In the vast majority of cloud implementations the integration between the self-service provisioning workflow and the configuration management system (CMS) will need to be addressed.
On the surface the use case is a ‘no brainer’. Once a cloud infrastructure service has been provisioned we want to ensure that the newly created configuration items are recorded in the CMS so that IT can support the new service. Incidents occurring in the newly created infrastructure need to be detected, managed and resolved.
In most cases the IT Operations team will be relying on an IT Service Management toolset for its day-to-day activities. In this typical scenario, we would need a technical integration between the provisioning workflow engine and the IT Service Management toolset.
In order to enable IT Support with Event and Incident Management, we need the newly created workloads (or applications) to be “visible” from the Service Management toolset. This means creating the configuration items in the service management toolset’s configuration management system (CMS). Vendors of service management tools have various approaches to their configuration management system, but in principle this will require the creation of configuration records in their CMS.
Here’s the simplified diagram:
However the range of integration scenarios is by no means limited to event/incident management. There is actually a broad range of possible scenarios including:
- Change Management – tracking updates to the configuration items that have been created
- Financial Management – being able to evaluate the cost of newly created item, which In turn will enable chargeback, billing and more broadly help meet the financial requirement
- Compliance & security – being able to verify that the infrastructure meets corporate policy and security standards as appropriate
- Business Continuity Management – ensuring resilience, disaster recovery, backups/archiving etc.
Given the number of possible use cases, it is important to decide early on which the key scenarios will be. Which processes do you want to enable as a priority?
That initial decision will drive the complexity of the technical integration, especially the number of parameters and values being passed around.
The Technical Side of Integration: Tools & Guidance
Fortunately when it comes to the technical side, there are many options to integrate VMware vRealize Operations into a third party tool. The typical avenue is to leverage the connectivity features of VMware vRealize Orchestrator.
On the other side of the integration, we will have an IT Service Management (ITSM) toolset (from vendors such as BMC, HP, CA, ServiceNow, and many others).
Here are some example resources for the some commonly used toolsets:
- SERVICE-NOW https://blogs.vmware.com/management/2015/01/integrating-vrealize-automation-servicenow.html
- BMC REMEDY https://solutionexchange.vmware.com/store/products/bmc-remedy-itsm-plug-in-for-vmware-vrealize-orchestrator
- HP Service Manager https://solutionexchange.vmware.com/store/products/hp-service-manager-plug-in-for-vmware-vcenter-orchestrator#.VdwVEr_7FUR
The integration workflow reflects the process requirements: typically, creating Configuration Items (CI’s) in the Service Management toolset and passing on CI information.
However one aspect that can be easily overlooked when first setting up the integration, is to build in resilience. For example, the ability for this integration to handle exceptions and errors.
Another key to resilience is to consider the operational aspects of the integration itself.
- Maintenance is often where integrations fail over the long run – the organization lacks the resources or roles to keep the integration up to date. It is recommended to assign someone the responsibility for maintaining this integration.
- The skills to maintain the integration may need to be developed and refreshed.
These three angles must be covered to produce a robust integration SDDC-ITSM:
- People: decide how your organization will maintain this integration for the long term (and who will maintain it). Ensure than the relevant skills (and knowledge) is retained to keep the integration up to date in the future.
- Process: decide on the key process (use cases) for the integration – and document them.
- Technology: Leverage exiting tools and know-how – no need to re-invent the wheel. Build in resilience early on: plan for exception handling, testing and future version upgrades early in the development of the technical integration.
Pierre Moncassin is an operations architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice and is based in the UK.