Understanding availability and recovery times within your enterprise is important as you begin your journey to the cloud. Often we would like our compute services to be available all of the time, although the reality is that we often have limited budgets and technology that may not align with our wants.

Perhaps an example may be helpful: Living in a cold part of the country requires heat for several months out of the year. My home is equipped with a central heating unit. If that heating unit fails, I understand that I may be wearing my jacket inside the house while a repair facility is dispatched. At this time in my life’ it is all right to be cold for a few hours. Although, not too many years ago when we had little people running the floors of the house, being without heat would have presented real problems for our family.

I could equip my house with two heating units, at a considerable cost, but with the assurance that if one of my heaters fails, I can use the second. For many of us, installing a second heater unit in our home is very expensive and seldom done. We may look at a fireplace or electric heaters as viable alternatives. All options come with a level of discomfort, cost and risk.

When we are planning any enterprise architecture that includes cloud, it is important that we complete a due diligence on our existing infrastructure to truly understand how we can maximize the cloud’s unique capabilities in our new architecture and identify associated probability of failure, risk and cost.

Whether we have a large enterprise, lots of experience or just getting started with a small environment, I think you will find the following steps to be helpful. I realize there are multiple ways to complete this task. Here is a simple suggestion. 

Step One – Infrastructure Assessment

Begin outlining your existing infrastructure. I like to use a graphic drawing program to create a visual illustration of my environment. This will take some effort, but it will be well worth the effort. If you plan to build an environment that receives an authority to operate (ATO)-certified environment, you will need a detailed inventory list as well. It is simply a great best practice to know exactly what is in your environment.

While it may seem obvious that your environment includes network, fibre, lights out and other connections, make sure you document everything. Illustrated below is an example of how you may capture your environment (it may take several drawings if you have a very large environment). 

Note the current state represents the following:

a)      The name of the server and an abbreviation related to its function

b)     Different colored lines (black, red, etc.) represent the type of connectivity on the server (black = Ethernet; red, green = redundant fibre)

c)      Abbreviations in circles — Fc, Vc. For the abbreviation legend, let’s look at the picture below. Realize I am in a very visual guy … I like to look at things quickly without having to read a lot of text. 

Some of the annotations I use are listed above. You can substitute your own. Here are some of the definitions:

  1. a.       4+, -30, -10, -5P, -5 are all related to the time is takes to get the service back on line. Read the definitions above.
  2. b.      DI, HR, N+, NL, OS, RR, [, SI, Va, Vc, Vp are all different recovery/restoration/availability technologies

Step Two – Cloud Mapping

Now let’s get ready for the cloud by mapping our current state with the future state. Notice in the drawing below that we have defined the servers that will be eliminated, the availability requirements and the technology we will use to maintain availability of the servers. 

Just like my redundant heaters in the house, everything has an associated cost. As you begin your cloud strategy, carefully map the reality of your environment. Compare the current state and the future state of the environment. I guarantee, as you perform these simple steps and align the stakeholders and users, you will save considerable cost related to data center consolidation/optimization and cloud services. 

Getting the big picture is not that difficult, and Dell Cloud for U.S. Government and other Dell services are here to assist. The Dell Cloud for U.S. Government offers flexibility that is unseen in the industry. Let’s make your enterprise move to cloud an effort that will provide additional security, rigor and cost savings.

Follow us at @DellServices and @JeffreyLush for up-to-date information.