On the Road to Delivering IT-as-a-Service

What if you could deliver IT-as-a-Service?

Last time around, I discussed the challenge facing data center managers when it comes to responding to internal customers and standing up new services in virtual environments and cloud deployments.

The key takeaway being that IT departments need solutions that provide speed to service, service assurance, and compliance.

Address these areas and you solve the IT management challenge to delivering IT-as-a-service (ITaaS).

Being the EMC employee that I am, I’d like to discuss how EMC is going about providing solutions to this challenge. Like anything else, it’s an evolutionary process but the benefits being realized by customers are tangible today.

A Better Mouse Trap

EMC cut its teeth on building a better mouse trap for data center administrators looking for a better way to do data storage. Along the way, they learned how to deal with networks and issues like unplanned outages, disaster recovery, and wholesale data movement.

Leveraging this expertise, it only made sense to work the stack for good business reasons which benefits customers.

EMC provides end-to-end visibility up and down the compute, network, and storage stack as well as across the local data center and service providers (i.e. hybrid cloud). In this way, EMC can manage and present infrastructure resources as infrastructure services.

Focusing on the infrastructure while relinquishing much of the server-level virtual space to VMware (if EMC’s greater than 80% stake in VMware constitutes giving anything up), EMC has built technologies to optimize infrastructure management.

How does EMC address the management challenge?

The Power of Now

In a traditional process to stand-up infrastructure there are numerous provisioning and hand-off points. Compute provisioning, validation, network provisioning, validation, storage provisioning, validation. Sounds like a bloated infrastructure bureaucracy.

By crossing boundaries and automating these manual and time-consuming tasks, EMC Unified Infrastructure Manager (UIM)removes many of the hand-off and manual change management steps and enables the provisioning of a single block of infrastructure.

Conveniently, UIM is the management layer for VCE Vblocks: virtualization platforms from the combined engineering minds of VMware, Cisco, and EMC; your one-stop virtualization and cloud solution in a box.

By making it all turnkey, deploying new services becomes immediate; you live and work in the now, not some distant futures. This agility is a competitive advantage in this world.

Five steps become one, dramatically reducing time to service.

Proof point: Atea in northern Europe is a large outsourcer. With UIM they were able to reduce the time required to stand up new services from on average 2 weeks to 2 days.

Anticipation

In the old data center identifying problems was a bit of trial and error. Poke around until you found the culprit. Not so in the new world order.

EMC Ionix UIM/Operations (UIM/O) in the Vblock infrastructure monitors and shows events and alerts in the context of their physical and virtual resources as well as in higher level abstractions such as service offerings.

Beyond Vblock, Ionix ITOI leverages its patented root-cause analysis engines to quickly get to the heart of a problem.

You not only live and work in the now, but with some time and experience get ahead of the curve and anticipate and remediate problems as or before they occur. Service at the infrastructure-level is assured.

Proof point:
Texas-based CompuCom is a $1.4B outsourcer providing remote management and monitoring of customers’ data centers. With ITOI they were able to get to the root cause of a problem 80% faster than previously possible.

Life is Good

Once upon a time proving compliance was about as much fun as a government tax audit and not too dissimilar in the preparations, time, and anxieties involved. All too often organizations operated with good intentions and a false-sense of well-being not really knowing if their systems were up to spec.

With EMC, the approach is both intelligent and informed. EMC Ionix provides views into infrastructure changes and deviations and the ability to apply policy-based corrections. Through automation, organizations know their infrastructure is in compliance and can prove it. Life is good.

For Vblock environments, UIM/P confirms compliance for the Vblock platform by tracking comparing and changes made to the Vblock against a gold standard of best practices.

For those choosing the ala carte approach, integrations with VMware vCenter Configuration Manager automate the validation process of virtual and physical compute resources to assure compliance.

Virtualization opens up a wealth of possibilities including the promise of seamless computing in Cloud deployments. To make the last leg of the journey to the Cloud or even the distant stops on the road to a well-oiled virtual environment takes an effective converged infrastructure management strategy.

Look to EMC for such a strategy to quickly deliver services now; anticipate, find, and fix problems; and stay out of trouble.

While these technologies might sound all well and good, as they should, it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

About the Author: Mark Prahl

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