Tuesday, November 05, 2013

CloudForms 3.0, OpenStack, and Amazon Web Services. Oh my!

 Sadly, I couldn't make it to Hong Kong for the OpenStack Summit, but there's lots of interesting news coming out of the event. I'm going to focus here on the management piece, partly because there's still a lot of confusion about the distinction between infrastructure, like OpenStack, and the management of that infrastructure. (And, to be sure, the boundaries of where various functionality lives are still shifting a bit in these still relatively nascent days of cloud computing.)

CloudForms 3.0, which Red Hat announced today, is software that manages clouds--including OpenStack--and is therefore complementary to OpenStack and other infrastructure platforms, such as VMware vSphere, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, and Amazon AWS. To use Gartner's terminology, CloudForms 3.0 is a cloud management platform which Gartner defines thusly:

Cloud management platforms are integrated products that provide for the management of public, private and hybrid cloud environments. The minimum requirements to be included in this category are products that incorporate self-service interfaces, provision system images, enable metering and billing, and provide for some degree of workload optimization through established policies. More-advanced offerings may also integrate with external enterprise management systems, include service catalogs, support the configuration of storage and network resources, allow for enhanced resource management via service governors and provide advanced monitoring for improved “guest” performance and availability.

OPST PressConf FINAL odp

The cloud management capabilities provided by CloudForms 3.0 include the following:

Seamless Self-service Portals that provide users with role-delegated, automated self-provisioning of catalog-driven IT services, with requisite request approvals and integration with enterprise service catalogs. Cloud Lifecycle Service Management spans from provisioning to retirement, with automatic aging, tracking, and monitoring of services.

Advanced Chargeback, Quotas and Metering, with detailed usage tracking by configurable classifications and support for multiple rates tables (fixed cost, allocation and usage) and reservation based chargeback.

Continuous Discovery and Insight from automatic, agent-free discovery of OpenStack instances and relationships and capacity and utilization, along with configuration tracking and drift comparison.

Unified Operations Management, offering multi-site federation that provides “single pane of glass” visibility across cloud and virtual infrastructures, including runtime operations, service configuration, utilization, events, timelines, reports and customizable dashboard mash-ups.

And these cloud management capabilities are hybrid capabilities that can span heterogeneous infrastructure--whether it's heterogeneous with respect to the technology or vendor of whether it's heterogeneous in the sense of on-premise and public. This type of choice and flexibility is essential for IT organizations.

In fact, Red Hat's CIO Lee Congdon made this very point in a webinar we were doing together just this morning. (Build the cloud your developers want and your business needs) Providers change. Your calculus about what gets operated where changes. But through that, you need to maintain management continuity and control. (Lee also talks DevOps, application integration, JBoss technologies like A-MQ and PicketLink, and why Red Hat IT actually accelerated its OpenShift deployment relative to initial plans; definitely check it out!)

In addition to support for OpenStack, the new CloudForms release also beefs up its management of Amazon AWS. For example, it now handles Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), a logically isolated section of the AWS Cloud containing user-defined virtual networks. Users can select authorized VPC/subnets to provision and run their workloads, which are managed by CloudForm's policies. This is important because a lot of organizations are viewing VPCs as the way to get the degree of workload isolation that gives them the comfort level top use public clouds. 

CloudForms 3.0 can also provision Amazon Machine Instances (AMIs) in a policy controlled manner, through enterprise defined self-service portals and service catalogs. State policies are enforced on source AMI’s as well as instance placement into destination regions and availability zones. Identity and group affiliations also condition what can or cannot be provisioned per enterprise regulatory, business and IT rules.

Stepping back from the details of today's announcement though, I think there's a bigger point to be made. Namely, that successful cloud deployments aren't going to be about buying a singular product and installing it. Rather, they're about taking a broad view of IT that considers the broader goals of the business and how the role of IT will morph within that context. As Forrester analyst James Staten wrote on his blog earlier this year: "Once you have a handle on the current state of your hybrid cloud environment, you should then shift your focus to managing and maintaining this hybrid architecture going forward - because you are just going to become more hybrid from here. This calls for a good enterprise architectural approach. "

That's good advice and you're going to need hybrid cloud management to get there.

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