Thursday, September 1, 2011

Executive Interview: VMware's Carl Eschenbach on the scope and depth of cloud computing and how CIOs will have to adapt

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: VMware.

The move to cloud is far more than an IT delivery model adjustment. It really presents a unique opportunity to get IT -- and the business of IT -- right at the highest levels.

On the main stage at VMworld 2011 this week, VMware Co-President Carl Eschenbach demonstrated that impact through testimonials on how cloud computing and virtualization infrastructure are advancing the business goals of three major corporations, Revlon, NYSE Euronext, and Southwest Airlines.

BriefingsDirect caught up with Eschenbach after the presentation to gain his impressions and insights on the scope and depth of cloud computing -- and how it's impacting CIOs in general. The interview comes as part of a special BriefingsDirect podcast series from VMworld in Las Vegas. The interview was conducted by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. [Disclosure: VMware is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: Some people seem to think that the move to cloud makes IT less relevant. Do you agree, and how are the CIOs you are talking to viewing it?

Eschenbach: When people ask if cloud is real or if it's happening, I can tell you unequivocally that the answer is yes. In fact, one of the things that VMware is so excited about is our position around cloud computing.

The reason I say that is that the cloud era is here, and VMware has the solutions to help our customers actually bridge the gap between their existing data centers and legacy applications to this new world of cloud computing. It's us and the strength of our ecosystem partners who are leading this technology innovation and services that enable people to accelerate their cloud adoption.

It's been a very exciting show here at VMworld. We had 20,000 plus people in attendance, and I can tell you that the energy at this show only proves that our industry is going through a major transformation toward cloud computing.

So while it's true there are some CIOs who are resistant or hesitant to move to the cloud, it's not whether they're going to in the future. It's really how fast. Clearly people are thinking about it. They need help along the way, because they need to bridge their existing investments, as I said earlier, to move to the cloud.

Hybrid cloud

Once they find a way to do that in a very secure manner, people will start to build not public cloud offerings and solutions, not private cloud offerings and solutions, but they will truly build what we call a hybrid cloud.

Gardner: You seem to be saying that IT becomes more fundamental, that with cloud the role of IT becomes more strategic.

Eschenbach: IT needs to become a strategic asset or weapon to help drive revenue generation for the company. It no longer needs to be a cost center or just something that becomes a barrier to success for the company.

Today, in a lot of cases, people look at IT as the barrier, meaning they're not agile enough to service and support the line of business. In effect, what happens when you start to build either a private or public cloud, is that they actually become opaque. They become transparent to the line of business.

There's no longer an issue or challenge with how fast a company can roll out a new business opportunity or solution. It's actually removed now, when it gets to IT or the existing CIO organization, because they take that away. They're able to service them much faster, because when you deploy cloud-based solutions, you have a much more agile infrastructure to support the line of business.

When you start to build either a private or public cloud, is that they actually become opaque. They become transparent to the line of business.

Gardner: We've been hearing about cloud infrastructure management, cloud application platforms, end user computing, and additional use of virtualization on the client tier. This is coming together as a seamless strategy, and I'm curious about the paybacks.

Those companies that are biting this off fully, that are going full-bore at cloud at these different levels, seem to be getting a lot back in return. Do you see this as a whole greater than the sum of the parts? Is there an advantage to being a full cloud-enabled organization?

Eschenbach: There clearly is, Dana. We have customers that are going through multiple phases of a journey toward a cloud platform.

First, everyone has to start with just thinking about how they'll virtualize their existing assets and their data center, which is exactly what VMware has done over the last many years. We've helped our customers drive out a lot of CAPEX savings in IT by just moving to a highly virtualized environment.

But what cloud brings is more than just CAPEX savings. It brings OPEX savings and operational savings, because when you move from a highly virtualized infrastructure to a true private, public, or hybrid cloud, you are now focused on leveraging management and automation tools, which really then focuses on the OPEX savings you get.

Business benefit

So again, moving from a highly virtualized environment moves you from a technical discussion and a CAPEX savings discussion to one that’s more of a business benefit by leveraging cloud, because of the management and automation you put around that highly virtualized environment, therefore leading to much more agile infrastructure to service the business.

Gardner: I've been talking to a number of customers this week and I'm certainly hearing from them that the more they adopt and adapt to cloud, the better the returns. They're seeing better disaster recovery efficiencies. They're getting better data efficiencies. They're doing better with their networks. It seems as if it becomes pervasive.

But I'm wondering too, Carl, for those companies that resist this, are they facing a penalty? It seems to me that they could be at a competitive disadvantage pretty quickly.

Eschenbach: Among our customers, the people who typically resist moving to cloud-based architectures or solutions are actually the CIOs and their infrastructure team itself.

The reason for that is that the line of business has this notion,or has this understanding, that they can move to public cloud models and it's much cheaper, faster, and in some cases, they think more reliable. In effect, they forget that the CIO has processes in place, has existing expenses on building out its infrastructure, has security, compliance, and controls of the IT that’s already running on that infrastructure.

The CIOs are really the ones who may resist cloud today, but in the end they're the ones who have to move to a cloud faster, so the line of business does not go around them and fall into alternatives to support the business.

If we can help the CIO build out a cloud infrastructure within their own four walls of their data center, the line of business would much rather leverage them, if they can get all the security, compliance, and controls that they are accustomed to getting, but get it at a faster, cheaper rate, which is the promise of the public cloud.

So the CIOs are really the ones who may resist cloud today, but in the end they're the ones who have to move to a cloud faster, so the line of business does not go around them and fall into alternatives to support the business.

Gardner: That gets back to that relevancy. It seems to me that they risk becoming irrelevant if they resist, but they could actually increase their role and importance in the organization by embracing cloud.

Eschenbach: No question. There was an example on stage here. I had an opportunity to interview the CIO at Revlon. One of the things that he talked about was the fact that he increased the IT project throughput through his organization by 300 percent, when he built out a highly automated, private-cloud infrastructure.

What's happened, he said, is that the line of business and his business partners no longer think of IT as the barrier or the roadblock to rolling out new revenue-generating services. Instead they look to them, because they know they can service them in a much faster way.

Large ecosystem

Gardner: I look around me here at the show and I see some of the largest corporations in the world. I also see some of the largest IT vendors in the world. There's a big ecosystem that’s developed here.

But I'm also seeing smaller companies. So cloud’s message, cloud’s value to small to medium-sized business (SMBs), is it just as good as what we are telling them in terms of their enterprise size companies and the benefits. Or is there even greater opportunity for SMBs?

Eschenbach: Cloud provides business benefit for all types of customers, regardless of the vertical market segment they're in or their size and scope.

If you think about cloud computing, the promise it brings customers is the ability to get access to infrastructure and data in a very cost-efficient, rapid way and only pay for what you use. It's a great value proposition, regardless of size and scope of your organization and company.

With that being said, some of the people moving to cloud services first are actually SMB organizations and companies, because they don’t necessarily have the IT skill set that’s required to keep up with the business demands. Therefore, if they can get this service from someone else, and get a service level agreement (SLA) that’s relevant to their business, then they will move to a cloud model faster than the large enterprises will.

We're seeing many SMB and mid-sized companies move to cloud-based models and offerings much faster than the large enterprise or the multinationals.

We're seeing many SMB and mid-sized companies move to cloud-based models and offerings much faster than the large enterprise or the multinationals.

Gardner: Let's slice it another way. How about vertical industry-specific clouds? We've started to see a little bit of this. NYSE is probably a great example. Do you expect to see more of that, where we've got intermediaries between a general-purpose cloud approach and that more specific to the business processes that are germane and relevant to specific industries?

Eschenbach: We're really excited about the partnership we've formed with the NYSE Euronext and the Capital Markets Community Platform that we had announced back in May. The feedback from that announcement has been pretty positive.

In fact, their CIO was on stage with me just the other day, and he not only spoke about how they're supporting their own infrastructure at NYSE Euronext based on vSphere, but now with this Capital Markets cloud they are taking some of their same services and offering them to this new community cloud market.

While that is the first cloud that was really stood up, we do expect and believe that there will be other vertical clouds that are going to be stood up, whether it's in the federal government, where there’s already been some announcements around that.

Trend will continue

also think you can anticipate seeing some other financial services clouds, as well as healthcare clouds, being stood up as well. This is a trend that will continue.

One of the reasons we believe it will continue is because people can stand up clouds and bring very specific business benefit that is very repeatable across the customers who are going to run on that cloud because they are in the same vertical. If they have the same compliance issues, or security, or other regulatory things that they have to adhere to, building a community cloud for one specific vertical is a lot easier than trying to serve an entire market with multiple, vertical clouds.

Gardner: I'm still impressed by the amount of energy I'm seeing here. You'd never know that we have an economic stagnation problem around the world. People here are really jazzed, but I suppose we need to look at this as a trying time as well.

What are you encouraged by in your meetings with folks and discussions in terms of how they are able to do more with less essentially?

Eschenbach: This week I've had a great opportunity to spend a lot of time with customers and our ecosystem set of partners. I can tell you that everyone is excited for this major tectonic shift we are seeing in the industry, and these shifts only happen every 10 or 20 years.

People are trying to look at IT in a different way. They want IT to be their business partner so that they can differentiate themselves in this global economic environment.

People are starting to say that this whole cloud computing era is coming to life, and people are trying to look at IT in a different way. They want IT to be their business partner so that they can differentiate themselves in this global economic environment.

One thing that VMware and our ecosystem set of partners do is that we allow our customers to do more with less, and that’s kind of a cliché statement. A lot of people say, we will bring IT services and solutions to you and we will allow you to do more with less. Well, quite honestly, if you look back over the history of VMware, that has been a very consistent value proposition that we bring to our customers.

Even potentially in a down market or a market where we have a strong headwind, I believe VMware and the rich set of ecosystem partners we have, we will always move to the top of the pile, when people think about IT investments, because we will indeed reduce their overall CAPEX and OPEX cost, at the same time providing better IT agility for the lines of business.

Strategic weapon

As we move into 2012, our customers and business partners can continue to bet on VMware as being a very strategic weapon for them to differentiate themselves in this very competitive market.

The thing I will end on here is one thing that we are focused on is helping our customers go through this transformation towards cloud computing in a very programmatic way that allows them to protect their existing assets in the data center, and also protect their legacy applications, but move to a new world of cloud computing all at the same time. That is what excites me in the opportunity we collectively have with our partners as we look into 2012.
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

VMworld Showcase: How ADP Dealer Services benefits from VMware View in its expanding use of desktop virtualization

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: VMware.

Our next VMworld case study interview takes aim at ADP Dealer Services and details how they're benefiting from expanding use of desktop virtualization. We'll learn about how ADP Dealer Services is enjoying increased security, better management, and higher productivity benefits as they leverage desktop virtualization across their applications development activities.

This story comes as part of a special BriefingsDirect podcast series from the VMworld 2011 Conference in Las Vegas the week of August 29. The series explores the latest in cloud computing and virtualization infrastructure developments.

To hear more about their VMware View expansion experience, we're joined by Bill Naughton, the Chief Information Officer at ADP Dealer Services, and Shane Martinez, Director of Global Infrastructure at ADP Dealer Services. The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. [Disclosure: VMware is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: Why have you pursued desktop virtualization for application development first?

Naughton: We had an interesting problem to solve. The first issue was developer productivity, which is very important to us, because we do have a big software development engineering house that needs to be productive.

And we had issues where our traditional approach of putting them on the user based plan was not giving them the creativity, flexibility, and productivity they needed to spin up new environments, to have a free workspace so they could do what they needed to create products.

So we thought that a VDI solution, combined with a quick provisioning and deprovisioning for development environments, would make them more productive and protect their normal day-to-day use of email, ERPF, Salesforce automation apps that they might need on the traditional production environment.

It's been now going on for probably about a year-and-a-half. We were looking at what was the right design and what was the process, because there is a lot of process involved with change management, with the provisioning and deprovisioning. So we did some pilots and now we're in full roll out and pretty excited about the results.

We're talking over 1,000 technical people who will use the solution -- software engineers, QA type people, test people. And because ADP Dealer Services has a pretty big application portfolio, we're talking about hundreds of environments, thousands of servers that have kind of grown up over the years that support our R&D environment.

Gardner: What does ADP Dealer Services do that relies to heavily on software development prowess?

Naughton: ADP is the world’s largest outsourced human resources, payroll, and tax benefits company started in 1949. It's about a $10 billion company, with 50,000 employees and close to 600,000 clients. It's one of Fortune’s most admired companies and one of only four companies with a AAA credit rating from Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.

ADP Dealer Services, is a division of ADP, about a $1.7 billion company that’s serving the auto retail client base throughout the globe.

ADP Dealer Services, is a division of ADP, about a $1.7 billion company that’s serving the auto retail client base throughout the globe. It has about 8,000 employees and 25,000 clients to serve through software and services the auto retail and the OEM auto manufacturing industry.

Gardner: So I imagine that the applications that you are creating for these dealers are very intensive in terms of data, and many different types of applications, custom apps, as well as more off-the-shelf or third-party, need to be integrated, so a fairly complex set.

Naughton: It's a very complicated set. You are right on the money. It's all the way from ERP systems that we develop for the industry, CRM applications, digital marketing applications, all the way to the telephony side of the business.

So there is hardware integration, third party integration, but it’s mostly ground-up software development that is the core base of the business of cloud computing apps, multi-tenant applications, and then applications that will tie into telephony systems and other applications through APIs. But the core products are ground-up software development.

Gardner: So it's a highly technical undertaking and your developers are really on the front lines of making this business work for you. This isn’t a nice to have. This is mission critical across the board?

Creativity and freedom

Naughton: Absolutely. And you want to make sure the developers have as much creativity and freedom as they can possibly have.

At the same time, ADP being a public company and being a company that people entrust the data with, we need to have good security across our different platforms. So the challenge was to give the developers a platform where they could be creative, where they could be given a wide range of latitude of tools and technology and at the same time, protect their day-to-day compute that they needed for things like messaging or applications the managers need to administer the workforce.

Gardner: Bill, as CIO, you had this vision about how to empower and enable your developers, perhaps even cut some costs along the way, I can imagine that you went to Shane and said, "Make it happen." Is that how it happened or did Shane come to you and say, "Listen, I've got this great idea?"

Naughton: It was a joint effort between knowing that we wanted to do something different, knowing that the developers had unique needs, knowing that security had definite requirements on how we protect from malware, how we protect from viruses, how do we patch and protect the environments. And then we had a cost consideration too in that the spiral of development that we provide to the CTO in his office was getting quite big.

So the combination of Shane being forward-looking at a solution, the requirements we had from the development community, and the security requirements from our GSO office brought it all together into something where we're going to try something a little bit different than traditional approaches.

There's been a tremendous consumption. The adoption by the associate community has been wonderful.

Gardner: Shane, how has this impacted you from the infrastructure point of view?

Martinez: There's been a tremendous consumption. The adoption by the associate community has been wonderful. We were faced with a challenge where we had to present the development community with an environment, which as Bill mentioned, had the latitude for them to perform their job function and they could be creative again. They were re-empowered to do their job and had all of the operational benefits that a typical compute would give them.

In addition to just that environment flexibility, also with the VDI View infrastructure, we were able to provide them with compute environment that was more specifically designed to meet their needs.

As Bill mentioned, we have a litany of different applications and development communities, and each one of their specific compute requirements are different. Using a technology like View that allows us to abstract from the hardware, we create infrastructure specific to each one of their needs.

Two discrete networks

There was a complex challenge that obviously we had to overcome, which was how do we present this pretty powerful environment and construct to people who are distributed, not just across the continental United States, but globally. By creating a separate VRF instance in our wide area network, we were able to bifurcate our WAN and create two discrete networks. That second network, which effectively became a shadow of our production infrastructure, is where the VDIs and all of our lab environments live.

As Bill said, that separate environment is one that is specifically designed to meet the needs of our development community. By virtue of having VDI and View out there for them to access over the separate network, they then can reach it from anywhere within our global network. So we have associates that are distributed across all of our sites that have the ability to consume these resources that we made available.

Gardner: And they have been mostly happy with the latency issues and performance?

Martinez: Oh, very pleased. As a matter of fact, there are several different ways in which we allow them to consume it. The first one is they can access the assets direct. With the View client, they can access their remote workstation and work on it however they are comfortable with.

In addition, though, we have the ability for them to check out that workstation and they can use that workstation either locally or when they are remote on the road. They can use that on their assets and then come back in and check it back in the library. It works very well for them.

There are two great benefits. The first thing is, from an administrative standpoint, just purely the FTE consumption. I have a very small staff that is designed to manage this specific environment. Currently, we're managing 300-400 workstations per administrator. So we get a very high level of density to associate from a support standpoint.

In addition, we can create and deploy workstations exceedingly fast, at a rate some days of up to 50 and 60 a day.

In addition to that, there's the server administration, as Bill mentioned, with Lab Manager and the accompanying technologies from VMware that we use. This small team is also able to manage in excess of 2,000 servers for the same group of developers and the development community.

Naughton: It's really important that we try to provide a service to the development community that they send a case in and Shane’s team does the provisioning, deprovisioning for them. We spin the environments up real quick and deprovision and reclaim the space. So we get efficiency there.

Service component

The service by the admin is taken care of -- the whole process that they need for new environments. You want to make sure the environments get taken care of. So they do both of that. There is a service component to it that we think is important.

Gardner: You're referring here to your application development activities, but your R&D and lab, are they separate? Do they overlap? How does that work, and what have you been using to support them both with VDI?

Martinez: There are two different environments, as Bill mentioned, throughout the lifecycle of creating a new product. Our development community has to obviously create code and write code, but as we become more of a cloud-based service provider to the auto, truck, marine industries that are out there in the world, we become more of that and interact with the Internet.

So that lab, that test environment, needs to be very dynamic as we create new product, release it ,and have it interact with the Internet and some of the OEMs and external parties that have access to that.

As a result of that, this environment also is able to provide us with a very secure, remote location that is separate from our ERP applications, our standalone Salesforce automation applications, etc., where we can have people connect and test product, beta product, alpha product even, in a place that poses no risk to the rest of our infrastructure.

For all of their activities interacting with the lab, it stays contained in the lab, thus securing the rest of our infrastructure.

As we as an organization continue to abstract our operating systems and the applications from the hardware that underlies it, it allows us to become more flexible in how we deliver compute, and application services, both to our internal associates as well as to our external clients.

Private cloud

So ADP has undertaken a great deal of effort in order for it to create its own private cloud infrastructure and the View client and the vSphere environment really is an adjunct to that strategy.

Gardner: All right. One other area that I've heard folks mention, when it comes to the benefit of more centralized control and management, is in the disaster recovery and business continuity aspects. Are you able to also feel lower risk in terms of how you can back up and maintain continuity regardless of external factors for both your application development activities as well as production?

Martinez: Absolutely. By virtue of compressing a great deal of this very critical data and intellectual property into an environment that is virtualized and abstracted by virtue of all the benefits you get with just a virtual environment, vMotion, etc., our data and our environment are much more highly available.

In addition, by virtue of the design, the way in which it’s architected, by bringing all this critical data together, we then can better manage it through a variety of ways that we manage our DR. However, this has really been the stepping stone for us to begin to compress and consolidate all of our distributed lab environments across the world.

Gardner: It almost sounds like a snowball effect, the more you do this, the more you can avail it. The more you can avail it, the more you can apply it, and so on and so forth. Does that overstate in the case when it comes to virtualization?

By virtue of the design, the way in which it’s architected, by bringing all this critical data together, we then can better manage it through a variety of ways that we manage our DR.

Naughton: No. Shane worked with some of the more forward-looking and toughest R&D owners we have -- Hamid Mirza, our CTO and Mark Rankin, the VP of Engineering for our core products, a person who has very demanding requirements -- and they started at the places where we felt we had the most benefit.

So he has evangelized what we have done. That’s really helped with adoption across the business and it's really starting to gain momentum.

Martinez: From a business standpoint we've stopped the technical infrastructure sprawl that we had in our lab environment. So we don’t see that. It was lots of small purchases for servers, for backup infrastructure, for commodity items. That has stopped. So there's a business benefit on just the rates of buying an infrastructure sprawl.

The provisioning and deprovisioning has compressed the cycles that they have of the rote activity that we had in the past. Developing software is a complicated process. So we've automated the steps that we could through the provisioning and deprovisioning.

Relieved the burden

In terms on all the connectivity challenges for developers, where they had to get to environments and the management of those environments, we have relieved the burden on that. They have the client, it spins up, and they are ready to go instantaneously, versus a lot of traversing and a lot of custom configurations just to get the environments to make a mark.

Gardner: What’s the business payback for this so far?

Naughton: This had an ROI, and sometimes the infrastructure on the ROIs are difficult because this is enabling technology. But it made our criteria that we have investment. So the ROI is pretty quick. We have certain criteria before we make any investment. This one fell right in line with it and it’s delivering what it’s supposed to.

Gardner: Is there anything about what you've done with virtualization and desktop virtualization that you think might allow you to go out and bring your apps and business processes to a wider range of devices?

Martinez: Absolutely. The environment has very powerfully allowed us to open up our compute activities at the end-user, associate level, so that they can consume applications that typically wouldn’t be available to them on a pad, tablet device, or even a smartphone. Now, by virtue of being able to access those particular workstations in that environment with the View client, they now can consume those applications that don’t have something specifically written for a tablet or a smartphone.

So effectively, they use that remote View workstation as a jump post that allows them to interact with any application. So we are no longer bound by the restriction that a tablet or a smartphone may normally present our associates.

With this View application, we can disconnect, check out a workstation, allow it to securely VPN in, and then interact with all of our applications in the infrastructure.

In addition to that access, we're allowed to do it securely. Historically if you wanted to allow a tablet or a smartphone to interact with applications, you had to do so straight from the Internet. It was very difficult to do so unless the person was connected to your network.

Now with this View application, we can disconnect, check out a workstation, allow it to securely VPN in, and then interact with all of our applications in the infrastructure, via a mechanism that the associate is comfortable with, and an interface that they have historically worked with. So our adoption rates have been very high.

Naughton: What Shane is describing is for our internal users who need applications that we provide internally to our workforce. From product development side of the house, what’s been exciting about what we have put together is, as they have come up with mobile platforms, as they want to do native development, or they want to go to HTML5, this environment, we'll be able to scan up those environments for new technology for them to test and to write code against very quickly. In the past we would have to set up a mobile platform, set up a gateway, or put up an environment that would do native apps.

Quick spin-up

hat we have done here is allowed test, QA, and development very quickly for new technology like mobile, which is there in the midst, where we have actually put product in the marketplace, put mobile product out there against our core applications and we are able to spin up those environments very quickly.

Gardner: Here at VMworld, we're hearing a lot about the new View 5.0. Do you have any impressions about anything in it in particular that’s enticing?

Martinez: Some of the greatest benefits that we see coming down the pike from the new product releases is going to be specifically around the protocols it will support. I think that with some of the features and functionality that can be difficult over high latency links over a wide area network, with improved and tighter protocols, PC-over-IP as an example, the benefits to our associates will be huge.

Some of the challenge is that when you abstract the associate locally from their interface, it can be the WAN, high latency links, etc. We have no challenges with this today, but I can see as we go into more and more remote markets, that we need to support third-world countries, where links can be exceedingly pricy or can be very poor in their quality, this will be a huge benefit to our associates.

Naughton: Depending on where the profiling ends up, that’s also important, because as we get into different user bases in our associate community, profiles is going to be an important piece that will help with faster adoption and the ability to include more of our workforce up to a VDI solution.

Some of the challenge is that when you abstract the associate locally from their interface, it can be the WAN, high latency links, etc.

Gardner: Last question before we wrap up. I imagine too that your success in using VDI for application development is a harbinger of expanding this into other parts of ADP Dealer Services or maybe even ADP at large. Any thoughts about whether you're a proof point that others will look to in terms of taking VDI into even more of your organization?

Naughton: At our payroll division in our corporate office they're looking at different solutions and have solutions in production for VDI. Obviously, the benefits of administrative productivity improvements with patching, deployment, roll outs, streaming applications, are all stuff that are exciting developments.

We have probably gone deeper in our home shore, in our application development areas. But I think that there’s some pretty strong use cases where more of our transaction-based functions like customer support, internal sales, where they are high transaction volumes where a VDI solution would be very helpful.
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Exploring business-IT alignment: A 20-year struggle culminating in the role and impact of business architecture

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: The Open Group.

We've assembled a distinguished panel in conjunction with the recent Open Group Conference in Austin, Texas, to explore the impact, role and opportunity for business architecture.

We'll examine how the definition of business architect has matured, and we'll see why it’s so important for this new role to flourish in today’s dynamic business and IT landscapes. We'll also see how certification and training are helping to shape the business architecture leaders of tomorrow.

Here to help better understand the essential impact of business architecture on business success is Harry Hendrickx, the Chief Technology Officer, CME Industry Unit, HP Enterprise Services and a Certified Global Enterprise Architect; Dave van Gelder, Global Architect in the Financial Services Strategic Business Unit at Capgemini; Mieke Mahakena, Label Leader for Architecture in the Training Portfolio at Capgemini Academy and also a Certified Architect; Peter Haviland, head of Architecture Services in the Americas for Ernst & Young, and Kevin Daley, Chief Architect in the Technology and Innovation Group at IBM Global Business Services.

The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. [Disclosure: The Open Group, HP and Capgemini are sponsors of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: We see that CEOs around the world really are seeking fundamental change from IT. They recognize that we're at an inflection point. Why then is the role of business architect so important now?
Over the past one or two decades, business-IT alignment has been number one on the CIO agenda, and apparently the organizations have increasing difficulty getting business-IT alignment resolved.
There are quite a few people pioneering in business-IT alignment, but apparently there was no urgency yet to recognize this role more specifically.

HP, in the past two years, interviewed CIOs worldwide, and they all indicated that they face quite large and complex transformation processes. They also recognize that business-IT alignment is one of key issues. We think that the business architect really can provide some resolution to get those processes in better shape and more successful.

Daley: At IBM, we have a CEO study and a CIO study that come out in alternating years. One of the things that started coming out loud and clear in 2010 was that managing complexity and building operating dexterity required a better understanding across the entire company.

We've started seeing a trend to move not just from business IT alignment, but to business and IT convergence. There's an understanding more and more that information technology, and technology in general, is a core part of the business model now. There's an understanding that now we have a situation where business and IT aren’t so much aligned, because of the fact that IT is part of business.

Where we did interviews and surveys and then compiled them for thousands of CEOs, we came up with three key elements. Amongst those was managing and taking advantage of complexity while building operating dexterity. That’s the key theme.

One of the problems that we're seeing from the CEOs is having for decades separated IT as if it was its own business unit, instead of part of the true sense of the business. It's been an interpretive science. To manage that complexity they needed a means by which to start with the design of where they're going and have have a business strategy.

To manage that complexity they needed a means by which to start with the design of where they're going and have have a business strategy.

How do they take that strategy and transform it into technology and into information management? They needed an ability to have a framework in which to have that substantive discussion between the people who were responsible, such as the CIO who is responsible for technology and the operations and the COOs, who are really about the execution of the overall picture.

What we've seen from our CEOs is a need to start being more integrated. There have been market pressures that they having to respond to. The big economic downturn was a big change for everyone, and they are trying to address it.

They're looking at means that they can start integrating more globally. They can start to increase their cost variability and start becoming more agile in how they operate their business. To do that they need a means by which they can more effectively communicate.

Driving understanding

o far, we've been seeing that business architecture is a perfect way to start driving an understanding. It's a place where both people who are used to seeing standard business models like revenue and capability are able to associate that to the different types of architectures and designs that we see coming out of the technology group.

It's giving them a common place to meet and jointly move forward with what they're trying to do in terms of managing the complexity, so they can be more agile and dexterous.

Gardner: What are the stakes here for business architecture and for organizations that can master this? How important is this now?

Haviland: It’s extremely important. What I see is that this is a discipline that’s just crying out for more people and more maturity. You almost need it to become pervasive throughout organizations now.

The most common story I encounter is simply that organizations spent a lot of time in the past creating their processes and then they spent a lot of time feeding technology solutions to those processes. In recent times, the pace of technology change has moved faster than that previous paradigm.

What you're looking at is at people saying, well, I am the business, there are all of these technology options out there. I cannot find a way forward and so how do I exploit those? That is where the business architecture profession is really being pushed to the front.

That said, there is a slight risk here that it may be considered too much in isolation. I mean, it is an architecture profession, it is a part of architecture, and the value of architecture is to provide that aligned view across the various domains that are important in terms of business, technology, information, security, and those types of elements.

When it comes back to what’s at stake for businesses that are investing in this particular area and for businesses that are trying to reconsider the way that they can operate themselves to support technology, they are moving ahead and they have competitive advantage. Businesses that aren’t doing that tend to be left behind, because the pace of change of technology is going to get faster.

Gardner: Does a business architect and architecture have to be at a high level to be successful? Where in the org chart do we typically see this role? Is it near the top? Does it matter?

van Gelder: It depends on the maturity of an organization. Within Capgemini nowadays, we talk about business technology. As Kevin said, business and technology are not separate. Technology is part of the total business.

When we started the Business Architecture Working Group in 2006, there was a lot of discussion about two words, business and architecture, and nobody knew exactly what we were talking about. Everybody had a different understanding of those words. In the last years what you have seen is that business architecture is looked at in a different way.

Currently in the Business Architecture Working Group, we see business architecture as something that brings the balance between all the other architectures in the company -- that’s IT architecture, financial architecture, money, people architecture, and a lot of other architectures.

If business architecture is bringing the balance between the different aspects of a company, then business architecture is something that should be handled in the top of the organization, because balance should be created between all the different aspects in the organization.

Gardner: What then is the fundamental problem that the business architect needs to solve?

Mahakena: It's more like making sure that, whatever transformation you're going to implement, you align all those different aspects. As Dave told us, there are a number of aspects in an organization that might need to change, and you can have all those different architectures for those aspects. But, if every aspect goes its own way in changing, then they will never be aligned. Business architecture is meant to align all of those aspects to make sure that you have a balanced, consistent, and coherent set of operations at the end.

Gardner: It sounds as if we're in agreement that this is a high level function, but what is it that people might stumble upon, if they direct this in a wrong direction? What is business architecture not good at?

Many things at once

Haviland: Business architecture is similar to other forms of architecture, in that it tends to try to do many things all at once. The idea of enterprise alignment is definitely the right outcome, but there is enough complexity there to blow steam out of your head for many, many years to come.

Certainly in our experience in implementing these types of functions in organizations, functions that constrain scope very well, also tend to communicate very well around what their status is, what their progress is against milestones, and what outcomes they've achieved, and they tend to articulate those outcomes in terms of real business value.

What business architecture is not very good at are broad-reaching types of goals that don’t have measurable outcomes.

Gardner: Anyone could stand up and call themselves a business architect, but what is The Open Group, in particular, doing about actually certifying and moving toward a standardization of some sort?

Hendrickx: The first question we get asked is, what's the difference between a business consultant and a business architect or a business analyst and a business architect? We also have enterprise architect and technology architects. Is there a reason for being for the business architect?

This is something we did a lot of research on at HP and we delineated the role of the business architect quite clearly from the business consulting and the business analyst aspect.

The business architect's role is distinct, because he combines the organizational strategy with the operations. He identifies the implications of this strategy, as well as that of the technology for the business operations. This is opposed to the business consultant, who is more outwardly looking to the commercial aspects of the organization and what that means for the structure. The business analyst is looking more at not the structure of the operation, but at the solution level.

When we look at the enterprise architect and the solution architect, the business architect focuses more on the complete implications of the strategy and technology trends on the operations, whereas the enterprise architect is more interested in the IT and the implications for the IT strategy and how IT should be deployed. The business architect is much more focused on the complete performance of the business operations.

So, the bottom line of these delineations of the past one-and-a-half years is that there is a reason for being for a business architect. It is a distinct role and it has a real solution for a problem.

Defining the profession

Mahakena: What we've been doing in the Business Forum, after we decided that business architecture has its own reason for existence, we described the business architecture profession -- what's the scope and what should be the outcome of business architecture. Now, we're working on the practice of business architecture by defining a framework, looking at methods, and defining approaches you can use to do business architecture.

Parallel to that, if you know what the profession is and what the practice is, you're able to create the business architecture certification, because those things help you define the required skills and experience a business architect needs. So, we are working on that in the Business Forum.

Daley: Let's look at business architecture from the concept that has existed, combining the thoughts of what Mieke and Harry have already talked about. When we work with clients, for those of us that are in consultancies, we see that there is normally something that’s similar to business architecture, but it's either a shadow organization inside a purely business unit that isn't technology focused, or it is things like the enterprise architects who are having to learn the business concepts around business architect anecdotally, so that they can be successful in their roles.

I'd suggest that we're seeing a need to make it more refined and more explicit, so that we're able to identify the people that fit for this. They have specific things, instead of having general things that we have today. For me, the certification helps provide that certainty as a hiring manager or as somebody who is looking to staff an organization.

It provides that kind of clarity of what they should be doing, giving them specific activities, specific things they do that create value for the company. It takes out of the behind the scenes action and pull something that's critical to success into the front with people who are specifically aligned and educated to do that.

Globalization is creating more and more complexity in the business models that organizations are trying to operate within.

Gardner: How does the globalization impact the importance of this role?

Haviland: Globalization is creating more and more complexity in the business models that organizations are trying to operate. Over the last couple of decades, with the science and engineering of IT, there has been enormous investment by companies to actually operate, maintain, and improve their IT in their current world.

In many cases, this IT work has outpaced the comparable business efforts inside those organizations, when they actually think about their business, their business models, and their business operating principles.

What we're actually seeing now is that the rigor, the engineering, and the effort that’s put into technical architecture and IT architecture is now being proposed on the business side, with many business management process improvement activities. These tend to be at quite a low level, however, when you compare them to business architecture initiatives at the enterprise level.

Scope and challenge

f those architecture initiatives are at the high levels that are needed, you start to consider the scope and challenges that come into play, when you start talking about globalization. So, with the increase in scope and the global way that people are operating across cultures, geographies, and languages, that requires this discipline, which does operate at that high level to start to organize the other areas, but perhaps at a lower level.

Hendrickx: There are two aspects that need to be paid more attention to with globalization and more complexity. First, the business architect is, or should be, equipped to look at the organization, not only within the boundaries of an organization, but also the ecosystem of organizations that will mold together and have to be connected to produce the value.

Since these are more formalized contracts or relationship with different organizations connected to each other, there is a dynamic that is hardly seen anymore, that is not transparent anymore. There clearly needs to be some more detailed insights and transparency for each organization, so that people understand what the impact of certain developments or events will be. This can't be done just by logic or just by watching carefully. This really needs some in-depth analysis for which the business architecture is built.

The second part of it is that the due to the complexity, the decision making process has become more complex and there will be more stakeholders involved in the different areas of decision making. The business architect has a clear task and challenge as well. By absorbing the strategy, technology trends, and the different developments and focusing on the applications for operations, he has the opportunity to discuss with the different stakeholders. He has the opportunity to get those stakeholders either mobilized or focused on specific decisions: the deliverables you will provide.

If you start talking to all those other areas in the business, then suddenly people have a completely other way of thinking. Sometimes they use the same words and don't understand each other.

Gardner: We certainly see a lot of important characteristics in this role: global, strategic high level, encompassing business understanding, as well as technology. Where do you go to find these kinds of people? Who tends to make a good business architect or is there no real pattern yet established as to who steps up to the plate to be able to manage this type of a job?

van Gelder: To all the complexity already mentioned, I'd want to add something else that we found in the Business Architecture Working Group, which is more research in the whole field. That's the problem of communication. How do people communicate with each other?

If you look in the IT world, most people come from an engineering background. It's hard enough to talk to each other and to be clear to each other about what's possible and how you should go or what you should go for. If you start talking to all those other areas in the business, then suddenly people have a completely other way of thinking. Sometimes they use the same words and don't understand each other.

It’s not easy to have these kinds of people that need very good communication skills next to all the complexity that you have to handle. On the other hand, you need an architect when it's complex. You don't need an architect when it's simple, because everybody can do it. But an architect is just a person. I say if I am a simple person, I can only handle simple things.

What you need are people who can structure. I can only work with things when I can structure it, when the complexity is fairly well-structured. I then have overview of all those complexities, and then I can start communicating with all the parties I have to communicate with.

No real training

At the moment, I don't see any real training or development of these kinds of people that you need. Most of them come with a lot of experience in a lot of fields, and because of that, they have the possibility to talk to all kinds of people and to bring the message.

Gardner: Mieke, at Capgemini Academy, you’ve obviously encouraged and encountered folks moving towards a business architect role. What are your thoughts on what it takes and where they tend to come from?

Mahakena: Let's have a look where they can come from. What you see is that this role of business architect can be a next step in one’s career. For example, a business analyst, who has been creating a lot of experience in all kinds of fields, and he could evolve to watch a business architect. This person needs to get away from the detail and move towards the strategy and a more holistic view.

Another example could be an enterprise architect who already has analytics skills and communication skills. But, enterprise architects are more or less focusing on IT, so they should move more towards the business part and towards strategy and operations.

One could be the business consultant who is now focusing on strategy, also should have those communication skills, and will be able to communicate with stakeholders in high positions in companies. Business consultants have a lot of industry knowledge. So they should need more knowledge about technology and perhaps improve their analytics skills and learn more to how to structure operations.

There are number of existing roles that already have a lot of skills required for business architecture. They just have to enhance skills and get new skills to do this new role.

So, there are number of existing roles that already have a lot of skills required for business architecture. They just have to enhance skills and get new skills to do this new role.

Gardner: We talked about how this is important because of the internal organizational shifts and the need for transformation. We’ve seen how globalization makes this more important, but I’d like to also look a little bit at some of the trends and technology.

We’ve seen a great deal of emphasis on cloud computing, hybrid computing, the role of mobile devices, wirelessly connected devices, sensors, and fabric of information which, of course, leads to massive data, and they need to then analyze that data.

This is just a handful of some of the major technology trends. Kevin Daley, it seems to me that managing these trends and these new capabilities for organizations also undergirds and supports this need. So how do you see the technology impetus for encouraging the role of business architect?

Daley: I'm seeing from my work in the field that we’ve got all these things that are converging. Certainly, you've got all these enabling technologies and things that are emerging that are making it easier to do technology types of things and speeding them up. So, as they start maturing and as organizations start consuming them, what we’re seeing is that there’s a lack of alignment.

Business relevancy

What this trend is really doing is making sure that you have something that is your controlling device that says what is the business relevancy? Are we measuring these peer-to-peer -- measuring something such as massive data and information fabrics compared to something like cloud computing, where you are dispersing the ability to access that more readily. It creates a problem in that you have to make sure that people are aligned on what they're trying to accomplish.

We're seeing that the technologies that are emerging are actually enabling business architecture in a fashion. It provides that unified vision, that holism, that you can start looking at combinations of these technologies, instead of having to look at them as we’ve had to in the past of siloed elements of technologies that have their own implications.

We're using business architecture as a means to provide the information back to the business analyst who is going to look and help. You can provide the business implications, but then you have to analyze what that implication means and make decisions for how much of that you’re willing to accept within your organization.

In the notions around how I investigate risk, how I look at what is going to improve market, and what is the capacity of what I can do, there's a disconnect that business for which architecture is helping provide the filler for to get to the people that are doing these corporate strategies and corporate analysis at a level. That allows them to virtualize the concept of the technology, consume what it means and what that relates to for a business or in terms of its operation and strategy and the technology itself.

We’re seeing this become the means by which you can have that universal understanding that these are the implications, and that those implications can now be layered, so that you can look at them in combination instead of having to deal with each technology trend as if it's a standalone piece.

When you adopt technology, it obviously has a level of maturity it has to reach, but it also has a level of complexity.

We're seeing this as a means by which to provide some clarity around what any adoption would be. When you adopt technology, it obviously has a level of maturity it has to reach, but it also has a level of complexity. It's being able to start taking advantage of more than just one technology trend at the same time and being able to realistically deliver that into their business model.

What I have been seeing is that the technologies are driving the need for business architecture, because they need that framework to make sure that they are talking apples to apples and that they are meaning the same thing, so that we get out of the interpretation that we have had in the past and get into something that’s very tactical and very tactile, and that you can structure and align in the same way, so you understand what the full ramifications are.
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VMworld Case Study: City of Pittsburgh's IT success and the beneficial synergy between virtualized servers and desktops

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ur next VMworld case study interview focuses on the City of Pittsburgh’s Information Systems organization and how they’ve deeply embraced virtualization at the server level and now increasingly at the desktop level. We’ll see how critical city services in Pittsburgh are being supported using VMware View 4.6 and the new View 5.0 version and how the beneficial synergy between virtualized servers and desktops is shaping up.

This story comes as part of a special BriefingsDirect podcast series from the VMworld 2011 Conference in Las Vegas the week of August 29. The series explores the latest in cloud computing and virtualization infrastructure developments.

Here to share his story on bringing VDI to his employees is Alex Musicante, the System Security Architect in the City Information Systems department in Pittsburgh. The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. [Disclosure: VMware is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: Your environment is almost 100 percent virtualized on the server side. First, why is there such a holistic embrace, and how has that provided the confidence for you to move now aggressively into the desktop virtualization space as well?

Musicante: The City of Pittsburgh decided to embrace virtualization five years or so ago, and we did this in a development environment with VMware. The confidence was not there for the server virtualization, and we decided it's a good place to offer development to our internal engineers.

From there, we kept building and building, and we decided to put our first production system on there. Without a problem, everything started going. What virtualization had to offer for us was higher availability, higher reliability.

When we were remote, we had full console access. We were able to offer higher reliability on our development than our production. That was what led us to go to production. It's very difficult in this day and age with budgets and all that. We're now doing more with less. In order to be able to accommodate that and be able to handle the increased workload with fewer people, it has been embracing server virtualization, and virtualization in general.

In server virtualization we currently have 16 hosts, 98 percent virtual. There are about 250 or so virtual machines (VMs) between two data centers; and we are using VMware Site Recovery Manager to replicate or to bring up the replicated site in the event of a disaster or any planned maintenance that we need to perform at one data center versus the other.

Gardner: I’d like to hear more about your desktop virtualization strategy, but let's learn a little bit more about the scope and scale of your mission-critical set of services.

Musicante: The City of Pittsburgh’s City Information Systems Department, which I work for, has about 3,000 users that they support. That ranges from all public safety -- Police, Fire, EMS, and Building Inspection -- to the branches of government -- the Mayor’s Office, the City Council, and Controller’s Office as well as other important departments like the Finance Department, Personnel, Human Resources, and Parks and Recreation. That's who we're supporting, and each and every one of them has their own little caveats of technology that they need.

Gardner: You’re also of course concerned about security, performance, disaster recovery, which you’ve already mentioned. How has virtualization helped you not just in cutting cost, but in making these more hardened, more resilient services?

Musicante: In terms of hardening and security, when we took our virtualization approach, we started out by saying that we were going to physical-to-virtual (P2V) and migrate a lot of these machines. As we proceeded and matured in that environment, we decided that we were going to build fresh and build new.

So when we did our server virtualization, we looked at virtualization in general. It became an opportunity for us to evaluate how we were going to harden things, how we were going to secure things, and since now we don’t have to support that many physical servers, we can expand on our current capacity, and hardware.

We’re able to separate things, where servers that were multi-functional servers, database server, file server, web server, all in one, now get to be three different servers, and only allow communications to the specific application and supports what they need.

Storage came about and offered a lot more flexibility and a lot of benefit to the City of Pittsburgh, but it was not without hassle.

Gardner: Any issues around storage? Has that been something that you’ve been able to wreak some efficiencies out as well?

Musicante: Storage was very interesting for the City of Pittsburgh. They were coming from an environment where everything was on direct-attached storage (DAS), and going to a storage area network (SAN) environment, which they had. They had an array with an HP 6000, but they were only using 500 gigabytes at the time. So storage transition was huge in terms of reliability, but as well as cost at the same time.

It was an unexpected thing from the city’s perspective, as they were not in the market for an array where everything is central. It was all individual and unique to each host and physical server. So storage came about and offered a lot more flexibility and a lot of benefit to the City of Pittsburgh, but it was not without hassle.

Gardner: So you’ve gone through that process -- 98 percent is very impressive on your server, and your infrastructure. What prompted you to now take the additional step to use VMware View and move into desktop virtualization?

Musicante: The City of Pittsburgh moved into desktop virtualization with very similar characteristics as we looked at the server virtualization as how can we offer higher reliability and higher support, give us more management from a central standpoint back at our remote offices, and offer them to the clients and given them the same if not a better level service for additional benefits from administrative.

Security provisioning

There were a bunch of reasons, and those are like pushing out software updates without downtime for the users. They just log off and get a new one. It was security provisioning software, keeping all the storage and everything is back in our data center, so nothing leaves the facility.

Those were motivating factors as well as keeping administrative cost down. That was the push, and it actually took off. It took some time, but it's being embraced more than I ever would have thought it would have been.

Gardner: Let's learn a little bit more about the nature of your distribution requirements. Obviously, you have City Hall. You’ve got some centralization. You’ve got police headquarters and fire headquarters, but you’ve also got a lot of distributed sites around the city. So let us better understand your distribution requirements when you’re going to desktop virtualization?

Musicante: There are 175 remote facilities, and they range from connectivity of facilities that are on dark fiber, with 100, 200, 300, 500 users, to these individual remote offices that are located in the park facility, and they have one or two employees that are coming across the DSL line.

One of the major complaints was the problem with connectivity where people are on DSL. They would load the roaming profile or pull documents or upload files and they would see this huge lag where it took them upwards of 30 minutes to start their day off. They're now able to go into View, sign-in, and they're in. So we pretty much recovered 30 extra minutes for some of these employees on a daily basis.

Currently, we're in a mixed mode. We have two environments which we're trying to expedite to move off of.

Gardner: How are you leveraging the PCoIP bandwidth improvements for the WAN?

Musicante: Very well. With each version it's definitely gotten better. Still from a management side we do maintain an IPSec tunnel to all of our facilities.

So PC-over-IP has been what we’ve been using for our remote facilities, even back in the 3.0 days. When 4.1 PC-over-IP came out, 4.5, 4.6, it's been progressively getting better and has higher availability with more response. When 4.6, matured, they gave us the View Security Server, and even now with 5, it has increased and lowered the actual requirements necessary for traffic. So some of our facilities are not feeling the same same pain that they were prior to.

Gardner: As you’ve been making this transition, it would be good to understand better how you’ve adopted version 5. To what degree are you using version 5 for View on your desktop virtualization installations?

Musicante: Currently, we're in a mixed mode. We have two environments which we're trying to expedite to move off of, but we currently have a 4.6 environment and a 5.0 environment. Right now with our 5.0 environment we are embracing Persona Management for some of our EMS employees.

Gardner: That’s another one of those ancillary benefits that people don’t always appreciate but it’s pretty important.

Everything is identical

Musicante: Absolutely. It wasn’t something that we were expecting, but at the same time, when we go back with 20/20 hindsight, we reevaluated and said that that makes sense. Everything is now identical. We use non-persistent machine. So every time they log in, it's a brand-new machine and it’s configured identically the way we want it. The only factor that’s different for each user is their profile.

Gardner: You know how to resolve them, it’s not starting from scratch.

Musicante: Absolutely not starting from scratch. That’s also one of the beautiful benefits. As we move and as we mature with the product and as the product matures itself, we seem to be taking a very parallel progression between the two -- the City of Pittsburgh and VMware View. Persona Management right now has been doing wonders for that.

Those departments that have migrated over and wanted to take this “experiment” of Persona Management have been pleasantly surprised. Definitely, that’s also a point to bring up. When you hear problems from people, when end-users complain, there’s always something that they target. It was networking at one point. Then it moved on to virtualization and everyone said it was the promised virtualization, whether it was or wasn’t.

With View, it actually stands alone. It an outlier. Our users call and they say, "I would like to be on View. I would like to be on that system." For an end-user come back to us and request that blows our mind. We appreciate it. It means we’ve done something right. And it also has to be attributed back to VMware. They’ve done something right.

Gardner: Now that you’ve gotten your feet wet, and then some, with 5.0, what are some of the other salient benefits?

So every time they log in, it's a brand-new machine and it’s configured identically the way we want it.

Musicante: That’s going to give us extra 5 percent. There is always that server virtualization where you’d only get that 95 percent, although we got past that. There’s that 5 percent that you couldn’t for or you wouldn’t for whatever reason. That’s the same market for the desktop virtualization and 5 percent was for high graphic intensive people. We're able to now start to achieve that and we're looking to try to achieve that.

We've not gone through some of the advanced 3D accelerated graphic things that are now out with 5. We are in the process of testing, but it’s currently in our test labs within our department. It’s also in terms of deriving the benefit. We have all of our infrastructure. We're going to with a more green approach. So we're going with zero client. They're currently Dell FX 100s. So they may take one tenth of the power, but there is very little there.

I know that VMware View 5.0 3D acceleration is going to be there and is going to help out, but those people are going to be using the repurposed machines, taking their machine, putting a stripped down version of 7 and use it from there. So we're trying to achieve that, but it’s multiple facets.

Gardner: When we think about your adoption pattern around virtualization, you took your time, learned through your development environment, walked in, made some progress and then really ramped up on adoption for your server side. You’ve followed a similar pattern now with desktops.

What’s next? Is there an additional synergy between a private cloud implementation, where you can get even better synergy efficiency? Tell me what you think about this fear and moving towards even higher plane of efficiency and productivity on that overall delivery from a central data center environment?

Going toward the cloud

Musicante: It’s really unclear where we're going to go. As far as cloud and where the cloud is taking the City of Pittsburgh and where the City of Pittsburgh is going with cloud, City of Pittsburgh currently is in the process of taking that last two percent of our system that isn’t virtualized, which is Exchange, and we are currently in the process of going towards the cloud. So it’s actually going to be going to Google Apps for government for mail.

As far as cloud within ourselves, the City of Pittsburgh is using its resources that we’ve regained or recouped from all of our consolidation purposes, especially with the government processes and mentality of doing more with less. There is a lot of fellow government agencies that we're now going to be partnering with to provide them infrastructure as a service.

That’s where some of the other product lines come in like vCloud Director, to be able to allow them to still manage their infrastructure to use our resources, and we can now ourselves be a cloud provider, which I have been marketing as Cloud9 because there are nine entities including the City of Pittsburgh -- nine entities that we are going to consolidate.

Gardner: I'm impressed with the fact that you’ve been able to move through this progression, recoup those savings, and then apply it to the innovation that get you yet more productivity and savings that you can further apply. That’s commendable. Any words of advice for folks that are perhaps not as far along as you’ve been on this progression? What 20/20 hindsight and words of wisdom might you supply them?

Musicante: With server virtualization, everyone is involved in it, and that is the easy part. Desktop virtualization, is where we got hit hard and the lessons that will be learned is that end-user’s matter. Every step of the way, you need their input. It’s not just an administrative decision saying this is the right thing. You need to be good at psychology to convince your users that this is what they want, and getting them to the point of seeing that this is the best approach or getting their input.

The only thing that I could say is to involve your users. Get them in the proof of concept from the beginning.

That really makes all the difference in the world. You’ll have the same end result and you’ll get to the same target, to the same place, but you need their input. It was not the same with server virtualization. That was for the administrators. They owned it. It was their territory. These desktops that you're taking from the users, yes, they’ll have a better reliability, better up-time, better everything, and better end-user experience, but they feel that that’s theirs, and rightly so.

The only thing that I could say is to involve your users. Get them in the proof of concept from the beginning. Get their input, what they need, what they want, how they want to access it, and with that it’ll no doubt be a sure success.
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