is the risk that many will make the leap without fully considering the implications and laying stable foundations.
Therefore, selecting a technology that can align the current virtualised estate to become a private automated cloud without introducing unnecessary complexity, whilst reducing costs, should be a key priority. Ultimately a private cloud should save money and increase efficiencies immediately; not over months and years.
Getting your house in order
When building on premise private clouds, the IT department cannot afford to lose sight of its primary function within the business; managing the services it offers and the resources it controls. If it is unable to manage its existing assets effectively, the move to delivering IT-as-a-service through a private cloud is more likely to increase operational complexity rather than improving IT efficiency. Further difficulties will arise as it becomes nigh-on impossible to get a feel for the success and impact that the private cloud has had on the business. Needless to say, this could leave a few red faces in the IT department when the company directors start asking questions and demanding to see a return on investment.
As such, the IT department first needs to look at how well it is managing its existing in-house IT resources and service processes before deciding what to place in the cloud. Basic considerations such as IT Service Management and the automation of standard processes all need to be in place to lay the foundations for a successful private cloud implementation. This will ensure that the IT department can provide and manage IT services effectively without having to be hands-on during every stage. Once it has these basic procedures in place, any outstanding issues can be more easily identified and addressed before the business makes any investment in a private cloud infrastructure and begins migrating services across.
Furnishing the house for private clouds
Once the foundations have been laid, IT departments need to adapt their approach and equip themselves with the tools that will enable them to effectively manage their IT estate, else risk the “shadow IT” aspect growing. A centralised management platform that offers a holistic, 360 degree view of virtualised and private cloud environments is a fundamental necessity. With the risk of cloud sprawl as the speed with which new services and virtual infrastructure can be commissioned, IT administrators must have full control over IT lifecycles; from provision through configuration, optimisation and ultimately decommissioning as they become redundant.
These lifecycles can easily be automated, with pre-configured timescales from beginning to end. Not only does this reduce the risk of services being paid for long after the enterprise has finished using them, it also fosters the standardisation of IT across the business. Role-based access privileges to shared resource pools can also be easily established for multi-user environments, such as software development, testing and lab management.
However, for a truly effective implementation, IT departments need to move beyond basic automation of routine management tasks. With a private cloud, IT departments can allow users to request standardised IT services, monitor their own environments, and where appropriate, to stop and restart their own services while maintaining governance and control. With this in mind, a key prerequisite for ensuring that private cloud deployments are delivering a solid ROI will be to educate end-users, preventing IT costs from escalating by ensuring that the value and cost of the services being provided are understood and appreciated.
A happy home on a private cloud
As with any major business decision, the message for those looking to deploy private clouds is to look before they leap. Without the necessary management tools and processes in place, moving resources into a cloud will open the doors to an uncontrollable level of service requests and the risk of IT sprawl, leading to an escalation of costs and an IT department besieged by end-users. Those who take a considered approach and lay solid foundations will reap countless rewards and efficiency benefits as they move into and beyond the private cloud.
Posted by Colin Wright, Vice President EMEA, Embotics