Leading IT shops like to have a single pane of glass that is the IT storefront to all employees. This is a very noble goal. Having worked at a few large companies this is indeed a moving target as supporting the end user employee can mean a lot of different entry points, contexts and presentation technologies. When it comes to have a central location for ordering services it is very important to on board all of the employee based and data center services in a consistent fashion. Some of the key use cases include employee on boarding (and off boarding), virtual desktops, virtual machines and physical servers in the datacenter and access to applications. Typical IT departments may have several hundred orderable services, many of which are bundled (think of employee on boarding).
Interestingly some organizations first drive towards a common catalog and then automate what they can afterwards. At first you can take orders through the service catalog and then work the tasks to fulfill the request through manual process tracking. Alternatively I have seen some shops say that they will only put services in the catalog that can be automated. Then there are all the intermediate cases. Organizations deploying automated request management have many issues to consider and standards to be set.
Can we declare victory when a process is mostly manual but yet orderable from a catalog in four clicks? Perhaps…
Your end users are happy. They can see where their request is in the process flow. Kind of like going to fedex.com and seeing where that DVD is on its journey to your house. But that package took 3 days to traverse its journey.
Considered an automated fulfillment or provisioning process. In my above analogy, you are no longer dealing with DVDs shipping to your house but on demand video streaming. A simple click sets into motion many automated processes that deliver the movie to your device. For end user services this means your remote access is provisioned with a simple click, your Linux server and application stack is delivered in less than 15 minutes for use. Key to making that happen is a full automated process. Is that achievable in all cases? Perhaps….
In most cases what we are provisioning requires a northbound API (an programming interface above the fulfillment system) to accomplish the instantiation of the service. Oftentimes, in legacy environments the target system is so dated or under invested-in that an API does not exist. It is pretty hard to automate a process that can only occur through a human interfacing with the system.
People ask me the question: So What? We have found that by automating processes we can save on average 30% of the process cost. Multiply that by tens of thousands of requests and it will really add up.
Investing in Self Service requires investing in automation and in some cases, wrapping an API around a legacy environment in order to get the desire result: IT as a Service, delivered at the speeds needed by our end users.
Tags: automated provisioning, data center, intelligent automation, orchestration
Its true, there is no rest for the weary. While we are putting the finishing touches on CiscoLive!, we have already started work on VMworld 2012, which remains one of my favorite shows. As part of that, we have submitted the following session topics for consideration.
If you would like to one of more of these sessions, please head over to VMworld site and vote, vote, vote!
- 1988 – From Here to There: VMotion Within and Beyond the Data (by yours truly): One of the coolest aspects of vSphere is VMotion. There are a number of innovative technologies available to help you make the most of this feature. This session will help you understand the use of various technology options such as flat architectures, VXLAN, OTV and LISP to support VMotion within the data center and between data centers. As with many aspects of IT, there is no one right answer. The session will discuss the pros and cons of various technologies to allow you to decide what best meets your needs. And, since no VM is an island, the session will also look at how L4-7 and storage figure into things.
- 2680 – Secure multi-tenant data center with Cisco ASA1000V, Virtual Security Gateway and Nexus 1000V: Cisco ASA1000V cloud firewall and VSG together provide a comprehensive cloud security solution. The Cisco ASA 1000V Cloud Firewall employs mainstream, proven Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) technology, optimized for highly secure multi-tenant virtual and cloud infrastructure at the edge. Implementing Cisco Virtual Security Gateway (VSG) with the Cisco ASA 1000V Cloud Firewall in a virtual multi-tenant data center solution provides tenant edge, intra-tenant, and inter-tenant virtual and cloud security.
- 2373 – Best Practice for Deploying VXLAN with Cisco Nexus 1000V and VMware vCloud Director: Cisco Nexus 1000V is the first virtual switch to provide Virtual eXtensible Local Area Network (VXLAN) providing cloud network isolation and is fully integrated with VMware vCloud Director. Come to this session to find out how to deploy VXLAN with VMware vCloud Director. This session will also provide a deep dive into VXLAN deployment best practice.
- 2227 – Go Big! 10G and Multi Adapter vMotion for Large Workloads: The addition of Multi-Adapter vMotion and improved overall vMotion performance in ESX 5 allowed Medtronic to scale up to a high density virtualization and large workload environment with 1TB of RAM per host and guests with up to 256GB of ram. This session will explore the networking challenges and solutions of “scaled up” virtualization environments including the configuration of multi-adapter vMotion, NIOC, class based WFQ QOS in the Cisco Nexus 1000v, and QOS in the Cisco UCS fabric.
- 2352 – CSC Case Study: 10 Weeks to a Private Cloud: In this session, learn how leading global business solutions provider, CSC, is providing innovative private cloud services to its clients through its new CSC BizCloud – the industry’s only opex private cloud that is billed from a standard rate card and ready for workload in just 10 weeks. Using the Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud software solution running on Vblock infrastructure – along with VMware solutions – CSC BizCloud provides users with a self-service portal where they can order services, but also manage access and track usage to manage costs. This solution orchestrates workflows across technologies, so CSC can have the flexibility to provide new self-service options to clients over time.
2541 – Case Study: Bank Increases Agility with Private Cloud: Intesa Sanpaolo turned to Cisco and VMware to help simplify its IT operations with its Next-Generation Data Center project – which delivered IT services in a private cloud model. Using Cisco Unified Computing System and Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud software – along with vCloud Director – the bank was able to integrate with existing infrastructure while adding new systems into its data center. These products provided easy self-service provisioning and access to resources, plus automated orchestration of infrastructure. The benefits were simplicity, configuration flexibility, easier enforcement of governance policies and technical standards. As a result, provisioning times have been shortened from weeks to minutes.
Tags: N1KV, virtualization, vmworld
This part 1 of the series “10 Things Vmware Server Admins Should Know About Self-Service Catalogs and Lifecycle Management” that I’ll be publishing over the next few weeks–I hope! (The boy is nothing if not ambitious).
1. The service catalog is a tool for driving users to standard configurations.
To get the operational efficiencies we hope to achieve from virtualization and / or cloud computing, we need to establish standard configurations. This is tough, for a couple of reasons.
First, the challenge is the gap between the language of the customer, and the detail needed by the operations group typically generates a lot of back and forth during the “server engineering” process. Instead of having “pre-packaged” configurations, every thing is bespoke.
Instead of having useful abstraction layers and levels, the customer has to invent their own little bit of the data center. This made sense when the new app meant a whole new hardware stack to which the app would be fused to and the concrete poured on it. It doesn’t make sense now.
Second, there’s resistance from customers to adopt standard VM builds. Sometimes the reasons are valid, other times less so. The issue arises because the technical configurations have not been abstracted to a level the user can understand what they get and what’s available for configuration. Nor can they compare one template to another in ways that are meaningful to them.
The service catalog is the tool to help deal with these two obstacles. The service catalog is a useful tool to communicate, in the language of the customer, the different options available from IT for hosting environments.
A service catalog will support multiple views (customer, technical, financial, etc) so that when the customer selects “small Linux” for testing, this generates both a bill of materials and standard configuration options. Once that base is selected, self-service configuration wizards provide both guidance and gutter-rails so the customer is both helped to the right thing and prevented from making errors.
From this customer configuration, the environment build sheet is generated which will drive provisioning and configuration activities or to execute any policy automation in place.
And the catalog allows the VM admins to figure out what their “market” is buying; which is very useful for capacity planning.
Tags: CIAC, Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud, cloud, Cloud Management, intelligent automation, orchestration, Service Orchestration, unified management
if you get the chance to be at EMC World you probably saw an interesting demo shared by Cisco, EMC and VCE about Mobility and Business Continuance – If you didn’t , Cisco Live San Diego will be another opportunity to see it
Our favorite bloggers Jake Howering and Omar Sultan wrote in the recent past about DCI (Data Center Interconnect) , OTV (Overlay Transport Virtualization) i.e DCI as an enabling framework for both Workload Mobility & Disaster Recovery
Today I am pleased to have EMC Colin Durocher, bringing his perspective on the best way to address a critical challenge for a lot of IT organizations.
Next week I will post a second part (here) , with a video about the demo itself
Colin Durocher (on Twitter @OtherColin) is a Principal Product Manager with the RecoverPoint VPLEX Business Unit.He has been working with the VPLEX product in several capacities including QA, software development,
systems engineering, and product management for over 10 years.
He is a father of two, a professional engineer, and is currently pursuing an MBA.
Colin is based out of Montreal, Canada.
“Life Inside the Datacenter Silo
The traditional approach to IT is characterized by datacenter silos. Within each silo, we have our operations down to a science:
- We use server clustering, redundant network fabrics, and RAID storage to protect against unplanned local failures.
- We maintain spare capacity to absorb failures and workload spikes
- We don’t think twice about moving data between tiers, or even between arrays to optimize cost and performance.
- We commonly move virtual machines non-disruptively from server to server to load balance or perform maintenance.
As far as mobility and availability needs are concerned, life is good… Within the silo.
Crossing the Chasm (Between Silos)
When it comes to protecting against site failures, we use array replication to maintain a copy of all our data in a secondary (often passive) datacenter. We maintain scripts to automate our failover in case we ever need to declare a disaster. We practice our DR plan at least once a year. Don’t we? Moving applications between datacenters is complicated enough that we really just try not to do it. When we do, it often entails a professional services engagement.
All this has worked reasonably well for us up to now. But IT budgets are being squeezed and IT administrators need to eliminate waste, reduce complexity and find ways to increase their operational efficiency. It isn’t an optional thing. Consider the IDC digital universe study (2011) which estimates that by 2020, the amount of information under management will increase by a factor of 50 while the number of IT staff managing it will increase by only 1.5
That gap will need to be filled by different technologies. Let me introduce one to you – EMC VPLEX Metro. For hundreds of customers, it is breaking down the barriers between datacenters bringing new levels of efficiency, simplicity, and availability.
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Tags: Business Continuance, Cisco, data center, disaster recovery, EMC, mobility, VCE
Data centers have evolved from a simple client-server model to complex virtualized environments, with the network continuing to play a vital role to enable businesses to adopt new technologies and applications for growth and scale. The data deluge resulting from the exponential increase of video traffic and rich media applications along with and workload mobility, and users are bringing their own devices (BYOD) such as tablets and smart phones into the work environment, is driving significant change in information technology. The question in the minds of CTOs, IT Directors and Managers — even System Administrators — now becomes, Is your data center network really ready to meet these new challenges?
As part of The Data Center LAN Switching Thought Leadership discussion series, Dr. Jim Metzler, Moderator, Ashton, Metzler & Associates, discussed some of the key technologies that have driven the data center network evolution. The discussion focused on the viability of converging LAN and SAN environments along with the best approaches to scale Virtual Machines and incorporate OpenFlow and Virtualization into data center networks based on input from industry leaders – Cisco, HP, Arista, Avaya, Brocade, and Extreme Networks
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Tags: Data Center Though Leadership, jim metzler, Webtorials