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Automated Workload Shifts and Configuration

Last time, we talked about the efficiencies that public clouds can gain through converged infrastructures. What we learned there applies as well to private clouds.

One of the most appealing ideas behind building a private cloud is the ability to automatically and dynamically shift workloads to achieve target SLAs. As mentioned earlier, private clouds are highly virtualized environments, which allows allocation of the necessary storage I/O, network I/O and compute resources to meet SLAs.

As for the storage I/O example, if a particular workload requires more IOPS, it can be automatically moved to different LUNs that have more spindles to satisfy them. Better yet, take the example of virtual I/O: How about if a particular workload requires more virtual HBAs or more virtual NICs? You can automatically deliver the necessary components with no interruption in service.

Infrastructure Monitoring and Application Monitoring
The oldest challenge in any IT department is infrastructure monitoring. Server manufacturers will have their suite, networking their own, storage will, of course have theirs, and so on. This is not to say there is no product out there that can monitor all of them, but third-party products lack one feature or another. The advantage of a converged infrastructure is also in its monitoring capabilities, the management software comes bundled with all the needed modules to monitor your infrastructure and all its components and alert you in the event of warnings, errors or failures.

Gone are the days of several different infrastructures monitoring packages and here are the days of simplicity and consolidated packages.

Primary focus of admins at every level is to verify that the infrastructure is operational, including servers, VM’s, HBA’s, storage, switches. It's typically achieved through infrastructure monitoring tools. Though at times in the race to monitor the infrastructure, not a lot of emphasis is given to application monitoring. Sure, DBAs monitor the query times, response times of the attached storage and components, but overall our focus should be application uptime, including failover and any additional, needed resources.

With converged infrastructure and private clouds, the focus now shifts to the application uptime and meeting required SLAs. With the usage of CMDB (configuration management database) systems, now applications can be managed in real time and resources can be provisioned based on these requirements.

All large virtualization providers are working on tools that will enable application monitoring within VM’s. We should see these tools as part of their next generation strategy that will enable a much granular view at an application layer. This will allow the drill down from infrastructure monitoring tools right into application monitoring tools and will give and end-to-end view to the converged infrastructure admin, giving a much detailed and needed view into the applications to verify up times, SLAs, failover, issues, dependencies, response times, resource issues, real-time patching, etc.

Utility-Based Computing
Utility-based, on-demand computing has emerged at the core of private/public/hybrid clouds. Pay as you go and pay for resources that you utilize. Being able to automate your data centers will enable the movement of virtual machines to either run within a private cloud or move the workload to a public cloud as required is the future and will help evolve hybrid clouds.

Private clouds typically sit inside a firewall with customer managed resources. As private clouds become a standard within the industry, we should see the next big wave towards hybrid clouds utilizing both private cloud resources and public cloud resources on a as needed basis. This is where the flexibility factor starts to come in. When you are able to shift your applications, virtual machines, storage, and compute resources automatically between private and public clouds to satisfy SLAs or to expand your infrastructure on a utility-based compute model.

The next generation applications are all being designed and deployed using some standard cloud-based programming language. This will enable the usage and the movement of data both inside and outside of your firewalls using private and public clouds.

Today, the primary reasons for not running business critical applications on public clouds is around secure multi-tenancy (SMT). With time, this will be resolved and addressed appropriately, thereby unlocking the full potential of the public cloud.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 02/10/2011 at 12:49 PM


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