Does your cloud strategy need more management discipline?

Around for more than 15 years, Windward IT Solutions helps business consider and manage cloud services within the context of their entire IT infrastructure.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Like many other legacy IT solution providers that are adapting proactively to embrace cloud services, Windward IT Solutions underscores its ability to ensure that cloud-provisioned applications and capacity are well integrated into complex IT infrastructures. And, that they are managed accordingly.

"Cloud is just one part of the thing we do," said Sean McDermott, founder and CEO of the company, which is based in Herndon, Va. "We focus on expectations for service."

That requires making sure that cloud-delivered resources adhere to the same service levels and management processes that apply across a company's IT infrastructure. Windward categorizes these into three areas: IT Service Management, aka ITSM (which centers on holistic planning), Infrastructure Management (the whys and wherefores of deployment) and Operations Management (how everything runs in concert once it's in place).

That framework reaches back to Windward's roots in 1997, when it was founded to help companies manage next-generation IP networks. "Like now, people were excited about installing this technology, but most people hadn't thought about how to manage [these networks," McDermott said.

This is apparently resonating with plenty of companies: Windward's service automation and management engagements related to cloud adoption have increased dramatically since 2010 -- by approximately 800 percent year-over year, according to a company announcement from late June.

"IT service management and a developed service-centric IT strategy is arguably one of the most important points of entry to become involved with a company's cloud initiatives, as ITSM will be defining what the cloud means to the company for the future," said Rich Moraski, Windward's director of cloud automation, in a prepared statement. "With so many possible interpretations of 'cloud,' helping steer an organization and providing them with our wide range of real-world deployment experience will provide our clients with the greatest success and long-term benefit."

McDermott views cloud applications as another "tower" of service that will make up the next-generation data center, whether it happens to be delivered in a private deployment or via a public cloud service provider. "Things will become dynamically elastic," he said. "Cloud will be the underlying fabric of all data centers, allowing companies to seamless procure and provision new applications and services far more easily."

The challenge associated with this, he noted, is ensuring that notions of reliabilty and availability are upheld. That can't happen if a cloud initiative is happening in isolation somewhere within a company, without the knowledge of IT operations.

I can't list out all the different management technologies that Windward supports, because the company makes it a point to be as agnostic as possible and it doesn't publicize them on its Web site. Its processes are product-independent, and it adds expertise according to the needs of specific engagements. That said, Windward constantly expands its technology partner ecosystem, McDermott said.

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