Successful Cloud Architecture Takes the Right Mindset

The evolution of your IT department is here.

The industry calls it “the cloud” and OpenStack is one part of the solution.

And while designing and building for any cloud environment can be a challenge, approaching this task with the right mindset and focus can help can make your project a success.

This isn’t just a hollow mantra we repeat to our customers, it’s a truth we at Rackspace have grown to understand if a project is going to be a success.

My talk at the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver, “Do You Want To Build a Snowman?” speaks to this point. The summits, and the OpenStack community at large, are truly an invaluable asset in successfully implementing OpenStack for your organization.

But more on that later.

At Rackspace, we understand that no two clouds are the same. There are, however, common challenges and mistakes organizations face, and these pitfalls are often what hinder a successful OpenStack installation.

One of these common missteps is adopting an approach to a cloud solution that is either too broad or too narrow for a specific set of challenges.

For example, designing an OpenStack solution requires more than just having the IT department present during the building stages. While IT professionals do represent the most obvious team to be immersed in the design, deployment and operation of their OpenStack environment, we often hear of the perilous journeys companies faced before they turned to Rackspace for assistance. And while the IT department can be helpful in identifying technical aspects of that journey, that team alone isn’t sufficient.

Representation from other teams the OpenStack environment will touch — from the people looking at logs, and the security teams poking holes in the solution to the developers eagerly awaiting the new platform — is just as, important as securing representation from the IT team.

Money has been wasted on failed OpenStack projects because no one challenged the “We’ve always done it like this” stance. We can only challenge it — but only with the right people and the right attitude.

An OpenStack project will also fail if decisions are driven from one direction (not referring to the band, but I suspect they won’t be much help either) and without buy-in from all the teams involved.

Furthermore, it’s imperative that people understand what they are getting, and what they’re not.

Any cloud solution can be oversold. The promises of reducing the burden on IT staff through automation and hundreds of deployments a day are easy for senior decision makers to pursue.

But applying the same startup processes to a 120-year-old business is a recipe for disaster, particularly if the client expects a quick turn around before they fire their next CEO. This process begins with a thorough understanding of each particular company’s challenges.

At Rackspace, we involve ourselves at strategic levels within your business to understand those challenges. We deliver workshops and training sessions, and partner with the relevant teams within your organization to design a successful solution based on OpenStack and our extensive portfolio of services.

From those workshops and design sessions, we then deploy a solution based on your set of objectives, using either your data center or ours. Working alongside your IT teams and internal customers, we operate the OpenStack environment all year round from monitoring and patching, to giving guidance and support from our teams of around-the-clock experts.

At Rackspace, experts really are an email or a tweet away. Questions can also be asked at ask.openstack.org, a message board of sorts that serves as a great source of information for the next organization following in your footsteps.

The best part about ask.openstack.org is the degree of participation it encourages from fellow OpenStack users. Don’t see a feature preventing you from signing off your OpenStack designs? Raise blueprints and involve yourself in the design discussions to help improve the next release of OpenStack.

Above all else, if you ever need to speak to someone who has been there throughout the whole of OpenStack history, you can always pick up the phone and call Rackspace.

 

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