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How to get self-service right in private clouds

Andrew Hillier is co-founder and CTO of CiRBA | Oct. 11, 2013
As organisations build out internal clouds, a major goal is to provide internal customers with self-service access to capacity. Although simple in concept, this fundamental change can create challenges in practice.

Be prepared for pushback when automating this, as manual processes can be very ingrained, and there is typically a vested interest in the status quo.  Although spreadsheet-based approaches are being phased out, significant effort may have gone into their development.  

* Can capacity managers analyze these inbound "bookings" in order to predict short and long-term capacity requirements?
Looking at things from the infrastructure perspective, what applications a line of business needs to deploy is not under your control, but what you can control is how these workloads are placed in the infrastructure, how capacity is allocated to them, and how hardware is procured in the future to meet upcoming demands.  If reserving and routing is done properly, the result is a "pipeline" of inbound bookings that can be used for predictive analysis, enabling advanced capacity risk management and just-in-time purchasing.  This moves organizations from a low-efficiency high-risk situation to a high-efficiency low-risk operational model, which should be a major goal for any cloud initiative.

Beyond compute and memory resources, it is important to forecast the impact of inbound bookings on storage capacity (and to predictively route workloads based on this).  Failure to do so can lead to operational issues as virtual data stores become unexpectedly exhausted.

These three areas represent what is needed to reach the next phase of cloud maturity, and if the answer is yes to all three then the outlook is good.  It means that the internal clouds being built can go beyond being a sandbox for early adopters, and become true next-generation hosting platforms that are ready for real production workloads.  It means all enterprise capacity can be put under a single management umbrella, allowing workloads to be matched with available capacity in a scientific manner.  And it allows a painful period to be avoided where the dynamics of demand far outstrip the ability to manage that demand.  

Demand management may not be top of mind when building internal clouds, but its fundamental principles should be.  Serious organizations should demand nothing less.  

 

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