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In an earlier post, I took a look at near-term, practical concerns that IT leaders are addressing by modernizing their virtualization investments. This is the first of a series of three pieces that will examine those concerns in more detail. Today’s topic is getting things done faster.

If we look back to a pre-Web (and largely unvirtualized) IT world, it would probably be today’s concerns around velocity--of writing new applications, of deploying new infrastructure, of integrating with third-party services--that would seem most incongruous. Back then, applications took a long time to write (waterfall!) and new system deployments were highly manual. Lead times of months were the norm.

The increased delivery speed of IT resources partially reflects an overall increase in the pace of business generally. Faster product refreshes, global competition, and more data-driven decisions with short feedback loops all play a role. However, the fact that IT systems are increasingly outward facing through mobile applications, online ordering, and customer support systems makes it that much more important that they be current and easy-to-use.

Here are some of the ways in which Red Hat can help you get things done faster by augmenting your virtualization investment.

As consumers, we’re all aware of the degree to which self-service can make it easier and faster to transact business. Self-service has often been the first step taken by IT organizations to move beyond virtualized server consolidation. This has let them respond more quickly to user requests for resources such as server instances. Indeed, early on, the “private cloud” term was often appropriated to describe what was more accurately described as virtualization with self-service.

Today, the self-service portal in Red Hat CloudForms allows end users to self-provision virtual machines (VMs), define templates, and administer their own environments. At the same time, IT operations can define per-user quotas for disk space, CPU usage, and memory to retain control over how resources are consumed. Red Hat CloudForms extends self-service by providing complete lifecycle management of workloads from provisioning through retirement across a range of virtualized infrastructures including Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, VMware vSphere, and Microsoft Hyper-V.

Another aspect of getting things done faster is to automate wherever and whenever possible. Automation is a big win in part because it eliminates the labor associated with repetitive tasks. Codifying such tasks also documents them and increases the likelihood that they're performed correctly, more securely, and repeatedly across different infrastructure types—and at different scale points.

The end goal should be to make automation pervasive and consistent using a common language across a wide range of your systems and applications. However, one of the reasons that automation is such a powerful tool for such a wide range of IT organizations is that even narrowly targeted uses of automation can deliver immediate value.

Ansible provides a good place to get started with automation in that it allows configurations to be expressed as “playbooks” in a data format that can be read by both humans and machines. This makes them easy to audit with other programs, and simple for non-developers to read and understand.

Integration becomes even more valuable when it removes roadblocks from your processes by integrating with other products and services--a task that can often be very time consuming. CloudForms accelerates IT service delivery by automating the provisioning process, including integration with third party apps and processes which would normally be a manual process. For example, CloudForms can integrate with a Red Hat Satellite 6 server and take advantage of its features such as provisioning or re-provisioning of bare metal systems. Other examples of integrations that can be automated with CloudForms includes services such as IP management, DNS management, and service ticketing.

Incrementally accelerate

In this post, I have focused on some of the steps that you can take to get things done faster by modernizing your virtualized IT infrastructure. Importantly, these are incremental steps that you can take, which both build on existing infrastructure and which don’t require major investments in new technologies, training, or process change. At the same time, they start to put a foundation in place for broader transformations down the road.

In the next post in this series, I’ll take a look at a more traditional IT management concern--saving time and money--and show how it relates to modernizing virtualization.


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