Bringing Control to the Hybrid IT

Pixars-UP-WallpaperThe idea of “moving to the cloud” always brings to mind the image from the animated movie “Up”.  You know, the one where the old man ties thousands of balloons to his house, taking his whole world with him on an adventure-filled journey through the troposphere.

This absurd visual reasonably captures what an IT operations team has to face when making the cloud transition.  You get to map out your fun and adventurous cloud strategy – but you have an enormous amount of existing infrastructure to carry along for the ride.  And that, my friends, takes A LOT of balloons.

Getting to the Cloud(s)

Organizations have different objectives for implementing cloud solutions.  Some want to be able to increase the speed with which they can roll out new services to customers.  Others are looking to cloud infrastructure to help them meet temporary or seasonal surge in demand.  More still are looking for bottom line efficiencies by using cloud providers to provision “commodity” infrastructure.

To reach these objectives, there are multiple tracks you can take –  enterprise (private) cloud, public cloud, or your own unique mix of the two (otherwise known as “hybrid cloud”).  You may even find yourself, for various reasons, walking down multiple paths simultaneously:

  • Mergers & acquisitions may bring together organizations that have each standardized on a different cloud approach;

  • Your development staff may have a broad range of skill sets, with individuals leaning to one platform or another depending on their area of expertise; or

  • It might simply be more cost effective to combine approaches. (For example, you could decide to use open source efforts for lower priority/less time sensitive projects, while paying a premium to support tier-one applications with a public cloud SLA or a top-notch private cloud infrastructure.)

And then, of course, there’s always my favorite reason:  rogue projects.  Individual business groups have been notoriously reliant on cloud services for facilitating specialized projects not officially sanctioned by the operations team.  In this scenario, returning to our “Up” visual, you are like the young Wilderness Explorer clinging on for dear life as you are forced airborne as part of journey you had no intention of taking.  How can you grab control of potentially countless cloud projects midflight to get your corporate “house” headed in the right direction?

Taking Control

Managing one cloud service as part of your IT infrastructure – let alone multiple services – introduces new levels of complexity.  Unlike with your datacenter resources, you do not have visibility into which server, which router, which, storage array is running your application.   So when you see degradation in performance, how can you troubleshoot the issue?  Not to mention, these cloud services have not taken the place of your day job.   How do you find a way to add cloud to your management purview without ignoring your existing responsibilities?  There are two key ways that Zenoss can help you out:

Cross-cloud management

There is a high likelihood that at some point – if not now than in the not too distant future – you are going to need visibility and control over multiple cloud services.  It could be because you need to reign in those (dastardly) rogue projects running on multiple cloud platforms.  It could be that your business goals require a transition to a hybrid cloud infrastructure model.  It could be the need for flexibility to maximize your budget by adopting open source clouds where appropriate.  Whatever the reason, when that moment comes, you are going to need a management approach that easily conforms to the cloud.

Zenoss Service Dynamics is uniquely suited to cloud scenarios, because it offers true cross-domain management.  Building upon our existing capabilities for legacy and virtual infrastructure, we have released new (or updated existing) ZenPacks that expand the capabilities needed to manage services running in multiple clouds. To date, that list includes Amazon Web Services, Vcloud Director, and OpenStack – and there will be more to come!

These ZenPacks provide users of Zenoss Service Dynamics with real-time awareness of their entire cloud infrastructure – including physical, virtual and application resources – as well as their interdependencies.  With AWS, for example, it can tell you what regions and availability zones your cloud resources are in, how instances depend on volumes, and which instances use which subnets. You can also get operational insight into the availability and performance of applications running on cloud services.  So whether it is a single cloud infrastructure or many, Zenoss delivers a critical element of control.

Unified View

The other really important capability that Zenoss brings is visibility into the cloud as part of your normal operations.  We can monitor the physical and virtual infrastructure of your existing datacenter in the same unified console that you manage your new (or perhaps recently discovered) cloud services.  For organizations that run predominantly VMware solutions, that means you would be able to view all of your virtualization resources – including ESX server, vSphere, and vCloud director – as well as all the underlying server, networking and storage resources that support them in a single console.  You don’t need to onboard a bunch of specialized management tools.  Even if you have a cloud solution that we don’t cover with a ZenPack out-of-the-box – for example, you have a Eucalyptus-based private cloud you want to use with AWS public cloud–we provide you with the tools and training to build your own ZenPack.

Bottomline, if you can’t get a unified view of your environment, then any control you have is limited and often misleading.  End-to-end visibility gets you the complete picture you need to understand and resolve issues that impact the delivery of your business services – whether they are in your datacenter, the cloud, or multiple clouds.

Adventure is out there!

The cloud creates amazing opportunities for anyone bringing new services to market – and we know that management is more complex than most operations teams would like.  To help you enjoy the adventure a bit more, we are going to continue to develop resources that help you navigate through the complexity of hybrid clouds.  If you’d like more information about what we can do today, read about our ZenPacks for vCloud, AWS, and OpenStack, join our cloud forum community discussions, or view one of our webinars.   And of course, always let us know if there are additional resources we could provide that would make your journey easier.  Happy flying!

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