Breaking Through The Cloud

10 Posts authored by: woods

barcelona1.jpgNetApp CEO, Tom Georgens, commented recently "Partnering is not important to our strategy. It is our strategy."

 

Today, Citrix® and NetApp made an important announcement regarding Citrix CloudPlatform and Apache CloudStack: Together, we will provide a fully integrated cloud orchestration and storage solution that will address storage automation, resource allocation, and virtual machine backup and recovery. Our mutual objective in this collaboration is to provide users with a cloud-ready storage environment that will optimize storage utilization, simplify maintenance, and accelerate the transition to an agile data infrastructure.

 

NetApp and Citrix have done much together already, as mentioned in my earlier post, and we aspire to accomplish a great deal more to support the open source community and our mutual customers. 

 

As this is the week of Citrix Synergy in Barcelona, it seems fitting to share another iconic image from this beautiful city: the Sagrada Família. This basilica reaches to the clouds as did the imagination of the Catalan architect Atonini Gaudi.

 

Wry observers may note that construction on the Sagrada Familia began in 1882 and decades of work remain. So, is it really a fitting analogue for Apache CloudStack? For those readers, I ask did Gaudi have the power of open source to harness?  Which web server are you using today; and which kind of UNIX? 

 

If the cities of Milan, Frankfurt,  New York, London, Tokyo, and Shanghai each said "We will build a tower!". And if countless independent craftsmen contributed to the construction then, perhaps, the Sagrada Familia would have been completed in the lifetime of Gaudi.

 

Today, NetApp has restated its commitment to building the Apache CloudStack and confidence grows that this basilica shall reach the height of the vision from which it rises.

Torre Agbar - Quarter Size.jpgThis is the week of the Citrix® Synergy trade show in Barcelona, Spain. Later in this post, I will provide information about NetApp activities for people who are attending Synergy Barcelona. It seems appropriate to start, however, by taking stock of what NetApp and Citrix have accomplished together.

 

Looking across the skyline of Barcelona, you can't miss Torre Agbar rising up from this remarkable city. The tower is both a technical an artistic achievement. The way its colors blend together to light the night seems an appropriate metaphor for the way Citrix and NetApp have melded our products to provide a better infrastructure to support the aspirations of our customers. Here are a few things we have done together.

 

Manage NetApp Storage from Citrix XenCenter

We recently introduced the Virtual Storage Console (VSC) for XenServer®, which makes it possible for Citrix administrators to directly provision and manage storage from the XenCenter® management console. With VSC for XenServer, the storage administrator can empower the Citrix administrator while retaining ownership and control of storage policies. This makes both people more productive because the Citrix admin can get things done faster and the storage admin will spend less time doing routine storage tasks.

By the way, NetApp also provides management plug-ins for VMware® vCenter (VSC for vSphere) and Microsoft® System Center (OnCommand Plug-in for Microsoft). So, we have a management plug-in to work with whichever hypervisor you choose for your XenDesktop deployment. 

 

XenDesktop on FlexPod

Here we have the synergy of three vendors working together: Citrix, Cisco, and NetApp. You can dramatically speed deployment of Citrix XenDesktop® and easily scale with growth using the FlexPod data center platform. We have Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs) in place for XenDesktop running on Citrix XenServer, on VMware vSphere, and on Microsoft Private Cloud

 

NetApp at Citrix Synergy Barcelona

For those attending the Synergy show this week, here is a listing of NetApp presentations:

 

  • Thursday, 1:30pm and 4:30pm at the Cisco booth: Abhinav Joshi of NetApp will discuss XenDesktop deployments on FlexPod
  • Thursday, 1:30pm at the Learning Labs: Rachel Zhu and Neil Glick will provide an overview of NetApp lab content

 

We recommend the following break-out sessions presented by Citrix employees:

 

 

Be sure to stop by the NetApp booth, #301 located right across from the Citrix booth. We will have a FlexPod data center platform on display, courtesy of Avnet Technology Solutions. Also, you can ride the Team NetApp cycling simulator in a 400m competition for prizes!  We hope to see you there.

 

NetApp Booth at Synergy - Half Size.jpg

Mike Turnlund, Business Development Adviser at CA Technologies, spoke at Cisco Live 2012 in San Diego about the CA Automation Suite for Data Centers. This article is a re-cap of his presentation. You can download the slides used by Mr. Turnlund at the end of this  post.

 

The FlexPod platform for converged infrastructure was developed jointly by NetApp and Cisco.  More than 1,000 customers have deployed FlexPod in 33 countries since it was introduced in November 2010.

 

The CA Automation Suite for Data Centers is a Validated FlexPod Management Solution for automation and orchestration. Validated solutions must pass extensive testing in Cisco and NetApp labs against a broad set of functional and design requirements.

 

 

FlexPod and CA’s Automation Suite for Data Centers

Mike Turnlund.jpgMike Turnlund, Business Development Advisor at CA Technologies delivered his company’s presentation “FlexPod and CA’s Automation Suite for Data Centers” in the NetApp booth theater on Wednesday, June 13th at Cisco Live 2012.

 

CA Technologies – Agility Made Possible

CA is a relatively large and well known player in the enterprise management space, so Mr. Turnlund began by talking about the company’s 30 years of experience managing complex IT environments. He emphasized CA’s strength in supporting physical, virtual and clouds with a comprehensive portfolio that includes self-service, provisioning, assurance and security. He also noted that the CA Automation Suite for Data Centers was recently designated as a Validated Management Solution for FlexPod – a data center platform jointly developed by NetApp and Cisco.

 

Cloud Service Delivery with CA and FlexPod

Organizations can realize their ultimate goal of cloud service delivery with CA and FlexPod, including a self-service model that leverages standardized templates for automated provisioning and correlates IT services with costs, chargeback and performance monitoring capabilities.

 

An Integrated, Full Stack Management Solution

The tight integration of CA Automation Suite with Cisco UCS Manager and NetApp OnCommand provides a full stack management solution for FlexPod that automates server, network and storage provisioning and management processes, and integrates with service catalogs for effective SLA management. "The CA Automation Suite is as tightly integrated with FlexPod as the orange flavored coating of my creamsicle is to the vanilla ice cream in the center," remarked Mr. Turnlund as he bit into the frozen desert and held it out for the audience to see.

 

Delivering our Joint Value

Mr. Turnlund then discussed the complementary capabilities of FlexPod and CA, which enable:

  • Dynamically provisioned services across physical and virtual resources
  • Services based on standard configuration templates
  • Tracking, reporting and policy-based management
  • Orchestrated service delivery across multiple infrastructure layers
  • Complete infrastructure management through a single, integrated solution

 

These joint capabilities deliver enhanced value to enterprises across three main areas:

  1. Visibility: End-to-end visibility of resources, quality of service and business impact enables organizations to leverage business and technology opportunities and constraints.
  2. Control: Service management using policy definitions based on business requirements enables infrastructure issues to be prioritized and resolved based on their business impact.
  3. Automation: Self-service provisioning with flexible orchestration of hypervisor, server, network and storage layers.

 

Note: Mr. Turnlund's full presentation is attached at the end of this blog post.

 

 

Collaboration of CA Technologies and NetApp

"CA Technologies and NetApp are collaborating to support the end-to-end service visibility, control and automation that our joint customers need to become more agile in meeting their business' demands for better and faster service delivery. Together we provide the IT systems management capabilities organizations need to optimize their FlexPod shared infrastructure. Our integrated service assurance and automation solutions both monitor the health and performance of business critical services, from the application to the spindle, as well as automate the provisioning and management of physical, virtual and cloud resources, end-to-end, including storage". Doug Antaya, Senior Marketing Adviser, CA Technologies

 

 

Learn More

Introduction

Eric Sherman, Vice President of Sales for Gale Technologies, spoke at Cisco Live 2012 in San Diego about the GaleForce Turnkey Cloud for FlexPod, which is a Validated FlexPod Management Solution.  This is a re-cap of his presentation, which you can download at the end of this  post.

 

The FlexPod platform for converged infrastructure was developed jointly by NetApp and Cisco.  More than 1,000 customers have deployed FlexPod in 33 countries since it was introduced in November 2010. 

 

The GaleForce Turnkey Cloud for FlexPod is a Validated FlexPod Management Solution for automation and orchestration. Validated solutions must pass extensive testing in Cisco and NetApp labs against a broad set of functional and design requirements.

 

Create and Manage Infrastructure Agility Through the FlexPod Lifecycle with GaleForce

Eric Sherman photo - cropped and resized.pngEric Sherman, Sr. Director of Worldwide Sales at Gale Technologies delivered his company’s presentation “Create and Manage Infrastructure Agility Through the FlexPod Lifecycle with GaleForce” on Wednesday, June 13th in the NetApp booth theater at Cisco Live 2012.

 

Mr. Sherman began with a quick overview of FlexPod and stated that Gale complements NetApp and Cisco technologies by extending the tremendous flexibility and agility of FlexPod into the data center management layer. He mentioned that key drivers such as rapid business changes, infrastructure silos, complexity and deployment costs are pushing organizations to look for solutions that provide greater agility, flexibility, simplification and cost containment. The building blocks that can deliver on these goals are: a converged architecture – such as FlexPod; and the infrastructure automation and self-service IaaS that Gale provides.

 

GaleForce Turnkey Cloud for FlexPod

GaleForce Turnkey Cloud for FlexPod is a comprehensive automation system that manages and provisions the entire FlexPod infrastructure stack for both physical and virtual resources, spanning the compute, network, and storage domains. The solution is built on GaleForce, a highly extensible automation framework that supports both pre-built provisioning templates for FlexPod and custom orchestrated workflows. The unique aspects and differentiating characteristics of the GaleForce solution include:

 

  • Automation of Cisco, NetApp, and VMware components as well as legacy equipment and heterogeneous resources beyond the FlexPod stack;
  • Provisioning of public cloud resources, including Amazon and Rackspace clouds, and hybrid private-private or private-public clouds;
  • A scheduling and reservation system for capacity allocation, lifecycle management, and resource optimization;
  • A visual drag and drop template authoring capability for system architects;
  • A custom brand-able and “skin-able” web portal for easy, self-service access to published templates;
  • Open APIs and a plug-in framework for automation resource adapters.

 

Proven Benefits of GaleForce for FlexPod

Mr. Sherman talked about the proven benefits of GaleForce for FlexPod in terms of:

 

  • Speed: ability to deploy FlexPod in under 3 days
  • Productivity: can increase by 300 to 500%
  • Cost: 50% lower capital expenses

 

Summary

The presentation concluded with summary statements on GaleForce Turnkey Cloud for FlexPod, which:

 

  • Combines the FlexPod infrastructure with a robust IaaS solution
  • Maximizes agility through optimized self-service consumption
  • Increases flexibility with heterogeneous support
  • Contains costs by maximizing infrastructure utilization

 

 

Quote from GaleForce CEO

"Unified solutions such as FlexPod are gaining rapid acceptance as private cloud deployments accelerate, and we are extremely pleased to be one of the few vendors whose software has been validated by Cisco and NetApp for management of the FlexPod data center solution," said Nariman Teymourian, chief executive officer of Gale Technologies.  "Our GaleForce automation software brings ground-breaking single-click simplicity to complex provisioning tasks that used to take days to complete. We are pleased to bring our sophisticated cloud management features now to FlexPod environments."

 

 

Learn More

Introduction

Raju Penmetsa, CTO of Cloupia, spoke at Cisco Live 2012 in San Diego about the Cloupia Unified Infrastructure Controller (CUIC), which is a Validated FlexPod Management Solution.  This blog post is a re-cap of his presentation. You can download the slides used by Mr. Penmetsa at the end of this  post.

 

The FlexPod platform for converged infrastructure was developed jointly by NetApp and Cisco.  More than 1,000 customers have deployed FlexPod in 33 countries since it was introduced in November 2010. 

 

The Cloupia Unified Infrastructure Controller is a Validated FlexPod Management Solution for automation and orchestration. Validated solutions must pass extensive testing in Cisco and NetApp labs against a broad set of functional and design requirements.

 

 

Unified Automation and Orchestration for Converged Infrastructure

RajuPennetsa-Online_bigger.png

Raju Penmetsa, CTO of Cloupia, began with a brief overview of FlexPod capabilities and benefits and proudly mentioned that the Cloupia Unified Infrastructure Controller was the first product to be designated as a Validated FlexPod Management Solution.

 

 

 

Business Challenges

Mr. Penmetsa stressed that challenges such as infrastructure silos, manual administration, and the need for vendor-specific skills are causing many businesses to experience poor IT responsiveness as well as higher operating and capital expenses. In particular, ongoing management costs for most virtualized environments are disproportionately high relative to infrastructure implementation costs.

 

Cloupia Solution for FlexPod

The Cloupia Unified Infrastructure Controller addresses these problems by offering:

 

  • A single pane of glass for end-to-end management and real-time monitoring for each infrastructure component in the FlexPod configuration
  • Automation and orchestration to reduce total operating and capital expenses
  • Single-click, policy-driven infrastructure provisioning to create, deploy and reconfigure servers, storage and applications in minutes
  • Automated, non-disruptive FlexPod scaling of compute, storage and network resources to meet dynamic demands
  • An integrated out-of-box solution to begin FlexPod resource deployments and management within hours, eliminating multiple tools and services
  • Fast, unified service delivery
  • Reduced TCO, time-to-value, and time-to-market
  • Improved IT responsiveness

 

Mr. Penmetsa also mentioned Cloupia’s CloudIgnite product for partners that enables zero-day provisioning and configuration for FlexPod; and CloudGenie Mobile Platform Application, the industry’s first iPad/Android application for cloud and data center deployment and management that can be used for converged infrastructures such as FlexPod.

 

Why Cloupia?

Mr. Penmetsa concluded with a summary of Cloupia’s key differentiators:

 

  • Cloupia’s turnkey solution approach – one that’s simple and easy to deploy
  • Centralized, single pane of glass management for physical, virtual and cloud infrastructures
  • An extensible, open approach that manages FlexPod and also integrates with 3rd party solutions that extend into the public cloud
  • FlexPod validation by NetApp and Cisco

 

 

Quote from Cloupia VP of Products and Markets

“We are experiencing an increased customer adoption of FlexPod architectures across all of the major geographic regions of the world. And we are seeing significant demand for Cloupia Unified Infrastructure Controller from customers around the world. CloudIgnite for FlexPod, Cloupia’s day zero automation solution is also continuously generating considerable interest and traction among the partner community.”


– Bhaskar Krishnamsetty, Cloupia VP of Products and Marketing

 

 

Learn More

woods

Live! Automation for the People

Posted by woods May 31, 2012

Preview of Cisco Live! presentations by FlexPod Management Partners

Cloud got you down? Have you been whistling Everybody Hurts lately?  Wouldn’t it be great if the folks who depend on you were all Shiny Happy People?  Maybe what you need is automation for the people.  And we can give it to you Live!

 

If you’re going to Cisco Live in San Diego June 10-14 then stop by the NetApp booth to see some great performances by rock stars from CA Technologies, Cloupia, and Gale Technologies. They will be making presentations about automation and orchestration products that have been designated by Cisco and NetApp as Validated FlexPod Management Solutions. (Sorry ... R.E.M. broke up last year, so we couldn’t arrange for them to come).

 

Michael Stipe 2.jpgMike Turnland.jpg

Michael Stipe of R.E.M. performing Everybody Hurts and Mike Turnlund of CA singing Shiny Happy People.

 

 

Here's the schedule for the performances of our FlexPod management rock stars:

 

Tuesday, June 12

2:30 PM     Cloupia – Raju Penmetsa, Chief Technology Officer

 

Wednesday, June 13

11:30 AM   CA Technologies – Mike Turnlund, Sr. Director for Business Development

2:30 PM     Gale Technologies – Eric Sherman, Sr. Director for Worldwide Sales

 

 

And, whether you are going to Cisco Live or not, you can get more information about their products by clicking on the images below.

 

Partner Logos - Cloupia.jpg

Partner Logos - CA.jpg

Partner Logos - Gale.jpg

woods

The Fifth Element

Posted by woods May 16, 2012

NetApp Preface

This is the third in a series of guest posts by partners whose products have completed extensive testing to become Validated FlexPod Management Solutions for Automation and Orchestration. You can learn what it means for a product to be designated as a validated management solution for FlexPod by reading an earlier post, How Cloud Management is Like Government.

 

 

The Fifth Element

by Scott Powers, Gale Technologies

 

NetApp has identified four fundamental elements that organizations should include in their planning as they make the transition to a shared IT infrastructure and private cloud. These elements have been explained in previous Tech on Tap articles, including most recently the article Building a Cloud on FlexPod: Validated Management Solutions.

 

These four fundamental elements are:

 

  • Automation – Rapidly deploy your services by integrating and automating provisioning, protection, and operational processes.
  • Self-Service – Empower IT and your end users by enabling service requests to be fulfilled through a self-service portal.
  • Service Catalog – Define your services with well-defined policies that automatically map service levels to infrastructure attributes.
  • Service Analytics – Optimize your services with centralized monitoring, metering, and chargeback to enhance visibility and both cost and SLA management.

 

These elements are all key to evolving the IT infrastructure from a technology orientation to a service orientation and represent some of the best practices for cloud migration and deployment.

 

But there is a fifth element.

 

No, it is not the legendary aether defined by Aristotle, at one time thought to be the fifth element to accompany earth, air, fire, and water – and from which the modern term Ethernet is derived. Nor is it the namesake character in The Fifth Element, the fantastical Luc Besson sci-fi film.

 

The fifth element for cloud management is agility.

 

dreamstime_xs_15936090_crop.jpgWait, is agility not a goal of cloud computing, indeed a business goal, the ability for a business to respond to changing conditions or opportunities, supported by an agile and responsive IT infrastructure? Yes it is, but agility is also a fundamental design element for building clouds, and one that must be pervasive across all the other elements. 

 

The Need for Agility

So agility is both an end and a means, with respect to cloud computing, and here we discuss its importance as a means, i.e. how agility is a fundamental element and best practice for building clouds – and a requirement for the management solution that is used for building such clouds.

 

Validated FlexPod Management Solutions provide unified, turn-key functionality for automation and orchestration of FlexPod-based environments.  They provide pre-built and pre-tested workflows and provisioning methods out-of-the-box for rapid startup and deployment. Without such automated management, manual provisioning can be complex, time-consuming, and error-prone.  Therefore, management solutions that have been validated by NetApp and Cisco are key for quickly and efficiently establishing an automated, self-service and highly service-oriented IT environment based on FlexPod with a core set of infrastructure and service templates.

 

But clouds change, by nature, and they are meant to adapt based on changing conditions.

 

You cannot automate policies and workflows once at the start of a deployment and expect them to remain. Nor can you design service tiers or publish service templates for self-service access once and expect them to remain unchanged.

 

Therefore, the system that provides the management, automation, and orchestration for the IT infrastructure must be flexible and extensible enough to be able to change as the service requirements change. With respect to the original four elements, the self-service portal must be customizable, brandable, and easy to update with new templates and services.  The service catalog maintained by the overall management system must be adaptable and responsive to changes in policies or service tier definitions for each of the underlying compute, network, and storage elements.  The service analytics function must be able to integrate with third-party and other enterprise applications.  And – most importantly – the automation system must be customizable and extensible in order to support not only new or changed workflows but even new virtual resources and physical devices that inevitably get introduced into the environment.

 

Benefits of Agility

A management platform that provides out-of-the-box automation, but allows you to extend and customize the automated workflows and orchestration sequences will provide a number of significant benefits, including the ability to:

 

  • Integrate and automate resources beyond the core compute, network, and storage resources – including edge and access equipment, such as firewall and security devices, and load balancers and access delivery control – for truly complete, end-to-end solutions.
  • Integrate legacy equipment seamlessly into new deployments, or repurpose legacy gear, offering the same or equivalent self-service access to both old and new resources.
  • Design hybrid cloud scenarios, both private-public hybrid clouds and private-private hybrid clouds that merge organizations into community clouds or help establish seamless communities of interest among organizations and their partner or customer ecosystems.

 

GaleForce Turnkey Cloud for FlexPod

The GaleForce Turnkey Cloud for FlexPod, from Gale Technologies, is a Validated FlexPod Management Solution, and is one example of a comprehensive but agile automation platform. GaleForce is a highly extensible automation framework that supports pre-built provisioning templates and custom orchestrated workflows for many physical or virtual environments. GaleForce accelerates the deployment of private and hybrid cloud services in both new and legacy environments by pairing powerful automation with the convenience of self-service access.

 

GaleForce is the only automation software to be used internally for private cloud automation in both Cisco and NetApp, and brings agility to both firms’ partner communities.  At Cisco, GaleForce is used to automate the Cisco Developer Network (CDN) remote access program, a community cloud for Cisco partners to achieve interoperability and validation testing, with self-service access through a Cisco-branded version of the GaleForce Web Portal.  According to Cisco, the velocity of partner validation has increased dramatically with the flexibility of this hybrid cloud.

 

At NetApp, GaleForce powers the Lab on Demand environment, a centralized facility where hundreds of NetApp SEs, architects, and channel partners from around the world access and dynamically provision physical and virtual service templates (lab environments) for demos, proofs of concept, or training scenarios – all through a NetApp-branded, self-service catalog based on the GaleForce web portal.  On-demand applications range from Oracle, to Microsoft Exchange, SQL, and SharePoint, plus SAP, and of course showcase scenarios of the latest, best-in-class NetApp features.  This portal can be accessed by NetApp channel partners at http://labondemand.netapp.com.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, agility is a fundamental element and design consideration that relates to and really pervades all other elements that must be considered when designing clouds and deploying IT as a service.  Agility in the underlying management and automation system will in turn enable agility for the business, which is ultimately the true goal.

________________________________

 

More information on Gale Technologies and the GaleForce Turnkey Cloud for FlexPod can be found at the:

 

Gale Technologies FlexPod page:

http://www.galetechnologies.com/index.php/solutions/flexpod/

 

NetApp Solution Connection:

https://solutionconnection.netapp.com/galeforce-turnkey-cloud-solution.aspx

 

 

NetApp Afterword

Be sure to read guest posts by other partners with Validated FlexPod Management Solutions:

 

NetApp Preface

This is the second in a series of guest posts by partners whose products have completed extensive testing to become Validated FlexPod Management Solutions for Automation and Orchestration. You can learn what it means for a product to be designated as a validated management solution for FlexPod by reading an earlier post, How Cloud Management is Like Government.

 

 

Let’s Get Physical – Cloud Doesn’t Stop at Virtualization

Infrastructure is converging, why not management?

by Bhaskar Krishnamsetty of Cloupia

 

Enterprise cloud management requirements are much broader than public cloud requirements because of the need to manage data centers with heterogeneous virtual, physical and converged infrastructure. Cloud management must evolve to encompass not just virtualization but underlying physical infrastructure, to provide a holistic approach to management for private clouds. Mark Woods touched on this point in a previous blog post when he wrote, “there is no shortage of products to manage service requests, applications, and virtualization. However, managing the physical components of the infrastructure is often the hardest part...” We want to dig into why this is, and how cloud management can address it.

 

The Cloud Management Challenge - 7 inches.jpg

Figure 1. The cloud management challenge.

 

 

If all you want is for cloud users to be able to request and receive virtual machines, that’s pretty easy. But, realistically, if it’s going to serve your needs, you probably need a cloud that can do more than that.

 

You won’t see the full benefits of cloud if substantial parts of your infrastructure are effectively outside the cloud, and you can’t simply throw away your existing investments and move entirely to virtualization. Your cloud management must cope with the realities of your data center and the way you do business. It needs to help you manage and monitor your infrastructure and facilitate access to the resources people need, both physical and virtual.

 

You probably have a number of applications that will require physical rather than virtual resources—or physical AND virtual resources—for a long time to come. For instance, enterprise applications like ERP and CRM systems and other high-end database-driven applications typically run the database engine on bare metal with accessory functions in virtual machines. Both DR as a Service and Storage as a Service require provisioning and automation of physical storage. The ideal cloud tool has to help you manage physical infrastructure and automate the provisioning of physical resources.

 

Unify, Unify, Unify

With so many platforms and so much infrastructure to manage, the key is to have unified and comprehensive cloud management. The more you can control—virtual and physical—from a single pane of glass, the better. We will cover the following three critical elements of this unified cloud management:

 

  • Unified Monitoring and Management
  • Unified Service Catalog
  • Unified Orchestrator

 

self service portal 672x361.png

Figure 2. Unified orchestration  from a self-service portal.

 

 

Unified Monitoring and Management: An effective cloud management tool should include management and monitoring that make it unnecessary to resort to vendor-specific element managers for all but the rarest of tasks. Ideally a single pane of glass should let you perform all the tasks to configure, monitor and manage your cloud and all its physical and virtual components.

 

It’s been our experience that IT teams are worried that they will need too many different tools to effectively manage a cloud environment. Having a diverse set of management tools band-aided together slows cloud deployment, adds to the complexity, and increases the failure rate.

 

Unified Service Catalog: A unified service catalog should offer a broad set of cloud and IT services that isn’t limited to just virtual machine catalog items. To get the benefits of private cloud, you must have a full self-service catalog that includes both virtual and physical infrastructure. The trick is to provide enough abstraction to make physical hardware from various vendors accessible from the service catalog without sacrificing platform-unique hardware capabilities. You don’t want your expensive storage array to appear no different than a vanilla RAID box.

 

Cloupia Unified Infrastructure Controller (CUIC) provides a comprehensive service catalog that automates key vendor features from both the physical and virtual world, so you can include them in your service catalog and make them accessible through our end-user portal while still keeping the interface simple enough for more mainstream users.

 

Unified Orchestrator: You need a unified orchestration engine and end-to-end automated processes to achieve agile IT – the real promise of a private cloud. Physical orchestration is complex and there aren’t many standards, so there’s a significant amount of work involved. (See Figure 1.) For example, CUIC uses the native APIs from each vendor we support to abstract out and automate the physical capabilities we want to expose. We also provide full orchestration for virtual resources, as you would expect.

 

A graphical workflow designer lets you quickly capture and re-use the complex workflows your business depends on. Using Cloupia’s model based comprehensive orchestrator, IT teams can build and execute repeatable physical and virtual infrastructure provisioning workflows without complex custom scripts and expensive system integration engagements. Application teams can also leverage these orchestration workflows to accelerate application deployment from development to production.

 

Converged Infrastructure and FlexPod

The relative simplicity of converged infrastructure makes unifying management interfaces significantly easier. With open APIs and a defined process for validating management tools, FlexPod from NetApp and Cisco de-mystifies the cloud management picture. FlexPod APIs expose both physical and virtual capabilities in a uniform way, simplifying the job of cloud “governance”.

 

The complex and multiple cloud management software products defeat the purpose of the converged infrastructure. The converged infrastructure systems such as FlexPod need unified and integrated cloud automation software that can help you accelerate your cloud transition – “pods to clouds”.

 

 

NetApp Afterword

Be sure to read guest posts by other partners with Validated FlexPod Management Solutions:

 

woods

Time to Revisit IT Management

Posted by woods May 2, 2012

NetApp Preface

This is the first of a series of guest posts by partners whose products have completed extensive testing to become Validated FlexPod Management Solutions for Automation and Orchestration. You can learn what it means for a product to be designated as a validated management solution for FlexPod by reading an earlier post, How Cloud Management is Like Government.

 

 

Time to Revisit IT Management

by Mike Turnlund, CA Technologies

 

Today no one is questioning the fact that cloud computing is playing a growing role in IT and that integrated platforms are key new pieces of the solution. At the same time the business case for building these platforms from scratch is getting increasingly difficult to justify.

 

Cloud in a box―encapsulating all the different hardware components in a pre-integrated solution, including management―resolves this problem. Shrink-wrapped products can just ‘plug and play’ to simplify deployment, but how do they fit in an organization with classically structured responsibilities? How do formerly specialized tasks get done with the same number of staff members or even fewer?

 

Abstracting the complexities of the data center is crucial as it grows more complex in terms of components, interrelationships, services and technology―never mind the fast deployment speeds expected by users today. Seamless management of error-free, end-to-end delivery becomes imperative.

 

Today's IT World

Cloud capabilities from external sources offer customers greater choice and move the control point from an IT supply-constrained approach to customer demand-led delivery options. It’s cheap and it’s easy for the user. As IT continues to focus on delivering new, high-quality IT services with more speed and reduced cost, it wrestles with today’s business realities (Figure 1) including:

 

  • Increasing speed and demands of the business
  • Reduced or flat budgets and increased costs and complexity in delivering IT Services
  • Organizations increasingly look to automation to drive these benefits; IT organizations need to do more with less.

 

CA Figure 1 - Edited.JPG

Figure 1. Business demand for IT services continues to grow as the IT staff for service supply remains fixed.

 

 

Current organizational structures―and by correlation most tools―are siloed and focused on the device type or resource type. Storage for storage, network for network, etc. - these combinations are unworkable in a cloud deployment environment. The attractive economics of virtualization are moving more organizations towards that cloud-enabled model and the user expectations are changing. Users no longer buy into long deployment times. That business-focused perspective requires a different approach to interpreting need fulfillment. With a shared, pay-as-you-go offer coming from service providers, business readiness is no longer gated by IT readiness.

 

Converged infrastructure allows components to become less of a focus. The latest generation tools have evolved to match requirements and support organizational transformation. The high rate of change demands quick, turnkey deployment inside the infrastructure. Automation is a key technology in the ability to manage integrated platforms such as FlexPod. Skills and focus must move away from the purely technical to the service delivery and business use of these services.

 

A dichotomy exists as these platforms simplify the infrastructure layer, but cloud building increases complexity at the resource orchestration layer. Automating the orchestration is the only way to reliably deliver services at the demanded rate of change. ITSM processes must evolve to accommodate new converged infrastructure solutions.

 

What's Needed

Converged infrastructure mandates an integrated architecture with integrated solutions. It requires a deeper understanding of how these work together as automation technologies are the key to delivering a successful management solution in this scenario.

 

The Role of Automation

The primary focus is to enable automation to deliver increased value from IT departments to their user bases. How these deployments look is a direct reflection of the maturity of an organization in its thinking. IT management software vendors help by continuing to develop and add capability to their already deep control of physical and logical IT resources; how these are consumed by the services, and the business significance of those services.

 

This complex matrix needs to be analyzed, automated, deployed and managed, and requires a comprehensive end-to-end capability from the management layer. Unified automation solutions can simplify the UI and make information actionable to minimize human error in repeated processes. They can also bridge the gap created by the increased business demand for IT services and enable timely IT service supply (Figure 2). CA Technologies and NetApp both share this vision and understand the importance of a comprehensive end-to-end capability. Linking robust ITSM processes to the new converged infrastructure enables a more proactive IT team in problem identification, change management and resolution.

 

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Figure 2. Unified Automation bridges the gap created by the increased business demand for IT services and enables timely IT service supply.

 

 

Look for products such as CA Automation Suite for Data Centers, that are specifically validated to work with the FlexPod data center platform. Products designated by Cisco and NetApp as validated management solutions for FlexPod comply with best practice integration requirements and deliver comprehensive unified management. Consequently, you can implement a validated management solution much faster and at much lower cost without giving up the flexibility to adapt with changing needs.

 

Conclusion

Converged infrastructures with their integrated architectures and solutions can be successfully managed on an end-to-end basis by a new generation of management tools. These management tools, available today, can facilitate the organizational change necessary for them to be productively used on a day to day basis. Unified automation solutions are now being used to successfully bridge the gap created by the increased business demand for the timely delivery of IT services and the timely available supply of these services. Compared to many solutions, the FlexPod platform with a validated management solution such CA Automation Suite for Data Centers, can be implemented much faster and at much lower cost without sacrificing the flexibility to adapt with changing needs.

 

 

NetApp Afterword

Be sure to come back to read guest posts by other partners with Validated FlexPod Management Solutions:

 

By Mark Woods

 

Preface

This is the first in a series on the topic of building of a cloud. Guest posts will follow by FlexPod management partners Cloupia, Gale Technologies, and CA Technologies. See the end of this post for a schedule and links to their posts (after publication).

 

Cloud and Capitol - smaller.jpgCloud Governance

I’ve been thinking about the ways that cloud management is like government. This might seem a little odd at first but bear with me for a moment. Government is essential to a civilized society. An effective government does not just bind people together, it provides security, it manages shared resources in an equitable way, it facilitates commerce with a legal system, and it provides many other services.  

 

When it comes to a service-oriented, converged infrastructure, I believe most IT citizens want government … err, management that gets things done quickly and efficiently.  Also, it shouldn’t take a revolution to change the government when it isn’t meeting the needs of the people.

 

Building a Cloud Nation

Given enough time and resources, you could use small components and fully custom management software to build a cloud. Some large service providers have taken this approach as a way of minimizing cost, which is essential to their business models. These clouds are like large, unitary states in which the central government is supreme, although responsibilities are also delegated to smaller units.

 

Most IT organizations will take a different approach to cloud building by assembling larger components that are analogous to federated states or provinces. To illustrate this point, consider a NetApp storage system to be a province governed by OnCommand Management Software. Unfortunately, the NetApp province can’t accomplish much by itself. Neither can the states of Nexus and vSphere, nor can a service catalog. They need an effective means of federation.

 

Getting the Federation Right

There is no shortage of vendors with products to manage service requests, applications, and virtualization. However, managing the physical components of the infrastructure is often the hardest part because of the diversity of hardware and the lack of management standards. 

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Cloud management needs the ability to orchestrate tasks across the infrastructure and it needs automation to execute those tasks quickly. Else it will function like an impotent central bureaucracy that falls short of its potential to strengthen the federated states.

 

In the IT world this corresponds to a situation where a service request is delivered to a group of administrators who manually coordinate the provisioning of servers, virtualization, networking, and storage to support an application workload.  Getting a group of people to execute in sequence to provision an application can take weeks.  In contrast, the same result can be accomplished in as little as 10 minutes with automation and orchestration software.

 

Establishing Your Central Government

There are many ways to organize independent states into a federation. The structure of the central government, degree of authority ceded to it, and the ability to amend the constitution or to change the administration will vary from one federation to another.

 

Clouds are generally built with a combination of packaged products and custom software, often developed by professional service providers. The mix between the two depends on organization needs, product capabilities, and vendor preference. Packaged products tend to be focused on addressing common use cases although some lend themselves to a surprising degree of customization. Professional services can be used to address unique use cases and to close gaps in management product functionality. However, relying on professional services to pull everything together can be a very costly and time consuming way to build a cloud.

 

Federating FlexPod

Let me digress for a moment to discuss the role of APIs in building a cloud federation. The APIs of the infrastructure components determine how much authority can be ceded to the federal government … err, cloud management software. And the openness of the APIs is an important determinant of your ability to choose or change the administration of cloud government.

 

Cisco and NetApp have made open APIs available with the FlexPod data center platform, which provides the physical infrastructure for a cloud with pre-validated (but flexible) configurations of Cisco UCS servers, Cisco Nexus switches, and NetApp storage systems.

 

We also foster the development of management solutions from multiple vendors through the FlexPod Management Solutions program. Products that pass extensive testing in Cisco and NetApp labs against a broad set of functional and design requirements are designated as Validated FlexPod Management Solutions. They deliver unified, turn-key automation and orchestration capabilities with the FlexPod platform.

Alternative Ways of Building a Cloud - 7 inches.jpg

Validated FlexPod Management Solutions do not require a large investment in professional services to develop a comprehensive cloud management solution. Although these products are prescriptive in nature, they are neither restrictive nor homogeneous. They provide unique functionality beyond the validation requirements and can be used as the basis of customized solutions.

 

The following products from FlexPod partners are the first management products to pass our testing regimen for automation and orchestration. (We expect more  to follow). Consider them to be our initial slate of validated candidates to administer your cloud federation.

 

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Partner Logos - Gale.jpg

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To be clear, you are not limited to these products as the means of automating and orchestrating services on the FlexPod platform. Our open APIs make it possible for anyone to develop management solutions for FlexPod.

 

Cloudocracy

I like to think of NetApp and Cisco as having established a basis for Cloudocracy. While the physical infrastructure components--servers, networking, and storage--of our FlexPod data center platform come with comprehensive management software, we have also made it possible to federate them into a cloud. Importantly, you have a choice in the way this federation is constituted and the ability to change the administration if it does not meet the needs of the people.

 

Read More

Check out the article Building a Cloud: Validated Management Solutions in the March 2012 edition of the NetApp technical newsletter Tech OnTap.

 

Also, be sure to read guest posts on this blog by partners who offer products that are Validated FlexPod Management Solutions.

 

Time to Revisit IT Management by Mike Turnlund of CA Technologies

Let’s Get Physical – Cloud Doesn’t Stop at Virtualization by Bhaskar Krishnamsetty of Cloupia

The Fifth Element by Scott Powers of Gale Technologies

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