We are 100% Virtualized, what next?

This is the question every organization has who have achieved their goal to virtualize their physical workloads either on vSphere or any other Hypervisor. From here on the journey becomes interesting and from this point the organizations start thinking about Cloud. So what exactly is Cloud Computing? Well if you have to define it in one word then it’s basically “Standardization”. Cloud Computing should be able to deliver on demand workload provisioning and should be accessible over the internet, well there can be many definitions for Cloud Computing, but I would like to keep things simple and clear to understand. I will not go more in details about Public and Private Cloud as those terms are pretty much self-explanatory and by now everyone in the virtualization industry knows about it.

Let us discuss more about what do we need to implement a successful cloud platform? In today’s world the user requests their IT admins to provision the Server, although the provisioning is fast and requires less effort compared to provisioning a physical server, but then,  it still requires the IT admin to provision the Virtual Machine and the backened Compute and Network resources manually. So how do we automate these tasks? Simplify provisioning? And enable the end user to provision their own workload without depending on their IT administrators?

One simple answer is “Orchestration and Automation”, but again, we are in the midst of transformation where there are so many tools available in the market and it’s hard to decide which one best suits your requirements. It’s just not technical aspects of your infrastructure but the ITSM model which adds to decision making.

I have had the opportunity to work with different automation tools which basically provide a self-service portal where the end user has a choice to order a service, may it be a Virtual Machine or any value added service, in an essence the goal is to provide “Anything as a Service”.

Let me share some highlights of different automation tools, I am not going to deep dive but just a quick comparison to get some understanding:

Cisco Intelligent Automation Center by Cisco

Cisco IAC allows as end user to order what they need from a Service Catalog with standard definitions. The deployment architecture is very simple where we have a cloud portal application server and an Orchestration Server which makes all the web service and API calls to all the Virtualization element managers (vCenter, UCS manager etc.). Cisco IAC can provision Virtual Machines as well as bare metals. Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud orchestrates resource-level operations across compute resources such as Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS) or other hardware; hypervisors such as VMware, Xen, or Hyper-V; storage resources such as EMC and NetApp; and network resources such as the Cisco Nexus® family. Cisco IAC Multicloud Acceleration kits allow you to integrate with third party cloud portal such as vCloud Director, Amazon EC2, OpenStack etc.

In today’s context, most cloud platforms either leave out Network services or haven’t come up with an adapter which tightly integrates with your core networking platform. With Cisco IAC, the Network Services Manager enable customers to order their networking resources at the same time they order their virtual data center. An NSM adapter permits rapid building of NSM automation for network provisioning. Network automation requirements can be customer specific, completion of the automation process in the customer’s back end processes is completed by trained staff or through a services engagement.


Cloupia is now part of Cisco, Cloupia Unified Infrastructure Controller or better known as CUIC is a self-service portal which can interact with Converged Infrastructure like Cisco UCS, NetApp’s FlexPod and provide IaaS to the end users. CUIC can provision virtual machines as well bare metal servers. It can manage compute, network, Storage and Virtualization stack from single pane of glass. CUIC has Physical Connectors that talks to Converged Infrastructure, Virtual Connectors that talks to VMware vCenter, Hyper-V, Red Hat etc and Cloud Connectors that talks to Amazon EC2, Rackspace etc. It even provides a mobile application “CloudGenie” which can be loaded on your IOS or Android devices.

The deployment architecture is very easy, you just need to deploy an OVF appliance with a supported database and you are good to provide IaaS to your end users with a well-defined Self Service Catalog

vCloud Director by VMware

vCloud Director provides IaaS to the end users via a self-service web portal. The cool VXLAN features allows an end user to provision as many networks as they want. It can also provide services like firewall, VPN, Static routing etc. The only drawback of vCloud Director is that it only integrates with vSphere and no third party hypervisors, also, it doesn’t provide the ability to provision bare metal servers.

The deployment model is straight forward, just need to setup a linux VM and install the vCloud Director binaries and then onboard the resources from your vCenter Servers

I haven’t really had a chance to deep dive with vCloud Automation Center, but the product looks promising and very soon I am planning to get my hands dirty on it.

BMC Cloud Life Management:

The BMC CLM is another Self Service portal which allows users to order services from standard catalog items. It supports integration with VMware, Amazon, OpenStack and Hyper-V.