Friday, April 4, 2014

Catalog your way to the Cloud

I have been speaking with allot of customers regarding their own Private, Hybrid and Public Cloud initiatives.  One area of struggle  for customers is articulating the business value of becoming ‘Cloud like’.  The justification tends to diverge towards the ‘ilities’ adjectives; flexibility, scalability and I once heard ‘cloudability’.  But can you really get started with a Cloud strategy if your goal is cloudability?

A proper Cloud strategy begins with some pretty mundane tasks; I  personally think of it in terms of Categorizing, Cataloging and Optimizing.  From an enterprise perspective you need to categorize your workloads so you understand both the attributes and criticality (Whoa, used one of the ‘ilities’).  For example are they Tier 1, 2 or 3 workloads?  Are they Transient or short term workloads, are they infrastructure related? Do they require additional capacity for only certain periods of time  (Bursty workloads).  Once categorized you can begin the next piece of the puzzle, the creation of the Service Catalog.

The development of a Service Catalog  helps you understand what service or services you will be providing, in addition it translates a disparate set of IT resources in a way that makes them understandable to the business.  Categorizing first enables you to determine what Service Catalogs you should begin with.  It allows you to quickly see the real value and understand the nature of the workload.  In addition it can help you intelligently apply costs.

As an example lets take two scenarios: The IT department at company “A” has never given much strategic thought to their virtualization platform and just licenses everything at same feature level, let’s call it enterprise.  When they move to Cloud they calculate the cost of applying the Cloud Management Suite on top of everything.  They struggle to articulate the value and justify the cost so they can’t get the initiative off the ground.

The 2nd IT department at company “B” begins planning for their Cloud strategy by categorizing all their workloads.  They develop a strategy to manage everything through a Cloud Management suite but introduce a mixed hypervisor environment.  This reduces the licensing in DEV\UAT but slightly increases the cost of their virtualization environment for their Tier 1 workloads.  The Cloud management framework will be collocated with their Tier 1 workloads as it will be critical to their long term strategy. 

In addition, long term they want to look at taking their mixed hypervisor environment and move the Transient workload to the public cloud environment.  Because they have chosen wisely they will use their Cloud Management Framework to manage and apply policy across all parts using the same toolset.

Company “B” can clearly articulate the value; they are reducing costs in areas not deemed critical to the business and justifying the tools they need to manage a Private or Federated Cloud environment to get it done .  In addition they are able to identify what business services they will provide as they have reviewed which Service Catalogs they will create in the short-term, near-term and long-term. 

Because company “B”’s Cloud strategy moves forward they are in a better position to optimize the environment to deliver the most benefit to the business moving forward.

Although somewhat simplistic, the point is that the general approach that we took with virtualization does not translate  well to a Cloud Strategy.  While we needed to understand the technical aspects to virtualize workloads, we need to add the understanding of business value to develop our Cloud Strategy.

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