Consona's Milt Volosyn is used to mergers and acquisitions (M&As). As CIO for the software and services company, he is responsible for managing about 14 different software products for business-critical tasks such as ERP, financing and marketing services and support.
"Think in terms of 14 different software companies with one IT department," he told delegates at VMWare's VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas.
"We were in a constant growth mode so we were continuously running out of disk space and what we did have was difficult to manage because of the significant number and size of requests."
Consona Corporation's infrastructure is made up of about 3,400 virtual servers sitting on more than 200 physical servers. The organisation operates five data centres around the world and has about 550 users.
"It is all tied together with a MPLS network and we have been virtualising our services for three years," Volosyn said.
Virtualisation and flexibility
Being virtualized has also helped the organisation manage the companies it has purchased through M&A activity. But Volosyn and his team quickly realised it is not the total answer.
"With the advent of the cloud we could see a great opportunity for flexibility," he said.
"Today all our company data centres are largely virtualised on the VMWare platform and we have several cloud vendors that we use as appropriate."
Consona runs most of its major production applications, such as financial and services software, within its virtual data centre, as well as several applications that support the interface.
"They are mostly predictable in size and usage and, in many cases, the software isn't suitable for the cloud or not cloud ready," Volosyn said.
"When we buy companies we inherit software and it can take some time to convert."
Working hand-in-hand with VMware
But the company does run its own CRM system in the cloud; if you have used VMware's knowledgebase software, you are already familiar with the product.
"The knowledge base for VMware is our software," Volosyn said.
"We are in a unique position in that not only are we a customer of VMware, they're a customer of ours."
The company doesn't develop its products on any single platform and, as such, it has diverse needs and requirements -- a situation that made the take-up of cloud computing a practicality.
"Most importantly, I see the cloud as an important aspect of disaster recovery," Volosyn said.
"Obviously it is not practical to back up everything in the data centre to cloud but, if you can identify the important software and that which creates revenue and, in our case, the source code of 14 different product, it represents a big chunk of data that is very important to running our business.
"For time of recovery and point of recovery, I think it's very valuable if you can keep your critical applications in near real time -- and that doesn't mean redundancy to the cloud unless it works that way financially.
"And if you're virtualised like we are and have a VCloud provider or two, then your recovery time is significantly cut down. If you go to a different model, you don't perhaps have that same 'quickness'.
Creating a truly private cloud
Volosyn said that with the advent of V series 5, the organisation will be able to expand its architecture to create a true private cloud.
"When you have a vast infrastructure spread around the world, managing that is paramount," he said.
"VCloud connector and VCloud Director can become invaluable tools for us. It gives us the power to manage both public and private clouds and transfer the workloads between them."
Vsphere templates have the potential to allow the team to build VCloud instances in a matter of hours rather than days, Volosyn said.
"It is almost as simple as right click. Or we could transfer a live instance from our private cloud to a public cloud."