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New Release: CloudBolt C2 v4.0. Innovation at all New Levels.

Posted by Justin Nemmers

7/22/13 8:05 AM

The next-generation Cloud Manager keeps innovating in numerous ways that help make IT organizations run better and more efficiently.  

Each time the product team goes to the whiteboard to talk about the C2 roadmap, we rely on our decades of combined data center experience.  We recall the hundreds of conversations we’ve had with current customers.  We want you to know that we’ve listened.  The result is a new major release of CloudBolt C2 that brings connectivity and resiliency of our customers’ Cloud Resources to unparalleled levels.   Some of the key new features in C2 4.0 are: 

Cloud Supply Chain Verification (CSCV)

We’re proud to announce the availability of the CSCV system.  Sounds intimidating, but we’re certain you’ll need it.  As the numbers of IT environments, virtualization platforms, DCA tools, and Orchestration tools increase, so does the overall complexity of running and provisioning systems into any one environment.  C2 does a great job of orchestrating and automating this entire process, but what happens when an administrator changes a password in vCenter?  Or a developer unexpectedly updates a workflow in an external orchestration tool?  Automated provisioning will break. 

Cloud Supply Chain Validator CloudBolt C2
The Cloud Supply Chain Validator. Ensure that all aspects of your automated environment are operational.

The purpose of CSCV is to ensure that all needed actions in any environment configured in C2 both executes, and returns the expected result.  CSCV will automatically run through any number of tests, and immediately notify the CloudBolt Administrators in the event of a failure. 

We don’t just allow for CSCV to test provisioning, though.  CSCV can test the end-to-end process of de-commissioning, power on/off, and installing/removing applications.

In short, C2 will tell you when something breaks in the end-to-end provisioning process for any environment C2 is configured to manage.  It does this across virtualization and public/private cloud platforms as well as Data Center Automation tools, Configuration Management tools, and any external Orchestrators (more on that momentarily), and, of course, any orchestration hooks that you have configured in your environment. 

Read more about the CSCV in a blog post here.

Multi-Portal Support

Are you a managed service provider that’s using C2 as a portal for your end users?  With v4.0, we’ve added multi-portal support.  C2 can now be configured to accept connections from multiple URLs.  Your customers or users securely connect to CloudBolt and each URL will represent a different portal, and that can be separately configured with theme colors, and a customer logo.

C2 Multi-Portal creation Service ProvidersMany different aspects of the C2 UI can be customized based on the URL used to access the C2 UI.

Service Catalog

While users have always been able to create multi-server orders (that can even include a software defined network or two), C2 did not have a built in service catalog.  We do now.  Administrators can pre-create services, assign group and environment permissions, and make those services available to other C2 users.  A service for CloudBolt C2 is any combination of servers, applications, networks, and environments.  In short, anything that can be ordered in C2 can be made into a service, allowing easy ordering of complicated services and application stacks.

C2 Service Catalog Cloud Manager
C2 makes it easy to create fully-contained services, and make them availble to your users.

Abstraction Layer 2.0

A key aspect of C2’s architecture is that the abstraction layer allows us to rapidly develop new connectors to additional technologies.  The process of developing a connector is much easier once we have developed a connector class that contains all of the appropriate data model and orchestration components in the C2 internals.  C2 v4.0 contains two important updates to the Abstraction Layer:

  • New connector class: External Orchestrators
  • Open API for customer-written connectors

The new connector class supports external orchestrators (also known as runbook automation tools).  Once your External Orchestrator is connected into CloudBolt, C2 Administrators will gain the ability to call nearly any contained workflow at multiple points during the provisioning, decommissioning, power status change, and health check processes.  Users with the correct permissions will also be able to see, and execute, specific external workflows from within the server view.

C2 HP Operations Orchestration workflows resource categoryC2 can import and directly execute workflows from HP Operations Orchestration and (soon) other orchestration tools as well.

Today we are shipping C2 v4.0 with a connector for HP Operations Orchestration (HPOO).  Want to connect to another external orchestrator such as VMware vCenter Orchestrator, or Microsoft System Center Orchestrator?  That capability is just a phone call away. 

CloudBolt already has unrivaled flexibility to integrate with external systems and custom systems using Orchestration hooks but sometimes a deeper integration is desired for custom developed configuration management tools or first gen cloud management tools that are being phased out over time.  C2 4.0’s Abstraction layer includes a new open API that allows customers or their services partners to write their own CloudBolt connectors. Ultimately these connectors can even take a path to full support from CloudBolt but regardless CloudBolt can be enhanced to connect to any tool that an environment may dictate.

Orchestration Hooks

Speaking of Orchestration Hooks, C2 v4.0 has an updated Orchestration Hook management UI.  C2 Administrators can completely manage the type and order of Orchestration Hook execution, and also now assign multiple hooks per step.  All from the UI.

C2 Orchestration Hooks UIThe C2 Orchestration Hooks UI uses scripts and workflows to integrate nearly any technology external to C2. 

Connector Updates

We’ve added support for Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Management (RHEV-M) to the list of currently supported Hypervisors. 

Puppet Configuration Management is now fully supported for Data Center Automation.  Environments with Puppet installations can now use C2 to automate the installation and management of applications in environments.  Users can be presented with a list of available applications, and select the desired ones to be installed.  Of course Puppet-managed applications also get the same License Management, permissioning, and rate metering that C2 provides.

Other Updates

C2 v4.0 now supports hosting the OVA on XenServer. 

We’ve also expanded the LDAP and AD integration, Administrators can now have multiple auth targets per C2 instance, and can support multiple domains in a single AD forest.  Additionally, the synchronization of user data between C2 and the authentication systems is richer, and includes more attributes.

Summary

The capabilities in C2 are both innovative, and also highly accessible.  Most administrators can install C2, and be using its intuitive interface to deploy virtual machines in under 20 minutes.  We’ve focused our efforts on innovating, but with a decided understanding that even the most innovative feature is useless if it takes three months to install and configure, and this is no different in C2 v4.0.

Want to see more?  Request a demonstration today.

I want to see it!

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Topics: Innovation, Feature, New Technology, RHEV, Release Notes, Puppet, Development

Introducing the Cloud Supply Chain Validator, integrated with C2 v4.0

Posted by Bernard Sanders

7/22/13 7:30 AM

Modern IT environments are subjects of constant change, and thus are likely to be incapacitated by unexpected effects of one of these alterations. Storage, network, server configuration, passwords, DNS, VM templates, and applications are modified frequently, and any of these changes could have ripple effects that are not caught by traditional monitoring solutions.

Traditional monitoring systems are great for ensuring that any one specific infrastructure component is healthy, but they typically do not/can not cover the end-to-end use case that IT consumers depend on every day. In this way, traditional monitoring can be thought of as unit testing for your data center. Unit tests are vital, but they are not a substitute for functional tests that ensure that all the individual components work together to fulfill end-users’ needs.

Enter C2’s Cloud Supply Chain Validation (CSCV). This feature, new in C2 v4.0, empowers CloudBolt customers with a new way to test the end-to-end processes that are most sensitive to environmental change. CSCV ships with a set of tests that can be run on demand or on a schedule, the most prominent among them being a provision and decommission test. This test, run nightly by default, executes a series of provisioning orders, decommissioning each server that was built as it goes. C2 admins decide how many tests they want run each night and for each one they provide an environment, group, OS build, and any other provisioning parameters that may be needed for that environment. If the tests fail, the admin is notified and can act proactively to resolve the situation.

C2 Cloud Supply Chain Validator
The CSCV test configuration

Provisioning is the ideal workflow to test the health of infrastructure, because it is so far reaching. Fully automated provisioning will hit the network, storage, virtualization systems, public cloud providers, and potentially DNS, asset tracking systems, monitoring, backup, hostname reservation systems, change management systems, and any other infrastructure that CloudBolt has been configured to interact with via its orchestration hooks and external orchestrators. Knowing that provisioning is healthy, administrators can have confidence that the bulk of their systems are behaving properly and able to interact with each other as expected.

C2 Screenshot Cloud Supply Chain Validator
Run and view CSCV test results directly from C2.

At any time, administrators can check the health of the tests in C2’s web interface, drill down into results, and kick off ad-hoc runs of the tests. The end result of Cloud Supply Chain Validation is that the owners of the IT infrastructure will find out about breakages and have the opportunity to resolve them well before users encounter the problem when they urgently need the system to work. Admins and end consumers of IT both gain increased confidence in the state of their systems and can sleep a little better at night.

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Topics: Innovation, Feature, Bernard

CloudBolt Releases C2 v3.7.0

Posted by Justin Nemmers

4/8/13 9:03 AM

On behalf of the entire team here at CloudBolt, I’m excited to announce the release of CloudBolt C2 version 3.7.0. 

We continue to pull out all of the development stops in CloudBolt C2.  This latest version adds numerous improvements, and new features to help reduce the burden of IT and cloud management.

C2 updates in v3.7.0 make AWS easier

Amazon Web Services (AWS) support continues to strengthen.  Now, CloudBolt C2 will auto-create region-specific environments based on administrator-selected regions for EC2.  C2 will also list out the various AMIs admins want to make accessible to their users.  The best part is that this will work for any EC2-provided AMI, as well as customer-specific AMIs.  C2 also now provides for richer discover of running instances in EC2, so the server list and individual server views in C2 contain even more information about the related EC2 instance.  Keep your eyes peeled, because we’re going to continue adding capabilities to the AWS connector.

We believe that Network Virtualization from folks like Nicira by VMware will drastically change how IT organizations manage enterprises.  Our engineers have now enabled Network Virtualization support in the KVM connector, meaning administrators can now create and deploy virtualized networks on KVM-backed hosts using CloudBolt C2. 

One powerful aspect of CloudBolt C2 is that is it’s ability to apply actions to systems cross-environment.  Part of what was needed here was a multi-select capability that allowed users to multi-select where it makes sense to do so.  C2 now supports multi-select in the appropriate dialog boxes.

Provisioning instances is what CloudBolt C2 was built to do. When a user has no knowledge of what’s going on behind the scenes, it’s good practice to at least let them know that something is happening.  With 3.7.0, C2 does a better job showing users the provisioning progress of their instance.

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Topics: Innovation, Feature, Cloud Manager, Upgrade, Release Notes, AWS

The Language Behind CloudBolt C2 - a Powerful Combination

Posted by Bernard Sanders

2/4/13 8:23 AM

A couple of us were speaking to an industry analyst the other day who was asking about our technology stack when he remarked:

The selection of Python and Django three years ago was either truly visionary or borderline crazy, but it’s exactly what you would choose if you were to start today.” – Bernd Harzog, The Virtualization Practice

I’d like to take the credit associated with the visionary part of that statement, but the truth is that Python has been a solid, logical choice for enterprise development longer than it usually gets credit for.   Python has been used for years at the core of intensive, production systems by everyone from Google to NASA, and it has performed admirably under the pressure.

Some might say that the choice of a back-end technology should be irrelevant to consumers of a product, but the fact is that a language, though unseen by end users, makes a huge impact on their experience.  A language should inspire a development team to deliver functionality quickly and reliably and allow engineers to focus simultaneously on the dual goals of robust architecture and an excellent end user experience.  In a similar way to how dogs and their owners tend to start looking like one another after years together, programmers’ thought patterns and behaviors are influenced by the attributes of the language and framework they use every day.  For example:

  • C programmers think overwhelmingly in computer science terms, at the expense of user experience.
  • .Net teams tend to think excessively graphically, at the expense of creating architectures that are not as interoperable and ready for integration and scale as they should be.
  • Perl encourages developers to think of the most obfuscated way of accomplishing a task, rather than the most transparent.

Development Language Owner dog1Development Language Owner dog4Development Language Owner dog3Development Language Owner dog1

Just as dogs and their owners begin to look alike, developers begin to think in their "native" language (photos courtesy of Cesar)

In contrast to other options, Python influences programmers to constantly consider extensibility, simplicity of design, ease of installation/management, and the principle of least surprise, all through the example that it sets.  It does this while enabling more rapid and responsive development than any other language I have used. 

Though CloudBolt C2 was introduced later than some other cloud management systems, we have seen it leapfrog other solutions and gain acknowledgement as being easier to install, more flexible and scalable, and sporting a cleaner and simpler user interface than other products in the space.  There are several factors that enabled us to surpass other solutions, but at the core of these is the Python programming language.

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Topics: Innovation, Feature, Enterprise, Development, Bernard