Applying Cloud Principles to the Data Center

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Ronny Front is a Senior Consultant at GlassHouse Technologies and has more than 12 years of experience in variety of infrastructure-related projects, such as design, implementation and support including pre-sales and post-sales type of engagements.

RFRont_GlasshouseRONNY FRONT
Glasshouse Technologies

Today’s data centers are transforming. Implementations of new data centers are mainly based on low cost, high density, and industry-standard hardware components. Demanding workloads are now being run on standard hardware, storage and networking components. In addition, systems architectures, processes and management solutions are not evolving enough to address the day-to-day challenges that system-administrators face when operating these highly scalable systems. Application models don’t provide developers with the ability to effectively describe the operational requirements of distributed applications, and today’s monitoring and management solutions focus primarily on individual pieces of the infrastructure without providing an application centric view of the underlying hardware resources.

Enter the Cloud

Because it allows IT organizations to have very dynamic and flexible data centers, and may also assist to better utilize virtualization solutions, data centers should focus on the cloud, which provides the next level of management, control, optimization and automation.To better understand what this means, here are some characteristics of cloud services that describe the new approach.

Standardization

Standardization within the data center has to occur in both the physical infrastructure and at the logical level. IT organizations are transitioning from large monolithic data centers, which are slow to provision and take significant time and cost to build out, to various alternative models including containerized and modular data centers.

At the same time, IT managers are tasked with maintaining homogeneous software infrastructure configurations with integration across servers, backup, network, storage, OS and monitoring. A simplified management and configuration interface will enhance IT operations and result in fewer errors and unscheduled downtime.

Automation

IT process automation (ITPA) is the ability to orchestrate and integrate IT management tools through workflow. Automation helps IT meet strategic goals both in terms of reducing costs and improving services to the business.

ITPA replaces repetitive manual processes, which are resource intensive and error prone, while optimizing the use of IT resources from a staff and technology investments perspective. This increases agility, helps to enforce quality assurance compliance, shows systems involvement in each step, and is fully documented and auditable so manual intervention is not needed. These processes can enforce server, storage, security and application provisioning standards.

Self-Service Portal

A self-service portal allows consumers to request infrastructure for their applications and/or services. A portal can be delivered as a standardized form and provides better control over the environment, which reduces the time needed to provision new services and provides control over provisioning requests for reclamations. The portal system can also integrate chargeback and SLA processes.

Chargeback

Chargeback and metering refer to the ability for an IT organization to track and measure the IT expenses per business unit and charge them accordingly. A cloud is a pool of computing resources available for sharing among many clients. It is a dynamic environment where applications can request resources such as memory, storage, CPU and I/O as needed, and be changed accordingly. Virtual machines can be sized dynamically at run time, giving applications incredible scaling ability. Some companies charge per size, per use or sometimes even by a “one size fits all” method.

The Bottom Line

All of the above will help IT organizations come to a holistic, comprehensive and strategic view of the data center. Integration between components in the data center provides a solution that can scale and incorporate appropriate levels of data center management while meeting the customer’s unique needs.

In order to enable this optimization process, IT needs to assess the environment and provide a road map on how to handle the current environment and future growth. This process will allow companies to define and implement proactive IT initiatives and will help IT management deliver cost effective and risk reductions across the entire data center.

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