Cloud initiatives are typically easy to manage by IT administration teams… as long as the initiatives remain small. But as soon as that scale increases, the complexity also rises, leading to difficulties in the effective coordination and management of the IT services, with the consequences being that service quality and responsiveness suffers.
The key to improving IT speed and agility, while also reducing complexity, is the separation and optimization of applications and workloads for users who can quickly and easily model, deploy and manage applications in any environment, whether that be a single VM, multi-tier applications (such as Web servers and databases), or application stacks leveraging technologies such as AWS CloudFormation templates.
It’s also important to understand the types of workloads that you provision. Are you scaling up, or scaling out?
An analogy has been drawn between cloud ecosystems and either pets or cattle: are they going to live forever, or will they be recycled? If your servers are unique, lovingly hand-raised and cared for, and you scale them up by making them bigger, you nurse them back to health when they get sick, and they cause a major disruption for your end users if they go offline, then you have pets.
If, on the other hand, your servers are for all practical purposes indistinguishable from one another, cheap and reliable, and can quickly get re-provisioned from standardized automation whenever needed, then you have cattle. In general, cloud computing resources should be managed like cattle—not pets. But regardless of whether you are scaling up, scaling out, or have some form of multi-tier infrastructure, the more moving parts to an application, the more there is a need for automation.
It’s important to note, however, that the transition to such a standardized server model can take several quarters or even years. During that transition, you can expect a mixed environment. And even for workloads that live on for years, cloud automation can still be used to perform simple automation tasks like resource change requests.
Although automation is the only cost-effective answer to complexity and the mix of workloads, traditional automation systems have required significant cost and effort to customize, implement and maintain. Consequently, organizations have become wary of these types of automation initiatives, with midsize and even large organizations often avoiding them completely.
But not all cloud management and automation solutions require heavy lifting. Some, like Embotics vCommander, can be implemented with little or no additional burden on your existing IT team and without the need for professional services or steep learning curves, are easily customized through easy-to-use configuration wizards, and provide immediate value.
The transformation of virtual data centers to private, public or even hybrid clouds requires moving from managing infrastructure to the management of service consumption.
Through easy-to-use approval and deployment workflows with policy-driven automation, you can efficiently scale out administrative capabilities to quickly respond to and fulfill 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 your cloud infrastructure.
Administrative support costs are one of the highest operational costs in the data center. 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 errors and outages. Successful cloud implementations not only reduce operational costs, therefore, but also allow organizations to reap the benefits of faster delivery models, improved quality of service and increased responsiveness to business needs.
What to Automate?
Automation provides benefit when dealing with tasks that are discrete, well-understood, tedious to perform manually, or where a high level of standardization or governance is required, but the most effective tasks to benefit from automation are those that are repetitive.
Customer experience has shown that the best approach is to implement automation gradually. Focus on the areas in your virtual environment or cloud infrastructure that are a clear fit for automation and provide the best overall benefit. This approach not only provides immediate and quantifiable value, but also allows you to work proactively with IT consumers to understand what services should be in your catalog and how consumers might use a cloud for their workload placement.
Don’t allow a lack of resources to prevent you from taking advantage of this crucial capability across your cloud initiatives.
Based on more than ten years of customer interaction, Embotics vCommander’s integrated policy-driven automation provides a set of default best-practice workflows, allowing even the most understaffed virtual admin team to take advantage of the consistency, efficiency and security that automation provides.
If you want to see a demonstration of how policy-driven automation can help enhance your cloud infrastructure services, why not request a demo of vCommander today?