You use the cloud everyday.
If your company has embraced WebEx for video conferencing or Cisco Jabber for IM, real-time interaction and collaboration, you’re already operating in the cloud. If your company has established a Facebook page, created a Twitter account, or a LinkedIn company page, those are additional examples of using cloud-based services. If you use Typepad to publish your corporate blog, yep, cloud again.
One of the reasons that companies have begun embracing cloud services and applications is that the onus for managing their operations, updates and availability is on the vendor who provides them, rather than reliant on your IT department.
This being said, moving company applications and services to the cloud can do a lot to free up IT resources and extend service delivery beyond your business’ traditional boundaries. With the influx of devices that need access to data and applications, along with work blurring the lines between the office and personal time, there’s something to be said for moving more of your business to the cloud.
Making the leap from running a few applications to moving your company’s critical business applications to the cloud, however, requires a much larger transformation. To operate effectively in the cloud, a company needs to make sure its infrastructure is designed to support the cloud.
This means virtualization.
Virtualization is being used by many companies to consolidate data centers, reduce the number of physical servers in use, cut costs, and to improve disaster and recovery preparedness.
Simply put, virtualization decouples applications and software from the hardware they run on. It pools the resources from computing, storage, and networking to allow a server to support the application that needs the resources, rather than dedicating servers to only one application.
This means that servers that used to sit idle when not needed (an email server at night) can be used on demand (using that idle email server for nightly batch processing from the ERP, for example). The beauty of virtualization is that much of your resource utilization can be automated to move virtual machines seamlessly to take advantage of available resources.
Freed from the need for dedicated servers to handle peak demand, which has led to unused capacity at various levels of the network, companies can greatly decrease the number of servers they need.
Once virtualization is in place, moving to the cloud becomes possible—and the logical next step.
To get there, a few things need to happen, such as:
- Define Goals and Objectives:
Before tackling virtualization, IT and management should define its business objectives and determine what business problems or new services the company wants to provide or enable.
- Conduct a data center audit:
IT then needs to get a complete inventory of network assets and analyze application demands running on the servers. This information is used to determine where consolidation works best and to create a server consolidation plan.
- Consolidate and Virtualize your data center:
You may want to check out Cisco Unified Computing System as a way to decouple scale from complexity. A Cisco UCS will help to radically reduce the number of devices requiring setup, management, power/cooling, and cabling. Whether the system has 1 server or 320 servers with thousands of virtual machines, all resources participate in a unified management domain designed to reduce cost and complexity and provide rapid provisioning with mobility support.
- Gain visibility and control through a single point of management:
Cisco UCS Manager Software, embedded into a switch, allows IT to access the system through a common browser such as Internet Explorer. From here, IT can program every aspect of the system’s configuration and change assets as needed using automated rules and policies that operate across physical hardware, virtualized, and cloud computing environments. Access and management may be conducted remotely from any IP device, including an iPhone.
After virtualizing servers, IT then optimizes storage and back up recovery systems, and virtualizes security. As the previously inefficient physical network migrates to virtual technology and into a single dynamic system, your infrastructure is now prepared to move to the cloud.
Have you begun moving any applications to the cloud?