0 to Cloud in 6 Posts, Part 5: Delivering ITaaS with vCloud Director

Post 5 of 6: Delivering IT as a Service with vCloud Director

Building your cloud infrastructure is only half the battle. Let’s just assume the notion of ‘cloud’ is now defined and well aligned with your business requirements, infrastructure is in place, best practices followed, and you’re ready to power this sucker up. Then what? The presence of the hypervisor has been assumed throughout this series — much is gained with vSphere adding that prerequisite abstraction of bare-metal resources. But virtualization is only half the battle when the end goal is delivering a cloud — or IT as a Service (ITaaS). To get there, you’ll need to take a moment to understand what exactly you’re trying to accomplish. What does cloud mean to your organization in the first place? Are you looking to streamline your IT infrastructure internally (i.e. Private Cloud) or perhaps deliver next-generation IT services externally (Public Cloud)…or both (Hybrid)? No matter your flavor of cloud, one thing holds true — you will be successful only if you employ the right enablement tools and technologies. You should also step back and take a moment to understand the concepts. I made a decision to embrace these concepts and technologies a little more than a year ago.…

0 to Cloud in 6 Posts, Part 4: xBlock- Designing a Repeatable Architecture

Post 4 of 6: xBlock- Designing a Repeatable Architecture

I have lost count of how many pre-integrated infrastructure offerings are now available through the various software, network, storage, and compute partnerships out there – all competing for their stake as your cloud’s foundation (for those who still think ‘the cloud’ is a hardware offering with some antiquated management slapped on top, please reexamine the definition of cloud). A well-designed infrastructure is a great (and required) start, but software is where the magic happens…but I digress. Whether it’s a vBlock (EMC, Cisco, VMware), FlexPod (NetApp, Cisco VMware), Dell’s vStart, or any of the dozens of combinations out there worth mentioning, one thing holds true…all (well, most) are examples of what a robust reference architecture can do for your cloud. Sure each offering will add it’s special sauce as a value proposition – proven, pre-engineered, specialized, best-of-breed, etc. – but, more importantly, these solutions provide the core components for your cloud’s infrastructure – Storage, Compute, Network, and the glorious Hypervisor – and use the Lego approach for scaling the infrastructure out as needed.
Scale Happens.  Cloud infrastructures are meant to be elastic, agile, and designed to scale beyond your wildest imagination. [insert joke about the company that markets the “cloud in a box”]. …

0 to Cloud in 6 Posts, Part 3: Hardware – choosing your infrastructure

Post 3 of 6: Hardware – choosing your infrastructure

Okay, let’s talk hardware. Choosing the right hardware and technologies are essential for the success of your cloud. This post covers the fundamentals of hardware selection for your cloud – pointers to get your brain cells focused on specs vs. brands, compute resources vs. servers…you get the idea. With all this hardware you will eventually have the means of building your reference architecture – but that’s the next post in this series. For the sake of delivering workloads to anyone from anywhere based on expected levels of service, your focus should be on raw performance, efficiency (to include total operating cost, overhead, and management), integration, and scalability. One point to remember – the most expensive components won’t necessarily ensure you meet SLA’s or make for a faster/better cloud. Cost is often just as important as performance, if not more important, and should be considered just as any other critical criteria. Keep this in mind as you disagree with the forthcoming pointers J
When I discuss hardware with my customers, I stick to performance levels and expectations, varying levels of integration, and the technologies that will tie the infrastructure all together. Choosing the right hardware doesn’t mean use Dell for this and EMC for that (although it might)…it means selecting the hardware components that will ensure you meet SLA’s and fulfill your business criteria…period.…

0 to Cloud in 6 Posts, Part 2: Getting Started – defining a success criteria

Post 2 of 6: Getting Started – defining a success criteria

Next topic in this series is one that can make or break your journey to the cloud — defining what you will consider a “great success!” when all is said and done it is essential to keep things on track throughout the journey. You’ll need to set some realistic goals and objectives, get management buy-in, line up some IT/engineering resources, and maybe even get financial commitment (especially if this is usually a challenge) ahead of time. Determining where you are today vs. where you need to be ahead of time can not only accelerate the process, but will set some ground rules for everyone involved. Remember, this is a journey — it’ll take some time and commitment but you should never lose sight of the objectives.
Virtualize: So, what are your objectives? I’ll assume they are business-driven, a directive of sorts, or perhaps you’re at the starting line and need something to pitch because you know how the business will benefit with a cloud model. We’ll knock out the must have’s: reduce cost and overhead, be ‘green’, take control (of your infrastructure), simplify and centrally manage IT, and improve usability.…