Sunday, April 24, 2011

Private Cloud Provisioning & Configuration

Cloud provisioning has focused on the rapid acquisition and initialization of a new server, disk or some other piece of infrastructure. Provisioning a single piece of infrastructure is now quite easy. Provisioning an entire set is much more complicated. In addition to the setup of a single piece of equipment, it's necessary to understand the dependencies between elements. In some cases, certain infrastructure components must be launched before another element or configuration data from one item needs to be used in a third element. Getting it all right is a difficult task and is a major cause of system failures. An approach to solving the problem is to consider the Deployment Fidelity, that is, the degree to which a deployment is able to fully describe it's architecture and configuration in a digitally precise manner.

Historically, application architects have used Word documents and Visio diagrams to depict the relationship between their software modules and the hardware infrastructure that would host them. Deployment Fidelity deals with accurately describing a set of computing resources and their relationship to each other. Organizations that embrace high fidelity will digitally describe their software and hardware topology: what type of hardware, operating systems, memory, infrastructure services, platform services, etc. and pass the digital description to the cloud provisioner for execution. The business value is two-fold. First, the high fidelity description reduces the chances of manual error, especially during hand-off. Second, the automation of the provisioning task reduces the deployment time and associated costs (e.g., sysadmins running individual scripts, testers waiting for new environments, etc.)

To increase the Deployment Fidelity, the relationships between elements must be captured. For instance, if an application server uses a relational database, the link between the two is recorded and configuration variables (such as IP addresses) are noted. If the server has an outage, a replacement can be auto-launched with the same configuration information. As the complexity of an application increases (load balancers, web servers, app servers, multiple databases, message queues, pub/sub, etc.) the need to keep a digital description becomes extremely important in order to reduce the chance of errors during deployment.

From an organizational perspective, there are two highlights: 1. The deployment architect can describe their proposed solution with complete fidelity - no misinterpretation. In addition, if there is an issue, the changes to the architecture can be captured in version control, just as if it was another piece of software code. 2. The sysadmin or release engineer can take the provisioning script and easily create a new environment (i.e., replicating Dev to Test, etc.)

Today, MomentumSI is announcing the release of two new services that orchestrate the provisioning of complex application topologies and then provide the configuration information:
The Tough Provisioning Service provides equivalent functionality found in Amazon's CloudFormation and is API/Syntax compatible with their offering.

The Tough Configuration Service integrates the most popular configuration management systems into the private cloud. Use your choice of Chef or Puppet to create configuration scripts and then expose them as enterprise grade services (secure access, multiple node delivery, guaranteed transmission, closed loop feedback, etc.)

Our solution brings this functionality to your private cloud by complementing your existing investment in VMware or Eucalyptus.

For more information, see Tough Solutions.

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