Thursday, June 10, 2010

Shoemaker on How HP CSA Aids Total Visibility into Services Management Lifecycle for Cloud Computing

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on overcoming higher levels of complexity in cloud computing through improved management and automation.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Download the transcript. Learn more. Sponsor: HP.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect. Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on gaining total visibility into the IT services management lifecycle.

As cloud computing in its many forms gains traction, higher levels of management complexity are inevitable for large enterprises, managed service providers (MSPs), and small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs). Gaining and keeping control becomes even more critical for all these organizations, as applications are virtualized and as services and data sourcing options proliferate, both inside and outside of enterprise boundaries.

More than just retaining visibility, however, IT departments and business leaders need the means to fine-tune and govern services use, business processes, and the participants accessing them across the entire services lifecycle. The problem is how to move beyond traditional manual management methods, while being inclusive of legacy systems to automate, standardize, and control the way services are used.

We're here with an executive from HP to examine an expanding set of Cloud Service Automation (CSA) products, services, and methods to help enterprises exploit cloud and services values, while reducing risks and working toward total management of all systems and services.

Please join me now in welcoming Mark Shoemaker, Executive Program Manager, BTO Software for Cloud at HP. Welcome to BriefingsDirect, Mark.

Mark Shoemaker: Hi, Dana. How are you today? I'm really excited about being able to join you.

Gardner: Mark, tell me how we got here. How did complexity become something now spanning servers, virtualization, cloud, and sourcing options? It seems like we’ve been on a long journey and we haven’t necessarily kept up.

Shoemaker: It’s simple. Up until a few years ago, everything in the data center and infrastructure had a physical home, for the most part. Then, virtualization came along. While we still have all the physical elements, now we have a virtual and a cloud strata that actually require the same level of diligence in management and monitoring, but it moves around.

Where we're used to having things connected to physical switches, servers, and storage, those things are actually virtualized and moved into the cloud or virtualization layer, which makes the services more critical to manage and monitor.

Gardner: How are clouds different? Do you need to manage them in entirely different way, or is there a way to do both -- manage both the cloud and your legacy system?

All the physical things

Shoemaker: Enterprises have to do both. Cloud doesn’t get rid of all the physical things that still sit in data centers and are plugged in and run. It actually runs on top of that. It actually adds a layer, and companies want to be able to manage the public and private side of that, as well as the physical and virtual. It just improves productivity and gets better utilization out of the whole infrastructure footprint.

Gardner: And what is it about moving toward automation, perhaps using standards increasingly, that becomes more critical than ever?

Shoemaker: Well, it’s funny. A lot of IT people will tell you we’ve always been talking about standards. It’s always been about standards, but they've not always had the choice.

A lot of times, the business definition of what it took to be successful and what business applications they needed to run that, dictated a lot of the infrastructure that sits in our data centers today. With cloud computing -- and the automation and virtualization that goes along with that -- standardization is key.

You can’t automate a repetitive task, if it’s changing all the time. The good thing about cloud and virtualization is that they're absolutely driving standards, and IT is going to benefit from that. The challenge is that now it's more fluid and we’ve got to do a better job than we’ve ever had to of managing, monitoring, and keeping up.

The businesses are going to be more productive, the people are going to be happier, and the services are going to run better.

Gardner: What is it about the human management, the sort of manual approach, that doesn’t scale in this regard?

Shoemaker: IT has been under the gun for a few years now. I don’t know many IT shops that have added people and resources to keep up with the amount of technology they have deployed over the last few years. Now, we're making that more complex.

They aren't going to get more heads. There has to be a system to manage it. Plus, even the best people, when it’s in the middle of the night, you're tired and you’ve been up a long time trying to get something done, you're always at the risk of making a mistake on a keyboard or downloading the wrong file or somebody missing a message that they need to see.

Any time we can take the mundane and the routine up to let our high-value assets really focus on the business critical functions, that’s going to be a good thing. The businesses are going to be more productive, the people are going to be happier, and the services are going to run better.

Gardner: I suppose too that organizations have had in the past the opportunity to control what goes on in their organization, but as you start acquiring services, you don’t really have control as to what’s going on behind the support of those services. So, we need to have management that elevates to a higher abstraction.

Shoemaker: That’s a great point and that’s one of the things we’ve looked at as well. Certainly, there is no silver bullet for either one of these areas. We're looking at a more holistic and integrated approach in the way we manage. A lot of the things we're bringing to bear -- CSA, for example -- are built on years of expertise around managing infrastructures, because it’s the same task and functions.

Ensuring the service level

Then, we’ve expanded those as well to take into account the public cloud need of being a consumer of the service, but still being concerned with the service levels, and been able to point those same tools back into a public cloud to see what’s going on and making sure you are getting what you are paying for and what the business expects.

Gardner: You have a pretty good understanding of the problem set. What about the solution from a high level? How do you start managing to gain the full visibility and also be able to control to turn those dials and govern throughout this ecosystem?

Shoemaker: You’ve hit on my two favorite words. When we talk about management, it starts with visibility and control. You have to be able to see everything. Whether it’s physical or virtual or in a cloud, you have to be able to see it and, at some point, you have to be able to control its behavior to really benefit.

Once you marry that with standards and automation, you start reaping the benefits of what cloud and virtualization promise us. To get to the new levels of management, we’ve got to do a better job.

Gardner: We’ve looked at the scale of the problem. Lets look at the scale of the solution. This isn’t something that you can buy out of a box. Tell me what HP brings in terms of its breadth and scope that have a direct relationship to the scope and breadth of the solution itself.

Nobody does that. There’s not one product and there’s not going to be one product for any period of time.

Shoemaker: Again, there is no silver bullet here. There is no one application. It’s going to take you all the way from the planning phase, to development, to testing and load testing, to infrastructure as a service (IaaS). You stand at the hardware and start building the management pieces and the platform that provide the underlying application that you develop on and then run and assure that service for whoever your consumer is.

Nobody does that. There’s not one product and there’s not going to be one product for any period of time. We'd love to get there and certainly we're going to do everything we can to make it easier.

The great thing about what HP brings to the table is that in every one of those areas I mentioned, there is an industry-leading solution that we're integrating to give you that control across your entire breadth of management that you need to be successful in today’s new infrastructure, which is cloud and virtualization on top of physical.

Gardner: Back on May 11, HP had a fairly large set of news releases, the delivery of some new products, as well as some vision, and the CSA products and services. Perhaps you could give us a little bit of an idea of the philosophy behind CSA and how that fits into this larger set of announcements.

Listened to customers

Shoemaker: CSA is the product of several years of actually delivering cloud. Some of the largest cloud installations out there run on HP software right now. We listened to what our customers would tell us and took a hard look at the reference architecture that we created over those years that encompassed all these different elements that you could bring to bear in a cloud and started looking, how to bring that to market and bring it to a point where the customer can gain benefit from it quicker.

We want to be able to come in, understand the need, plug in the solution, and get the customer up and running and managing the cloud or virtualization inside that cloud as quickly as possible, so they can focus on the business value of the application.

The great thing is that we’ve got the experience. We’ve got the expertise. We’ve got the portfolio. And, we’ve got the ability to manage all kinds of clouds, whether, as I said, it’s IaaS or platform as a service (PaaS), that your software's developed on, or even a hybrid solution, where you are using a private cloud along with a public cloud that actually bursts up, if you don’t want to outlay capital to buy new hardware.

We have the ability, at this point, to tap into Amazon’s cloud and actually let you extend your data center to provide additional capacity and then pull it back in on a per-use basis, connected with the rest of your infrastructure that we manage today.

The other cloud that we are talking about is a combination of physical and virtual. Think about a solution that maybe didn’t fit well in a virtual or a cloud environment -- databases, for example, high IO databases. We would be able to bridge the physical and the virtual, because we manage, maintain, and build with the same tool sets on the physical and virtual side.

A lot of customers that we talk to today are already engaged in a virtualization play and in bringing virtualization into their data centers and putting on top of the physical.

Gardner: I mentioned earlier that these are the same problems that large enterprises, managed service providers, even SMBs that are looking toward outsourcing services are all facing. Is there like a low-lying fruit here, a place to start across these different types of organizations or maybe specific to them? Where do you start applying the management in this sort of total sense?

Shoemaker: Again, it goes back to visibility and control. A lot of customers that we talk to today are already engaged in a virtualization play and in bringing virtualization into their data centers and putting on top of the physical. They have a very large physical presence as well. Most of them are using a disparate set of tools to try to manage all those different silos of data.

The first thing is to gain that visibility and control by bringing in one solution that can help you manage all of your servers, network, and storage as one unit, whether physical or virtual. Then, move all of your day-to-day task via automation into that system to take the burden off of your IT up schemes.

Gardner: If we make this approach either through standards or standard methodologies and implementations or references as both the service provider and the enterprise, does that give us some sort of a whole greater than the sum of the parts when it comes to management?

Shoemaker: Yeah, I think so. Certainly, from a scale and utilization perspective, we definitely have more synergies, if we are acting as one. So the ability to move things around, the ability to make sure all of the standards are being upheld, things that are being built or being built in the standards, and having that assurance of being able to see all of these different compliance issues for them become problems.

Gardner: Okay, so should enterprises be asking their managed service providers (MSPs) about the management they are using?

Shoemaker: Absolutely. If you are looking at an MSP, that MSP should be able to give you the same visibility and control that you have internally.

Gardner: From the May 11 news, give us a little recap about what you came to the market with in CSA. Is this product and services or just products? How does the mix fit?

Best in class

Shoemaker: We announced CSA on May 11, and we're really excited about what it brings to our customers. What we are able to do is bring our best-in-class, industry-leading products together and build a solution that allows you to control, build, and manage a cloud.

We’ve taken the core elements. If you think about a cloud and all the different pieces, there is that engine in the middle, resource management, system management, and provisioning. All those things that make up the central pieces are what we're starting with in CSA.

Then, depending on what the customer needs, we bolt on everything around that. We can even use the customers’ investments in their own third-party applications, if necessary and if desired.

Gardner: Let’s look at some examples. I'm interested in understanding this concept of total management, the visibility to control across physical, virtual, and various cloud permutations. Give me an idea of how this physical to virtual scenario works and how different types of applications, maybe transactional and web services based ones, can benefit.

Shoemaker: As I mentioned before, one of the examples we use is a database, a high IO database with lot of reads and writes. That may not be best suited for a cloud or virtual environment, where the web service front-end and the middle layer may be fine.

So, it goes back to singular visibility and that singular control point to manage your cloud and your physical.

Because we use the same management suite to manage the physical and the virtual, we were able to mesh those two systems to create a singular system that’s managed and looks like one system, but actually sits in the physical in the virtual realm. The customer doesn’t have to bring all of the applications back into a physical element and not get deficiencies that cloud has for the pieces that don’t need it, just to satisfy the database need.

Gardner: Is there a second use case or environment in which this total management benefit also fits in?

Shoemaker: Let’s say it's a customer, an MSP customer in this case or a customer that’s turning up new physical cloud elements. The VMWare ESX server still has to be built on a physical server. With our solution, we are able to actually build that ESX server, based on a pre-defined set of criteria, image that server onto the physical hardware, and bring it into the environment, with the same suite of tools. So, it goes back to singular visibility and that singular control point to manage your cloud and your physical.

Gardner: And is that important perhaps for regulatory or compliance issues?

Shoemaker: Absolutely. Virtual and physical have the same compliance with regulatory requirements. Virtual and cloud probably have a little bit more difficult time just based on the shared environment that’s naturally occurring. A lot of emphasis is being put on the security elements in cloud today. So, the compliance piece of what we offer actually reduces that risk for our customers.

Gardner: How about the deployment choices movement? As organizations experiment with cloud, perhaps they start moving development, and ultimately workloads, out to a third-party cloud. How do you manage that transition? I guess this is the hybrid cloud management problem.

As cloud takes off

Shoemaker: We talked a little bit earlier about some of the work we’ve done around some of the Cloud Assure products, where we can help expand cloud infrastructure into a public environment. We see that becoming more prevalent as cloud takes off.

Right now, a lot of people experiment with development and test, much like they did in the virtual initial start-up period. We see that relationship becoming more of a broker relationship, where you may pick where you put your application to run in that public cloud. Build it in-house in the private and move it out into that public realm.

Think about this: A lot of countries have different regulatory controls, laws, and regulations around where data can be stored. If you're doing business in some European countries, they want you to have the actual service running inside the country, so the data stays in there.

In the past, they'd find an MSP in that country, building all the infrastructure, and managing everything that goes along with that. So, as the country of record, the data has to be there. Now, we have the ability to actually create that image in the cloud, push that image to a cloud provider in that country, and have that application run holistically on premise inside of the borders of the country, but still report back to the larger piece. This gets us around a hurdle that’s been a challenge with physical infrastructure.

Gardner: Let’s take a look to the future. As companies will be approaching cloud from a variety of perspectives, there are different vertical industries involved, and different geographies. It's kind of a mess, a stew of different approaches. What do you think is going to happen in the future? I think cost and competitive issues are going to drive companies to try to do this. They're going to hit this speed bump about management. Where do you see HP’s offerings going in order to help them address that?

Also, we're looking at what’s going to be important next. What are going to be the technologies and the services that our customers are going to need to be successful in this new paradigm?

Shoemaker: In a lot of cases, HP’s offerings are already there and many are aspects of the functionality. Certainly, we're working hard to make sure we integrate the solutions, so they act together more cohesively and provide more value to our customers from day one.

As the landscape changes, we're looking at how to change our applications as well. We’ve got a very large footprint in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) arena right now where we actually provide a lot of our applications for management, monitoring, development, and test as SaaS. So, this becomes more prevalent as public cloud takes off.

Also, we're looking at what’s going to be important next. What are going to be the technologies and the services that our customers are going to need to be successful in this new paradigm.

Gardner: Are there ways of getting started? Are there resources, places online that folks can go to for gearing up for that future?

Shoemaker: There's a robust cloud community out there today, but HP also has a robust practice around helping our customers plan for those exact things. Our Services group provides workshops, learning engagements, and even planning and execution help for a lot of our largest customers today that are planning and positioning for tomorrow. So, we have that expertise and we're actually actively supporting our customers today.

Gardner: We’ve been talking about gaining total visibility into services management lifecycle. We're looking at this through the movement from virtualized to services and sourcing options. We’ve been talking with an HP executive about Cloud Service Automation products and services and how, in the future, total governance is going to become more the norm and more a necessity, as organizations try to avail themselves of more cloud and IT shared services opportunities.

I want to thank Mark Shoemaker, Executive Program Manager, BTO Software for Cloud at HP. Thanks for joining, Mark.

Shoemaker: Thanks so much, Dana. I appreciate you having us on.

Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. You’ve been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast. Thanks for listening and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Download the transcript. Learn more. Sponsor: HP.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on overcoming higher levels of complexity in cloud computing through improved management and automation. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2010. All rights reserved.

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