Service-Oriented Cloud Automation. White Paper

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1 Service-Oriented Cloud Automation

2 Executive Summary A service-oriented experience starts with an intuitive selfservice IT storefront that enforces process standards while delivering ease and empowerment to users. As an IT professional, you are likely asked to deliver innovative products and services that grow revenue, attract new customers and improve operational efficiency. To be successful, you need to minimize capital investments and operating expenses, increase service quality and delivery speed, and support all regulatory and compliance requirements. It can be very difficult to do all of this simultaneously with limited resources. The good news is solutions are available to help. Virtualization is one solution helping transform IT from being focused on the care and feeding of infrastructure dedicated to single applications to becoming brokers that assemble services from multiple sources, including virtual machines (VMs) and cloud instances. This shift reduces operating overhead and expensive capital investments, which gives you more time and money to spend on innovative projects to grow your business. As a service broker, you still must hold users accountable for what they consume so resources do not sprawl out of control. For example, if VMs are not decommissioned when they are no longer needed, they can overtake host resources causing performance and capacity problems. With cloud instances, you could end up paying for excess capacity if unneeded instances are not decommissioned. These problems can stall projects when no more capacity or budget is available. To limit sprawl and prevent stall, you should adopt a service-oriented approach to manage VMs and cloud instances. And a service-oriented experience starts with an intuitive self-service IT storefront that enforces process standards while delivering ease and empowerment to users. This approach ensures that a service can be managed properly throughout its lifecycle. However, process is just one piece of the puzzle. To increase service quality, delivery speed and scalability, automation must be woven into your processes wherever possible. Process automation reduces human errors and ensures activities are performed consistently every time allowing you to rapidly scale resources up or down to match demand. Process automation also addresses the sprawl and stall problem by including controls that drive accountability such as setting resource expiration dates and charging departments for usage. Finally, process automation provides an audit trail to support all regulatory and compliance requirements helping you reduce business risk. The most effective way to introduce service-oriented automation into your organization is to consolidate all processes and automation workflows into one system of record. This also drives standardization and increases enterprise visibility through centralized reporting. ServiceNow 2

3 When resources run out, a project can stall until more can be found or reclaimed. Sprawl and Stall is Not a New Problem Sprawl has been a problem since the early days of computing when applications ran on expensive mainframe servers with proprietary operating systems. Each new application required at least one dedicated server that consumed data center floor space, power, cooling and maintenance staff. To make matters worse, many of these servers averaged only 15-20% processor utilization. As more and more applications were added, more and more servers were needed. When data center resources ran out, a project would be stalled until more resources could be found or reclaimed. Figure 1. Evolution of server technology Mainframe vendors began addressing the sprawl problem with hypervisors in the 1960s and 1970s. A hypervisor is software that divides physical resources like processor, memory, network, and storage into VMs that act like real computers with independently running operating systems. While this provided some relief, mainframes remained too expensive for many organizations, so computing was limited to those that could afford it. The Intel x86 processor architecture broke the proprietary server/os model by being manufacturer agnostic and supporting multiple operating systems. This low cost architecture drove the widespread use of client/server and web-based applications. However, for many years, there was no virtualization software available for the x86 architecture, which caused a serious sprawl problem. VMware aimed to solve this by introducing an x86 server hypervisor in At first, it was used to consolidate physical servers into VMs. But organizations quickly figured out VMs were great for temporary work like development, testing and support. The trouble is that when people finish their work, they do not always decommission their VMs. This can lead to VM sprawl consuming host resources. One way to prevent your data center from being taken over by dedicated servers or VM host servers is to not have your own data center at all. Many IT departments have turned to the cloud to let someone else worry about data center engineering and maintenance. ServiceNow 3

4 Cloud computing offers you the flexibility to be more responsive to business needs without having to make expensive capital investments and maintain physical infrastructure. What is That Cloud Thing Everyone is Talking About? According to the official National Institute of Standards and Technology definition, cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. Broad Network Access Software as a Service (SaaS) Rapid Elasticity Resource Pooling Platform as a Service (SaaS) Measured Service On-Demand Self-Service Infrastructure as a Service (SaaS) Essential Characteristics Service Models Public Private Hybrid Community Deployment Models Figure 2: Visual Model of NIST Definition of Cloud Computing This relatively new business model offers you the flexibility to be more responsive to business needs without having to make expensive capital investments and maintain physical infrastructure. This allows you to focus more on delivering innovative products and services that grow revenue, attract new customers, and improve operational efficiency. Many organizations have turned to public cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers like Amazon that offer the elasticity to rapidly scale server capacity up and down and provide a cost effective way to architect redundancy into an application. A cloud instance can be ordered within minutes from a web portal or with automation tools simply by supplying a credit card number. A big advantage with this model is you only pay for what you consume. Some organizations choose to build their own private cloud or pay for a managed cloud that is for their exclusive use to deliver VMs and other resources to internal business units and/or external customers. This is sometimes referred to as IT as a Service where consumers can browse a self-service catalog and place a request that gets automatically fulfilled and charged back appropriately. Many organizations take a hybrid approach to do things like augment private clouds with public cloud resources for disaster recovery and seasonal expansion. In a public cloud or managed private cloud, data center sprawl is no longer your concern. However, like VMs, cloud instances are easy to provision. If a cloud instance is not decommissioned when it is no longer needed, unplanned usage charges can add up quickly. People must be accountable for the resources they consume. ServiceNow 4

5 It is common for organizations that provide automated request fulfillment processes to reduce turnaround times from weeks to minutes while improving record accuracy at the same time. Service-Oriented Cloud Automation Helps Prevent Sprawl and Stall To hold people accountable and maintain control of your environment all service requests must be part of a full service lifecycle. Otherwise, when service requests and approvals are handled manually through or hallway conversations there is very little accountability and records are not always kept current. Delays occur waiting for replies and trying to contact all the people needed to fulfill requests. Poor documentation can lead to prolonged incidents and cause capacity shortages. To reduce delays and potential incidents, implement an easy to use self-service IT storefront powered by fulfillment workflows that automatically enforce processes, provision services and update documentation. Figure 3: Service-oriented Cloud Automation In this diagram, the service catalog acts as the IT storefront to take requests. The requester answers simple questions about the virtual instance and supplies an expiration date for it. Once the request is made, the workflow seeks approval. When approval is granted, the workflow then begins orchestration of the service. Behind the scenes, the workflow also ensures all change management processes are followed and that the configuration management database (CMDB) and asset repository are updated with technical details and business information. This creates an audit trail that satisfies governance requirements and helps keep services under control. In addition, service costs are tracked so they can be charged back to the appropriate group. If anything goes wrong with the service, all support is handled through the same system with access to all the configuration details. Having business information in this system allows you to easily identify stakeholders who may be impacted and communicate with them. It is common for organizations that provide automated request fulfillment processes like this to reduce turnaround times from weeks to minutes while improving record accuracy at the same time. Having accurate records also leads to faster resolution times if there is an incident. When a service is ready for retirement, it can simply be deactivated from the catalog without losing any historical information. End-users love service-oriented automation because they have complete visibility into what services are available and can track the status of their request without having to contact support updates. They know they will receive a consistent service in a timely manner. IT professionals also love service-oriented automation because it significantly increases service quality and delivery speed, allowing them to spend less time fighting fires and doing mundane work and focus more effort on delivering innovative products and services that add value to the business. ServiceNow 5

6 Get Started With Service-Oriented Cloud Automation The key to any successful project is a winning combination of people, process and technology. Educate your team and the rest of your organization about the benefits of service-oriented cloud automation. Obtain executive support and collaborate with stakeholders to define the types of self-service requests you will offer and the processes for fulfilling them. Convert these definitions to request forms and fulfillment workflows that can be automated using technology. There are many software solutions that can help you provide an intuitive, approachable and business-friendly self-service experience. A few of these have automation engines that can orchestrate services like virtual machines and cloud instances. Even fewer have native self-service, automation and service management process applications together on one platform. When evaluating software solutions, it is important to make a few demands of the vendors. 1. Demand reality. Try the solution running in your environment, configured the way you need it 2. Demand flexibility. Make sure you can configure the tool to meet all your unique needs 3. Demand proof. Talk to other customers doing the same thing as you 4. Demand integration. Real integration into your service management processes is critical When partnering with a cloud provider, verify they meet your security standards, ensure they are capable of supporting the service level agreements you have with your customers, validate they have adequate capacity to scale with your growth, and that they provide service continuity capabilities. Get written confirmation of their service availability commitments in an underpinning contract and regularly measure performance against it. By adopting service-oriented cloud automation in your organization, you are well on your way to improving operational efficiency and increasing overall customer satisfaction ultimately leading to the transformation of IT and a direct, measurable impact on business growth. ServiceNow 6

7 2013 ServiceNow, Inc. All rights reserved. ServiceNow believes information in this publication is accurate as of its publication date. This publication could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. The information is subject to change without notice. Changes are periodically added to the information herein; these changes will be incorporated in new additions of the publication. ServiceNow may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described in this publication at any time. Reproduction of this publication without prior written permission is forbidden. The information in this publication is provided as is. ServiceNow makes no representations or warranties of any kind, with respect to the information in this publication, and specifically disclaims implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. ServiceNow is a trademark of ServiceNow, Inc. All other brands, products, service names, trademarks or registered trademarks are used to identify the products or services of their respective owners. SN-WP-XXX

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