Concert in the Cloud

Orchestrating and automating the data center for true agility.

In the data center and the cloud, success demands agility. Introducing automation is an excellent start, but for real agility, you need orchestration—the ability to abstract tasks into a concert of workflows. Orchestration in dynamic, virtualized environments begins with an understanding of the areas involved, and how those areas can play together harmoniously.

Unifying the Data Center Environment

The data center is an ecosystem of technologies—including compute, storage, and networking equipment and software. As this environment becomes more dynamic and virtualized, it needs an approach that breaks down the barriers between these realms, automating and orchestrating resources across the entire data center in a unified fashion.

Cloud orchestration involves the integration of data center infrastructure management and automation tools with cloud infrastructure software, such as OpenStack, so that all elements can be managed together. Orchestration helps you simplify the deployment and management of your cloud by allowing you to use your infrastructure as a platform, not only for standard automated tasks, but for entire workflows, such as applications or IT as a service.

For example, when a new virtual machine (VM) spins up, it impacts other elements in the infrastructure. In an automated and orchestrated environment, the changes needed to connect the new VM to virtual networks and storage take place immediately and automatically. Network and security contexts for the new VM also are configured automatically.

Three areas are involved in the process of orchestrating your data center or cloud. To do so effectively, you need an awareness of each of them.

Physical Provisioning as a Service: Automation lets you skip the time-consuming manual staging process as you introduce new devices into the network. When you operate your physical infrastructure as an automated, elastic service, your network will recognize each new device as it is added, automating the setup, configuration, and provisioning processes. Opt for zero-touch data center infrastructure equipment, with the ability to automatically download configurations as each device is racked, stacked, and powered on.

Agile, Scalable Operations as a Service: Data center software needs to run with the same values as massive-scale public clouds, reliably delivering scale, performance, and elasticity. This requirement also holds true for Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) architectures, which bring nimble, software-based network appliances into the mix. Similarly, businesses that are implementing hybrid cloud are now converging on common, open-source cloud operating systems such as OpenStack, and federating clouds with open-standard networking and security.

Intelligence and Integration: A successful cloud stack infrastructure needs to be automated, and integrated through its layers in ways that are both open and flexible. Ultimately, though, its success hinges on how well it is used. Operational and analytics functions can present operators, DevOps teams, and applications with an interface to drive the stack, or to program it simply and efficiently. Cloud analytics provide intelligence and feedback that can be used passively for planning growth, or dynamically to improve application experience. Cloud integrations through programmable APIs can unify IT tools, boosting SLAs and improving the operator experience and economics.

Keeping It Open

When it comes to the network, protect your investments by choosing products that integrate with your choice of IT automation tools—or at least the leading tools, such as Puppet, Chef, and others. To stay flexible and avoid vendor lock-in, choose software-defined networks (SDNs) that run independently from the physical network, on open-source code like the cloud platforms themselves. They should also integrate seamlessly: south into the cloud infrastructure, north into your applications and IT service management, and east-west with existing networks that run on open standards.

With a well-orchestrated cloud, you can extend your capabilities to new technologies such as NFV, providing your customers or employees with a self-serve portal to subscribe to new services. The efficiencies you will achieve with automated and orchestrated cloud networks can fuel significant bottom-line gains, improving return on infrastructure investments. At the same time, they enable your IT staff to move at cloud-speed to capture strategic opportunities and propel your business forward.