Ensuring Secure Self-Service Through Virtualization
Like transformations in banking, virtualization will help enable IT self service
By: Eric Chiu
Dec. 4, 2009 02:15 PM
Remember the days when banking had to be done in the branch? Regardless of whether you were making a deposit, withdrawal or just checking your balance, you had to drive to the local branch during business hours to work through a bank teller. Long-distance travel became even more difficult because of the regional nature of bank chains.
Along came the ATM, which allowed you to do transactions without talking to a teller both during business hours as well as after hours. Customers enjoyed the ability to do their own banking without needing the "personal service" of walking into a branch. The advent of online banking created the ultimate self service capability - the ability to do banking from anywhere when connected to the Internet.
Similarly, we are starting to see a similar effect that is starting to happen with virtualization and cloud computing. Virtualization not only allows consolidation of servers so that you can run many server instances on the same physical server, but it also allows remote management of server resources. IT organizations at enterprises across the board are now hearing the demand from business application teams to be able to enable self-service of their own virtual machines - for example, power on, power off, and snapshot.
This movement toward self-service can lead to great efficiencies within IT. Instead of highly trained server administrators responding to mundane trouble tickets to re-boot a server, business application teams can perform their own server management. IT can spend its time focused on more important tasks around building out additional services, high availability, etc.
Of course, being able to deliver self-service requires security and control over the environment. For example, you don't want to allow your development team to be able to manage the finance group's VMs. Similarly, you don't want the finance group to accidentally power off the virtualized distributed switch and bring down the switching infrastructure. In addition, you may not want to provide vCenter access, given that it contains sensitive data such as the entire topology of your data center environment.
Providing self-service means enabling the ability to manage specific resources while masking off what you don't want those individuals to do. This means architecting in granular access controls that can be defined at the role level and group level as well as audit-logging capabilities to know that the controls are in place. Similar to online banking, building in these controls from the beginning (versus bolting on in the future) means a much more seamless environment and better experience for customers.
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