Q&A with Andrew Hillier of CiRBA - Page 3

Andrew Hillier (Profile)
Thursday, February 16th 2012

VSM: You’ve mentioned automation, and it’s a big step to take. How do you recommend organizations approach automation?

AH: The private cloud offers the flexibility and ubiquity of cloud computing together with the security of on-premise management. Unfortunately, to also achieve agility goals, cloud adoption necessitates some significant changes in management processes and tooling. Many organizations fail to pay enough attention to this, and as a result, end up taking a “ready-fire-aim” approach to automation in these environments.

As internal clouds mature, many organizations will likely find out the hard way that they shouldn’t turn the keys over to the machine too soon. Many aspects of IT operation need to be carefully controlled, and this doesn’t change with the cloud. Organizations need to rethink management processes, policies and roles based on the radical shifts that are occurring; such as the shifting roles of infrastructure and capacity managers, the changes in placement and allocation management, capacity request management, and common hosting platforms.

When moving towards automating the movement of workloads, organizations need a strategy that doesn’t jeopardize the business, including taking into account important issues such as:

  • Adherence to maintenance windows and change freezes
  • Proper communication (and potential approval) with lines of business
  • Airline-style rigor in managing capacity bookings
  • Strict management of risk and operational volatility
  • Focus on predictive analytics to drive the business of IT

Automation within these bounds will then become the target, with the goal of maximizing agility and operational efficiency -- not simply removing humans from the equation.

VSM: From your perspective, what should organizations be working toward? What is the end goal with respect to management of virtual and cloud environments?

AH: The benefits of a more intelligent approach to cloud management can be staggering. Isolated and reactive tools, no matter how well integrated, are simply not capable of managing IT to a high degree of efficiency. But the combination of these tools with proactive, policy-based analytics provides significantly greater control yielding higher efficiency, while at the same time significantly reducing operational risk. In today’s virtual and cloud environments, this translates into better performance and significantly higher density, which can result in saving millions of dollars in infrastructure costs.