Cloud thoughts…and Operations 101

Cloud/VCAP-ICD Studying

My usual mentality is to fully understand the technology before trying to get others to buy in on the ideas. This way I know if it is vendor’s lying, or whether or not a suite like vCloud Director can actually make a lasting impact on the business.

So my focus over the next few months is going to be ensuring I know enough about how something like vCloud Director can work in practice. I will be developing sample policies and procedures to further enhance my understanding of what this might actually look like in practice. I will start this by going through the VCAP-ICD Exam Blueprint and working through every topic. You will see a new menu bar for VCAP-ICD very soon.

VMware is also releasing a new exam around governance, so it will be very interesting to see what extra material they bring to the table there.

For more information on the VCAP-ICD check out: http://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=32565&ui=www_cert 

Operations 101

One thing has become clear to me as I’ve been reading books on the subject…If you don’t have basic blocking and tackling right in a static environment, your cloud ideas are bound to fail.

So in addition to learning about Cloud and studying for my VCAP-ICD I will be documenting all the core essentials I believe need to be in place before going to Cloud, or in some cases may be solved by going to a Cloud type model.

So what then are the core essentials BEFORE starting on a cloud journey.

My experience working in an enterprise has taught me that attitudes to operations matter far more than the technologies which enable them.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with some people that really care about their environments, and others that just come to do the bare minimum.

Operations must work. We can go and read ITIL books etc. but what is the reality, and how does operations work for the day to day VMware Admin…How do we get to that well oiled machine, and what does it take to keep it there…?

As I begin this section I am going to be covering the following solutions as they relate to VMware Environments:

1. VM Monitoring

I have a lot of experience now with nWorks, vKernel, SCOM, vCOPs…I will be discussing the very quick and easy way I was able to reduce noise, get relevant tickets, and get lower level engineers able to take over support for our day to day activities. Keep it simple and don’t over complicate your monitoring.

2. Performance Troubleshooting/VM Environment Recovery

If we can’t free ourselves up from bridge calls where infrastructure has to be checked and rechecked for performance we can never work on the things we need to work on. How do we quickly and effectively deal with these situations.

3. Capacity Planning

Divided up between Compute and Storage…how do you ensure you have the capacity you need all the time? Again I have created very simple ideas which can be modified to work in any environment.

4. Inventory/Tagging

This is an area I’m working on right now…would love to hear how other people are doing this in their virtual environments.

5. Automation/Configuration Management

Automation skills, be it scripting, config management with puppet/sccm, orchestration tools, are essential not just to Cloud but I believe Operations.

Standards are so important here…you can’t automate or maintain configurations, if you don’t even have a set of documented standards for your environment.

The 3 main areas I will cover here are ESXi Host standards, vCenter Standards, and VM Standards.

6. Disaster Recovery/Bacups

This journey is only beginning…I’m looking forward to thinking through all the challenges here.

7. More to be determined..

In closing, I believe this still comes back to standards. Someone once told me “There’s a standard for everything, and everything has a standard” and this in itself really helps guide the thoughts for the above.

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