Report: Cloud Demands New Approach To IT Administration


Transitions from virtualization to cloud computing require a new approach to IT administration, and a recent report from Forrester Research suggests that a lot of companies might be missing the boat.

According to the report, "The Rise of the New Cloud Admin," different approaches are needed to support virtualization versus the cloud, and the perception of the cloud as an extension of virtualization is unlikely to get anyone very far.

The report is based on interviews with 20 vendors and end-user organizations.

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The report describes how virtualized applications are more traditional in design when compared to their more elastic and transient cloud-based counterparts, and then goes on to stress the importance of isolating the environments. "This doesn't mean you can't base both environments upon the same infrastructure or even the same hypervisor (although there are economic reasons why you might not want to), but how these environments operate requires them to be separate and distinct."

One of the fundamental questions involves the "bottom-up" approach to virtualization, in which cloud deployment is expected to support both the existing applications and the cloud applications, versus a "top-down" cloud approach in which the primary emphasis is on applying the benefits of the public cloud to the private cloud or hybrid environment.

"When organizations decide to build a cloud from the bottom up, starting with their existing virtualization environment, they fail to understand how different the cloud is, and that what the consumer of the cloud wants is a service," said Forrester analyst James Staten. "On the other hand, when you start from a top-down point of view, you recognize that the most important thing for the developer is self-service. But in most cases, from the perspective of the administrator, that was frequently the very last thing they were planning on rolling out."

Staten suggests that administrators begin with a new environment that will run next to their static virtualization environment.

"Start with something that is already a cloud out-of-the-box," he said. "Ideally, this should be something that comes with predefined self-service portal, predefined automation already in place, and the administrator can then modify that solution to suit the specific needs of the organization. Modify what you offer as a self-service [capability] so you are offering what your developers really want, and that you can sustain. In order to do this properly, we recommend that the enterprise architects be engaged in the discussion because usually they have the best perspectives on what middleware and configuration types should be instantiated. IT cannot assume they fully understand the needs of the developers without that level of participation."

In addition to the enterprise architects, Staten also recommends a seat at the table for the CTO organization as a means of bridging the gap between the business side of the organization and the IT side of the organization.

"This is usually true because they're the credibility and the visibility on both the IT and the business side, so they are able to bridge those needs across the two lines," he said. "We're also finding that the business side of large organizations is getting so frustrated with the lack of true execution on cloud from IT that they are often building it themselves. Obviously IT does not want this to happen, but IT needs to learn from those experiences, rather than just shut them down."

PUBLISHED MARCH 4, 2013

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