(By Jason Cowie, VP of product management of Embotics)
When it comes to cloud computing, there is one thing most data center managers agree on; the public cloud is not a viable option for hosting critical or sensitive workloads. Particularly for small and midsize companies, security, latency, and workload portability overshadow the benefits public clouds offset. Sure, the public cloud seems to offer everything the small to medium-size business (SMB) requires, including:
- Pre-built infrastructure
- Offloading management and maintenance
- Apparent affordability.
However, those perks come with serious concerns about security, redundancy, uptime and service level agreements (SLAs) that are problematic for mission-critical applications. To guarantee a high availability and uptime, a public cloud consumer essentially needs to build redundancy into the network, server, and operating system at the additional expense of hosting that in the cloud. This may be a viable option for external facing applications, but when it is a mission critical workload for internal consumption, this redundant architecture can quickly erase any infrastructure savings. Combined with security and regulatory concerns, the cost and benefit of public cloud quickly disappears for critical workloads. Therefore, it should not be a surprise that more SMBs are embracing private or hybrid cloud options when virtualizing mission critical workloads. From our perspective, this is a positive move and one that provides the greatest flexibility for future workload migrations.
In the early days of virtualization adoption, we all took note of an interesting phenomenon unraveling in the virtual data center: the ability to quickly spin up resources and the consequences of only spinning up resources - virtual sprawl. We’re seeing a parallel drama unfold in the adoption of cloud computing, but it’s not a story most cloud management vendors will tell. Why? When financial incentive exists in growing the size of a data center or hosted cloud infrastructure, how likely are they to introduce concepts that minimize their revenue stream? If they did, the plot of that tale would include these four facts:
1. The easy approach is not necessarily the smart approach. It isn’t difficult to build IT-as-a-service on top of a virtualized infrastructure and call it a private cloud. The smart approach requires specialized automation and management capabilities for the virtual data center that includes: automated request and approval workflows, integrated change and configuration management, intelligent placement of workloads based on real time capacity and performance information, self service provisioning, and ongoing optimization of your virtual data center with the rightsizing of workloads. The smart approach builds upon your current infrastructure investment and comes in the form of a fully integrated, cost effective solution.
2. There are choices beyond VMware. Some IT leaders look at the option of developing a fully automated infrastructure and discount it as too costly and too complex. Neither belief needs to be true, nor does an automated infrastructure necessarily signal time-consuming deployments. Faster, less expensive and simpler options all exist, and they aren’t limited to VMware. Points to consider:
- Hyper-V, KVM, and Citrix are all becoming viable alternatives for certain workloads. For example, VMware’s dominance in development and QA workloads is shrinking
- As long as SLA and performance metrics are met, end users are caring less about which hypervisor is used for hosting their workload, and more about cost savings.
3. IT needs to get comfortable with self-service provisioning and management. Companies are moving ahead with private and hybrid cloud deployments, but self-service management capabilities are not always keeping up. This is rooted in IT’s well grounded fear that end users will do stupid things. However, with the advances in fluid cost models, metering, and policies to govern consumption, IT should leverage these core capabilities to push out cloud stewardship to end-users. If end users understand costs associated with their workloads and pay for them, they will quickly learn the importance of reclaiming and re-using valuable resources. Combined with self-service management capabilities, IT is able to push accountability and management down to the end user while freeing up valuable cycles to reclaim their nights and weekends.
4. Offer private clouds or watch your competitor deliver it. Shadow IT is growing in organizations that don’t take the cloud seriously. When IT departments fail to evolve in how they deliver infrastructure services to the organization (quicker, faster and cheaper), end-users will quickly look at alternatives. Unfortunately, these alternatives are often with external providers (the competitor of IT) that create unknown risks and often come with lengthy and costly service agreements.
Private and hybrid cloud computing is more accessible to SMBs than ever with integrated management and automation solutions enabling wide scale organization adoption. While the easy approach isn’t the scalable or smart approach, organizations that take a holistic, hypervisor agnostic approach to delivering IT-as-a-Service will undoubtedly reap efficiency gains while eliminating the risk of shadow IT.
Jason Cowie is the vice president product management at Embotics and oversees product direction and strategy. Previously, Jason was the General Manager at EMC responsible for the Server Management business, and played a key role in the acquisition of Configuresoft.