What do we really need? Cloud? or Change?

Going through the VCAP-DCD material and I had a question. Since it comes with the assumption that everyone is working toward building a private cloud. So I started asking, do I need to build a “cloud” and why? Now don’t think I have completely gone bonkers. I still think the benefits of cloud could help many IT departments. I think more than how do I build a cloud, the question should be what do we need to change to provide better service to the business.

We are infrastructure people

wpid1684-wpid-image1.png

As VMware/Storage/Networking professionals we tend to think about what equipment we need to do this our that. Or how if I could just get 40Gb Ethernet problems XYZ would go away. Often we have to build it on top of a legacy. If we do ever get a green field opportunity it usually needs to be done so quickly we never quite to investigate all the technology we wish we could. There is stuff like All Flash, Hyper-converged things, accelerator appliances, software defined everything all aiming at replacing legacy Compute/Network/Storage.

My last post was about knowing the applications and this is not a repeat of that, but it is very important to for us to look at how our infrastructure choices will impact the business. Beyond business metrics of my FlashArray allows business unit X to do so many more transactions in a day which means more money for the business. What else do the internal customers require from the blinking lights in the loud room with really cold AC.

Ask better questions

wpid1685-media_1390582947194.png
  • How does faster storage change the application?
  • What will change if we automate networking?
  • Could workers be more productive if the User experience was better?
  • What are things we do just because we always do them that way?
  • What legacy server, storage and network thought processes can we turn upside down?

This type of foundation enables you to focus on the important things like getting better at Halo. Just kidding. My goal is one day Infrastructure Administrators will get to sleep well at night, their kids will know their names and weekends will once again be for fun things and not Storage, Server or Network cutovers. That is the value of Private Cloud, not that I can now let internal customers self-service provision a VM or application (which is still cool). We gain confidence that our infrastructure is manageable. We have time to work on automating the boring repetitive stuff. You get your life back. Awesome.

Start with Applications

I have been revisiting my work towards some advanced datacenter certifications and decided to journal some of the thoughts I have during the process. After a 3 year break I decided it was time to start pushing toward some of these goals.

 This may sound eerily similar to something I have said before. It is a constant fight in the infrastructure technology field to get so weighed down by speeds and feeds and features. You begin to lose sight as to why you actually put servers, switches, storage and software together in the first place. While looking at the requirements guide for the VCAP-DCD the very first thing that is mentioned is getting the business requirements. How do I actually do that? What does the business actually require?

  1. Know what the applications actually do.
    Ask! What does this Microsoft SQL database do? How does email relate to our business doing deals? Find out how money goes in and out of the business. How does your company pay bills? How do you charge for whatever it is you produce? How do the MBA types make decisions about who, what, when, where and why for your business? In IT we often get so involved in rolling out a new widget from vendor X, Y and Z we often don’t realize what is the purpose to the business. Understand this from a high level first.
  2. Map technology to the impact on the business.
    Who cares if I can do a million IOPS if all I do is check email all day? How do I consolidate servers with no plan on how they impact the bottom line? How do I provide cloud like capabilities if no one really needs them? So start to map the capabilities to the benefits to the business. If the decisions being made can be done with data that is 5 minutes old instead of a 24 hours how can that change the landscape of your business? Does this give an advantage over competitors?
  3. Know something about the Apps.
    If your answer is I don’t know how are business runs or anything about SQL or Oracle I just make empty VM’s for people to put the apps on. I make sure they turn on and I move them around when they need performance or more capacity. Guess what? Those functions can be done by VMware Orchestrator. If you don’t know why you put 4 vCPU’s on a SQL VM because the batch jobs don’t ever use more than that and why, you need to learn. If you need tools to decipher the differences then get them. At least get the trial versions so you can see what happens. Get close to the queries that run at night. Do you know if they are CPU, Memory or Storage bound? Find out. Get off of reddit and check it out. Do you know if you put in faster servers will the app improve in a way that makes things better for business? Are you really going to gamble your budget on marginal improvements?

WhyInfraexists

Can you connect how all of these things relate and benefit the business?

Just some small things I have been thinking about. In my job it is a constant temptation to push how many IOPS you can do with this thing or that. When I need to say “what process needs the performance? If that process is faster AND you get additional benefits of data reduction, floor tile reduction, power usage reduction what will it mean to your business users?”

 

 

Presidio and Pure Storage at Sweetwater Brewery – January 16th 5:30

If you like to try out some awesome beer and learn about how Flash can change your data center. Meet Presidio and Pure Storage at the Sweetwater Brewery in Atlanta on January 16th at 5:30.

Learn how change your Database, Virtual and VDI environments. No longer worry about performance and get amazing high availability.

Join us! I am excited to meet you if you are in the Atlanta area.

Register here: