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stand them up, tear them down, move them around. If
developers forget to tear them down and they're not using
them, the little dust bin squad goes in and cleans them up.
It's a totally different paradigm. We keep the whole thing
nice and neat and tidy. We are enjoying orders of magni-
tude of velocity improvement over the old way of doing
business. Not in an ungoverned way, but in a religiously
tightly governed way, so we know exactly where we are,
what our capacity is, what free capacity is. We plot rate of
consumption of resource, so we know when we have to
go back to VCE and serve some more money for some
more boxes. We know where we stand with those pur-
chases. If they have to happen, we know when, down to
the week. It gives us an entirely different level of visibility
and responsiveness to our development community.
Our developers are the folks working on cognitive learn-
ing, adaptive learning, the folks working on the analytics
and insights interventions --- I don't want them spending
more than two nanoseconds of their time thinking about
where they're going to get their server capacity. I want
every nanosecond they've got on the learning problem and
how to help our students succeed. All the mechanics are
receding into the background.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for
How to Get From
97 Data Centers
Down to 8
CT: What are the benefits to this new approach?
Sajor: Velocity. It's all about velocity.
Old way: Developer says, "I've got a great idea. I want to
create a new application or service. I need some infrastruc-
ture to drive that." Old way: They would file a ticket for a new
server. Order would go out to your favorite server provider.
Server shows up 60 days later. It has to be racked and
stacked. An image would be put on it. Tested, hardened,
blah, blah, blah. You're talking two to three months from
request to "Okay, here you go. Here's your new box."
So what do people like me do? We maintain an inven-
tory in the data center of servers sitting there --- running,
consuming power, consuming monitoring, HVAC --- such
that when Tom the Developer asks for a new server, I could
say, "Ah, I've got one." We'd run this dead inventory that
we'd use to backfill. Very manual. Lots of people involved.
This environment: The developer says, "Yeah, I'd like a
new server." They log into ACP, which is a portal that sits
on top of the VMware infrastructure. They answer a few
questions and check a few boxes, hit go, and about 30
seconds later, it comes back and says, "Terrific. Here's
your server. Here's its name. It's been provisioned with an
image. You're all set."
The velocity factor has increased by orders and orders
of magnitude. That gives us flexibility. Developers can
ing infrastructure start to evolve into an open marketplace
where vendors are competing --- public, private, doesn't
matter. They're competing on an equal footing for my busi-
ness based on all the things that I care about: cost, reliabil-
ity, disaster recovery, sustainability, scalability, latency ---
whatever set of metrics I worry about. I still have the ability
to treat this evolving ecosystem of players as an open mar-
ketplace. And that gives me an advantage that I really, real-
ly want to have.
CT: Is your IT team managing the infrastructure and then
bringing in the VCE folks when you're having trouble?
Sajor: Oh, yeah, you bet. Don't get me wrong. We have
support arrangements with VCE. But we only need them
if things go twang. We manage this environment on our
own. That's critical for us. The nice part about it: With the
platform we've created, we actually don't have to do that
much management of it. It kind of manages itself.
To give you an idea, in standing up the classroom from
the day VCE turned the machines over to us to today, we
have stood up 39,000 virtual machines on our VCE farm.
We've turned off 36,000. You can think about computing
in an entirely different way. You turn on a machine, you use
it. If you blow it and screw something up, throw it away. It's
virtual. Go get another one.
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