A Practical Guide to Cloud Implementation

By Choong Keng Leong November 26, 2013

Whenever we talk about Cloud Computing, the vision is to become “Amazon” like, where anyone can go to an online portal and order IT services such as Applications, Computing, Storage or Backup. It is possible to achieve this state if the IT environment is virtualized, a service catalog is in place and an orchestration solution is present. There are plenty of service catalog and orchestration solutions in the market ranging from enterprise solutions such as VMware’s vCloud Automation Center to Open Source solutions such as OpenStack. Indeed, this is what got many enterprises excited about Cloud; its seductive ability to allow their business users to self-service for IT services and have them provisioned with minimal or no IT staff intervention. Additionally, the ability to leverage Public Cloud Service Providers without having to build and manage their own infrastructure is financially attractive. However, concerns around security, data sovereignty and regulatory compliance still hover above many industries and organizations which may restrict them to take full advantage of Public Cloud. This is where Private Cloud became a relatively more viable solution with lower hurdles to overcome. Although getting enterprises to operate with a Public Cloud Service Provider in their own Private Cloud environments is not a simple task!

Top Questions Many Enterprises Are Encountering:

  • Should I let all business users have access to the Self Service Portal and request for IT services? If not, to whom should I grant access?
  • What type of IT services should I or can I offer and publish on the Service Catalog?  How do I charge for them?
  • What control processes should I put in place to ensure that IT still has visibility and accountability for the IT resources allocated through the Self Service Portal? What organization structure should I put in place to support it?
  • How can I accelerate the transformation to the Private Cloud without spending too much on fixing existing infrastructure?

Let’s address these one at a time:

Should I let all Business Users have access to the Self Service Portal and request for IT services? If not, to whom should I grant access? It would be ideal if the ability to perform self-service for IT services through the Service Catalog and Self Service Portal is available to everyone in the organization. However one needs to consider the following:

Different User Groups Require Different Types of IT Services: For example, an end user normally requests for end-computing services such as Email, Network Access and Productivity Software. However an application developer may request for Virtual Machines, Load Balancers, and SAN Storage. Therefore, it is necessary to identify which user group the Service Catalog and Portal is targeted for, and to define which services will be available for each group.

Be Aware of Business User’s Technical Knowledge and Organizational Maturity: Once the target audience is identified, it may still be necessary to limit access to the Self Service Portal to only authorized users for each business unit. This is to ensure that only appropriate and authorized service requests are submitted for processing. For example, ensuring that correct information is completed in the self-service request form and appropriate size of CPU, RAM and Storage have been requested. A common and valid concern is that some of the business users and Application Teams may not understand the implications of the technical information requested in the Self Service form and will simply choose the maximum configuration. Also, while some resources can easily be hot-added or removed some, like shrinking storage size, are harder to change.

This brings us to the design of the Service Catalog and Self Service Portal. It needs to be designed in a way that is easily understood by the targeted audience and so that it can also guide the user to select the right choice of IT service(s). For example, making sure that all Mission Critical Applications must have remote data replication. We will discuss this in detail in future blogs.

 IT is Another User of Service Catalog & Self Service Portal: Some enterprises may be thinking that the Service Catalog and Self Service Portal are only for business users and Application Teams. I see many benefits of also implementing Service Catalog and Self Service Portal for the different IT teams and their own internal use. For example, creating a portal targeted for administrators and operators that automates some of the common administrative tasks such as provisioning storage, data protection, etc. The automation removes human errors, and enforces policy compliance and consistency in execution.

In my next blogs, I shall address the other three questions.

About Choong Keng Leong

Keng Leong has spent over 18 years dealing with large IT infrastructure projects in banks, government agencies, large telcos, and other organizations. He recognized the importance of IT as a Service early on, and has successfully helped many organizations move down that path.

Keng Leong has many professional certifications, including EMC Cloud Architect Expert (EMCCAe), Data Science Associate (EMCDSA) and ITIL v3 Expert, but his most important certification remains his sincere passion for IT as a Service and his strong belief in the future of IT being very cloud-centric.

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