Automating the data centre for cloud

Integrated management of data centre functions can help CIOs manage resources more efficiently, says BMC’s Dominic Wellington.

Tags: BMC Software (www.bmc.com)Cloud computing
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Automating the data centre for cloud With automation solutions, IT managers can set rules for cloud workloads.
By  Mark Sutton Published  June 14, 2012

Integrated management of data centre functions can help CIOs manage resources more efficiently, says BMC’s Dominic Wellington.

Just keeping the lights on in a typical data centre can be challenging enough for CIOs. But with resources under pressure, users provisioning their own IT services and emerging models of cloud computing shifting some workloads out of the data centre (and potentially out of the CIO’s control), ensuring smooth operations is becoming an even bigger challenge.

To help companies adopt cloud computing without losing control of their data, BMC Software is proposing that CIOs look to more adoption of automation solutions that will help to manage the data centre with more visibility.

This will allow CIOs to ensure IT is both providing the necessary infrastructure and services, and making the best use of the various cloud offerings that are available.

Dominic Wellington, solution marketing manager, data centre automation and cloud, for BMC Software EMEA, says that the company has tied together the solutions it has been offering in infrastructure management, services management and other areas to create an integrated suite of solutions to enable cloud deployment.

“We have been working in this space for quite some time, because we came in with quite a strong offering based on just the various components that we had in place, and we have several customer successes just with the individual components tied together with orchestration,” said Wellington.

“What we have done in recent years is we have joined up our very strong automation offerings, on both the server and the network end, with our industry leading management front end, the service request management component of the Remedy platform, and also the assurance component, both the traditional monitoring and also the capacity optimisation parts that we have in our portfolio.

“We have joined all this together in a truly unified suite solution, which has as its core the notion of the service governor, which is able to do things like intelligent placement of the workload, intelligent pricing based decisions, compliance based decisions and so on.

“It is a lot more than just taking different pieces of technology and joining them together. We have done a lot of work on the central core that intelligently communicates between the automation components and the assurance components,” he added. The combined BMC solutions have helped a number of customers to manage cloud deployments, in developing their own internal cloud solutions, managing hybrid deployments that draw on public cloud resources as well as private, and in preparing their platform to become cloud service providers themselves.

“We have more than 50 cloud customers in production worldwide, and we have in the order of hundreds that are in some stage between pilot and implementation at some stage along the road to going into full public production,” said Wellington.

“The split is almost even between private clouds, companies that are operating their own infrastructure, and service providers who are operating a public cloud for third parties.”

BMC itself fits into both models, using the technology to provide a virtualised server environment for its own R&D team, and delivering its Remedy IT service management suite as SaaS, on top of deployments of Salesforce.com.

Internally, the use of automation and self service features means that resources from its virtualised server farm for R&D can be provisioned in a matter of minutes.

This has solved the problem of R&D teams hogging resources because they were never sure how long it might take to provision new resources.

“The advantage was freeing up huge amounts of IT budgets that had already been allocated to hardware purchase, and we were able to have a complete standstill on hardware purchase. There were large amounts of money that were freed up for other IT projects,” he said.

The intelligent automation solutions that BMC offers are able to help companies with managing complex hybrid deployments, with some workloads being moved to private cloud, and some to public cloud.

While use of cloud should make business easier for IT managers, shifting workloads to public cloud providers throws up issues around pricing, compliance, service levels and many other factors that all need to be managed.

BMC’s solutions offer aspects such as out of the box support for major public cloud providers, so that IT managers can easily integrate with them, and a host of rules and templates to set rules for workloads. This allows companies to do things like send certain workloads to public clouds only if the provider’s pricing for the job falls below a certain level.

The Service Governor is also able to set compliance rules around tasks, to meet a wide range of different standards and regulations, or rules that are defined by the user. The solution is able to continuously monitor the status of virtualised environments, even when outsourced to a hybrid cloud, to ensure ongoing compliance.

“The two components to that, one is the Service Governor that will make sure that workloads that are not appropriate don’t get pushed out at all to those types of resource [public cloud],” Wellington said.

“The other is once something is out there, we want to keep it aligned to desired states, we have to do regular audits, regular scans, and we have to have remediation capabilities to correct the configuration drift that inevitably occurs.”

The suite also provides ongoing performance monitoring, which can respond to any change in performance, which allows companies that are cloud customers to make sure they are getting service levels promised, while companies that are cloud providers are able to take remedial action before customers see a degradation in service.

The integrated capabilities of the suite can also play an important role in helping customers to cut the time required for cloud implementations. BMC says it can now take customers from start to full production in the cloud within 90 days.

“A cloud project does not necessarily mean huge, multi-year engagements with armies of consultants, it can be something that can provide very quick time to value, as long as its correctly scoped and understood out of the gate,” Wellington said.

“We work a lot on the preparation phase and understanding customer’s requirements and maturity and what infrastructure they have in place, so that once we get to actually turning the wheel for the first time, we can be successful with that.”

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