Enterprise cloud computing has revolutionized how organizations deploy and manage IT resources, helping to deliver greater levels of efficiency, availability, and scalability – all while giving organizations more control over how they purchase, deploy, and pay for IT products and services.
The reality is that enterprises deploying private clouds still aren’t getting many of the promised benefits, such as self-service purchasing, pay-as-you-use pricing, and significant cost savings. These cloud deployment challenges have left some CIOs scratching their heads about where to invest next.
Fortunately, there’s hope: Emerging self-service private cloud models can help CIOs gain visibility and control over the many types of cloud solutions being provisioned across the business without the hidden costs often found with public cloud implementations.
No turning back
The commitment to enterprise cloud computing certainly has not wavered. According to Computerworld’s Tech Forecast 2017 study, 80% of enterprises have moved at least one application or infrastructure component to the
cloud. More than one-quarter (27%) plan to increase spending on private cloud deployments over the next year.
The survey also makes clear why most enterprises continue to invest in cloud technology: Nearly nine in 10 respondents (89%) that are using cloud services are capturing some business value from their cloud deployments. Much of that value comes through lower IT costs; reducing total cost of ownership (TCO) is the top business driver for cloud investments among IT leaders in the 2016 IDG Enterprise Cloud Computing survey, ahead of replacing on-premises legacy technology, enabling business continuity, and more than a dozen other goals.
However, barriers remain to capturing business value from these deployments. Although 62% of organizations in the IDG survey are using a private cloud model, nearly one in five (18%) say it’s difficult to measure either the return on investment (ROI) or the economic value of their private cloud.
Private cloud offers numerous operational advantages, including the efficiency, control and choice of dedicated computing, storage, networking, and redundancy resources. But the traditional inflexibility of private cloud pricing models means enterprises have been unable to capture the cost savings from consumption-based pricing typical of public cloud vendors.
That’s the “buy now and hope its right” model. But you can’t always know exactly what your organization might need over the next five years. The cloud experience we all expect is the “pay for use” model.
Organizations running private clouds have also struggled to shake lose the administrative overhead like public cloud providers – perhaps with good reason. The admins are an organization’s last line of defense in predictably achieving the outcome and results that IT has committed to the business. In fact, that’s what has made the whole notion of “self-service” a bit worrisome. What if users provision expensive resources they don’t really need? What if they violate governance policy by choosing IT resources because they’re convenient?
A new kind of self-service
Emerging self-service models for private cloud will help CIOs capture those elusive cost savings and business benefits. Self-service access in private and hybrid clouds makes it easier and more cost-effective to launch applications, request or configure services, and provision storage, all through a web-based portal. So what has changed to make self-service less scary?
Control and management for self-service private and hybrid cloud implementations can now increase visibility by empowering IT teams to pinpoint where in the enterprise cloud services are being deployed. Greater transparency allows them to more closely align IT resource use with the needs and activities of the business. This in turn leads to greater internal accountability for IT resource use. This type of “chargeback” and “show-back” functionality – which can allow enterprises to charge business units based on IT resource consumption – enables a vastly improved ROI for private cloud
Some of these new forms of private and hybrid cloud implementations also offer service catalogs that lay out a choice of cloud resources and service levels with transparency for the pay-per-use cost of each resource and service level. These resources and services can include application availability, processing speed, number of cores, memory, and disaster recovery time and point objectives. By utilizing these predictable pay-per-use frameworks and pricing, CIOs are better able to plan their spending. But how do we protect the enterprise from the potential abuse of self-service?
A strong case can be made for pre-defining appropriate resource and service levels for each application and workload. This way, users are presented with the convenience of choices, but are not given the chance to choose something that violates policy. With this form of control in place, a much higher level of automation is possible – no need to insert a manual inspection and approval by an admin to ensure that predictable outcomes are achieved.
The groundwork is mostly done
This new form of self-service, management, and control does have some prerequisites, but in all likelihood they are probably already in place. These are the core components of cloud. Still, this may be a good point to evaluate your environment on how far along you are on these basics:
Consolidating IT infrastructure is the first step an enterprise should take in implementing a full private cloud. By reducing their IT footprint to a single infrastructure platform, enterprises can improve efficiency while reducing costs through lower capital expenditures and less spending on data center floor space, power, cooling, and administrative support.
Virtualization enables enterprises to achieve even greater efficiency in their IT operations by creating a single pool of computing and storage resources, all of which can be provisioned as needed. This liberates IT resources from legacy
apps and results in more flexibility as well as better optimization.
Automation of IT management and administrative processes may be the most important indicator of self-service private cloud deployment success. Automation improves overall IT performance, particularly in a complex IT environment, in two ways: 1) By delivering services faster and more reliably than humans are capable of doing, and 2) freeing up IT
professionals to work on higher-value projects related to business goals instead of being bogged down in management and provisioning work.
What You Can Do Right Now
To take advantage of these new capabilities for your cloud, shift your thinking from being a supplier to your users to becoming more like a retailer. Your new role is more about offering up appealing choices for what your users may need rather than trying to exert your will over them. This might mean moving to a range of service-quality attributes and carrying that through to the commitments you make to the business. And now that you know the costs for the different service levels, you’ll want to include them in your next requirements discussion with the business.
For those adopting a hybrid cloud model, there’s a new service dimension to consider for application and workload requirements. You’ll want to begin cataloging requirements for what needs to be behind your firewall or remain in country so that you can provide the resource choices that fall within your governance policy.
Consider these questions:
- Can it reside on shared resources of a multi-tenant environment?
- Does it have to be behind your firewall, or does it have to stay on site?
- Can it use public cloud resources as long as certain conditions are met like backup or high availability?
Taking cloud to the next step means you’ll need to have definitive answers to these new requirements questions.
Ultimately, the fate of the self-service portal will be determined by how much your users like it. Simply providing self-service access to a pre-defined service catalog that meets your governance policy won’t be enough to win them over. And if it doesn’t get used, it will be hard to declare it a success. There have been a lot of new developments in cloud management platforms – some are simple and easy, others are comprehensive and could be complex. The management platforms
that are as familiar as old friends can have the shortest learning curve and will usually get the best adoption.
As enterprises deepen their commitment to private cloud deployments, CIOs increasingly can leverage self-service capabilities that give them more control over IT resource allocation and greater visibility regarding the cloud services in use across the enterprise. In addition, by partnering with a cloud vendor that offers price transparency through service
catalogs that detail the costs of accessing various service classes and levels, CIOs gain confidence that their private cloud implementation is delivering the expected ROI.
Private cloud benefits are no longer an empty promise. CIOs now have the capabilities to deploy service-level catalogs with
predictable pay-per-use frameworks that drive business value without breaking the budget – helping organizations to spend more time using the cloud and less time building it.
Want to learn more?
Visit our Enterprise Cloud webpage to learn more about the best practices and tools that can assist you in planning, building, securing, and managing private cloud resources.