A few weeks ago, we shared a blog discussing best practices to regain control over self-service provisioning. As a quick recap, the post highlighted how regaining control over self-service provisioning means administering the environment in a way that makes it easier to manage resource consumption, while also maintaining a high level of situational awareness over how resources are being used. While there are three important considerations when regaining control over self-service provisioning – user controls, scalability and virtual machine lifecycle management – part one focused on the user controls aspect, and how enterprise IT must implement a strict set of usage policies and permission models.
If enterprise IT is to make self-service provisioning economically viable, then the available hardware and software resources must be used as efficiently as possible. Although it may be tempting to think of regaining control over self-service provisioning purely with user controls, scalability and virtual machine lifecycle management are equally as important. Today, we’ll explain why your organization needs to go beyond user controls, and focus on scalability and virtual machine lifecycle management as well.
In part one of this post, we discussed how a quota system was an important tool to keep users in check, as it can be used to control a both a user’s and a department’s cumulative resource consumption. While quotas are an excellent tool for preventing excess resource consumption, the IT department cannot restrict users or departments to the point that they lack the necessary resources to do their jobs. Otherwise, there is a chance that the users will begin using public cloud resources without the IT department’s knowledge or consent, often referred to as shadow IT. Shadow IT creates a larger problem, as it bypasses enterprise IT, so the IT staff is no longer able to perform backups of the resources.
One of the best ways of regaining control and preventing the use of shadow IT is to be accommodating of user’s requests for additional resources. This is where scalability comes into play. For example, sometimes one department needs more resources than the existing infrastructure is able to provide. In this type of situation, the private cloud software needs to be able to be flexible and provide a solution without necessarily requiring a major capital expenditure.
When faced with the need to add capacity, enterprise IT must consider the nature of the request, and should be able to implement a solution that is well suited to the situation. If for example, a department has recently hired a large number of new employees, then adding server hardware as a way of accommodating those employee’s needs might be warranted. If on the other hand, a department needs additional resources for a temporary project that will be over in a couple of months, then it may not make sense to invest in new hardware. Instead, it might be better to temporarily leverage the public cloud.
Virtual Machine Lifecycle Management
Private cloud economics are based around the efficient use and allocation of hardware resources, so it’s easy to see how unmanaged virtual machines can negatively impact the bottom line. Even if virtual machine cost is not an issue, don’t forget that wasting resources through virtual machine sprawl has an associated opportunity cost, because those resources are not available for use by other virtual machines. That’s why one of the keys to regaining control over a self-service provisioning environment is to be able to eliminate waste and unnecessary sprawl.
Although the idea of reducing waste and virtual machine sprawl probably sounds simple, the process can be deceptively difficult. If an organization is looking to reduce waste and sprawl, there are two things that must be considered. First, enterprise IT must take measures to stop virtual machine sprawl from continuing in the future. Second, the IT department must go back and address any previously existing sprawl or waste, which is the more challenging of the two tasks.
The implementation of a chargeback system will go a long way towards preventing future virtual machine sprawl, as people are far less likely to waste resources when they are being billed for those resources. However, this will not solve the problem completely. Enterprise IT also needs to have an automated lifecycle management system periodically check to see whether or not the virtual machines are still being used. Even though the system is tied to an automated process, the IT administrator still needs insight into the process, as private cloud environments that support automated lifecycle management for virtual machines provide a reclamation report that allows administrators to see which resources have been reclaimed, and which virtual machines have been removed.
Leveraging reporting allows IT administrators to locate virtual hard disks that are not associated with a virtual machine and run rightsizing reports, which analyze performance monitoring data for individual virtual machines and then recommend changes to resource allocations. Reclaiming these resources may make it possible for the organization to achieve a higher overall virtual machine density, in turn reducing costs.
Although it may be tempting to think of regaining control over self-service provisioning in terms of policies and access control mechanisms, it is important to place an emphasis on economies to achieve success. By creating higher virtual machine density by focusing on user controls, scalability and lifecycle management, the organization will reduce the cost of self-service provisioned workloads.