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Delivering IT As a Service

Peder Ulander, vice president of product marketing for cloud and open source solutions at Citrix, sees a trend among enterprise IT organizations to deliver not only infrastructure but also complete services on demand to make users more efficient and happier and IT more predictable and secure. Citrix created CloudStack, an open source IaaS platform that RightScale supports. In a session at last month's RightScale Compute conference, Ulander talked about the philosophy and practice of delivering IT as a service (ITaaS).

We are transitioning from the PC era to the cloud era, Ulander said, in which users and developers can get access to more resources in a shorter period of time. Everything is automated, and this gives CIOs and data architects the opportunity to become more strategic.

The cloud requires a different viewpoint, he said, not only from a technology perspective, but also from an overall cultural and mental perspective. He said IT has to think differently about how to develop and enable services and who to partner with to deliver those services.

"As an enterprise, you shouldn't have a cloud strategy," Ulander said, "you should have an IT strategy and understand how cloud fits in that." A key point in your IT strategy must be to enable users to consume the resources they need without IT becoming a bottleneck. He quoted Forrester analyst James Staten, saying, "A cloud is not a cloud unless the consumers of those services can trigger their deployment on their own." With the service model, Ulander said, IT becomes more efficient because you're using more of your capacity, and you're not using IT staff for administration.

But how do you implement IT as a service? Nowadays, Ulander said, the key question isn't public cloud vs. private cloud, but rather how to become the broker to enable user self-service. Users don't care where their services are delivered from — IT should focus less on the infrastructure than on questions of policy, risk, cost, and reward.


Peder Ulander of Citrix presenting at RightScale Compute

Ulander shared some stories of enterprises adopting IT as a service. The University of Sao Paolo, for instance, began automating services that students, faculty, and staff would otherwise have gone out of the network for, and was able to maintain control and security. Disney, he said, uses the cloud for all of its Go sites so that it can optimize its utilization.

The providers that are most successful in the public cloud, he said, are not just spinning up instances. They take packaged applications and services and simplify them for users by making them available at the click of a button. In short, they automate everything for simplicity and partner with businesses that can help them provide that simplicity to users.

To move your organization toward providing IT as a service, Ulander said that you must first simplify your infrastructure. Empower your users by defining policies and practices that keep your network secure and deliver optimized services on the appropriate infrastructure, be it private or public. The first step might be delivering storage as a service or infrastructure as a service, but eventually you can get to the point of delivering anything as a service.

CloudStackVirtualization, Ulander said, is only a step toward ITaaS, because VM systems are not automated nor built to scale. Projects like CloudStack and OpenStack are necessary to perform cloud orchestration - make each job programmable and automate it. And by using RightScale, he said, you can empower your users to just select the application they want, and all the underpinning configuration decisions are automated by the IT organization. "With the [RightScale] ServerTemplatesTM, with the MultiCloud MarketplaceTM, with the policy, with the auto-scaling - this is how you start achieving true self-service," he said.

To make all that happen, you have to be willing to let go of a little control, Ulander said, but you can do that because you're making available standard, policy-driven implementations that include real metering, monitoring, and management.

Ulander explained that your architecture must extend to multi-cloud public cloud implementations so that your applications can run across a hybrid environment — and an enterprise cloud management solution like RightScale, built on top of multiple implementations, "strengthens that value proposition" and lets you build infrastructure as a service based on the best policy, price, and availability for the job.

This ability to deliver services with greater security, agility, and efficiency turns IT from a task-based department into a strategic weapon for the enterprise and makes users happier and more productive.

To see how RightScale can help you provide IT as a service, request a demo.

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