Dow Jones - DynamicOps customer profile

Dow Jones implemented a private cloud. Dow Jones' VP of Global Strategic Planning and Architecture discusses some of the company's thoughts about building a private cloud and why DynamicOps was chosen to help.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

From time to time I like to communicate with someone actually using a specific product or service to learn what they really think. This time, Altaf Rupani, of Dow Jones took the time out of what I expect was a very busy schedule to answer the six customer profile questions. Thanks for taking the time Altaf.

Please introduce yourself and your organization

I’m Altaf Rupani, VP of Global Strategic Planning & Architecture at Dow Jones. Dow Jones is a subsidiary of News Corp. A leader in news and business information world-wide, Dow Jones is newswires, web sites, newspapers, newsletters, databases, magazines, radio and television. Our publications inform the discussions and decisions of the world while our databases make the business world more transparent. We develop technology to transform information into insight. With more than 2,000 journalists in 58 countries publishing in a dozen languages, we inspire audiences with authoritative, differentiated and trusted content.

What are you doing that needed this technology?

Speed is critical to our business. We need to provide the technology resources that our business units need as quickly as possible so that the information they offer their customers is current and timely. We wanted to transform our IT infrastructure and enable self-service so that employees wouldn’t be dependent on IT to get what they need; allow pay-for-use so business users would be accountable for the resources they consumed; elasticity so that we could scale up and down instantly; and platform independence so that we weren’t locked into any vendors’ technologies or ways of doing things. At the time—around the end of 2009—cloud was just beginning to get attention. Although we didn’t call what we were looking for “cloud,” that’s what it was. We were basically looking for “everything-IT-as-a-service.”

What products did you consider before making a selection?

At the time, public cloud offerings like Amazon EC2 were in their infancy and didn’t provide what enterprises needed in terms of technical robustness, service level agreements or governance. Therefore, Dow Jones went through a rigorous process to determine the best way to proceed with a private cloud implementation and how to evaluate vendor offerings. We established stringent criteria for selecting a sophisticated cloud automation and management solution. This included ensuring that it could easily integrate into Dow Jones’ multi-vendor environment spanning virtual and physical server and desktop systems, that it could be deployed very quickly and cost-effectively—and could easily evolve to support change, and that it was proven to work at other large enterprises. Plus, believing that the public cloud would soon evolve to an enterprise-ready state, we wanted to eventually be able to extend our private cloud into a hybrid solution that could burst to the public cloud for greater elasticity. We did an extensive, three-month evaluation of private cloud vendors. This included the big system management players as well as start ups focused specifically in this area.

Why did you select this product?

DynamicOps Cloud Automation Center had most of the functionality we needed, including user-aware self-service, plus—and perhaps most important—it enabled us to apply our own policies and processes, our own way of doing business, to the cloud. It’s an operations virtualization platform, which means that it enables us to interconnect our existing resources and policies that are required in enterprise-wide private cloud and abstract them from the entities below them, so that everything ties together seamlessly and without a lot of time, effort or expense. In comparison, DynamicOps was more flexible, easier to implement and easier to use. It’s built upon commodity technologies like Windows Workflow Foundation and .NET Framework, and that meant there was no learning curve—we didn’t have to train people on special skills. We were able to get our private cloud up and running in a very short period of time. It was much faster than any other vendor could have done, and the other vendors would still have been lacking functionality. Out-of-the-box, DynamicOps provided the majority of what we needed, and for the other functionality, we worked with the DynamicOps team to make sure things like our change management processes were supported and integration with ERP systems wasn’t impacted. DynamicOps just announced a new product, the DynamicOps Cloud Development Kit, and with that we’ll be able to do these sorts of customizations on our own and very quickly, and rapidly create new cloud services.

What tangible benefit has your organization gotten through the use of this product?

The one-year anniversary of the Dow Jones private cloud was June 30, 2011. The user response has been tremendous. There is growing demand for the private cloud and most business units within Dow Jones are leveraging the private cloud directly or indirectly. Biggest attraction is the time to market feature of the private cloud. Now, instead of waiting at least 4 hours to get a new virtual machine, they can get it within a few minutes. And we can easily scale up or down as business units’ needs shift without burdening the IT staff. We were also pleased that the user base quickly took responsibility for and adapted their IT spend, now that they can see what they’re paying for different resources. Finally, the fact that we can easily apply different business units’ policies and leverage the IT systems that they already have makes a private cloud of this scale not only effective, but possible.

The next step in our private cloud is to evolve it into a hybrid cloud where we burst to the public cloud when needed for extra capacity. With our current implementation and partners, we can do that while ensuring that our corporate policies are applied even in the public cloud.What advice would you offer others facing similar challenges?

Implementing a private cloud is a huge undertaking. I’d offer a four-part guidance to other enterprises:

  • First, before implementing a private cloud, ensure your business and operating processes are in order. They’re essential for success.
  • Second, set the right expectations with business groups in terms of what will be possible and when, and what their responsibilities will be, and make the initiative transparent.
  • Third, work in phases. Projects that are too complex rarely make it off the ground and usually don’t meet expectations. Start with the basics and then build on them as customer/user needs are clarified.
  • And fourth, thoroughly evaluate private cloud vendors and make sure they enable you to leverage your own policies and systems, that they don’t result in vendor lock-in, and that they’re relatively easy to implement and evolve—without requiring tons of time and money.

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