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5 Operational Processes To Transform For Enterprise Cloud

by Community Manager on ‎01-21-2017 12:36 PM (830 Views)

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This guest post was authored by Steve Chambers

 

“Build it, and they will come,” belongs in the Field of Dreams. If you don’t start with user needs and build your Enterprise Cloud backward, then the chances are what you produce will miss the mark, and it won’t stick with users. Equally, if you don’t rewire the parts of the enterprise that your cloud needs to connect to then it will be as foolish as trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. What are these rewiring touch points? They are the operational processes in place in your organization today.

 

By helping clients around the world benefit from hyperconvergence and Enterprise Cloud we’ve learned where the heat spots appear, where the friction happens. Here are five ways we’ve helped customers cool down and connect their Enterprise Cloud to their organization.

 

  • Update The Service Desk
  • Integrate The Developers
  • Shift Change, Config, and Release To The Left
  • Move Operations Up
  • Weave Security Throughout The Cloud

 

Update The Service Desk

Have you ever felt that the Service Desk gets in the way more than it helps? Those fifty-field forms you have to fill in just for (another) password reset. Being asked, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?

 

In many IT environments, there’s a slow, hierarchical, trickle-down process where users have to use antiquated ticketing systems or even ‘phoning IT to get things done. This holds up their work leaving users feeling frustrated that they have no ability to fix things themselves.

 

The Enterprise Cloud is designed to solve this problem by eliminating problematic calls to the Service Desk and replacing them with user self-service:

 

  1. Account Control. Users can register for new services and manage their account credentials; this includes managers delegating access and oversight to their team.
  2. Resource Control. Users can acquire resources as a tenant in the Enterprise Cloud with simple online requests and no complicated, multi-stage justification process.
  3. Insights. Users can access data sources and reports to be responsible and accountable for their cloud consumption. 

Ultimately this means eliminating unnecessary existing Service Desk processes which will change the role of the Service Desk over time. In some enterprises, the Service Desk takes this opportunity to become less IT-focused and more business focused, so it is an opportunity for all.

 

Integrate The Developers

“Developers are the New Kingmakers,” say analysts Redmonk. Developers don’t want to phone IT, they don’t want anything in the way between them and releasing a product.

 

An Enterprise Cloud needs to be consumable by developers, which means it must be possible to plug it into their delivery pipeline or in any other way they need, usually via an API. An example is connecting a Continuous Integration system to the Enterprise Cloud to create target environments on every build.

 

In today’s environment, where the mantra is delivering end user value with minimum waste and processes, means giving them the autonomy, responsibility, accountability and capability of consuming the Enterprise Cloud how they need without long preambles.

 

Shift Change, Config, and Release To The Left

ITIL is the dominant service management framework, although there are many others. Read Stephen Mann’s excellent insights into the frameworks. There are twenty-six processes in the ITIL framework covering a wide range of typical, common sense IT service management activities. Enterprise are usually doing these activities naturally, such as monitoring services, but ITIL gives a standard approach and language to these.

 

Not all of the ITIL processes are closely related to an Enterprise Cloud. An example of a link between ITIL and Enterprise Cloud would be the private-to-public cloud disaster recovery capabilities which, in ITIL, comes under Service Continuity Management.

 

If you are doing “common sense” service management or you are using a framework like ITIL then some operations-related processes will change with Enterprise Cloud. Change, Configuration, and Release processes are the most common examples:

 

  1. Transform Configuration Management. Version Control is applied to infrastructure; infra is treated “as code”. This means all configs and builds for target environments act like application builds. The gap between infrastructure and applications disappears.
  2. Transform Release Management. A robust, automated continuous integration pipeline moves quality checks to the start of the pipeline to reduce load on end-of-line quality checks. This is also known as Shift-Left Testing.
  3. Transform Change Management. The Puppet State of DevOps report linked a difference in change management to high-performance organizations. Change unit sizes (also known as batch sizes) reduce in size but grow in number and frequency, reducing impact, speeding up MTTR, and reducing hand-offs and approvals. 

Move Operations Up

If you’re still spending 70% or more of your time on the plumbing of your datacenter then you are not going to succeed. Your true north should be users and applications, not scripting snowflake servers in your cloud. As Martin Fowler explains:

 

“It can be finicky business to keep a production server running. You have to ensure the operating system and any other dependent software is properly patched to keep it up to date. Hosted applications need to be upgraded regularly. Configuration changes are regularly needed to tweak the environment so that it runs efficiently and communicates properly with other systems. This requires some mix of command-line invocations, jumping between GUI screens, and editing text files.

The result is a unique snowflake - good for a ski resort, bad for a data center.”

 

The first bit of help with this is using Invisible Infrastructure from Nutanix. Even without Enterprise Cloud it eliminates “snowflakiness” from the foundational part of your infrastructure. The next step is to eliminate snowflakes higher up in the Enterprise Cloud. To do this you just need to bring standard cloud procedures into your Enterprise Cloud:

 

  1. Encourage and reward users for using managed images, and not creating their own.
  2. If users must create their own, then give them the tools to create images for future use.
  3. Discourage remote logging on to machines for maintenance, encourage the use of remote automation tools instead - an example is using the Enterprise Cloud portal to change services instead of logging onto servers directly.
  4. Encourage users, especially developers, to plug their own services into the Enterprise Cloud at an API level. For users this could be connecting their SaaS application into the enterprise account directory. For developers, it could be connecting their continuous integration server to the Enterprise Cloud for automagical resource configuration.
  5. Expose as many controls and data sources as you can to free Operations from humdrum valueless activities such as producing reports for other people.

 Weave Security Throughout The Cloud

Security and compliance is still talked about as the number one concern when moving to Enterprise Cloud. These kinds of surveys look at the respondents’ opinions, thoughts and feelings rather than on hard data about breaches. The top breaches of 2015 were not caused by cloud systems, they were mostly caused by people badly configuring systems, losing data on trains or sharing their credentials with phishers.

 

Nonetheless, Einstein said that “Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one” and this has (helpfully) increased the quality of security in cloud solutions, benefitting those that have Enterprise Clouds.

 

There are specific ways to weave security throughout your Enterprise Cloud, beginning with:

 

  1. Account directory integration is perhaps the number one most important cloud security feature. Using enterprise-controlled, consistent credentials across all cloud services is the key to the cloud kingdom.
  2. The Shared Responsibility Model, from user self-service for password resets to developers creating complex target environments, makes it clear who is responsible for what. This is different from an enterprise where normally everyone blames IT, or at least the Network Team.
  3. Automated and Embedded Monitoring and Controls. Thanks to APIs there’s a move away from costly agent-based security toolsets. Now Security teams can run their own systems and interrogate all enterprise resources from a central place.

 

Nutanix and Nutanix consulting services can help you transform your datacenter so they connect correctly by helping with organizational change, workload migration and enterprise cloud design, deployment and operations.

 

Disclaimer: This blog contains links to external websites that are not part of Nutanix.com. Nutanix does not control these sites and disclaims all responsibility for the content or accuracy of any external site. Our decision to link to an external site should not be considered an endorsement of any content on such site.

 

AOS 5.0 New Feature: Life Cycle Management

by Community Manager ‎01-16-2017 09:42 AM - edited ‎01-16-2017 10:09 AM (2,355 Views)

This blog is authored by Deepa Pottangadi, Instructional Designer, Nikhil Bhatia, Staff Engineer, Manoj Sudheendra Member Technical Staff and Viswanathan Vaidyanathan, Member Technical Staff at Nutanix

 

Life Cycle Management (LCM) is a new feature in AOS 5.0 that enables you to update the software and firmware of your Nutanix clusters. LCM can be installed separately, and going forward, it will have its own release cycle. AOS 5.0 includes the first version of Life Cycle Management, or LCM 1.0.

 

The decoupling of updates from the core Prism functionality will enable you to more efficiently plan your infrastructure upgrade and update cycles.

 

The LCM modules released along with AOS 5.0 will enable you to:

 

  1. Update LCM framework on all platforms
  2. Detect the firmware version of BIOS/BMC/HBA/Disk on NX platforms

 

As LCM is decoupled from the AOS releases, we can deliver LCM updates more frequently. We expect to issue many new updates in the next few months, which will support a wider range of platforms, so stay tuned. Another important point to note is that LCM can update itself. The LCM framework is treated like any other entity, which can be detected and updated. 

 

The following diagram shows the Inventory page. It displays all of the entities that can be updated using LCM. You will notice that this list includes an entity called Cluster software components. Click the See All link in Cluster software components section:

 

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The drill-down into the Cluster software component section displays the LCM component. The LCM software version details are displayed as shown in the image below:

 

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Let’s look at the high-level architecture of LCM:

 

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Similar to most services on Nutanix, LCM follows a master/slave architecture. The master LCM selects one node at a time in the cluster to apply the updates. Before updating the master LCM node, it relinquishes its position to another slave LCM node in the cluster. LCM persists its configuration in Zookeeper, which is available to all of the nodes in the cluster.

 

LCM persists its internal state in a write ahead log (WAL), which is backed by Cassandra and also available on all nodes when needed (e.g., when the LCM master crashes and some other LCM slave needs to acquire leadership and continue the currently running LCM operation.)

 

LCM has three components:

 

  1. AOS interface: This component is dependent on the AOS and is a versioned interface (the current version being 1.0) that interacts with the AOS and LCM modules.
  2. Framework module: The framework is the central component, which on one hand, interacts with AOS, and on the other, runs the LCM modules. The LCM framework is the main module controlling LCM operations. The framework is organized as python module, and therefore, can be easily upgraded.
  3. LCM modules: The LCM modules abstract the entity level details, such as how to perform inventories and updates on a given platform for a set of entities.

 

LCM operations are executed sequentially on the selected nodes in a cluster. These are irreversible operations and may require service downtime. Therefore, plan your tasks in advance before executing an LCM operation. Before performing an update, LCM runs a pre-check to verify the state of the cluster. If the check fails, the update operation is aborted.

 

All of the LCM operation logs are written to genesis.log and lcm_ops.out . The lcm_ops.out log file records all operations, including successes and failures. In the event of any errors, reach out to Nutanix support for assistance.

 

The video below shows you how to perform an inventory and update the disks on all nodes: 

 

 

If you are new to Nutanix, we invite you to start the conversation on how the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform can work for your IT environment. Send us a note at info@nutanix.com or follow us on Twitter Nutanix and join the conversation in our community forums.

 

 

Disclaimer: This blog contains links to external websites that are not part of Nutanix.com. Nutanix does not control these sites and disclaims all responsibility for the content or accuracy of any external site. Our decision to link to an external site should not be considered an endorsement of any content on such site.

 

 

3 Ways To Make User Needs Drive Enterprise Cloud

by Community Manager on ‎01-13-2017 10:53 AM (1,341 Views)

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This guest post was authored by Steve Chambers

 

AWS CTO Werner Vogels wrote Working Backwards, a blog post about creating cloud services by starting with the user needs. You can see organizations doing this today such as the UK Government Digital Service.

 

This may sound obvious but there is a lot of IT folklore about long-running programs that don’t meet user needs. It’s almost like people are ignoring the obvious, a case of Invisible Gorilla syndrome? There are many stories of one-size-fits-all VDI solutions not meeting the needs of all users. With enterprise cloud, are users ready for the new world of self-service, different budgets and not being able to pinpoint exactly where their data or applications are?

 

If users are decoupled from the IT team by the introduction of an Enterprise Cloud that runs on a hyperconverged infrastructure, then intuition might say that less understanding of users is needed, not more. But this is incorrect. The changing responsibility model of Enterprise Cloud gives users more autonomy and control and therefore more requirements.

 

There are three ways to go beyond just consulting users and instead actively have them drive the Enterprise Cloud:

 

  1. Discover Your Users’ Needs
  2. Create a User-centric Framework
  3. Users As The Engine of Evolution Call To Action

 

1. Discover Your Users’ Needs

If you are creating an Enterprise Cloud then your true north should be pointing towards users and their needs, not what the IT team thinks the users need. The biggest mistake people can make is thinking they know, intuitively, what other people need so they don’t go out and even confirm what they know is true or not.

 

It’s also true of humans that if we are focused on one thing, like doing our own job, then we miss the obvious, like what someone else needs to do their job:

 

There is no shortcut to discovery, it involves time, effort and willing to be wrong about what you thought users need. There’s no need to boil the ocean and suffer analysis paralysis, but there is perhaps a minimum viable user needs discovery:

 

  1. Identify who is and who is not a user (and why).
  2. Visit users in person, respect their time, insights and concerns.
  3. Learn about what they do, why they do it, what’s good about it, what problems they experience.
  4. Share the “working backwards” press release, the FAQ, the User Manual that defines the envisaged service, can you describe how the user will interact with the service?
  5. Do small, focused surveys to collate data with the free online services.

 

There will be more than one set of needs. Users will have needs for the self-service Enterprise Cloud interface but they could also have needs for application migration, managing workloads in the cloud and more.

 

2. Create a User-centric Framework

A good example of a User-centric Framework is from the UK Government Digital Service Standard. This really describes what their True North is, for everyone to see. It forms a contract of trust with their users, their partners and their stakeholders

 

This is a foundational framework that services and solutions “inherit” when they are built. Your Enterprise Cloud, and the workloads that migrate and the new services built on top, should inherit from a framework like this.

 

This framework is different from cloud reference architecture or vendor-driven solution frameworks because it starts with your users in your enterprise. Everyone working on your Enterprise Cloud and the solutions a-top of it should sign up and commit to behaving in accordance with this framework.

 

3. Users As The Engine of Evolution

It starts with User Discovery but there shouldn’t be a gap or a silent period between that initial discovery and go live. At each stage of the evolution of your Enterprise Cloud the users should be involved. The cycles are user driven because they provide the input needed to focus on what’s important in a cycle, instead of weaving off the path. Having the users involved in testing, feedback, quality assurance are also key ways to have them drive the program.

 

This happens across the industry now as a standard approach and the example cycles here are again from the UK Government Digital Service. Here we use the tri-modal Pioneers, Settlers and Town Planners model to match user engagement to the evolution model:

 

  • Pioneers, the early creators of your Enterprise Cloud, engage selected users in an invitation-only Alpha cycle of the service. At the end of this is a minimum viable enterprise cloud, but with many features not yet implemented.
  • Whilst Pioneers may change focus to create new services, the Settlers take the minimum viable enterprise cloud and develop it further with user engagement in a Beta cycle. The end of this cycle is an enterprise cloud version that is robust enough for wider, open-invitation engagement and a switch to general availability or live mode.

 

Call To Action

Teams that are delivering hybrid and private clouds, application migrations and other enterprise programs must engage users throughout their program to be aligned with user needs. Failure to do this risks failure of the whole program. Nutanix consultants have expertise in all aspects of these programs and can help you work with your users.

 

Visit www.nutanix.com/services for more information

 

Disclaimer: This blog may contain links to external websites that are not part of Nutanix.com. Nutanix does not control these sites, and disclaims all responsibility for the content or accuracy of any external site. Our decision to link to an external site should not be considered an endorsement of any content on such site.

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