If you ask 10 different people for their definition of Cloud computing, you’ll likely get 10 different answers, not to mention the occasional wise remark about an open-air or floating datacenter. While all response details will vary, each answer is guaranteed to include two fundamental concepts: “self-service” and some “behind-the-scene magic to fulfill my request (right now, please… as I’m in a hurry)”.
From a cloud consumer perspective, the instant gratification is what makes the cloud magic so attractive. For a CIO or CFO, it’s the short-term promise of greatly reduced capital AND operational expenditures.
For the public and private cloud providers (the IT Infrastructure and Operations groups), that magic is more often associated with a downright terrifying set of expectations and realities:
- Drastically reduced service delivery times
- Larger, unpredictable volumes of provisioning and decommissioning operations
- Greater complexity in not just provisioning but maintaining complex, dynamic, multi-layered services
The only constant in cloud environments, and only in the best of cases, is the size of the provider’s IT staff. If you believe that the current IT management models will work, think again (and read To Unlock the Power of the Cloud, Rethink IT Management). Regardless of the tools or number of staff available in an IT organization, there’s only one kind of magic that can scale to meet the demand and economics of cloud computing: Automation.
The alternative is simple: death. OK, so we’re only talking a virtual death here, but yes, you can definitely expect your internal or external customers to procure IT services elsewhere if you don’t automate. Virtual computing resource price lists are only a click away and it’s getting easier to move around workloads.
Obviously, automation is not a new concept. It’s much, much older than virtualization and even precedes the software era (yeah, seriously 🙂 ). Since the introduction of software, the most common form of automation has been and continues to be scripting. Even today, it continues to serve a very valuable role for many discrete operations (more to come about this subject in an upcoming blog). But when it comes to automating much of the magic in the cloud, there is no better solution today than a well orchestrated, cloud-purposed, IT management suite.
And this is where vCenter Orchestrator comes in. Our mission is quite simple: to enable the VMware cloud stack to integrate with our customer’s environments AND processes, thereby dramatically reducing their costs and accelerating service execution. In short, To Automate the Cloud.
Practically, what does this mean? Well, thanks to increased R&D investments along with contributions from VMware partners, be on the lookout throughout the year for many more out-of-the-box workflows similar to the VMware vCloud Director and Cisco UCS Manager plug-ins.
We are also quite aware that automation will not become pervasive until it can be deployed in minutes rather than hours or days (remember, it’s all about instant gratification). So yes, we are working on that too.
In the meantime, thanks for continuing to use vCenter Orchestrator and, to end with another but less dramatic cliché, the best is yet to come 😉