Cloud Automation & Introducing HP CSA

Introducing HP CSA

The importance of Automation & Orchestration to the traditional IT Infrastructure and especially to Cloud is undeniable! And I think going forward the focus will shift more towards the Cloud Automation and Orchestration from usual Data Center Virtualization. That’s why all the major IaaS players from Microsoft, VMware, BMC, Cisco, Dimension Data are putting all their development efforts and business focus on Cloud Automation. While VMware went ahead to acquire DynamicOps, Microsoft further extended the Orchestration and Automation features in it’s System Center Suite and Cisco came up with IAC (Intelligent Automation for Cloud). But here I am going to talk about “Cloud Service Automation” from Hewlett-Packard, which has been a very innovating product and probably was ahead of it’s time. My colleague from HP, Ken Spear wrote an interesting post  titled “Cloud Leadership That Makes A Difference” describing current leadership on the Cloud market, just right after Forrester Wave Research Company had positioned HP’s Cloud Offerings at the Top most position (Dated, November’2013). Ken Won, Director –Product Marketing, HP Cloud Software Products talks to Lisa on different Cloud Management portfolio from HP.

Cloud Management — Automation, Orchestration & Management Solution from HP

 

Now let’s look at what does HP Cloud Service Automation do and the business benefits out of it.

What is HP Cloud Service Automation?

As the name suggests, it automates the day to day or various repetitive Cloud Services and automates them in the form of workflows saving time, effort and cost. IaaS has largely been about deploying Compute and other associated infrastructure resources and managing complex multi-tier applications on top of it. In a large environment this often becomes repetitive, complex, time consuming and involves huge amount of human effort. HP CSA beautifully and intelligently orchestrates these entire processes into simple visual, easy-to-use workflows. CSA along with some other innovative softwares from HPSW (HP Software division) like OO (Operations Orchestration), SA (Server Automation) etc. creates a complete software product portfolio to enable a comprehensive automation solution for the large enterprise customers with facilities like resource management, service offering design and an intuitive user portal. Here in this video below Neelam Chakrabarty from HP Cloud Automation division in California reveals some interesting & powerful features of HP-CSA to Lisa-Marie Namphy from HP Converged Cloud division.

“Power of HP CSA” – A Coffee Talk between Neelam & Lisa from HP Cloud Division

 

What are the typical Cloud Services that a business would like to automate?

Let’s take an example of a popular IaaS Cloud Provider like Amazon AWS. Having opened an AWS account, the immediate thing that you would like to do is creating an EC2 instance, and then assign IP address etc. Now doing this is probably easy for 1 to 5 instances. But what happens if your business grows manifolds with Amazon AWS and there you talk about at least few hundred EC2 instances in a span of one week which gets created at a certain interval. Think about the associated tasks in those EC2 instances and the hassle to perform those tasks manually. Also while using auto-scaling like feature, the instances are needed to be released when there is a lean period, thus also requiring release of other associated services. Carrying out this kind of tasks by an administrator would be very repetitive and a most likely a nightmare.

Think about another situation where there is a constant need of virtual machines to be deployed from a VMware vSphere install base; and not only that, those virtual machines are to be joined to the Active Directory Domain with proper IP Address allocation, CMDB integration to make sure there is entry for the asset management etc. Isn’t this a pretty repetitive task? A VMware Fanboy will promptly reply saying “Well, you can write PowerCLI script for the same” or a PowerShell script for Windows Fanboys. But managing these scripts individually can be very difficult going forward. Also, most likely the end-users or the junior IT support team like a Service Desk Team will not have any scripting language knowledge. And that makes a dependency  for the senior IT resources. We will see how HP CSA can address these problems so easily with a graphical user interface. But before that let’s look at Cloud Life Cycle.

So what is Cloud Life Cycle Management?

Cloud Life Cycle Management can be described as a complete set of activities that span during the span, right from the time IT or the business entity defines an activity which can be termed as a “service” and until the time the service gets it’s retirement phase having delivered the desired result and comes back to the user who has requested for the service. But that looks pretty simple straight-forward process, isn’t it? Well, in reality it is not. Its complex and involves many processes in between. A typical Cloud Lifecycle Management comprises of these following steps (Diagram Courtesy: BMC)

 

Cloud LifeCycle Management Overview

So, essentially (referring to the above diagram) these will be some of the predominant steps in any standard Cloud Life Cycle Management:

1. IT will define a task or activity which can be termed as a “Cloud Service”. Think of it as a menu item in a restaurant.

2. IT creates a “Service Catalogue” which will be then populated with these kind of “Cloud Services”. Think of it as the Menu Catalogue in the restaurant.

3. Then there is a web based “Service Portal” for facilitating the users to choose the service. Think of it as the menu booklet that the waiter in the restaurant hands over to you.

4. The moment user selects any service it triggers the “Service Request Management” and/or “Automatic Provisioning” engines in a CSA like software. These two components determine what kind of a resource (and not only just virtual machines, but also physical servers, storage, network, application etc.) has been requested and based on that it will get the auto-provisioning of the resource done if it’s not in the on-demand pool.

3. The next step works on the Operations, Governance management to make sure the service meets the required performance metrics, compliance regulatory requirements, metering and chargeback.

4. Now as soon as the service comes to the end of its lifespan, it moves to the “Decommissioning” or “Retirement” phase and the result goes back to the user who initially requested the service. All these steps together create a complete life-cycle of a service in a cloud environment and thus it is termed as “Cloud Life Cycle Management”.

Note: The beauty of this entire process is that it is completely integrated with CMDB, thus fulfilling ITIL/ITSM standards and regulations.

Now that we have a clear understanding of Cloud Life Cycle Management, let’s go back to HP CSA and see what’s the standard architecture in a CSA implementation. For that I have included an excellent self-explanatory diagram of CSA Architecture below. This will be the reference for all our discussions going forward on this post.

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What is Cloud Service Management Console in HP CSA?

Cloud Service Management Console provides the user interface part of the CSA suite for the overall administration and configuration. Similar to VMware vCloud Director (and perhaps as with VMware vCloud Automation Center too), this enables you to create a Provider vDC (Virtual Data Center) and Tenants or Organizations or Consumer Compartments, whatever you may name it. Similar to vCD, you can create a Master Service Catalogue available to all the organizations (or customers) and then Service Catalogues tied to specific organizations. These catalogues include a detailed service offerings which will eventually be subscribed by the end users.

Service Designer in CSA is a brilliant tool which is part of the Service Management Console and helps in creating these services graphically without having you to get into the underlying automation or scripting. Service Designer creates a cloud service based on the type of results expected from a series of actions and tying these actions with each other and with the components associated to them. Think of it pretty much like a sophisticated script that you may have created earlier, but here the same result is achieved via placing the components tied to one another and then making sure respective actions are attached to them. And thus creating a complete action cycle which will produce the desired result. Let’s move to “Cloud Delivery Platform” module now…

What does Cloud Delivery Platform in CSA perform?

Let’s see what are the individual components within Cloud Delivery Platform do…

Just a while back I spoke about “Cloud Life Cycle Management”. “Resource Supply” module is the one which provides the framework for the Cloud Life Cycle Management. Within it’s area of operation, it will organize the service providers with it’s resources or components in terms of offerings which are again presented in the form of subscriptions. Environments facilitate the association of resources and subscriptions to the specific providers.

Service Delivery module helps in creating something called “Service Instances” as soon as there is a subscription request for a particular service. It will also tie up the specific service provider and it’s resources to the service instances. It provides the framework for security and role based access management too.

“Service Consumption” refers to HP CSA’s subscriber-facing functions. Once a service is designed, a Service Business Manager composes a service offering which adds customized subscription options, pricing, and documentation to the design. The Service Business Manager configures approval policies for individual offerings, or for catalogs of offerings. Individual offerings can be published and made visible to subscribers in one or more service catalogs. Environments for provider selection are configured for service catalogs.

Here’s another interesting video which I think is worth your time! Jay Bomze, an independent expert on Cloud Automation has done a great job in explaining CSA.

Jay Bomze, an Independent Cloud Automation Expert demonstrates CSA

 

The CSA saga doesn’t end here, it’s just the tip of the iceberg! More interesting exploration of HP Cloud Service Automation will be continued in upcoming blog posts. Stay tuned…

(This article was first published on Amitabh’s Personal Blog: www.Amitabh-vWorld.Com )

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