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Cloud Expo: Article

Just in Time IT

Pioneered in the manufacturing supply chain, “Just-in-Time” comes to information technology

(The following article was provided by Praveen Asthana Chief Marketing Officer, Gravitant)

The concept of "Just-in-Time" was pioneered in the manufacturing supply chain as a critical way to reduce costs by minimizing inventory. Implementing a just-in-time system that can handle unexpected demand is not a trivial undertaking. It requires the confluence of a number of disciplines such as analytics, statistics, sourcing, procurement, production management, brokerage and economics.

An interesting new idea is to take this concept pioneered in manufacturing and apply it to Information Technology resources. Doing this can provide an effective way to meet dynamically changing needs while minimizing the inventory of unused IT resources across a set of cloud services platform and providers.

Case Study: Election Day 2012.

With the growing popularity of e-voting and use of the Internet as an information resource on candidates and issues, the Secretary of State's officefor one of the most populous U.S. statesknew that demand for IT resources would go up significantly on election day. But they didn't know exactly how much, and they didn't want to buy extra infrastructure for a temporary surge in demand. Even if they could come up with a good guess for the demand, deploying the right amount of resources in a timely manner would be challenging. Given the time it normally took (months) to deploy and provision new servers, the Secretary of State's office knew they couldn't use traditional means to procure compute and storage capacity to meet this demand.

As it turned out, demand went up over 1000% to over five million hits on the state voting web site by noon on election day.

Fortunately the state had deployed a novel capability based on a cloud brokerage and management platform to seamlessly provision IT resources in real time from multiple public cloud sources to meet the variability in demand. As a result, this demand was fully met without needing to do complicated planning or buy unneeded infrastructure.

Minutes, not months - that's what enterprise users want when it comes to having IT resources available to meet changing business needs or develop new applications.

However users find this to be an extraordinary challenge-most IT departments today struggle with rigid processes, a round-robin of tasks and approvals across multiple silos and departments, and manual provisioning steps. All this adds significant time to the deployment of I.T. resources resulting in users waiting for months before the resources they need become available.

How do users respond to such delays? By going around their IT departments and directly accessing cloud services. Often termed ‘rogue IT' or ‘shadow IT,' such out of process actions expose the company to financial risk, security risks, and operational risk.

The Solution: Just-in-time IT with Real-Time Governance
Just-in-time IT is not merely about using private or public cloud services. It is about engineering the end-to-end IT supply chain so it can be agile and respond immediately to dynamic business needs. To achieve this in practice, you need:

  1. Effective assessment and strategy
  2. Self-service catalog of available IT resources
  3. Collaborative solution design
  4. Rapid approval work flow
  5. Sourcing platform that allows you to select the right supply chain partners for your business need or workload profile.
  6. Single button provisioning of resources
  7. Transparency across the IT supply chain
  8. Sophisticated supply-demand analytics
  9. Elastic source for resources
  10. Governance-dynamic control of resources based on goal based optimization of budget, resource usage and SLAs

The first critical aspect of real time supply chain is identifying, sourcing and procurement of best fit cloud platforms and providers (internal or external) to meet your unique business needs.

The second critical aspect of ensuring just-in-time IT is effective is real-time governance, for this is the mechanism by which you truly manage the elasticity of cloud resources and ensure that IT resource inventory is minimized. This also has the additional benefit of eliminating shadow or rogue IT.

About the Author:
Praveen Asthana is Chief Marketing Officer of Gravitant (www.gravitant.com), a cloud services brokerage and management company. Prior to joining Gravitant, Praveen was Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for Dell's $13B Enterprise Solutions Division.

More Stories By Kevin Jackson

Kevin Jackson, founder of the GovCloud Network, is an independent technology and business consultant specializing in mission critical solutions. He has served in various senior management positions including VP & GM Cloud Services NJVC, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and VP Program Management Office at JP Morgan Chase. His formal education includes MSEE (Computer Engineering), MA National Security & Strategic Studies and a BS Aerospace Engineering. Jackson graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1979 and retired from the US Navy earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Airborne Logistics and Airborne Command and Control. He also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide. Kevin is the founder and author of “Cloud Musings”, a widely followed blog that focuses on the use of cloud computing by the Federal government. He is also the editor and founder of “Government Cloud Computing” electronic magazine, published at Ulitzer.com. To set up an appointment CLICK HERE