Your people aren't ready for this
Your people are used to things as they are. They like things as they are. They don't want to adopt cloud principles, or they'd have gone off and done it. If they leave for somewhere else that's more challenging and gives them the opportunity to acquire new skills and be worth more in the marketplace, then good riddance to them. You don't need such forward thinkers on your team anyway.
However, OpenStack provides your IT staff the opportunity to participate in the next wave of computing without leaving you – and taking their experience in your business processes and products with them. The days when the IT department was the biggest barrier to change are waning quickly. Professionals know which way the technology is moving and they want to be there.
You don't need DevOps
Your operators are special people, and they do special jobs. They will always want to do things "by hand" rather than scripting and standardising so that processes are repeatable and documented. Who else wants to know that much about how a system works, anyway?
OpenStack enables you to turn your IT operation into a well-oiled machine, where tasks can be not only reliable and repeatable but also version controlled. This provides visibility into what goes on, sure. More importantly, it frees up your operators to do a better job of serving your organisation, as they can spend more time thinking about (and designing) the big picture, and less time spinning up servers for the hundredth time this week.
You're never going to need additional capacity
These ideas about "bursting" capacity to the cloud when necessary are ridiculous. You'll just keep all the capacity you will ever need on hand in your data centre, thank you. So what if it sits idle 95% of the time. It's an operating expense, you can take it off your taxes. That includes all the electricity, cooling, operations, and everything else you need to do to maintain the systems while they're doing nothing.
OpenStack, on the other hand, enables you to keep on hand only the resources you know that you need – or that you need to keep in-house for security or regulatory reasons – while knowing that if you need additional capacity, it's there. You can even burst to Private Cloud as a Service rather than public cloud, keeping all of OpenStack's advantages while still availing yourself of the benefits of hybrid cloud.
Making the move after all
Alright, so maybe you do want to move to OpenStack. How do you go about it? In general, the process looks like this:
- Decide what it is you want to accomplish. This is just like any other IT project; you don't want to be floundering around without a clear direction.
- Start small, then grow. Start with a small proof of concept cloud so that users and developers can get used to the concept. Yes, you can download OpenStack directly and implement it yourself, but unless you already have expertise on staff, you're better off using one of the many distributions available to get started.
- Make sure your people are on board. Sometimes it's management who doesn't "get" why this is important. Sometimes it's IT, clinging to the old ways out of fear. In both cases, involve the nay-sayers in the research so they feel comfortable moving forward.
- Involve a vendor who can support you. There's nothing wrong with simply growing your cloud organically, but once you move beyond the proof of concept stage into pilots and larger implementations, having a vendor who understands the architectural implications and can guide you will save heartache (and money) later.
- Re-evaluate at periodic intervals. As your people get used to what the cloud has to offer, they'll adapt and start making better use of it. Periodically evaluate whether you're serving their current needs, and how you can do better.
Change is never easy but in the end, smart changes such as moving to OpenStack are more than worth the time and effort you put in.
- David Fishman is VP Marketing at Mirantis