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Preparing Your Customer for New Technology with a Full IT Inspection

Posted by Timothy Chou on Jun 30, 2015 12:04:47 PM

Third in the series by guest blogger, Timothy Chou, Stanford University : Embrace, Educate, Inspect, Design & Build.

Cloud IT

Now that you’ve embraced cloud computing and educated the customer, what’s next? Say you were going to buy a house; you’d always ask for a 3rd party to give you an inspection report. Our IT houses are more complex than most homes, so it’s even more critical to offer to provide your customers with a full IT inspection so they know what they have, how it compares financially to what is possible and the state of their current security.

Resource Inspection

The scope of a resource inspection service includes compute, storage, data centers and networks – the foundation of any IT house. An inspection report of this type would include the number of cores, clock speed, amount of memory and operating system versions for all compute services, whether virtual or physical. If the compute is not provided by a cloud service, make sure you model the amount of labor to manage the security, availability, performance and change of the compute resource.

A storage inspection would include surveying the amount of data used and available, whether the storage is magnetic or solid state, and what level of durability is provide through striping. If not offered as a cloud service, include a cost estimate of managing the performance, security and availability of the storage in the cloud. If there are disaster recovery provisions, the inspection should note such.

Whether delivered as a cloud service or not, the location of the customer’s resources can be an important factor during the inspection process. An inspection of this area will not only identify the location of the resources, but the attributes of the data center as well. Important inspection points during this phase include the number of racks, square footage occupied, usable power to the rack and whether the power is three phase or single phase. Finally, all compute and storage must be networked.  An inspection of this area should include monitoring the network bandwidth and evaluating the contract terms and conditions.

Security Inspection

Once you have a blueprint of the existing compute, storage, data center and network, a security inspection identifies the logical security perimeter and the inventory of all cyber assets inside that perimeter. There should then be an assessment of the connectivity and vulnerabilities for each compute and storage asset. This component of the inspection includes a risk assessment of firewall rule sets, analysis of access lists, network segmentation implementation and attack graphs. The report should include an actionable plan to mitigate existing security vulnerabilities and to improve the resiliency of the infrastructure.

Financial Inspection

The financial inspection should include a blueprint of all compute, storage, data center and network infrastructure currently owned. It should also include all contracts, including cloud or managed service contracts for compute, storage, data centers and networks and, when possible, contract expiration times and exit fees. An inspection report will contain the time-to-action in a prioritized list.  Furthermore, use available market data to calculate how many months you will either break even or turn positive.

Positioned to Discuss the Future

Finally, with the results of the full inspection, you can better understand your customer’s specific needs when building their IT house and have your architect discuss their specific objectives and constraints. Do they want to remodel existing rooms to reduce cost? Do they want to add on new infrastructure to support a new application? And that’s the subject of our next and final blog in this series: Design & Build.

Editor’s Note: Timothy recently published a cloud computing trilogy titled Cloud Computing: Fundamentals, Cloud Computing: Operation Efficiency and Cloud Computing: Transformation, which are designed to teach the fundamentals of cloud computing, sharing plenty of examples.

Tags: Security, Cloud, Technologies, Storage

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