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1 Optimizing Cloud Efficiency Through Enhanced Visibility and Control business White paper

2 If You Can t See the Problem, You Can t Fix the Problem and the More Accurate and Detailed Your View, the Better Cloud computing is rapidly evolving, and cloud best practices are changing every year. Increasingly, though, for a cloud to deliver the highest business value, organizations need exceptional insight into, and control over, the way the cloud works. This is true regardless of whether the cloud is deployed as a private or public model. What should a customer look for in a cloud provider, and how can a provider differentiate itself? Standing out in a competitive market means being able to offer more scalability, flexibility, and simplified service management basically, all the insight and control providers need to ensure that their customers business goals and strategies are fulfilled. If this process is too slow, is too difficult, or requires information that simply isn t available, services will underperform against goals, and customers might seek another provider. Organizations that must manage private clouds are in a similar situation. Private clouds might be intrinsically less dynamic, because only one organization is using and benefiting from the cloud, but many of the same challenges apply. IT must still be able to track how well the cloud is performing against business goals and respond efficiently to emerging issues. Ideally, IT would be able to respond proactively anticipating such issues in advance, or precluding them from happening at all. But in many cases, the deeply automated and virtualized nature of the cloud makes that job much harder than it ought to be. Fortunately, VMware offers a solution that provides exactly the visibility and control that both the provider and customer need: VMware vcenter Operations Manager, included in the VMware vcloud Service Provider Bundle, Premier Plus Edition. This offering includes next-generation management and automation features that, by working together, not only enable customers to understand how the cloud infrastructure is supporting service level targets, but also enable the provider to assess problems (current and future) and develop and implement an optimized response. The result: cloud services create more business value, and require less oversight, while also generating lower costs to the customer with less business risk. This white paper discusses these capabilities, the experience of a VMware partner and cloud provider deploying them, and the resulting business benefits that customers and their cloud providers can obtain. Superior Insight and Control Over Cloud Services Translate into a Superior Business Outcome Two of the most important enhancements delivered by vcenter Operations Manager are superior monitoring and management of the cloud. These capabilities deliver the key insight needed to achieve performance targets and common business goals, such as fulfilling the terms of service level agreements (SLAs), tracking how infrastructural resources are used over time by different services, detecting emerging trends and patterns, and establishing the best possible response to them. Achieve New Clarity into Cloud Health and Status Levels in the Detail You Need Much of this new insight comes through extensive, detailed metrics on virtual machines, physical hosts, storage, and other cloud elements information that otherwise might be difficult to obtain in a highly virtualized and deeply automated infrastructure such as a public or private cloud. This information is also presented in multiple ways to support different job roles and business requirements. The vcenter Operations dashboard provides an overview of the cloud s health, risk, and efficiency; the Operations view enables IT managers to drill down into the performance of elements such as virtual machines; and the Analysis view supports the intuitive evaluation of those elements against each other by generating a heat map that reflects real-time utilization. Many forms of risk can be mitigated in this way, and many forms of new value can be created. If a particular cluster of virtual machines is experiencing more use than another, IT can easily detect it and assess the delta. Or, if it s possible to increase virtual machine density on physical hosts without threatening overall service levels, vcenter Operations Manager can help establish and quantify that possibility as well. Instead of having to purchase and deploy more hardware, IT might be able to make the current hardware more productive through optimized reconfiguration. business white paper / 2

3 vcenter Operations Manager can even establish base performance models for different cloud services and cloud elements and can trigger alerts when conditions exceed those baseline metrics by a predefined amount. Because these smart alerts take into account a wide variety of different variables before they re generated, the probability of a false alert is low. Simply put, the cloud is now tracking its own health, and effectively notifying data center managers if action needs to be taken. Isolate Problems Quickly, at the Right Level of Abstraction Over time, any IT architecture (including a cloud) must be updated. These updates can yield unpredictable results, in some cases creating new problems. And since a cloud is a unified architecture, driven by policies that are carried out automatically, relatively small changes can create problems very quickly. If a server image is incorrectly configured, for instance, it can be provisioned to any number of newly created virtual machines in a matter of hours. This is why it s particularly important to track how cloud configurations are changing over time, isolate problems caused by those changes, and take action as necessary to resolve those problems. To that end, VMware offers VMware vcenter Configuration Manager, which provides this kind of tracking and does so at a granular level of detail. It tracks changes at the level of the hypervisor, for instance, or the virtual machine, or the physical host even across multiple clouds that span multiple data centers. Because data center IT managers can track changes on any abstract level, they can quickly and easily assess which changes led to a given problem, and modify or reverse the changes as necessary to resolve problems. In the case of the problematic image discussed earlier, for instance, one-click rollback to a previous version of that image can set matters right, resulting in minimal, if any, customer downtime. Understand Resource Allocation and Create Optimized Policies to Maximize Efficiency Also pertinent to improved cloud visibility is VMware vcenter CapacityIQ, which provides capacity management and planning. This is a critical aspect of overall service management because it enables service providers to make the best possible use of cloud resources like storage, processing power, and memory, as well as plan for different contingencies including problematic ones. If an unfavorable contingency appears likely to occur, a service provider can usually create an optimized strategy to mitigate its risk and costs, or in many cases, avoid it altogether. Using the what if planning capabilities of vcenter CapacityIQ, service providers can generate a variety of different scenarios in which resources are allocated in different ways, according to different policies. Data center managers can then evaluate how well workloads performed in those scenarios against business targets. By determining which scenarios generated the highest business value and the most efficient resource allocation, data center managers can arrive at a tailored overall strategy one in which resources are neither underallocated (leading to performance degradation) or overallocated (leading to unnecessary costs), resulting in cost savings for the end customer. For similar reasons, vcenter CapacityIQ is also helpful in creating optimized disaster-recovery strategies, to ensure that services can be restored and brought back online within acceptable timeframes and at acceptable performance levels, even given an unpredictable event like hardware failure. Such capabilities, for both public cloud providers and organizations with private clouds, are essential to keep business services as resilient as possible. Custom Reports: At-a-Glance Insight into Cloud Services and All Related Factors All this insight can also be easily codified and condensed into custom reports based on predefined templates. These reports provide intuitive, at-a-glance understanding of the overall utilization of services, the resulting costs generated, the resources consumed along the way, and detailed insight into the utilization of particular resources such as storage or computational power. And because these reports are easily accessible from the VMware management portal, which is itself accessible through any standard Web browser, service providers can easily get the information needed, anytime, on any Web-capable device. This visibility into operations for any customer workload enables a service provider to optimize resources for its customers 24/7. Using regulation-specific toolkits provided by VMware, service providers can also generate reports pertaining to regulation compliance, which is especially helpful if a government audit takes place. In such a case, it s not enough to have been in a state of compliance all along; it s also necessary to be able to demonstrate that compliance on demand. business white paper / 3

4 These configurable reports will soon provide a new dimension of value by delivering insight that is industry-specific. Different business sectors are characterized by entirely different cloud requirements and information; what an online retailer needs to know about cloud performance is likely to be quite different from what a telecommunications provider or financial institution needs to know. Regulation compliance comes into play here as well, because different regulations (such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA) apply to different industries. This form of reporting, currently in development, will leverage the VMware API to aggregate and analyze the appropriate information. iland: Demonstrating the Power of Enhanced Visibility and Insight to Drive a Better Business Outcome The extraordinary value of vcenter Operations Manager (included in the vcloud Service Provider Bundle, Premier Plus Edition) isn t just theoretical. Every day, VMware customers and business partners are leveraging vcenter Operations Manager to obtain new insight, solve problems more quickly and easily, and drive a better business outcome. One particularly distinguished VMware partner is iland Internet Solutions VMware Service Provider Partner of the Year, Global, for 2012, and VMware Service Provider Partner of the Year for the Americas in the same year. This organization provides enterprise-class cloud environments through Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements no. 16 (SSAE 16) and ISO certified data centers in Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Dallas, London, and Washington, DC, delivering the highest levels of performance, scalability, and security to its client roster. To best serve those clients, iland continually upgrades its infrastructure. And recently, to enhance its monitoring and management capabilities, iland deployed the vcloud Service Provider Bundle, Premier Plus Edition. The results have been impressive. For instance, thanks to newly enhanced visibility and control, iland has been able to streamline its response to emerging technical issues by creating a custom dashboard that incorporates the 10 most common support tickets and related troubleshooting information. Frontline support staff is empowered to handle a wider variety of problems, freeing engineering talent to dedicate time to more complex issues. Additionally, many issues can now be detected in advance and addressed proactively. This capability has led to an impressive 20 percent reduction in the volume of support requests and a 50 percent reduction in ticket escalation. And the time required to resolve problems a critical component of customer satisfaction has also fallen by about 30 percent. The new, VMware driven comprehensive reporting has also proven tremendously beneficial to iland s client roster. Beyond basic adherence to the terms of SLAs, cloud customers typically want to know how much value they re getting for every dollar they spend and what kind of risks might threaten that ratio. iland has responded by leveraging VMware reporting capabilities to help clients better track and evaluate workload performance and resource allocation, rightsizing both as necessary to drive the best overall outcome. Also helpful are the new predictive reports, similar to those used by iland itself, that detect future problems and empower organizations to avoid them. Finally, iland is also making extensive use of the new reporting capabilities in the context of compliance and change management. In the past, compliance assessment was labor-intensive and required continual effort, because changes to technical configurations (a frequent event) could unexpectedly yield noncompliance. But today, thanks to the compliance toolkits provided by VMware and augmented by iland s own best practices, iland and its clients can much more easily, quickly, and continuously assess compliance even with complex regulations like those of HIPAA and complex standards like PCI DSS. business white paper / 4

5 Summary Cloud computing offers many strengths but also introduces certain challenges. For instance, a cloud that is deeply virtualized and driven by business policies is harder to monitor and manage than a traditional infrastructure and the less insight you have, the harder it is to solve technical problems efficiently or avoid them altogether. These challenges are met by VMware vcenter Operations Manager, included with VMware vcloud Service Provider Bundle, Premier Plus Edition. This solution provides detailed yet intuitive insight into exactly what s happening inside the cloud, addressing both the cloud s technology and its business ramifications. And it does so online, using a variety of different management views, as well as in customizable reports that can be configured for any business context or compliance initiative. Given this dramatically enhanced visibility, providers can much more easily ensure that the cloud yields higher service levels, lower costs, and diminished risks key benefits for both cloud service providers and IT organizations chartered with managing a private cloud. How does a customer moving workloads to the cloud achieve the benefits offered by these VMware technologies? The customer should seek out a VMware partner who has deployed these tools as a part of its offerings and ask the partner if it has deployed the vcloud Service Provider Bundle, Premier Plus Edition. This technology enables only VMware vcloud Service Provider partners to offer their customers incredible levels of visibility and monitoring of their cloud deployment, resulting in vastly improved agility and cost savings. To find a provider offering this service, visit business white paper / 5

6 VMware, Inc Hillview Avenue Palo Alto CA USA Tel Fax Copyright 2013 VMware, Inc. All rights reserved. This product is protected by U.S. and international copyright and intellectual property laws. VMware products are covered by one or more patents listed at VMware is a registered trademark or trademark of VMware, Inc. in the United States and/or other jurisdictions. All other marks and names mentioned herein may be trademarks of their respective companies. Item No: VMW-WP-OPTIMIZED-CLOUD-EFFICIENCY-THROUGH-ENHANCED-VISIBILITY-CONTROL-USLET /13

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