Private Clouds Require Good IT Housekeeping

    The real challenge that the move toward private cloud computing presents is that it will force IT organizations to finally get their internal management houses in order. When everything in a private cloud computing set up is a shared resource, all it takes is for one setting to be off to bring down any number of interconnected systems. And as the number of virtual instances of servers and appliances increases, the chances that there will be a disruption in service escalate exponentially.

    Brian Lett, EMC senior product marketing manager the company’s Ionix systems management tools, says that these are the issues that are driving EMC to invest so much in management tools for both physical and virtual servers. The issue, he says, is that physical and virtual servers need to be managed at a higher level of abstraction because it’s all the low level interfaces that IT people find difficult to master, which in turn creates a higher propensity for errors.

    IT organizations also have a lot better things to do with their IT people than babysit IT equipment. Obviously, EMC isn’t the only vendor investing heavily in tools to automate many low-level IT processes. The challenge, however, is that automating a series of existing flawed processes only results in bad outcomes occurring at an ever-faster rate. What is going to be required is a fundamentally reassessment of every IT process to make sure it is as efficient as possible before any automation ever gets applied. As Lett puts it, all the internal IT tribal knowledge has to be gathered and evaluated before any attempt to automate it can really be effective.

    The need for this reassessment is what drives so much of the interest in IT Infrastructure Library ( (ITIL) specifications. Truth be tool, the vast majority of ITIL can be filed under the heading of IT common sense. The important part is the section that describes how an IT organization needs to document an IT workflow process in order to be truly compliant. When it comes to actual workflow in IT, very little of anything is actually documented.

    Despite this general lack of IT good housekeeping, many IT organizations aspire to build their own private cloud computing platforms. The likelihood of that happening without first re-engineering all the internal IT workflow processes with an eye towards automating as many of them as possible is slim to none.

    So before you stand in front of an executive management committee to pitch a private cloud computing strategy, remember that no house can stand on a weak foundation. And the foundation of IT is not the actual IT infrastructure, but rather the workflow processes that enable it.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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