By Jung Hwang, Enterprise Solutions Architect, VMware
IT organizations adopt private cloud solutions for two main reasons: to gain agility and to improve efficiency of the services they offer. VMware’s vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) solution offers workload lifecycle capabilities that help IT organizations automate and centrally manage IT tasks that were traditionally done manually. Although vCAC has robust out-of-the-box (OOTB) capabilities that address many of these manual processes, enabling business and IT logic on top of the OOTB capabilities has helped many of our customers to reach their goals and realize the true value of automation. Below we’ll explore three requirements we have seen enabled on top of the vCAC OOTB capabilities.
Generate Custom Host Names
Although this seems to be a straightforward process, maintaining consistent host names can be challenging, especially in the private cloud environment where the virtual machine provisioning is automated without any IT staff’s involvement.
Within vCAC, administrators have some ability to add a prefix and a suffix to host names, but many customers need more custom fields, such as the environment (Prod/Dev/QA), type (Application/Web/DB), location (NA/EMEA), and incremental numbers (00X). (For example, a host name could be PROD-SQL-NA-001.) Every customer has a unique naming standard – because of this, VM host name assignment should be automated in vCAC to further minimize the manual intervention.
Active Directory Organization Unit (OU) Placement
Related to the host names issue, vCAC can integrate with Active Directory and will place VMs in a default computer object container within Active Directory. Our customers often have complex Active Directory Organizational Unit (OU) structures. Based on the host name assigned by vCAC, customers want to place the VM in the specific Active Directory OU. This will minimize unnecessary steps required to associate automatically provisioned VMs by vCAC. Moving VMs from the default computer object container to other containers can be as easy as a drag and drop operation, but when 10s or even 100s of VMs are provisioned via a self-service portal, placing a VM to the right OU based on the host name becomes an important task.
Configuration Management Database (CMDB) Integration and Configuration Item (CI) Management
Another common requirement is integrating vCAC with CMDB. Traditionally, updating and maintaining CIs were manual tasks, but they would be extremely difficult to do manually in a private cloud environment when VMs are provisioned and decommissioned based on the policy. The consumer of the vCAC solution will also be able to make changes with VM specifications so the integration with CMDB is another important area. Since the VMs will be requested via vCAC, vCAC can capture the VM specifications to create and update CIs in CMDB. The integration and automation can be enabled during the provisioning (when VMs are initially deployed), management (when VM specifications are changed by the owner), and decommissioning (when VMs are deleted).
The key to success and further identifying automation opportunities is understanding the customer’s end-to-end processes and translating them to new, private cloud processes. As we listen to our customers we can bring them more of what they need.
Jung I. Hwang is an Enterprise Solutions Architect and a member of VMware’s Services organization. Jung is responsible for creating solution roadmaps and execution plans with VMware’s products and services portfolio to solve customers’ business and technology challenges and initiatives.