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The true cost of a $500 VM deployment

A manual provisioning process has both a hard cost and an opportunity cost. In addition to saving a few hours of hands-on ops work, automated deployment is transformative.

I talk to IT teams from many different companies. It is amazing to see all the different ways IT organizations approach solving common challenges. Many IT organizations are using outsourced service providers to fulfill requests for VM provisioning.

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They contact CliQr because they are looking for a more seamless user experience than a service desk ticket and a 10 day wait. They want to offer the ability to self-service deploy VM or fully configured application stack on demand. And they want to support a hybrid IT strategy and offer deployment to datacenter or one or more public clouds all from the same user interface with single underlying management and governance platform.

I talk to them because CliQr CloudCenter can do that.

With CliQr you can deploy simple VM or complex application stack to your datacenter or multiple clouds. Users can choose the target environment when they deploy. IT doesn’t don’t need to create or maintain separate catalog items, or scripting hard coded to each deployment environment.

Users click on item they want, cost compare deployment choices, choose the target environment including datacenter or any other cloud. CliQr also has enterprise-class guardrails that guide self-service – with multi-tenant service catalog, department, project or user level usage controls, drill down and roll-up cost visibility, and seamless user experience regardless of target environment.

So what’s the real cost of a $500 VM deployment?

When you pay an outsourcer $500 each time they deploy a VM, that slow manual process changes user behavior. That behavior has various costs beyond the hard cost of the service request.

1 – Hoarding. If it is hard and expensive to get ahold of a server, engineers hold on to what they can get. You end up with the “server under desk” virtually or literally, which creates risk. One CIO I spoke with who runs a hospital is not worried about HIPPA compliance related to their health information management systems. He loses sleep over the servers his team doesn’t control. He sleeps better at night when all servers are provision through IT then destroyed when work is done.

2 – Drift. Hoarding causes people to re-use deployments.  They make changes. Over time the configuration drifts. Then pre-production and product systems don’t match. Or one production system doesn’t match another. A more automated approach to deployment results in always going back to known good system configuration. That eliminates painful troubleshooting and wasted time for everyone involved.

3 – Utilization. According to a recent IBM estimate 50% of datacenter infrastructure is devoted to Dev and Test workloads, and sit idle 90% of the time. When resources are hard to get approved and provisioned, people overprovision to avoid “Going back to well” to get more. An on demand automated approach to stand up AND tear down systems means users can provision just enough knowing they can get more if needed.

4 – Morale. Rote deployment work is not interesting or fun. Automation allows skilled IT resources to spend time on more satisfying work. Although some fear more automation will reduce headcount, more often than not Jevon’s Paradox kicks in and faster cheaper deployment increases demand and creates more work.

5 – Innovation. A shift to fully automated, self service, on demand deployment – either through portal, service catalog, or via API – can remake IT’s relationship with business funders and users. IT executives I’ve worked with that have gone through the transformation share that they reduce the amount of request and response activities. They can focus their smart capable people on business problems. And they become more of a strategic partner with the business.

It’s a bit cliché to talk about the percentage of overall IT budget spent on innovation versus “Keeping the lights on” activities. But automated provisioning a VM, or full application stack is transformative. Automated provisioning enables IT to remake relationship with business.

Powerful Examples

Trimble – a global leader in technology solutions for heavy industry, uses CloudCenter to automate deployment of complex development environments for internal and partner product dev teams. They took 4 to 6 months out of their typical new product release lifecycle. They de-duped their service portfolio. Now developers aren’t down in the weeds and have more time for writing code.

Large investment management firm – replaced 127 step manual process that required developers to touch 5 different internal teams. With CliQr they can click a button and wait 3 minutes – for a fully configured application stack deployed into Cisco ACI environment with fully automated network configuration.

The benefits of automated provisioning are not measured just the $500 in IT ops labor saved. The changes are truly transformative.

Question – If the department in your company responsible for computer technology is not using the transformative power of automation, then you need to ask “Why not?”

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