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Orchestration Layer: Skyway To The Private Cloud

With virtualization the key enabler of the private cloud, but how do we make the transition from server virtualization to a private cloud? The answer to this question lies with the public cloud, and the first step in the answer is to understand the difference between a virtualized data center and the private cloud.

The public cloud, much like our utilities functions as a transactional pay as you go access to resources. This means that users can access their resources on demand through a self-service portal. It's is one of the defining models of the private cloud that sets it apart from the virtualized data center, where IT still needs to manage resources in a manual or semi-automated manner that does not fully optimize time or even the resources being used. Virtualized data centers do abstract resources but are not able to pool these resources for transactional access. Therefore, the question then is, how do we gain this functionality? And the answer is through Virtual Lab Automation. This plugs one of the most crucial gaps required to reach the private cloud, an orchestration layer capable of managing pooled resources and users from a centralized console.

VLAs were originally built for development and test environments but are now being leveraged as cloud management solutions because of their ability to provide VM management, monitoring, lifecycle management and self-service portals.

If your servers are already virtualized, adding the orchestration layer to manage the flow of your applications may create an easy migration to the private cloud for your applications.

VLAs are crucial because they are management software that services both the user community through self-service portals, and also the IT administrators by automating the virtual machine lifecycle. VLAs can track a VM's progress within the computing infrastructure from inception all the way to decommission. However, the most valuable function that VLAs provide is a self-service system that users can leverage at any time to satisfy all their IT needs in a timely and more agile and responsive manner while completely adhering to IT policies.

VLAs provide an amazing capacity for policy design, monitoring and enforcement, anytime there is a self-service portal where users can self-provision resources, a well-defined policy is required to avoid sprawl and enforce user consumption restraints. You can configure policies that enforce lease times; that way the development team that is provisioning VMs knows that their lease on these resources will expire in, say, three weeks unless renewed. Once the lease expired, the resources are added back to the pool. Another form of policies can be around quotas where a specific group of users can only consume a set number of concurrent VMs at a time. This in turns leads to easier consumption usage reports generation which can then be used for charge-back purposes and justification of infrastructure expansion.

VLAs are available through many software vendors. VMware has its vCenter Lab Manager, Microsoft its Visual Studio Lab Manager, VMlogix its Lab manager, Surgient (now acquired by Quest) has fantastic software to accomplish this task. And there are many others.

VLAs are the bridge that leads an organization from the virtualized datacenter to the private cloud while incorporating all the flagship features of the public cloud. This will automatically lead to significant IT cost reduction through the increased usage of existing resources and streamlined automated management that responds better and quicker to the business needs.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 01/31/2011 at 12:49 PM


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