Total Cost of the Cloud Administrators:  There was an article posted on The Virtualization Practice about TCO of the Cloud, and the closing thoughts of the article really got my attention when I started thinking about the total cost of the cloud administrators.

“When we go to a cloud fully, our onsite IT staff transitions to becoming cloud administrators to monitor operations folks, as well as those who monitor the costs on an hourly basis. The people costs do not diminish, we may just diminish the costs associated with on-premise hardware but increase off-premise costs. For a small business this could be a win, for a business with an existing infrastructure it could be a wash, and for the very large organizations, they become the cloud.”

In my humble opinion, the people costs can be cut down in the larger environments, and I am working with one client with that specific goal in mind. The idea is this: if they can put the time and energy into establishing and building out the automation in the private cloud, this should reduce the need for the lower-tier cloud administrators the company will need to maintain to be able to support day-to-day operations.

The first part of this process is to establish automation for the tasks that tier one needs to support and usually performs in their day-to-day operations.

  • Add or remove memory from a virtual machine
  • Add or remove vCPU’s from a virtual machine
  • Upgrade virtual hardware and or tools
  • Create or remove snapshots
  • Delete virtual machines
  • Create or deploy virtual machines
  • Add or extend virtual machine disks
  • Enter or exit maintenance mode
  • Reboot or shutdown a host
  • Scan for updates

This is just the start of a list of tasks that were quickly automated and are being tied in to the company’s ticketing system and CMDB.  Once the change has been approved, the automation takes over and performs the tasks without the involvement of the support team.

Granted, it will take some time and effort to get to the point where lower-tier support is no longer needed, and when that happens, the need for top-tier teams will increase, to maintain and continue to build on the automation, but in my opinion, the number of top-tier administrators that will need to be added will be a lot smaller than the number of tier-one team members that would be no longer needed.

In my humble opinion, this will be the direction that larger companies will push to achieve. Isn’t this this the basic foundation of virtualization to begin with, to consolidate resources and shrink your overall footprint in the datacenter? It all started with physical hardware, and now I think we have gotten to the point of consolidating people, who are otherwise known as the cloud administrators. What are your thoughts, and what are you seeing in your environments?

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Steve Beaver (158 Posts)

Stephen Beaver is the co-author of VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center and Scripting VMware Power Tools: Automating Virtual Infrastructure Administration as well as being contributing author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4 and How to Cheat at Configuring VMware ESX Server. Stephen is an IT Veteran with over 15 years experience in the industry. Stephen is a moderator on the VMware Communities Forum and was elected vExpert for 2009 and 2010. Stephen can also be seen regularly presenting on different topics at national and international virtualization conferences.

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