The Virtualization Practice

IT as a Service

IT as a Service (ITaaS) covers private clouds hybrid clouds and the cloud management offerings used to create and manage these clouds. This includes coverage of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) private and hybrid cloud offerings, Platform as a Service (PaaS) private and hybrid cloud offerings, and Software as a Service (SaaS). ...
Emerging areas like Desktop as a Service (DaaS), Storage as a Service, and Applications as a Service are also covered. The key issues covered include which enterprise applications and use cases are appropriate for private and hybrid clouds, and how vendors should select the cloud management offerings that are going to be used to manage these various types of cloud services. Covered vendors include VMware (vCloud Automation Center), VirtuStream, CloudBolt Software, Intigua, ElasticBox, ServiceMesh, Cloudsidekick, and Puppet Labs.

Monitoring the performance of the infrastructure, applications and services in IT as a Service environments will require that monitoring solutions become multi-tenant, can be instantiated by ITaaS management tools without any further configuration, and that they automatically “find” their back end management systems through whatever firewalls may be in place. These requirements will probably be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for the heavyweight complex legacy tools that were in place prior to to the onset of virtualization, the public cloud and now IT as a Service. ITaaS is the tipping point that should cause most enterprises ignore every monitoring tool that they have bought in the past and to start over with a clean sheet of paper.

The acquisition of Akorri by NetApp demonstrates the importance of Infrastructure Performance Management solutions as virtualization progresses into the realm of business critical applications, and as public clouds hope to do the same. However rather than signaling a “game over” this acquisition really raises both the visibility and the importance of both the problems that Akorri solved, and the true end-to-end problems that remain.

Given that vSphere provides significant benefits in terms of cost savings and business agility, those benefits are tied to and constrained by the ability of vSphere to provide backward compatibility with existing legacy enterprise systems. This backward compatibility makes it impossible for vSphere to provide infinite horizontal scalability. Moving to the same architecture as the most highly scaled out public cloud vendors provides for a more radical set of benefits, but at the cost of breaking backward compatibility for many applications.

Threat Analysis: Layers upon layers

When we think of the threat to a virtual environment or the cloud, what do we think about? First it is important to understand how the cloud is layered ontop of the virtual environment. Given a cloud stack, where are the entry points for SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, and Cloud management? At the recent Minneapolis VMUG I attempted to relay that information to the attendees. Once we understood the layers we could then concentrate on the threat vectors to the cloud and virtual environment.

IT as a Service Reference Architecture

Implementing IT as a Service requires a virtualization platform, and virtualization aware configuration and change management, secure multi-tenancy, provisioning and lifecycle management, orchestration and automation, and service catalog. These capabilities are available from VMware, DynamicOps, Embotics, Eucaplyptus, ManageIQ, newScale, Quest, rPath and Reflex Systems.

MokeFive Suite is an enterprise desktop management platform that is used to create and administer layered virtual desktop images called ‘LivePCs’ which execute as guests on a type II hypervisor. LivePC images are authored using the MokaFive Creator which also serves as a test platform to simulate and end-users experience. LivePC images can be stored on centralized or distributed file stores. MokaFive also provides support for Amazon S3 storage, which can be of significant value in managing highly distributed environments, or run directly off USB flash drives. MokaFive LivePCs are effectively hypervisor agnostic; support is currently available for VMware’s free Player and the open source Virtual Box. Beta support for Parallels Workstation is new in MokaFive Suite 3.0, and MokaFive’s own bare metal platform will be shipping in Q1 2011.

The question of whether and how to replace DRS is really a part of the question of what is in the virtualization platform and what is not. Clearly the virtualization platform consists of much more than the hypervisor. VMware would like to define the virtualization platform as all of vSphere Enterprise Plus, and then suggest that vCloud Director and its own performance management solutions are logical extensions of that platform. Enterprises need to be careful about where they draw their own lines in this regard. As VMware is a clear market leader both in terms of product functionality and enterprise installations, VMware needs to be given full credit for the quality of vSphere and its success. However full credit does not need to imply that one is 100% locked in to VMware solution as there is room to pursue third party IT as a Service, Performance Management, and Service Assurance strategies as well as replace/augment components in vSphere.

Is VMware vCloud Director an effective Enterprise IT as a Service Platform?

vCloud Director is a good start at an IT as a Service platform for enterprises looking for a VMware specific solution that does not integrate with existing physical or non-VMware provisioning mechanisms. Enterprises looking for IT as a Service solutions that span multiple virtualization platforms and that span provisioning across virtual and physical resources should look at alternatives from Platform Computing DynamicOps, newScale, Embotics, Euclyptus, ManageIQ and rPath as these vendors all offer heterogeneous enterprise class IT as a Service platforms.