We recently had the opportunity to evaluate a number of “IaaS” centric orchestrator products. Our finding was that many of the big name orchestrator products really all have the same functionality in terms of integration, extensibility, and plugin capabilities. You could almost argue that orchestration is now a commodity component of any private cloud. So what sets these orchestrators apart? Simplicity, OEM support, and community support.
Simplicity – How easily can an administrator/engineer pick up the product and figure it out on their own?
OEM Support – How many of the large OEMs are creating plugins (and related documentation) to integration with the orchestrator?
Community – How widely deployed is the product? Is the community active in documenting guides, tutorials, or troubleshooting?
These are the areas where vRO is shining right now. We have seen that the majority of IT shops run VMware for their hypervisor and through vSphere licensing they already own vRO. This makes vRO a product they usually already own and provides immediate “out-of-the-box” functionality with tight integration into vCenter for automating routine VM admin tasks like removing snapshots, migrating workloads, performing VM tools/hardware upgrades, and other VM tasks. Once these admins address basic VM management tasks, they quickly turn to the next step of automating windows/linux server builds. The first thing that happens is a Google search, “How to…..with VMware Orchestrator” and boom there are tens if not hundreds of articles on how to configure and use this tool. The number of IT experts that have picked up this tool and documented their adventures is like nothing before. The support of the community makes this tool quite viable without hiring temporary experts to do all the work. Then there is the OEM support, no matter which solution you are using for servers, network, CMDB, IPAM, monitoring, load balancing or firewalls; there is overwhelming numbers of plugin and supporting documentation for deployment/troubleshooting/extensibility. For these reasons we believe that the VMware Orchestrator product is the most widely deployed, simplest to use, and provides the greatest level of integration and extensibility. This is a powerful orchestrator!
CloudForms is quickly gaining popularity as a best-of-breed Cloud Management Platform (CMP) solution to compliment an existing Red Hat shop on its approach to provide IaaS/XaaS. CloudForms has free and paid support levels and provides a native Red Hat experience for integrating with OpenStack and OpenShift. CloudForms was also recently Open sourced which will surely increase user base and extensibility.
Here is the high level architecture of CloudForms:
For OpenStack deployments, CloudForms can now manage cloud-based computational resources, from initial provisioning to retirement. Users can set up their own OpenStack instances, with CloudForms handling the approval process, if one is in place. It can provide charge-back reports so the appropriate business unit can be billed for usage.
For administrators, CloudForms provides a dashboard and reports on OpenStack usage across the organization. It will also provide tools for configuring OpenStack instances.
In addition to supporting OpenStack, CloudForms offers additional controls for AWS as well. It now allows administrators to apply usage policies to Amazon Machine Instances (AMIs) that are self-provisioned by users. It works with Amazon’s Identity and Access Management (IAM) to manage users and workloads.
Want to read more on how CloudForms integrates with OpenStack? Check out this great document:
This is not a news flash, in fact this has been public for almost a year now but I felt it warranted a blog entry due to the impact on your next data center converged infrastructure purchase.
What is the update? VCE (Nearly 50% Cisco owned) has snubbed VMware’s Virtual Networking solution NSX in favor of Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) aka Cisco SDN.
Why does this matter? If you are on the path to building a fully virtualized cloud and software defined data center (SDDC) your choice for network virtualization will have a big impact on your design, strategy and cost. We are not saying that you can’t run NSX on the vBlock, we are saying that VCE does not support it and hence no one will take that route sans support.
What’s the end game? The Cisco and VMware battle lines are becoming more entrenched and at many layers. The vBlock has become a favorite converged infrastructure solution for VMware + Cisco shops, a Lot of Shops! This heavily influenced VMware to create their own converged solution, EVO Rail, which surely will ship with NSX in the future. Very soon IT leaders will need to make a strategic choice between Cisco and VMware that will have a profound impact on network design, physical infrastructure, cloud strategy, and automation/orchestration configuration.