There are very few companies today with an exclusively on-premise or purely cloud IT environment. With the proliferation of SaaS and PaaS offerings providing the innovative features business users desire in addition to the need for on-premise connectivity to end-user devices, hybrid IT environments are the norm for modern businesses. For IT departments tasked with creating and operating services that include both physical on-premise and cloud components, the management task can often be quite challenging.
The problem with effective IT management of hybrid environments is the fragmentation of administrative tooling and configuration data. To make informed decisions and provide service assurance, an IT staff must see the unified, big picture of the environment, not just slices and segments. On-premise environments are already difficult to manage, but the cloud is an entirely different environment, resulting in multiple challenges you must confront and overcome.
An Unfamiliar Data Model
Cloud services are different than on-premise devices and software in that they are virtual resources instead of physical assets. These virtual resources often have a different set of metadata describing their scope, configuration and performance than their on-premise counterparts. Data elements, such as physical devices, model numbers, owner, asset lifecycle status and location, that are considered important to manage on-premise resources are replaced with subscriptions, instances, entitled users and capacity utilization (for billing) that are considered important data for cloud services. The challenge for an IT staff managing hybrid environments isn’t that the data models are incompatible, but rather that they are different and must be reconciled to generate big-picture insights.
Abstraction of Service Details (a Two-Sided Coin)
One of the biggest benefits of using cloud services is that the provider is responsible for managing and operating them. Instead of needing to understand the fine-grain details of the individual pieces and parts of the cloud service, how they are connected and where they reside, you can treat them as more of a black box. The abstraction of service details is like a two-sided coin – one side is the simplicity of only needing to care about what enters and exits the box (which makes life easier), but the other side is the loss of transparency of what is happening inside the box (and your actual dependencies). From a service-management perspective, the key to managing cloud services successfully is to define the scope and SLAs of the functions, performance and interfaces of the service – enabling you to be more comfortable with a lack of visibility of configuration details because you have greater confidence in your ability to manage boundaries and interfaces.
Vendor Specific Administration Tools
Cloud-service providers realize that for IT departments to be confident their services are suitable for business use, they need to provide a robust set of administration capabilities to enable IT staff members to do their jobs effectively. Unfortunately, these robust administration tools tend to be vendor-specific with very little cross-vendor compatibility (that could be used to exploit arbitrage scenarios). For your IT staff, this means they likely have a different set of administrative tools and configuration data source for each of your company’s cloud vendors – each providing only a piece or a narrow perspective of the overall IT environment. In addition to the need to gather vendor data sources, your company also maintains some of your own data about the cloud services you consume – such as billing/charge-back departments, relationships with other components, subscription (financial) records, etc.
Integrating the Hybrid Picture
While unfamiliar data, lack of configuration details and fragmented tooling can be challenging, they should not be considered a roadblock to managing a hybrid IT environment effectively. You just need the right tools to integrate the pieces, see them and understand how the various cloud and on-premise components relate to each other. You already know that pieces fit together – if they didn’t, then your users would be complaining that they can’t perform their jobs.
Virima’s visualization tools will help. With raw data, you are constrained to making “matches,” often leading to the square-peg-in-a-round-hole problem. Working with visual analysis tools will allow you to harvest insights about elements that “seem similar” either in form or function. Physical servers and instances of virtual machines in the cloud provide a similar processing function. Licenses for on-premise software and subscriptions to SaaS offerings take a similar form in support of business processes. Once you see the big picture of the hybrid environment more clearly, making operational decisions to provide service assurance to users will be easier.
Do you have the visibility to manage your hybrid environment effectively, or is the picture a bit cloudy? Virima will help. To see how Virima brings clarity to both on-premise and cloud environments download our latest whitepaper on Discovery and Visualization.
Visibility To Manage Hybrid Environments
The problem with effective IT management of hybrid environments is the fragmentation of administrative tooling and configuration data. To make informed decisions and provide service assurance, an IT staff must see the unified, big picture of the environment, not just slices and segments. On-premise environments are already difficult to manage, but the cloud is an entirely different environment, resulting in multiple challenges you must confront and overcome: An Unfamiliar Data Model. Abstraction of Service Details (a Two-Sided Coin). Vendor Specific Administration Tools. Integrating the Hybrid Picture.