What is the point of moving the control pane out of the hardware that comprises the Software Defined Data Center into the software which comprises the SDDC? The point would be to surface that control pane through a consistent set of human and programmatic interfaces to allow for SDDC automation and orchestration.
The Role of SDDC Automation and Orchestration
In “Building a Management Stack for Your Software Defined Data Center” we proposed that due to the rate of change in the SDDC, a completely different approach to managing the SDDC will be required than has been used to manage static and dedicated hardware. Rapid change in the SDDC will come from several sources: software-driven changes from virtualization administrators, rapidly arriving and changing applications driven by Agile development, and the automated provisioning of workloads ordered up by business units and other constituents out of a service catalog. In SDDC Cloud Management, we discussed the crucial role of the cloud management layer as being the software that puts services in catalogs and then automates their provisioning. However, there are many details to the full provisioning of a service that are beyond the scope of cloud management offerings today – and this is where SDDC automation and orchestration steps in to fill the gaps.
Exactly where does orchestration and automation pick up? Think of anything that you might write a script to install today. That might include installing an operating system in a VM, installing a Java server or a database server in that VM, installing and configuring the backup software for that VM, installing and configuring the security software for that VM, and finally installing and configuring the actual applications in that VM. In other words, it is the orchestration and automation layer that turns Infrastructure as a Service or Platform as a Service offerings into something that is actually useful for end users and business constituents.
Cloud Management Vendors to Pay Attention To
While cloud management has been around for a while, it is a rapidly evolving space. In the last 12 months, VMware has acquired DynamicOps (which lead to vCloud Automation Center), Cisco has acquired Cloupia, Dell has acquired Gale Technologies and Enstratius, and Red Hat has acquired ManageIQ. The fact that BMC has been taken private likely means that BMC will be less able to invest in the modernization of its legacy data center automation tools, and therefore less likely to be able to transform them into effective and modern cloud management offerings. The only real hope for many of the legacy enterprise players is to start with OpenStack and then attempt to build something that is reasonably modern and differentiated, as true organic software development is simply not feasible for most of them. So here are the vendors to take a look at when selecting a cloud management platform for your SDDC:
- Cloud Sidekick – Cloud Sidekick Maestro is an enterprise-class automation solution that approaches automation from the perspective of distributed applications, not infrastructure. Maestro joins robust application automation tools with a template-based provisioning technology. Maestro is the single-pane of glass in which application owners, DevOps, and IT can provision, manage, and terminate application deployments across traditional/dedicated servers, VMware/vCloud, private and public infrastructure.
- Puppet Labs – Puppet Labs automates tasks at any stage of the infrastructure lifecycle, including: provisioning, discovery, operating system and application configuration management, build and release management, patch management, and compliance. Puppet is an early leader in this space and sports both a partnership with and an investment from VMware, positioning Puppet for a strong role in the forthcoming VMware Software Defined Data Center.
- Opscode Chef – Chef is an automation platform that transforms infrastructure into code. Instead of thinking in terms of physical and virtual servers, you manage your infrastructure via that code (the Chef recipes and cookbooks that describe your assets and their configuration). The goal is to have a fully automated infrastructure that can accelerate your time to market, help you manage scale and complexity, and safeguard your systems.
- Rightscale – RightScale Cloud Management is the bridge between your applications and your cloud infrastructure. The MultiCloud Platform provides a universal remote to conveniently access your public, private, and hybrid cloud resource pools from one Dashboard and API. The Configuration Framework provides intelligent cloud blueprints to configure and operate your servers in a dynamic and completely customizable fashion. The MultiCloud Marketplace™ provides a one-stop shop of cloud-ready components. The Automation Engine gives you the power to provision, monitor, scale, and manage entire server deployments efficiently and reliably. Governance Controls allow you to keep watch over access, security, auditing, reporting, and budgeting through a “single pane of glass” view.
The orchestration and automation layer of the Software Defined Data Center is where the benefits of the SDDC are translated into working applications for end users and business constituents. Every cloud management platform relies upon either a script or one of these automation frameworks to provision and configure the actual end user services and applications. These solutions represent an opportunity to replace first-generation automation management tools and scripts with modern declarative and model based approaches that are much more manageable and scalable.