Defining the cloud Part 2: Self Service

In Defining the cloud Part 1: Applications, we discussed how applications are the reason for the cloud, and how we move abstraction from the servers to the applications.  Moving forward we now look at how the cloud should enable users to provision their own systems within given parameters.

Self Service

In the early days of virtualization, we were very excited because we were making IT departments more efficient. I remember IT managers actually telling young server admins to stall when creating virtual servers to prevent users from realizing how quickly it could be done. What took the IT department hours, weeks, or months previously, now was done with the press of a button, and a few minutes, assuming proper capacity planning.

IT is often seen as a cost center. For years now we have been preaching the gospel of IT As A Service, basically the concept that technology becomes a utility to the business. Nicholas Carr championed this concept in his book, The Big Switch. Basically he popularized the concept that much like electricity, technology was becoming something that should just work. IT is no longer just for those of us who understand it, but rather it becomes a tool that anyone can use just like flipping a switch to turn on a light, or turning on the TV.

So how do we make this happen? It is as simple as looking at the smart phone you have in front of you or in your pocket.  The thing that makes your phone so great is not the brand, not the operating system, not even the interface, the most important thing is the application ecosystem.  I can go on my phone and grab an app to do just about anything.  I don’t need to know how the system works, I just go grab apps and don’t really think about how they interact with the phone.

Imagine giving this to to our end users, simply give them an catalog to say what they need, a user wants to build an application, so they go to a catalog select from a pre-defined template, and the rest is handled by the system.  No IT intervention, no human interaction required, just a few simple clicks, almost like grabbing an app on a phone.  Their entire virtual infrastructure is built out for them and they are notified when it is complete.

So what does this all have to do with HP?  Stick with me on this, this is the future, this is HP Helion, and this is amazing.

Defining the cloud Part 2: Self Service

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