BMC BladeLogic automation software a private cloud cornerstone

* Expense management provider Concur eying how to achieve end-to-end automation for server builds and deployment

Like a growing number of enterprise IT executives, Craig Baughn, vice president of hosting operations at Concur Technologies, a corporate travel and expense management company in Redmond, Wash., is carefully studying how to transition from a virtual environment to a private cloud.

Concur's commitment over the last three years to implement IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) processes and automation will prove invaluable as the company makes the move to a private cloud, and beyond, he says.

"We have one foot over the threshold from virtualization to private cloud, but we haven't shifted the weight yet into that room," Baughn described in a recent interview. "We're at that point where we're about to shift that weight forward and enter the room fully."

But it's not just about getting into that room. It's also about being able to exit through the doorway leading to the public cloud. "We know the door is there. It's just a matter of when and how far to open it," he says.

With private, hybrid and public cloud computing in mind, Concur is carefully pulling together the building blocks it'll need for a strong architectural foundation.

Process, as in having a consistent set of processes and standardized configuration and server builds, is one of those foundational elements. Concur already has a robust ITIL-based service management suite and has automated some processes, such as server requests.

But as the company moves to the cloud, more automation is needed.

Today, Concur uses BMC's BladeLogic automation software in a request process comprising three or four main steps. Basically, someone initiates a request and sends to the engineering team, which makes the servers available. The production services team builds out the server and deploys into the appropriate environment. "Two or three different teams are involved, but the request process and many components of that request are automated. This compares to three years ago, when someone who make a request via e-mail and then hope that person wasn't away on vacation and so on," Baughn describes.

"Still, the process isn't seamless end to end yet," he says.

"When I think of a private cloud, ideally when a user has a request he pushes a button and everything from there on out is automated. X number of minutes or hours later, that server has been deployed for his use with the back-end stuff for asset management and management controls against sprawl, for example, taken care of," he explains. "The idea is to take the automated processes we have today and compress them to a seamless step, if you will," he says.

Whether Concur can achieve this level of build-deployment automation with a single tool -- i.e., BladeLogic -- Baughn says he's not sure. "But it won't be six … and the BMC tool will be a cornerstone."

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