Making The Case For Private Cloud Automation
As virtual environments become increasingly complex, most companies believe that automating the virtual data center to deliver private clouds is complex and time consuming. That belief, however, is a myth. Automation enables businesses to overcome cloud adoption challenges, improve operational tasks and efficiency, and consequently boost the morale of IT teams. Automation is no longer a nice to have or unachievable goal; it is an absolute requirement for an efficient and effective data center.
The transformation of virtual data centers to private clouds requires moving from managing infrastructure to the management of services consumption. By leveraging easy-to-use approval and deployment workflows with policy-driven automation, you can efficiently scale out administrative capabilities to quickly respond to and fulfill on-demand service requests. By standardizing processes with business and IT policies, you can ensure consistent and predictable delivery of IT services across virtual data centers and private clouds.
Successful private cloud implementations not only reduce operational costs, but also allow organizations to reap the benefits of faster delivery models, improved quality of service and increased agility and responsiveness to business needs. Administrative support is one of the highest operational costs in the datacenter, and manually responding to the increased demand in a cloud model will not only result in unacceptable admin. ratios and costs, but will inevitably increase the number of incidents, errors and outages.
What to automate?
Customer experience has shown that the best approach is to implement automation is in a gradual fashion. Focus on the areas in your virtual environment or private cloud that are a clear fit, and which provide the best overall benefit. These generally include:
Automated provisioning and lifecycle management: This includes the initial request for service, deployment of virtual machines (VMs) and IT services, approving and rejecting requests, and fulfilling requests for change including decommissioning.
Policy-based governance: Ensure that each VM in your environment carries the standard set of identifiers and attributes established by business and IT policies. These can be as simple as expiry date and business owner, or go further to include security classification, project numbers, cost center identification or application relevance.
Sprawl prevention: Typical sprawl includes unused, underused or redundant VMs; over-provisioned VMs; over use of snapshots; uncontrolled offline VMs, as well as VMs that exist on storage, but not in the VM inventory. All these types of sprawl need to be automatically detected and brought to the attention of the administration team for remediation.
The business case for automation
Initial forays into virtualization are typically justified by reduced capital expenditures (CapEx). However, the longer term cost benefits of virtualization only come from reduced operational expenses (OpEx). Without automation, the cost of added staff, inefficient hardware utilization, and unexpected downtime can substantially decrease the expected return on investment from virtualization, and in some cases stall the entire initiative. The only way to achieve REAL and long-lasting OpEx reduction is by automating the day-to-day operational tasks associated with virtual systems management.
As organizations move up the private cloud adoption curve, one of the key efficiency indicators is the admin-to-VM ratio. Industry studies have shown that this ranges from 1:100 during the acclimation stage to more than 1:500 in the optimization stage, an increase in efficiency mostly due to effective management and automation. While businesses certainly get benefits from consolidation initiatives, it is those who also implement effective virtualization management and automation solutions that see reductions in operating expenses and improved efficiency in their IT operations.
Jason Cowie is the Vice President Product Management at Embotics and oversees product direction and strategy.
Jason’s extensive management background spans sales, business development, consulting, and product marketing at various companies including Microsoft, Scalable Software, and Mission Critical Software. He received his Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, and completed graduate studies in Information Technology at the University of Victoria.
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