MSP Today Expert Feature
April 10, 2013

Cloud Providers Need to Shift out of Manual

Cloud providers may seem like the very definition of leading edge, but when it comes to Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), the vast majority of players provision services manually, according to Nixu Software, which surveyed 102 service providers.

These providers, by and large, create and provision their own private clouds from which the IaaS services are offered. This not only wastes time, and increases the chance of errors; it also limits scalability as each new service provisioning needs IT intervention.

According to the survey, over 84 percent of providers are not even considering fully automating their workflows. “The majority of cloud providers still rely on manual steps in their application deployment and network orchestration workflows,” the survey found. In fact, only 1 percent are in live production, less than 5 percent in the implementation space, and less than 10 percent currently investing automation solutions.

In fact, only of the 102 service providers queried was fully automated, according to Nixu managing director, Juha Holkkola.

Also according to Holkkola, many cloud providers simply aren’t prepared to properly automate end-to-end. The organization needs to gather all relevant stakeholders, network and infrastructure teams and product management and application teams, and form a group to drive and fulfill automation initiatives.

Juha believes automation at IaaS providers will kick into high gear starting next year, as more and more early adopter demonstrate success and the markets move an “early maturity” stage.

“It’s not surprising to hear that enterprises are slow to adopt a cloud computing initiative, but we were astounded to find out less than 16 percent of service providers surveyed have taken steps to fully automate their cloud application deployment process,” said Holkkola. “Enterprises need service providers to drive their IaaS and virtual private cloud initiatives but currently have only a handful of providers to choose from.”

However, Nixu says its survey shows that those who fully automated their network orchestration and application deployment workflows are seeing a competitive advantage. “As the IaaS cloud market builds up, we expect the associated virtual private cloud model to be one of the key drivers among the business users” said Holkkola. “This calls for fully automated application deployment and network orchestration workflows which allow business users to seamlessly tap into the additional computing capacity. Thanks to productized solutions and zero CAPEX business models, significant investments will no longer be required.”

A fully automated cloud provider is one where the customer uses a self-service portal to look at services, get prices, and perhaps get a template to order and set up the services which could include assigning CPU resources. The automation would drive the orchestration engine to create workloads and move them over to a hypervisor. The final stage is assigning and provisioning the necessary IP addresses.

This final stage used to take some 3 weeks in some cases, but with Nixu tools that task is reportedly down to 3 minutes.

The Nixu Story

Nixu Software provides tool to make application deployment in the cloud easier by automating IP commissioning. The company claims that 90 percent of the biggest service providers already use Nixu, which offers the Nixu Cloud IP Suite.

Edited by Braden Becker