Intelligent Operations: Technology Alone is Not the Answer

By Kevin Lees and Andy Troup

Technology is a critical enabler in helping IT support, if not drive, their company’s business outcomes. But it is “just” an enabler and without understanding how to operationalize a technology, all of the benefits afforded by it will never be fully realized. This is especially true if we consider the increasing intelligence of operational tools like VMware vRealize Operations which is making self-driving, intelligent operations a reality.

While simply deploying vRealize Operations does allow you to begin addressing operational and business challenges through its ease of use features like the Quick Start screen shown in Figure 1, to truly take advantage of all its capabilities takes more.

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Figure 1 vRealize Operations Quick Start screen

 

While even a cursory review of the Quick Start screen reveals the primary use cases addressed by vRealize Operations, the immediate question is, how do you apply these use cases to the challenges in your environment? The answer to this question lies in taking a scenario-based approach to enabling your team on applying vRealize Operations (or any technology with more advanced capabilities, for that matter) capabilities. Formal classroom, on-line training, and going through VMware Hands on Labs are a great start to understanding basic features and how to use them, but what we’ve found to be particularly effective is “on the job” scenario-based enablement. We recommend, and use, a “See One, Do One, Teach One” approach focused on operationalizing, in this case, vRealize Operations use cases to drive IT outcomes that add business value. The advantage of taking this approach of focusing on applying the learnings from formal training in scenario-based activities is that it combines enablement on both the vRealize Operations use case and the associated operational activities that are required to provide the desired outcome from the scenario.

Let’s go through an example. The IT outcome is optimizing resource allocations which in turn provides business value by minimizing capacity cost while continuing to provide optimal application performance.

The scenario is based around the Resource Reclamation and Resource Rightsizing capabilities of vRealize Operations. Resource Reclamation, an example of which is shown in Figure 2, provides capacity reclamation opportunities by collecting and analyzing information on Powered Off VMs, Idle VMs, Old Snapshots, and Oversized VMs.

 

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Figure 2 Resource Reclamation dashboard example

 

Resource Rightsizing provides opportunities to adjust oversized and undersized VMs based on learned demand via Guest-OS metrics (via VMware tools). An example for undersized VMs is shown in Figure 3.

 

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Figure 3 Resource Rightsizing dashboard example

 

In this case, operationalizing these capabilities addresses what to do with the information as IT can’t necessarily act on it in isolation. Resource reclamation alone can be seen as IT simply wanting to take back resources. This approach on its own can be challenging to “sell” to the business. To really start getting value, there should be an understanding within the business community that the key goal of IT is to provide the right level of resources to every service that is deployed. This means that these resource reclamation activities should be undertaken alongside activities that assess all services and when required provide additional resources, through resource rightsizing, to services to ensure optimum performance. Taken together, this builds confidence that IT is trying to do the right thing and provide high quality, optimally performing services to the business.

The “See One, Do One, Teach One” approach is then applied to enable the team with the scenario. For example, “See One” activities would be demonstrated by the trainer to show:

  • Which vRealize Operations Cost Savings, Resource Reclamation, and Resource Rightsizing dashboards to look at, what information to gather, and how to interpret the information
  • How to present it to the appropriate people (such as application owners) to obtain approval for reclamation and/or rightsizing
  • How to use the reclamation and rightsizing actions in vRealize Operations as well as any process considerations such as Change Mangament

Once this phase is complete, the “Do One” phase will repeat these activities, but with the trainee(s) undertaking them under the watchful eye of the expert mentor who can provide assistance when necessary. This gives the trainee(s) confidence they can deliver the desired outcome in a repeatable and consistent way. To reinforce this confidence, “Teach One” has the trainee(s) teach other individuals within the organization, again under the watchful eye of the expert mentor. As we all know, teaching others is the ultimate test of how well we understand something. This also provides self-sufficiency when needing to enable new team members going forward.

This on the job, scenario-based enablement using the “See One, Do One, Teach One” approach focused on operationalizing VMware product use cases to drive IT outcomes is offered by VMware Professional Services. It’s directly included in technology-related services offered by VMware Professional Services to provide day 2 operations enablement as well as stand-alone, focused services to provide enablement on more advanced operational topics such as the resource reclamation and resource rightsizing capabilities described in this blog.


Kevin Lees is the field Chief Technologist for IT Operations Transformation at VMware, focused on how customers optimize the way they operate VMware-supported environments and solutions. Kevin serves as an advisor to global customer senior executives for their IT operations transformation initiatives and leads the IT Transformation activities in VMware’s Global Field Office of the CTO.

Andy Troup is a Solution Architect within the VMware Professional Services Engineering organization defining and developing solutions to help customers gain full value from their VMware investment. He has extensive experience delivering services and solutions for large-scale cloud projects. Andy has 25+ years of system architecture, design and operational experience.

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