Managing Cloud Operations – A Step or Two toward Maturity

Purposeful View: Integrating Cloud Services into the Enterprise (by Gene Dahl, 5 July 2011)

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In the 1992 Book, “Accidental Empires”, Robert X. Cringely notes that an inflection point in a start-up company’s life is marked by the day that “the Suits” begin to show up. In brief, this represents a technology moving from the “neat idea” stage into the realm of “people will see that they can be more profitable if they use our product.” That’s where the big money is; to ante up for that game, one must be able to offer not just a compelling ROI pitch, but a credible way of verifying the benefits in operation. That means not only top-level inventory pro forma comparisons, but also the means to assess allocation of resources and costs by function, compliance with SLAs, and trending.

Where Cloud technologies are used for testing, development, or niche applications, the “neat idea” proposition, accompanied by a basic ROI estimate, can generally suffice. For Internal Cloud implementations, the ROI can be based on a like-for-like comparison of hardware and environmental costs, assuming that system performance will be managed for each OS instance however it had been managed previously. But when Internal Cloud implementations start to get creative, and when Public or Hybrid Cloud resources are introduced, there is going to be a certain level of discomfort as mainstream operations begin to become dependent on resources that are not directly controlled, and may not be amenable to monitoring in the familiar ways.

Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) need to convince Enterprise customers that moving operations onto their technology can be done with confidence that operational results and financial ramifications can, and will, be effectively monitored and understood. Furthermore, these measurements for Cloud-based platforms need to feed into a comprehensive IT management framework, so that IT can start by monitoring the Enterprise, and drop down into specific technologies and providers as necessary. After all the effort to consolidate IT management systems over recent years, it would be a bitter pill to swallow a set of one-off vehicles for handling different CSP components of the overall environment.

On Monday, June 13, VMware announced acquisition of Digital Fuel for $85M. Promising newcomers are acquired by established players all the time in our industry, but we think that this reflects Cloud technologies entering the next stage of maturity.

With the acquisition of Digital Fuel, VMware attains an immediate value proposition concerning IT operational and financial management and planning. True, there are a number of products that enhance the ability to monitor and/or plan Cloud resources; Digital Fuel, however, pulls together an ambitious suite of functions geared for consumption by senior-level planners. A close association with VMware will add yet another reason for selecting VMware as the platform of preference for Internal Cloud implementations.

Over time, this may undercut the ability of some start-ups in the monitoring and management space to gain a foothold. What’s less clear is how this might affect Hybrid or Public Cloud operations. If VMware can create the interfaces, both active and passive, for a Digital Fuel system to pull together a view of operations encompassing the traditional data center, private cloud, and one or more public cloud instances, then we begin to position Cloud as a part of the operational architecture rather than as a parallel alternative.

Purposeful Clouds believes that this last notion is critical. Once we have confidence that Cloud operations can be incorporated into the overall operational architecture, the use of CSPs can shift to a provisioning decision rather than a cultural battlefield.

Comments? Questions? Contrary views? Some event we missed?
We welcome your feedback at talk@purposefulclouds.com

Purposeful Clouds helps companies assess and plan their best options for Cloud technology adoption, with before-the-fact consideration of contingencies, ROI, and further migration strategies. To discuss how we would be able to help you make the best decisions, contact us at info@purposefulclouds.com.

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