Thursday, 27 February 2014

Cloud + SDDC, Now it Makes Sense!

So It Is Not Just Fluff!

Funny, for years now I have been I have been talking, presenting and building Cloud based services, in the early days I just did not realise it. It was at VMworld in 2009 that the term Cloud first got passed around in a way that every vendor seemed to be jumping on it and attaching it their product lines. The reality is though was that there was no clear definition of what was a Cloud.

So what is a Cloud Service, firstly it needs the following

  • Automation: delivery and lifecycle management needs to be automated which in turn, done properly, reduces risk and increases agility. Delivering a Virtual Machine to a client in 7 days (or even a day) does not represent what a Cloud is meant to provide the customers. This has a preceding activity, processes need to be well defined, no use automating something to be delivered as-a-Service without knowing all the speeds and feeds that relate to it. Lifecycle is also critical, need to ensure that you don't end up with VM sprawl.
  • Assurance: There needs to be a way that the administrators and customers are aware of the integrity and performance of the service. This directly feeds into operational health and performance monitoring, chargeback/showback facility and service assignment states. A customer and administrator need to know how well a service is run, how much is consumed and how compliant it is to the SLAs assigned to it.
  • Self Service: There needs to be an electronic shop front to the services on offer. A cloud is consumed on demand as is the norm now for the general tablet and smart phone community as provided by Google Play, Apple and Microsoft Stores. This in turn leverages automation to provide the requested service. Can you imaging grabbing an app from your iphones stores and then waiting a month for it to be available :)
So interestingly there have been a number of products available that were either the good friend of the consultants who then were charged with the implementation of them, or just not good enough to be taken seriously when looking at your Data Center, really just pimped up provisioning engines. 

This is where the Software Defined Data Center comes in and all the related services. The SDDC to me is providing two critical functions
  1. The enablement of automation
  2. The extensibility of the capabilities of existing physical assets, think what VMware has done to your servers with ESX but across the rest of your DC assets including networking and storage 
 Looking at Infrastructure-as-a-Service, the two primary go to solutions are vCloud Automation Center (VCAC) from VMware and the new kid on the block, the Windows Azure Pack (WAP) from Microsoft. Both of which are positioned as platform neutral and providing the shop front to your DC services. The each have good and bad points, I will look to cover them in future posts.  

You also the SDDC enabling solutions coming in thick and fast, think VMware with NSX for networking, EMC with ViPR for storage, Microsofts all Infrastructure embracing System Center supporting automation of bare metal hosts, virtual machines, networks through the virtual networking stack and storage management.

The point is, in the past 1000s of hours in scripting and coding was required to enable a cloud (it kept me busy so I didn't mind myself), now it is becoming reachable with the push towards the SDDC and the maturing and simplification of the service management solutions. 

What makes me think this, well it use to take months to get a service up and running for POC following the fundamentals of the Cloud as listed above. I would also spend a fair bit of time deep in some form of IDE cutting code. 

Now I find myself complaining when it takes me a few days to build one up from scratch or POC in a few days. 

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