Treat Departments and Divisions as Customers

Cloud Computing Challenge

Businesses today are relying on cloud computing to provide services on demand to customers, and maximize use of network, compute, and storage resources, and all at reduced costs.

To meet this need, IT organizations are expected to deliver new applications and provision servers rapidly to respond to business demand, while maintaining cost effectiveness to keep up with the speed of business innovation. In many areas IT has risen to the occasion, but there continues to be a growing gap between IT supply and the business’ growing demands. Development efforts to increase efficiency to bridge this gap are the motivators behind rapid implementation of virtualization and cloud computing initiatives.

However, these initiatives introduce management complexities—processing delays, support issues, and accountability—which can quickly outweigh their benefits.

Management Challenge

Capacity Management is the centerpiece that enables IT organizations to make sure adequate resources (computing, storage, network etc…) are available for the business, all the time and at the minimum possible cost. An enterprise faces constantly changing requirements related to capacity optimization and in cloud capacity modeling and planning become even more challenging.

Many enterprises have chosen to embrace a private cloud model for running their IT infrastructure and these organizations face specific capacity management challenges. The need for capacity planning stems from the need to make sure that your private cloud model is efficient and cost effective. The increased penetration of mobile devices in enterprises has further complicated capacity planning by introducing increased demand for compute resources.

Capacity planning trend lining charts can be used to model resource usage and consumption over time but leveraging this approach alone has some limitations.  Using trending alone can be a dangerous path to tread as getting good and reliable data in a virtual environment can be a backbreaking effort.  Addressing this type of limitation is a place where solutions like System Center Operations Manager integrated with Savision Cloud Reporter can really help. With Cloud Reporter integration, you will be able to predict the impact of unexpected changes as well as carrying out what-if modelling. (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Cloud Reporter provides information in an easy-to-understand format.

As we build-out internal clouds, a major goal is to provide internal customers with self-service access to capacity. Internal customers, such as lines of business and application teams, create workload demands that must be met through the supply of appropriate compute, storage and network resources. In this sense, self-service models for accessing compute and storage capacity are poised to revolutionize the demand side of the equation just as virtualization revolutionized the supply side over the last decade. Although simple in concept, this fundamental change can create challenges in practice. To explore these challenges and identify solutions, it is useful to frame the conversation in terms of supply and demand.

There are three simple questions IT should ask in order to ensure they are building enterprise-class internal clouds:

• Are my lines of business able to reserve capacity ahead of time for critical application deployments?

• Can IT managers analyze business divisions request in order to predict short and long-term capacity requirements?

• Can IT operation managers identify workloads to the right hosting environments?

Traditional data center resources have been deployed in a fragmented and siloe manner. The complexity of managing such an environment is one reason that IT organizations often allocate as much of 70 percent of their IT budget for “keep the lights on” activities.

However, converged infrastructure, allows an IT organization to integrate servers, storage, networking, memory into shared pools of reusable physical resources which in turn supports pools of virtual resources.  This service-oriented approach simplifies the complexity associated with the management of the physical infrastructure, which in turn frees up resources and results in a higher degree of business agility.

Who is using your Cloud resources?

A mature IT chargeback and show back method can improve alignment of limited IT resources with business needs. Usage-based billing provides departmental insight of the businesses most important IT services, helping assure requests for more accurate IT operational budgets and new investments.

Many companies take a two-step approach as they are simply not ready to chargeback departments for usage. The alternative here is show back, where you are showing who is using what, but without applying a cost to the service. This can in some cases help to drive a fiscally responsible behavior from the consumers of the service. Once this is working well, the next step can be to start charging for the service for internal departments in order to provide useful accountability and tracking of where your business is spending the money.

The key point here is that in order to efficiently run IT as a business-within-a-business, IT departments need to implement at a minimum service costing.  Organizations that have not implemented any financial component to the delivery of IT services would benefit from considering show back as a first step.  When compared with full chargeback, show back is much more easy to implement yet still delivers substantial benefit to the business.

Monitor your Cloud resources

To make sure your business runs without any disruptions from cloud resource outages monitoring is a must.

System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) is a good solution to monitor your cloud infrastructure but without business context most people are overwhelmed by the amount of SCOM Alerts and lack of HTML 5 Dashboards.

Live Maps Unity elevates SCOM to a Business Service Management solution allowing you see which business service is affected when a cloud resource is unavailable. This allows the infrastructure team to quickly determine the business impact of a cloud resource outage and which SCOM Alerts need priority and are in fact representing the root cause of the service outage. (Figure 2).

Figure 2:  Live Maps Unity includes unlimited, fast, lightweight, HTML5 SCOM dashboards.

Conclusion

As the business grows, new requests are raised and project priorities change. The request often comes from a variety of departments and divisions. To address the challenges of new applications, and keep tracking of where your business spends money, organizations need to find effective and efficient ways to harness the latest IT innovations in their environments today.

Demand management may not be top of mind when building internal clouds, but its fundamental principles and important.

By implementing a self-service portal and chargeback for your internal departments, organizations can streamline deployment process and save you money.

About Charbel Nemnom 306 Articles
Charbel Nemnom is a Microsoft Cloud Consultant and Technical Evangelist, totally fan of the latest's IT platform solutions, accomplished hands-on technical professional with over 15 years of broad IT Infrastructure experience serving on and guiding technical teams to optimize performance of mission-critical enterprise systems. Excellent communicator adept at identifying business needs and bridging the gap between functional groups and technology to foster targeted and innovative IT project development. Well respected by peers through demonstrating passion for technology and performance improvement. Extensive practical knowledge of complex systems builds, network design and virtualization.

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