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Part 4: 10 Things Vmware Server Admins Should Know About Self-Service Catalogs and Lifecycle Management

Part 4! 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.

4. There’s a lot more to setting up environments than provisioning servers, the service catalog provides access to all the other required services.

It’s great that you can quickly get a server instance going. Awesome, really.  But that’s not an application hosting service. It’s important to understand the “whole product” requested. Is it a raw computing power w/ an OS? or is it an application stack? Or particular integration points, network, storage and security?

There’s a need to really think from a whole product perspective. What ancillary services need to go be coordinated to deliver an environment. Typically we’ll need to consider

  1. Network
  2. Storage
  3. Security
  4. Middleware
  5. Data
  6. Applications

Sometimes we can create complete application stacks such as: “Small Linux / JBoss / Oracle for standard development.” Other times, these items required hand-offs between teams.

In talking with VM admins, sometimes there’s a bit of the “not my problem” mentality — it’s those other jerks who are slow. But if the think about our job as delivering environments that can work in a data center or in the cloud and as we virtualized the network and storage, there’s more and more need for having a catalog of individual server request as well as complete environment

The service catalog contains all the other services that the customer needs in to deploy their application.

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Part 2: 10 Things Vmware Server Admins Should Know About Self-Service Catalogs and Lifecycle Management

This is part 2 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.

Number 2. The service catalog is the place where your user can document (communicate) their request

Let me show you an example.

If you go to an e-commerce storefront and choose to look at Cisco UCS servers, they are broken down their servers into classes (Rack, Blade, etc), which then provides different models, which can then be customized within the parameters allowed for that model.  I’m not saying this makes sense for your environment, but the break down between classes, models, and then self-service configuration is a useful construct for thinking about your templates.

What are your standard classes of environment you provide?  Could it be production, development, QA?  What about models? Could those be on-line transaction processing, extranet, intranet HR, basic web server, basic database?

We would want to ask entirely different set of questions and configuration options for an extranet, high transaction database than for a personal development environment, wouldn’t we?

It’d also make our job much simpler and faster if we know what parameters were involved for that particular request.

The service catalog is key to enable your customers to:

  1. Discover what’s available me
  2. Guide me based on my high level needs,
  3. Help me compare models, then
  4. Assist me in customizing my configuration.

And of course all the tracking, workflow and life-cycle management that the service catalog enables.  This is what makes a service catalog different from a “web form front-end” to a help desk — automation is the big difference.

 

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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

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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