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Alternate Realities for 2016

Posted by Ephraim Baron

12/18/15 8:10 PM

Predict-the-future1.jpgThis is the time of year when technical publications solicit prognostications.  We received multiple queries here at CloudBolt.  In reply, CloudBolt CEO Jon Mittelhauser and Marketing Director Ephraim Baron took turns gazing into the Mirror of Galadriel and reporting what they saw.  They offer their technology predictions for the coming year in two separate articles.

Ephraim’s forecasts were published by Virtual Strategy Magazine.

Jon’s prophecies can be found on VMblog.com.

So who’s cousin to Cassandra, and who’s a false prophet?  You decide.

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Topics: New Technology, Business Challenges

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

Next-Generation IT and Greenfield Cloud Infrastructure

Posted by Justin Nemmers

3/12/13 3:06 PM

The problem is consistent. Consistently difficult, that is. As an IT manager, how does one implement new technology in an otherwise running and static environment?  New technology decisions are not just difficult, but the range of questions that rise from thinking about implementation plans can seem daunting. 

Whether you’re talking about switching hardware vendors, or implementing something relatively new like network virtualization, how it’s implemented in your environment will often be more critical to the project’s success than the validity of the technology itself. 

greenfield IT is great IT

Ideally, every environment would be brand new.  How many times have you asked yourself “Wouldn’t it be great if I could just scrap my current infrastructure and start over?”  Fundamentally, greenfield implementations like this are a good route to go for a number of reasons:

  • They allow you to select the best-of-breed and most effective technology to solve the problem at hand
  • You get the valuable opportunity to think about how the technology stack will scale in the future
  • They allow for rapid change while the environment is being built
  • Because there are few barriers, you have the opportunity to investigate other new and upcoming technologies, and you will have time to experiment 

A Cloud Manager provides significant value here.  Using one to unify the management of a lab environment allows the rapid integration of new technologies—technologies that your IT teams need to learn and gain experience with before implementing in the production environment.  Using a Cloud Manager eases the introduction of these technologies, and unified the management interface to make administration more predictable. These tools together help to mold processes and the IT organization into a more agile group.

In my mind, one of the core issues here is that too few IT teams are able to think outside of the box when it comes to implementing new tech. If greenfield implementations are easier than shoehorning new tech into your existing stack, why not give it a shot? Starting with a small base of gear and intelligently growing the installation over time is a great way to migrate capacity. I have an entire different blog post on how to migrate via attrition that is coming soon.  In the meantime, go ahead and identify a few pieces of hardware, install your preferred virtualization tool, download CloudBolt C2, and start piecing together your future architecture.  Once C2 is installed, you’ll be able to quickly layer in additional technologies like Data Center Automation, Network Virtualization, and even other virtualization or Public Cloud resources seamlessly.  

Happy integrating!

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Topics: Virtualization, New Technology, Cloud Manager, Challenges, Implementation, Vendors, Development, Hardware