Cloud Service Fulfillment

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Mar 1, 2012 7:14 AM
Mar 1st, 2012

This month's Chalk Talk from Greg Page and Venkata (Josh) Josyula discusses  the fundamental processes and corresponding best practices that are  typically employed to successfully fulfill a customer's "service  request" for IT infrastructure in a real-time environment.

Cloud End-to-End Service Provisioning Flow

Figure 1 below shows the typical end-to-end provisioning steps for a customer interacting with a Cloud Service Provider (CSP) through a self-service portal and ordering a service. When appropriate, the customer would receive a confirmation from the CSP that the service request is fulfilled and is ready for use (typically via the portal in addition to a confirmation email).

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Figure 1: Typical End-to-End IaaS provisioning steps

(click to view larger image)

The steps illustrated in Figure 1 are explained as follows:

  1. The customer logs on to the portal and is authenticated by the identity management.
  2. Based on the customer’s entitlement, the portal extracts a subset of services that the user can order from the service catalogue and constructs a ‘request catalogue’.
  3. The customer selects a service, e.g. a virtualized web server. Associated to this service is a set of technical requirements such as the amount of vRAM, vCPU etc. in addition to business requirements such as high availability or SLA requirements.
  4. The portal now raises a change request with the service desk which, when approved, will create a service instance and notify the portal. In most cases the approval process is automatic and happens quickly. The service request state is maintained in the service desk and can be queried by the customer through the self-service portal.
  5. The service desk raises a request with the IT process automation tool to fulfill the service. The orchestration tool extracts the technical service information from the service catalogue and decomposes the service into individual parts, such as compute resource configuration, network configuration, and so on.
  6. In the case of our virtualized web server running on Cisco UCS (Unified Computing System), we have three service parts: the server part, the network part, and the infrastructure part. The provisioning process is initiated.
  7. The virtual machine running on the blade or server is provisioned using the server/compute domain manager.

8&9.  The network, including firewalls and load balancers, as well the storage is provisioned by the network, network services and storage domain                  managers.

10-13.Charging is initiated for billing / chargeback and the Change management case is closed and the customer is notified accordingly.

Best Practices for Cloud Service Fulfilment using ITILv3 Principles.

ITILv3 provided the IT life cycle processes: service strategy, service design, service transition, service operate and Continuous Service Improvement (CSI). Applying these processes is a good way to establish service provision processes for data center virtualization and cloud provisioning. Figure 2 shows cloud service provisioning flow based on ITILv3.

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Figure 2: Cloud service provisioning flow based on ITIL V3 principles

(click to view larger image)

Figure 2 shows some of the items that need to be considered in each of the five phases of the cloud service life cycle to provision a cloud. Data center virtualization and cloud-computing technologies can have a significant impact on IT service delivery, cost, and continuity of services; but as with any transformative technology, the adoption is greatly influenced by the up-front preparedness and strategy. IT governance can help the CIOs to become the agent of change and be an active partner in laying out the company's strategy.

The IT organization's success factors include the following:

  • Technology decisions driven by a business strategy (not the other way around)
  • Sustaining the IT activities as efficiently as possible
  • Speed to market
  • Technology architecture aligning with the business initiatives.

Mapping ITILv3 phases to ‘Infrastructure as a Service’ requirements

1.  Service Strategy: With the preceding principles in mind, the following high-level tasks are done during the service strategy phase:

  • Cloud architecture assessment
  • Operations (people, processes, products, and partners [the 4Ps])
  • Demand management
  • Financial management or value creation (ROI)
  • Risk management
  • Service Design Phase

2.  Service design: The following items should be considered, taking input from the service strategy phase:

  • Service catalogue management
  • Orchestration
  • Security design
  • Network configuration and change management (NCCM)
  • Service-level agreements (SLA)
  • Billing and chargeback

3.  Service Transition: The following items are considered in this phase:

  • Change management
  • Service asset and configuration management: maintained.
  • Orchestration and integration
  • Migration, staging and validation

4. Service Operate: All ITILv3 phases are important, but this phase draws the most attention because 60%–70% of the I.T. budget is spent in dealing with day-to-day operations. In this phase, the service provider monitors and audits the service to ensure that the SLAs are met. The following items are considered in the service operate phase:

  • Service desk (function),
  • Incident management,
  • Problem management, Service fulfillment,
  • Event management
  • Access management

5. Cloud CSI Phase: This phase is, as its name implies, a proactive methodology to improve the IT organization activities using best practices, as opposed to reactive responses. CSI interacts with all the aforementioned phases to improve each of the phases through feedback loops. Specific activities that can be quickly adopted in this phase include:

  • Audit the configurations in all the infrastructure devices. The inventory and collection of data from all devices must be done to ensure the manageability of the cloud infrastructure.
  • Identify infrastructure that is end of life (EOL), end of service (EOS).
  • Fine-tune the management tools and processes based on best practices.

Finally, note that adding new products and services requires assessment to ensure that the new services can be incorporated into the current operating environment without sacrificing the quality of service to customers.

In next month’s Chalk Talks we will discuss ‘Cloud Assurance’.

Cloud Computing: Automating the Virtualized Data Center

By Venkata Josyula, Malcolm Orr, Greg Page.

Published by Cisco Press.

Published: Nov 29, 2011

Copyright 2012

ISBN-10: 1-58720-434-7

ISBN-13: 978-1-58720-434-0

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Greg Page has been working in the I.T. Industry for 16 years, the last 11 with Cisco Systems in a variety of technical consulting roles specializing in Data Centre architecture and technology in addition to Service Provider security.

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Venkata (Josh) Josyula, Ph.D., CCIE No. 13518 is a Chief System Architect and a Distinguished Services Engineer (DSE) in Advanced Services.

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