A small book of deep insight, Virtual Ops Private Cloud tackles the why and how of moving enterprise IT from virtualization to private cloud. Private cloud—better tailored, less costly, more secure than public cloud—means automation, dynamic workload management, and a service approach to IT consumption.
Throughout the book, this concept of service takes center stage. To gain the benefits of a private cloud, the authors argue, enterprise IT must offer to the business a service catalog of standardized offerings—bundles of compute power, memory, networking, and service—tailored and continuously adapted to align with business needs. From this catalog, users shall make one-touch orders, orders that through rules and automation lead to the dynamic provisioning of IT services, moving the business rapidly from idea to reality.
The private cloud in Visible Ops Private Cloud goes beyond technology; it represents a vision of extraordinary IT efficiency and value creation. Enterprise IT achieves all this through the discipline of process, the rigorous formulation, documentation, adaptation, and adherence to policies and procedures around service standardization and delivery.
The four practical steps promised by the book’s subtitle depict a journey to ever greater process discipline and efficiency. Authors Andi Mann, Kurt Milne, and Jeanne Morain effectively distill lessons learned from leading organizations, making the book remarkably concrete and comprehensive for its size.
However, as I consider the importance of the service catalog, I wonder whether the private cloud as described in Visible Ops Private Cloud produces the kind of services that business users should care about. As a step beyond virtualization, this private cloud produces servers—virtual, dynamic, and effectively managed servers. But users do not so much care about servers, nor even about IT workload management. Rather, they want solutions to their problems. An effective IT department understands the business well enough to analyze the problem, see its connection to business processes, and collaborate with users in the design of creative solutions.
So while I appreciate the efficiency gains that a private cloud might provide for the management of IT infrastructure, I’d be concerned that basing a service catalog around this infrastructure would mean speaking in a language that only IT understands. The private cloud, if it is to have business meaning, must be framed as a solution to specific business problems, rather than just efficient IT management.
That being said, this book’s focus on process and IT efficiency offers tremendous food for thought. Take this book as a guide to action, though keep in mind that the subtitle reads four practical steps, not four easy steps.