Part 3: Maintaining Control of Your Cloud


by: Rich Bourdeau, VP Product Marketing, DynamicOps

Here we are #3 in our series. Let’s take a quick review of where we are at:

  1. Automated self-service automates the process to provision and manage IT resources. 
  2. Secure multi-tenancy allows you to reserve resources for different groups, assuring that only authorized users will be able to create, reconfigure or decommission machines from resources allocated to that group. 

The next big challenge in deploying on-demand private cloud services is being able to control the amount of resources, the process used, and the management functions that can be performed for each type machine or application.  Pretty simple. Not really. But it can be with some homework and insight.

Moving at the speed of virtualization 

The good thing about virtualization is that it is quicker and easier to provision virtual machines than physical machines.  The bad thing about virtualization is that virtual machines can be provisioned much quicker typically without all the controls that accompanied the lengthy procurement and provisioning process of physical machines. Without appropriate operational governance and control, it is not uncommon for companies to waste 10-20% of their resources on unauthorized and over provisioned machines. And to add to the mix, many virtualization management software solutions on the market do not enforce the same controls to assure that machines are provisioned according to organizations best practices.  This leads to non-compliant machines with outdated software versions that expose companies to unplanned downtime and security risks.  Your management software should help control and contain, not create additional layers of challenge.

Limiting resource consumption

Cloud automation software must have policies which control the quantity and type of resources a user is allowed to consume during the provisioning of a machine or application.  Period. The administrator must be able to specify not only how much CPU, memory, storage and network resources a given user, or application will receive, but also the tier (service level) and pool that the resources will be allocated from.  Unless you want to maintain a large number of service blueprints, you will want to be able to set up service blueprints with a variable amounts of resources but with approval thresholds and the ability to customize the approval workflow. Getting better control over resource consumption by delivering the right size machine at the right service level can translate to significant capital savings.

Enforcing Best Practices 

The advantage of automation is that you have better control and enforcement of your best practices, ensuring that every machine is configured using the same process every time,  thereby eliminating the potential for mistakes or intentional circumvention of company policies. These policies include custom things like approval workflows; build parameters, customization settings, lease duration, archival policies, and what management functions a given user will be allowed to perform against the machine after it has been built. 

Controls should be granular

It is not sufficient to be able to specify policies that that apply to all users, or all machines or even all the users in a business group.  If you think about it, you will quickly realize that different types of machines need different processes and build parameters.  These operational controls need to be granular enough to accommodate what is common vs. what is different between not only different types of machines, but also different users or groups of users. For example:  You may need to provision desktops for both developers and office users. While they both need common policies which control how Windows is configured, and connected to the network, etc  they can be completely different  in the amount of resources, they will be allocated as well as the management functions that developers will be allowed to perform compared to office workers 

Enforce governance with policies not people

The key to automated self service is to replace operational governance with policies not people.  Without the appropriate controls in place you will just be trading reduced operational savings for increased capital savings.  Policies will keep it all aligned to the corporate goals.

Maintaining control is easier than you think. Just stay true to these simple things:

  1. Analyze your process and make sure your vendor addresses all levels
  2. Keep your fingers on the knobs that control consumption
  3. Best practices are called best for a reason – stick to them and make sure your vendor falls in line
  4. Know the needs of all business groups and make sure the solution will scale up AND down to accommodate

Now that we have the control issue covered, join me next time when we look at Deployment Simplicity as the next private cloud management must have.

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