Implementing an integrated cloud management platform is the key first step on the path to a hybrid cloud, or multi-cloud infrastructure. By providing a single pane of glass across all of the disparate cloud services, whether private or public, you’re able to view all of the various dimensions of your infrastructure. This includes:
- Automating routine tasks
- Implementing and standardizing repetitive processes
- Identifying roadblocks and inconsistencies
- Understanding growth patterns and their impact on the business
- Explore costing breakdowns
- And most importantly — prioritizing your next step, and the step after that.
But as I’ve said in a previous blog, it’s important not to try and do it all at once. A multi-cloud implementation is a significant change to the organization; one that involves not only people, process, and technology, but inevitably impacts IT and politics as well. Trying to tackle all these interconnected elements at once will result in disaster. Even attempting to create a single complete and integrated plan to get there won’t work as well as a flexible, iterative approach.
Set Your Vision
Every organization is different, and there’s no single blueprint that works for everyone to get you there. The best you can do is to set out your vision and take your first steps towards it. As you progress down the path, build on the previous steps, correcting as you go and prioritizing the next steps as they become clear... and they will become clear.
Start by deciding which cloud management features to implement right away. Every organization has a different set of priorities because their virtualized environments have evolved in different ways.
For some, capacity management will be the immediate need, with requirements to improve resource utilization and prevent sprawl through rightsizing, intelligent workload placement, and reclamation of resources. For others, it may be configuration and change management, leveraging existing investments in best of breed configuration management solutions. Still others may be driven by a business need to implement self-service provisioning, empowering users through easily customizable service catalogs and an on-demand user portal, while freeing up administration of the systems.
It really doesn’t matter where your starting point is. You have to define your immediate priorities, create an initial feature list, and look for a solution that not only meets your requirements today but can meet the needs of your business in the future as you grow your cloud footprint.
Don’t Boil the Ocean
One thing we have learned from our customers is that you shouldn’t try to “boil the ocean” with a major rollout. Instead, focus on the organizational departments, virtual environments or cloud infrastructures that are a clear fit for automation and self-service provisioning, and that will provide the best overall benefit to provide an immediate and quantifiable value.
The key is to maintain momentum. You need to address your immediate problems and then, using the tools and data available through the management system, identify and prioritize your next steps.
Start Implementing Cloud Management
If you need some ideas on where to start, a good place is with a single pane of glass for reporting and monitoring. Not only does this provide insight into immediate problem areas, such as over-under-resourced systems, and VM sprawl, but it provides oversight into the entire environment by providing reporting back to the different stakeholders in the environment, virtual infrastructure admins, IT management, business owners, etc.
Once your first stage has been implemented, you can begin to provide cost visibility (or showback) to the consumers of IT services, even if your organization is not ready for full-on chargeback, allowing the business to see not only what different teams are costing IT, but also the value of the services being delivered by IT.
To ensure that you get the buy-in from the business (which is key to the success of your project), your next step should be to implement a self-service portal that creates a separation between the “front office” and the “back office.” This will allow for business teams to not only view and report on their own environments in real time, but also to submit requests for additional VMs and IT services as needed. This portal should be able to facilitate these tasks without resorting to creating and managing multiple accounts in any of the cloud platforms being used, including vCenter or the public clouds.
You can deploy a self-service portal and it will have a direct impact to back-end processes and systems, allowing your customers to onboard quickly. The portal will seamlessly integrate into current systems without becoming its own overhead burden. But it’s still important to review and revise the processes, procedures, and SLAs on the back end. Focus on your immediate problem areas first, whether that is VM sprawl, capacity planning, lifecycle management, etc. After you have optimized those areas, use continuous improvement methodologies and the management system to identify, prioritize, and resolve your problem processes and procedures one at a time.
With the problem areas identified, you can begin to automate workflows and policies as needed. Resist the urge to band-aid specific problems and try to resolve each problem once. Implement the required policies, best practices, and automation that will ensure you won’t need to revisit it anytime soon. Taking this approach will help you to avoid heavy-lifting and allow you to grow into multi-cloud management at your own speed.
If you want to see how easy it can be to embark on your cloud journey, why not take vCommander for a test drive? It's agent-less, has a wizard-driven installation, and seamlessly overlays across your existing environments, providing immediate value in both greenfield and brownfield environments. Click on the link below to download a trial now.