EMC IT’s ongoing quest to meet business’ need for speed and on-demand infrastructure has entered a new chapter as our IT organization implements a software defined data center using EMC’s Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud technology. As we continue to build our infrastructure and services in the cloud, there are several lessons we have learned along the way that will hopefully help your organization on your path to the hybrid cloud.
Like most organizations, EMC IT has virtualized and consolidated our infrastructure, achieved significant cost savings, and continued to drive down provisioning time and increase agility. After this, we used a myriad of tools, software, and scripts to deliver some Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) capabilities. The introduction of new EMC Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud technology (FEHC) is accelerating our progress toward a software defined data center by leveraging a fully integrated technology stack with virtual networking, storage and security, in addition to the virtual compute layer we have been – accustomed to for years.
The integration of this stack with a public cloud offering from VMware (vCloud Air) is further enhancing agility and cost effectiveness by providing on-demand capacity to avoid the inherent delays of adding capacity to our internal cloud.
We have built the foundation for our software defined data center, built our use cases, got some workloads up and running, and are working to deliver more services through this platform. The integrated technology stack provides the standardization that allows us to accelerate our efforts, as the software, services and code we developed can be reused.
In the meantime, here are some lessons we learned in getting to this new chapter that we’d like to pass along:
1. Building this yourself is hard. Writing code for the many permutations in our current environment has proven time consuming and difficult to sustain. Having the software built-in with FEHC is definitely helping us to accelerate our vision.
2. Adapt your team roles and structure. This isn’t just about technology. It’s important to address the people and processes part of this transformation. Adjusting roles and skills in the organization is critical. Automation affords and necessitates the need to challenge existing processes meant to protect against the dangers of manual processes. Only in doing so can you unleash agility.
3. Instill a software mindset. Infrastructure represented through software is fundamentally different than what we’ve traditionally done. Knowledge and learning best practices for software development are now more important. Focus should be on building enterprise software, creating a software development lifecycle, and managing software components in a tightly integrated fashion.
4. Don’t try to force this on all of your legacy infrastructure. We discovered that trying to transition every legacy use case at once is difficult. As modern as our infrastructure is, it wasn’t built to be automated at scale. Finding a balance between a greenfield build-out and a brownfield approach will be important. Pick a few use cases and get started gradually, then iterate.
5. IaaS is all about the service. While automating some parts of the technology stack may be rewarding, it won’t add value to the consumers of the service. Understanding the end-to-end service requirements of application owners and other IaaS consumers is important to show progress, build momentum, and add value.
The new enterprise hybrid cloud lets us bring together the efficiencies and capabilities we’ve achieved through virtualization, consolidation and software to deliver self-service capabilities, allowing us to enter the next phase of our IT transformation journey.