While the team deeply misses being able to interact with our global customers and partners in-person, the CloudHealth by VMware team was thrilled to host CloudLIVE Virtual, our day-long CloudLIVE event that virtually brought you best practices, new features, training within the CloudHealth Platform, and numerous speaking sessions (including the long-awaited Great Cloud Debate!).
Tom Axbey, VP & GM of CloudHealth by VMware, opens up the first-ever virtual CloudLIVE keynote by reflecting on our current landscape. As the world has switched to a more remote workforce, everything—and everyone—has shifted to become more adaptable, and as cloud practitioners, we’re already prepared and focused on being agile. Axbey remembers what a CIO recently told him, that the amazing thing about COVID-19 is what didn’t happen in the cloud—everything just worked.
That being said, shifting to the cloud doesn’t immediately make your business run smoother or your costs more efficient, and that’s what Joe Kinsella, co-founder of CloudHealth by VMware, tackles in his opening keynote after Axbey.
Kinsella’s keynote focuses on the idea of a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE), and the maturity model that companies follow throughout their individual journey in the cloud. To understand a CCoE, you must first understand that the cloud is the single most disruptive innovation that has been seen in the enterprise over the last two decades. When discussing an organization’s maturity in the cloud, it isn’t about their confidence in the cloud, but instead about the maturity of the organizations’ ability to scale in the cloud.
The model follows four steps: visibility, optimization, automation & governance, and business integration, and Kinsella dives into each of these during his presentation.
All journeys in the cloud start with visibility, the first step in the maturity model. Companies need to focus on what cloud infrastructure they are running, why they are running them, how they are configured, and how they connect to other integrations. Gaining visibility in the cloud is essential to drive smart and timely business decisions.
A large global manufacturer decided a few years ago that moving to the public cloud was the right strategic decision for their company. CloudHealth by VMware met them when they were still early in their cloud journey and their number one question around cloud financial management was how could they showback cloud costs. This, they said, was crucial in creating a culture of financial accountability.
For their cloud operations, they started focusing on gaining visibility and reporting on their cloud usage and configuration by business perspective and team. For terms of security, this company was running at cloud speed without any proactive security monitoring in place. Kinsella points out that companies that are impacted by security issues aren’t impacted because they don’t have security in place, it’s that they just haven’t adapted their security practices to run at cloud speed in a highly decentralized management model.
The first step for the manufacturing company was to put in place proactive monitoring to allow them to know when potential violations had occurred. With these three investments, this organization was able to get the right reports to the right people to allow them to manage their cost, usage, configuration, and security in the cloud.
Optimization is leveraging the insights from visibility to drive smart decisions around cost, usage, configuration, performance, security, and availability. A great example of a company that was working through its optimization stage and really succeeded is Zendesk, which provides a suite of support apps that power most customer support applications around the globe, including CloudHealth by VMware.
Zendesk works to empower its engineers to develop in any language, technology, and cloud provider. While the company was born in the data center, the ethos of the cloud was critical to the empowerment of their engineers. Instead of putting friction in front of their engineers’ ability to leverage the cloud, Zendesk’s cloud management team gave them complete freedom and built a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) that could drive optimization. For their cloud financial management, they looked for opportunities to eliminate waste such as identifying unused infrastructure and worked on leveraging optimization opportunities like Savings Plans.
Zendesk needed to standardize the configurations to ensure they provisioned workloads and services in a consistent fashion. For security and compliance, their CCoE became a clearinghouse for reviewing and prioritizing high-risk violations and ensuring that service owners took steps to remediate these. Zendesk was able to not only reduce waste, standardized configurations, and review and prioritize violations, but they were able to do so in an organized, sustainable manner.
Governance and automation
Once your organization has gained visibility and started to drive optimization, you’ll soon run into challenges when you go to scale these practices out across different teams, departments, and lines of business. Having worked with thousands of customers across all stages of their cloud journey, Kinsella says that there’s inevitably a tipping point in every organization in which the success of their cloud strategy hinges upon one thing: the ability to automate the manual tasks required to manage the cloud.
“There’s a tipping point in every organization in which the success of their cloud strategy hinges upon one thing: the ability to automate the manual tasks required to manage the cloud.”
- Joe Kinsella
Kinsella talks about one global financial institution, in particular, that was eager to ramp up its governance and automation practice. Having started heavily investing in the cloud in 2016, this financial institution had already tackled visibility and optimization in their cloud environment when we began exploring a partnership. While optimizing costs was a primary focus for this organization, their ultimate goal was to unleash innovation across all their products and services—and to do this they needed to scale in the cloud.
To tackle this challenge head-on, this organization created their own Cloud Business Office (also known as a CCoE to others), that reported directly to the CTO and included stakeholders from across every department including IT and finance. From day one they were exploring CloudHealth’s capabilities around policies because they knew governance and automation was the key to their future.
So how did they do? On the cloud financial management front, they automated optimization such as monitoring for unused and incorrect sizing of infrastructure. The operations team looked to terminate and rightsize infrastructure that didn’t follow their defined standards and then automated governance policies to monitor for those outliers on their behalf. As any organization trying to scale can understand, maintaining security—especially decentralized security—isn’t an easy task. This financial institution used CloudHealth policies to delegate to their teams the monitoring and responding to violations and compliance risks.
Business integration, the next natural step in an organization’s cloud journey after governance and automation, is where your organization’s CCoE becomes really critical. Once the CCoE has defined, built, and automated cloud best practices, it’s important that your organization aligns your cloud strategies with your company’s business goals. It’s during this stage that the focus turns to adapting your people and processes to the recent changes made in the technology.
Kinsella turned the floor over to Matt Shover, Principal Product Manager at Rackspace, to talk through the experience one of their customers had when they set out to build a CCoE of their own. This customer was able to quickly see the value CloudHealth brought to the table when they used the platform’s enhanced visibility to monitor cloud spend and identify cost-saving opportunities across their entire organization. As this customer’s relationship with Rackspace and CloudHealth matured, they were then able to take this granular insight and integrate it with their everyday operations by establishing a CCoE of their own.
Shover said CloudHealth and Rackspace helped this customer’s CCoE tackle their first task which was tracking and documenting how the organization was currently consuming their cloud. The CCoE best serves the business by inciting the right behavior amongst its teams for how cloud should be consumed, how spend is managed, and how savings can be maximized. This customer documented best practices such as proper tagging rules and how each department is being held accountable for their budget to ensure the entire organization was abiding by the same standards.
Business integration is crucial for realizing these ongoing benefits, and requires breaking down silos, changing organizational habits, and continuous improvements and adjustments to the model.
Where do you go next?
Capitalizing on the agility and innovation that comes with the cloud comes at a certain cost, and there are no two higher costs than increased complexity and the risk associated with scaling. In order to materialize on the vast amount of opportunities cloud can bring you, Kinsella says it’s imperative that your organization establishes a Cloud Center of Excellence, and provide them with the tools they need in order to be successful in driving cloud strategy.
With CloudHealth, customers are freed from the burden that comes with managing a complex cloud environment and are able to leave behind the world of overburdened people and tools in favor of a world where they can trust a platform to help them continuously optimize and make smarter decisions for their business.