Lessons from Service Providers on Private Cloud

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David Link, co-founder and CEO of ScienceLogic, uses his background in the Managed Service Provider market to help both service providers and enterprises with their IT operations and cloud management needs.

David LInkDAVID LINK ScienceLogic

Are you considering or being tasked with deploying a private cloud environment in your organization? As IT becomes the builder and broker of services, its role both operationally and strategically is changing to resemble that of a service provider. This is a significant evolution from traditional data center operations. Issues once unique to an Managed Service Provider’s data center – including offering packages of IT compute and application services with accompanying service levels, service monitoring, pricing and chargeback – are now issues facing any enterprise IT shop that is transitioning applications to private clouds.

So service providers, who have been running their operations like private clouds for years, have much to teach us about private cloud management. But what service provider best practices should enterprises follow? Here are a few recommendations.

Self-Service Portals

Deploying a private cloud means thinking about what IT services you provide to the rest of the organization in a packaged way. Due to the sheer volume of customers and customer end users that MSPs deal with, they’ve driven innovation in self-service portal models.

Essentially functioning as a services catalog along with a provisioning portal, these tools allow customers to select, purchase and implement a new service, whether it’s bandwidth, storage or an email account. This is now a necessary component for an enterprise-class private cloud.

As you catalog your end user applications and begin the journey to move these to a service model, follow the service provider lead by creating an orchestration layer to secure the services based on policies and brokering the service resources across private clouds.

Automation

Automation is also integral to a successful private cloud as demonstrated by the service providers, because consumers expect always-on, on-demand services, no matter where or when they are making the request. Service activation automation is a key element to improving agility, creating consistent service delivery and ultimately lowering costs.

An added bonus: By automating the provisioning process, developers can spend less time on service maintenance and more time on business improvement opportunities.

Chargeback

Without the ability to track and attribute service and resource consumption (including bandwidth, compute, storage, facilities), service providers would fail in months, if not weeks. While private cloud users might not be external customers, establishing metrics for their service and usage consumption is no less significant, even if the purpose is simply “showback” to educate line of business folks about computing costs.

Instead of reinventing the wheel, corporate IT shops should borrow the successful chargeback models from service providers and apply them to private cloud metering.

Monitoring, Management and Transparency

Finally, service providers depend on a holistic view of their data center operations to ensure consistent service delivery, and so should enterprises implementing a private cloud. Proactive monitoring and management in a private cloud environment requires keeping tabs on both physical and cloud-based resources, which can move as compute becomes more liquid. To maintain a complete view of IT service delivery, enterprises need to learn from the service providers.

For sheer survival, most service providers have largely given up the models of cobbling together multiple tool sets or point products that create silos of isolated data or deploying giant, expensive framework modules that take too long to deploy and integrate with other tools. The risk with both models is that they may not keep up with dynamic networks and do not provide the big picture needed to run a private cloud.

Service providers rely on an IT operations management fabric that provides the contextual and situational awareness needed to strategically run a private cloud environment. Look for solutions that can provide a consolidated view of your entire infrastructure and all of the components that make up business service delivery, whether they live in your data center or the cloud.

A Smooth Journey to the Private Cloud

Moving from a traditional IT shop to a private cloud provider means that, on top of running operations, suddenly you have to function like a service provider. While challenging, this transition can be made with careful planning and a look to the service providers who have perfected the model. It has never been more important to understand what your customers need, fulfill those needs with the right services and tools, and monitor and manage success with a complete view of IT service delivery, no matter where the components that make up the service actually reside. Lastly, be transparent and highlight the business value of your solutions with service level dashboards for your customers.

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