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Part 3: 10 Things Vmware Server Admins Should Know About Self-Service Catalogs and Lifecycle Management

This is part 3 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 couple of weeks.

3. The catalog system is more than a document, it’s also used to manage the life-cycle of the resource

What’s great about VM’s is how fast and easy they are to provision, but sometimes they are hard to kill.
I see the emails going around that say: “no one is touched that instance, who owns it?”

Back when resources were scarce, our hunter gatherer customers in Application Development and QA learned to never let go of a server.  Like woolly mammoth’s they were hard to catch and came only sporadically; in the summer of ROI funding, or when great migrations came. Most of the time, QA was starved for resources.  So they hoarded.

And while executing the initial request for a server environment through the service catalog gives you a nicely documentation and speed, over time changes happen and configurations drift.

This process of managing a server or environment from “as offered,” to “as agreed,” to “as built,” and then managing the change requests against it, is what I mean by lifecycle management.

The service catalog, being the source of “as offered,” “as requested” and “as built,” contains the whole lifecycle for your VM, plus information on who owns it, for how long they need it, and any other relevant data that went into the build sheet.

Unlike a static spreadsheet, when looking at a server, you can see what the maintenance hours, SLA’s and OLA’s are. The lifecycle system an tell you what types of requests can be made against that VM (like add memory, for example).That server can be started, stopped, snapshotted, upgraded.  Notice they are all verbs against a thing, the VM instance.

The result is we have complete business context information about the server, the history of requests about it, subscription information and of course the proper technical build sheet, including workload requirements.  As one VMware admin recently said, “I wish I’d known that you can only work on that server on Saturdays after 5pm.”

 

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Part 1: 10 Things Vmware Server Admins Should Know About Self-Service Catalogs and Lifecycle Management

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.

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Why the new Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition is good news for Partners

May 2, 2012 at 11:20 am PST

Please be aware that this product is no longer sold.

 

Cloud_Components

Please be aware that this product is no longer sold.
The recent release of the new Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition is good news for Cisco’s Partners.

 

Why?

Customers will have another way to purchase and implement a Cisco cloud solution. Most customers already know that they can buy this solution from Cisco and have Cisco Advanced Services perform the installation, configuration and customization — now qualified Partners will be able to both sell and stand up cloud solutions as well. Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud is a sophisticated yet easy-to-use cloud solution. Customers buy a software license, but typically need a Professional Services engagement to stand up the cloud.

 

Partner Enablement:

The Cisco IAC Partner Enablement program is what makes this possible for a Partner to perform. Qualified Partners will be able to get pre-sales and post-sales training. By pre-sales training, I mean gaining competencies around how to identify and qualify a deal, how to present the value proposition around Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud, how to strategically sell it and then an understanding about how it’s deployed.

Post-sales training is a combination of learning foundational issues around cloud dynamics, and seven days of hands-on labs with the technology — becoming competent in the installation, configuration, enhancement, and customization of a Cisco IAC environment.CIAC_3.0-Training_Strategy

Qualification:

In order to insure quality and high customer satisfaction as Cisco IAC Starter Edition is rolled out, two dozen Authorized Technology Partners (ATP) Partners have been selected worldwide who have already built a cloud practice in their Professional Services organization. They’ve made investments and commitments to joint sales planning sessions, training classes and mentoring engagements. They have cloud business design and implementation service competencies matched by technical implementation qualifications that enable them to do multi-system integration with advanced enterprise software systems using standard web services and custom APIs. They are familiar with Cisco UCS and VMware certified and have done advanced data storage integrations. These consultants, architects and implementation engineers will receive the conceptual as well as hands-on experience with standing up a Cisco IAC solution.

 

A Phased Approach:

Starting later this month and next month, the first phase of training will begin for these ATP Partners with pre-sales and post-sales service delivery training classes. As these ATP Partners complete their training, a second phase of Partners, who are motivated to obtain the training, will be able to sign up for this enablement.

Where to learn more:

  • Visit the Cisco IAC Partner Community. Cisco Partners are participating in the online community around Cisco IAC. With your Cisco Partner credentials, drop by cisco.com/go/iacloudpartner and join in the discussion, read the Q&A, and find other information designed specifically for Partners. The website will grow and develop based on your input.
  • See it live. Cisco is doing live demos at InterOp in Las Vegas the week of May 6, at EMC World in Las Vegas the week of May 21, and Cisco Live in San Diego the week of June 11. Stop by the Cisco booth and say hello.
  • See a demo of Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition online. Visit the website cisco.com/go/starteredition and click on the Video Demonstration. You can also find Data Sheets and Presentations there and learn more about the Cisco Cloud Portal and Cisco Process Orchestrator technologies that make up Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud.
  •  Join the live Cisco webcast here on May 15, 2012 at 8 am Pacific Time to ask questions about Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition.

 

You’re connected to the CloudTone.

Bill Petro

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My First Cloud: Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud – Starter Edition

Please be aware that this product is no longer sold.

Introducing Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud -- Starter Edition. Or as I like to call it, My First Cloud.

I’ve written in the past of cloud being journey to a new operational model and thus makes demand on the technology, process and organizational model.  It changes the relationship between the provider and the consumer of a service.

This operational model is one with resource pools available on demand, metered, pay as you use.  The reality for many enterprises is this is aspirational and not a realistic first step.

Today, he resource pools are funded by department, there’s no automation or self-service to meet the on-demand self-service aspect of cloud.

And there’s lots of fears beyond security; like the fear of rampant waste and capacity outages.

There’s also the issue of complexity and where will the skills to do service design and automation will come from? Global 2000 companies can easily afford big ticket consulting engagements, but smaller ones can’t.

The channel is key to serve the rest of the market but where are the channel partners for cloud?

So complexity and lack of expertise, in our view, were seriously hindering the adoption of cloud operations.

Our response is the first in a series of products to bring cloud operations capabilities to different market segments.  For example, the needs of a mid-size organization are very different than the needs of global enterprise and different again from a service provider.

Even in service provider, there are huge differences in operations and scale between traditional managed hosting provider, an outsourcer, a webscale company and a national telco or network provider.

So the way to simplify delivery for midsize business,  enterprise departments or smaller managed hosting provider is to embed an operational model, pre-packaged automation and a set of competent channel partners that can quickly and inexpensively turn on your first cloud at a reasonable price.

This is what Intelligent Automation Starter Edition represents: a simple, inexpensive way to get to a customer’s first cloud.

Customer’s can use it to learn how to operate the first basic offering; also, it’s upgradeable to Cisco’s Intelligent Automation -- Standard Edition when the customer  needs additional, more sophisticated service offering

I recommend start with a video demo.  Information page is here.

Jason wrote about it, so head there as well

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API Compatibility: From cruising at self-service speed to “we gotta have a meeting”

Today’s announcement that Citrix is dropping support for OpenStack has reverberated through the clouderati sphere like a new Justin Bieber song through my niece’s third grade class. Super important but will not matter much when the next idol arrives.

In any case, a lot of smart people have written about it. I’ll leave them to explain the whole thing.

Cloud Avenue has a good in-depth coverage post. And so does James Staten of Forrester. Randy Bias also weighs in as well.  I’m sure I’m missing other worthy commentators.

But the post that most caught my attention came from Thorsten at Rightscale‘s.  We both share something in common: we both build products that connect to cloud API’s. Including vendor who have API’s that claim to be compatible EC2. This experience, I think provides a useful point of view when thinking about API compatibility. Not to mention it creates a jaundiced view of the human soul.

Thorsten writes.

I’ve said it many times and I’ll repeat it again: it’s the semantics of the resources in the cloud that matter, not the syntax of the API. This means that “API compatibility” has to reach very, very deep to be meaningful. Let me give you a couple of examples around EC2.

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