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Vblock Systems Management: Choice and Interoperability Matter

August 26, 2012
at 10:00 pm PST

Jeramiah Dooley, Guest Blogger  @jdooley_clt:

Jeramiah Dooley brings more than 17 years of technology experience to the VCE Office of the CTO.  Previously he was the global SME for Service Provider business development, multi-tenancy and vCloud Director design as part of the VCE Corporate Engineering Group.  Prior to joining VCE, he was the Director of Engineering at Peak 10, a service provider based in Charlotte, NC, where directed the overall strategy, design and development of the Managed Services and cloud platforms. 

Hello from VMworld! VCE is excited to be here with all things we have going on (http://www.vce.com/events/vmworld/). If you’ve been following along your head is probably spinning with all of the announcements from VMware and all of the other companies in their ecosystem.

One of the themes from both VMware and VCE has been the idea of pushing value up the stack, particularly in the Management, Operations and Orchestration spaces.  This has long been a topic of interest for customers looking at purchasing Vblock systems, but with so many choices, and so many tools that can be leveraged, they have been asking how all the parts fit together to solve their business challenges.

One of the ongoing VCE efforts has been to provide customers with the tools and expertise that allow them to manage and operate a Vblock system with the same efficiency and value with which they purchase, implement and support one.  In support of that, VCE and Cisco are proud to announce a new joint design and demonstration that integrates multiple tools, concentrated around the flagship Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud product.

Unlike lower-level tools, automation is an effort that always starts on the business process side of the house.  This means that when done right, Orchestration and Automation can be incredibly powerful tools, but it also means that it requires the input of multiple teams to get to that point.  Orchestration is truly a horizontal, cross-silo endeavor, and in many cases it takes multiple tools working together to achieve the ROI that customers are looking for.  Where the VCE model, and the relationship between VCE and Cisco, really shines is being able to put together very powerful tools, integrate them on top of the best hardware available and accelerate that ROI.

For this design, we have put together a number of tools that we commonly see customers evaluating in order to give an end-to-end solution.  These components include:

  • Cisco Cloud Portal
  • Cisco Process Orchestrator
  • VCE Vblock Series 300
  • VMware vCloud Director
  • VMware vCenter Configuration Manager
  • VMware vCenter Server and Orchestrator
  • VMware vCenter Operations
  • VMware Hyperic

Graphically, the pieces can be represented like this:

As part of the demo, we built a number of standard business processes that we wanted to show customers.  These are based on real-world examples of what companies are doing with Vblock systems, and were selected to show the breadth of the solution.  The processes include:

  • Creation of a new user/resource consumer
  • Provisioning of an initial virtualized cluster, and deployment of initial vApp
  • Deployment of subsequent vApps by an existing user
  • Deployment of physical, bare-metal servers
  • Dynamic scaling of existing vApp based on increased workload
  • Removal of existing user and cleanup of resources

As you can see, each of these workflows are things that happen on a regular basis inside an enterprise operations team.  They are all prime candidates for this kind of automation, helping to drive standardization, improved QA, improved performance and reduce the time to deploy and maintain services.

Under the covers, the thing that is allowing Cisco and others to be able to drive efficiency with the customer at the software layer is the Vblock systems that have been deployed.  Having a known, consistent, standardized platform to work with allows Cisco, VMware, EMC, CA, BMC, Cloupia and other ITSM and orchestration partners to be able to start building relevant workflows for customers right away, rather than having to discover and build connectors for individual elements.

Providing more programmatic ways to manage the infrastructure besides just talking directly to the element managers is a key part of the VCE systems management strategy going forward, as our sessions and demos at VMworld show.  Giving a customer’s choice of orchestration and operation tools, the ability to see the entire Vblock in context rather than as a collection of individual elements will open up new ways for customers and partners to focus on and tackle business process challenges.  The era of infrastructure for the sake of infrastructure is over, and any efforts that aren’t aligned to the business and able to show value are quickly being pushed out of organizations.

Converged, programmable, standardized, repeatable, efficient and scalable are the ways that this new era of enterprise IT is defined, and VCE is proud to partner with Cisco to demonstrate one way those attributes can be leveraged to their fullest.

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