Monday Jan 14, 2013

Planning Your Enterprise Private Cloud

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with J.P. Garbani, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research on a very interesting project to shed light on how IT decision makers are dealing with the challenges of cloud adoption. At Oracle, we have been tracking cloud adoption in collaboration with the Independent Oracle User Group organization for some time. The last survey revealed very exciting news on how Oracle customers are adopting cloud computing. This year, we felt it was time to augment our efforts by tapping industry experts to get a better understanding of the challenges. That’s when we reached out to J.P. and asked him to analyze the current state of adoption and provide our readers with an assessment of what IT needs to do to pave the road to cloud. The results were absolutely fascinating. The report was published a while back. But for those busy folks out there, below are the top takeaways from this report:

The following includes excerpts from the report “Enterprise Cloud: Lessons Learned From Early Adopters - A Forrester Consulting Thought Leadership Paper Commissioned By Oracle”

Business agility and efficiency is the main driver for enterprise cloud.

Enterprises view cloud computing as an essential technology to address key business objectives. Cloud solutions are seen as a way to drive significant business value for the enterprise — in terms of business agility, business cost control, business efficiency, business innovation, and business differentiation. Cloud is no longer viewed as an IT-only initiative.

Organizations with an infrastructure-centric view of cloud struggle to meet these business objectives.

The ability to deliver significant business value requires a lot more than just shared computing and storage infrastructure. Abstracting infrastructure — the basis of infrastructure-as-a-service — does not provide the controls and management that IT must have to raise its standing beyond just a basic utility provider; nor does it allow IT to provide and manage actual business services. IT organizations looking to offer any significant value to the business must provide cloud solutions that focus on platform, application, and business value aspects. Survey respondents agree on the importance of application-centric cloud and the challenges associated with deploying complex, multi-tier applications.

Firms underestimate the deployment, release, and management issues of the complete application stack in the cloud.

Today’s applications are complex and depend on a number of factors included in the stack and middleware. Building and testing a release that works with all its dependencies, configuring and deploying it in a consistent manner in a cloud infrastructure, and monitoring and remediating performance and runtime issues that affect the business are fairly complex tasks that require solid tools to be successful. Cloud solutions, even at the PaaS level, do not provide the complete application services that are required. Using an integrated suite of tools for all these tasks keeps the consistency of the release and facilitates its deployment and operation. To be successful, IT organizations must look for deep and integrated application-centric tools that deliver out-of-the-box capabilities to create, manage, and automate all services required to support business applications. This is also confirmed by survey respondents, who highlighted top challenges in managing IT using multiple disparate tools.

A complete, application-centric, business-aware cloud solution is needed.

Enterprises need a complete enterprise cloud solution — with full life-cycle management, integrated stack management, business-driven application management, and engineered systems — to meet the goals of business agility and efficiency in addition to reducing IT complexity and operational costs. The complete cloud management solution must allow IT to build, manage, and support all cloud services including infrastructure-centric services (virtualization and infrastructure services), application-centric services (business applications and platform services), and business-centric services (business processes, activities, and transactions). Further, to meet objectives for business innovation, flexibility, and efficiency, clouds must be operation-, application-, and business-aware. It is clear that incomplete, shallow, and loosely integrated cloud management approaches will fail. The ideal approach is to identify a strategic vendor that offers you advanced tools with deep and highly integrated functionality to create complete, application-centric, business-aware clouds. Survey respondents confirmed the key characteristics and components needed for a complete cloud solution.

If you are interested in this topic, I invite you to visit our “zero-to-cloud” resource center. Here we plan to guide IT professionals through the roadmap to enterprise private cloud.

Some additional interesting activities I would recommend include the following. Check them out and be sure to visit us again and often on Zero-to-Cloud!

· Cloud Builder Summit physical events which incorporate a unique skit that shows clearly the steps needed to deploy private cloud services.

· Oracle OpenWorld videos. This is a You Tube playlist of our general session activities at Oracle OpenWorld 2012. It covers the latest product updates, customer testimonials and a very entertaining, yet highly educational skit.

· Our new comic book style Oracle Enterprise Manager e-Book which brings together all of our most recent assets ranging from customer testimonials, product information, tips and tricks and more.

Thursday Jan 03, 2013

Key Principles of Cloud Chargeback System

Contributed by Eric Tran-Le, VP, Product Management, Oracle Enterprise Manager

With public clouds users can now compare compute pricing pretty much like they would compare a car models. One could argue that compute power and services are different than a car but the fact is that users can compare costs.

Nothing has changed and everything has changed

Cost wise nothing has changed in a sense that the decision to implement a private cloud versus hosting on a public cloud is driven by the same factors than outsourcing or on-premise. It goes well beyond simple cost comparisons to touch upon key principles such as:

- Control of costs
- Visibility of costs
- Fairness of costs

Everything has changed in a sense that there is now a cost “predictability” expectation from users derived from a notion of “unit of compute” (the equivalent of standard energy Unit of Work) from which you can predict your resources consumption and infer total costs (a 45mpg rating means that you can drive 450 miles with 10 gallons or $40 if $4 per gallon). This is a more fundamental change in a sense that IT needs to work with the finance department to rationalize the cost-of-compute(Infrastructure + SW platform) and link it to the cost-to-serve (incident, problem, change & configuration management), the end goal is to produce a standard unit of compute that can be applied to various products and services configurations.

In part 1 of this blog, we will highlight how a cloud chargeback system can help addressing the key principles mentioned above and in part 2 we talk about how to create a profitable cost recovery model.

Key Principles of Chargeback System

Control of Costs

What is not defined cannot be controlled”, “What is not controlled cannot be measured”, “What is not measured cannot be charged”.
A cloud chargeback system provides a framework by which you can define a standard unit of cost for products and services. You can set unit of costs for resources based on hardware tiers or database high availability tiers, you can add fixed costs for on-going support costs or for facilities driven cost such as real-estate, power, HVAC,… but more importantly you can organized them by business units and cost centers so that you do have a cost structure hierarchy to report in aggregate or by business units. To define the right set of configurations, you need to baseline the current workloads utilization, characterize the patterns group of users and type of workloads and since you will use based compute metrics (CPU, memory, I/O,…) to measure utilization it is important for you to define which layers of computing ( Servers, Middleware, Databases,…) will reflect fairly the actual usage pattern of an application.

Visibility of Costs

Among all the features showing business units their VM consumption and allocations is the one that will start to change the relationship between IT and users more fundamentally. Actual utilization rate, historical trending, heat map displaying under and over utilized servers but also virtual environment configuration attributes such as high availability and regulatory compliance reports will contribute to a better cost-to-serve transparency. Another important capability to look for is how you can identify servers that cannot be part of a shared pool of resources due either to legacy applications or simply very high workload requiring dedicated machine this will help when you start sharing with the user the calculation of his charge plan.

Fairness of Costs

This the ONE difference with traditional chargeback models in a sense that metrics collected for charge calculation are actually “IT compute metrics” on top of which you add “services fee-based” metrics. In traditional chargeback direct or indirect model, the finance department tends to use non IT metrics such as # of users in a business unit as a % of aggregate IT costs or data center space taken by rack of servers,…this has led to a lot to the lack of transparency and the sense of “unfair” chargeback. As part of the charge plan calculation the characterization of fixed versus variable costs is essential to calculate the unit of charge.

Conclusion

Remember that in the cloud, users do not want to pay for resources they do not use and there is an expectation that they can dynamically request more resources, allocate and de-allocate resources. A cloud chargeback system will help you transition to a usage-based pricing of your IT resources will the key principles of control, visibility and fairness of costs. Last but not least, you do not need to go for the big-bang and turn chargeback right away you can implement showback and specific chargeback initiatives so that the business units can work with you on an efficient chargeback model.

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