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App and Cloud Management, added Nebula Private Cloud with v4.6

Posted by Justin Nemmers

10/27/14 2:22 PM

In our latest release, we've continued enabling IT organizations that want to provision and manage their applications more effectively. CloudBolt v4.6 makes providing self-service IT access to applications easier than ever, regardless of whether that application resides on a single server, or is a complete end-to-end stack of servers deployed across several environments. Like never before, users can interactively request entire stacks with just a few clicks, and deploy those stacks into any one of the dozen or so supported cloud and virtualization platforms.

We haven’t stopped there, though. In addition to streamlining the application provisioning process, we’ve put a significant amount of effort into other areas of CloudBolt as well. 

Nebula

We're also proud to announce an all-new connector for Nebula Private Cloud environments.

Image: CloudBolt now supports Nebula Private Cloud

Image: Add Nebula Resource Handler in CloudBolt Cloud Manager

With this new connector, CloudBolt customers gain the ability to deploy into and manage servers, applications, and even entire services in Nebula-backed environments. Nebula private cloud customers using CloudBolt gain immediate access to all of CloudBolt's features in both new and existing environments:

  • Chargeback and Showback
  • Reporting
  • Governance
  • Automated provisioning and management
  • Lifecycle management
  • Software license management
  • And more

Service Catalog

Customers are using the CloudBolt Service Catalog to provide end users self-service access to entire application stacks for some time now. In v4.6, we've updated the service creation process to make it even more straightforward. Just as they can do for the single server ordering process, admins can alter how the service ordering process looks for different end users and deployment environments. End users can be prompted to enter specific information as necessary based on their desired target deployment environment. 

Once ordered by a user, CloudBolt’s built-in approval mechanism can be leveraged for additional validation before CloudBolt steps through any number of automated processes required for delivery of a fully functional application stack.

The end result is clear: CloudBolt administrators can quickly create new service offerings that are able to span any supported target environment. Regardless of your platform of choice, CloudBolt can deliver a complete stack to your end users, and in less time than you think. 

Active Directory Group Mapping

Are you using one or more AD environments to authenticate CloudBolt users? In v4.6, admins gain the ability to map AD groups to CloudBolt groups. This AD group mapping also works with multiple AD environments, so if you're using CloudBolt in a multi-tenant capacity, you can still pick-and-choose how auth is handled for each tenant. 

Orchestration Hooks

Orchestration Hooks enable IT administrators to automate every step needed to deliver IT resources and applications to end-users. Extending on this capability, we've added a new Orchestration Hook type that enables the execution of an arbitrary remote script.

Image: Add a hook for remote script execution

This further extends CloudBolt’s lead as the most powerful cross-platform application deployment and management platform, as it can now be seamlessly integrated into nearly any manually-scripted provisioning and management process. Reusing your existing IP has never been easier or faster. 

Connector Improvements

Discovering and importing current state from existing environments is a CloudBolt Cloud Management key strength. In v4.6, this is even more thorough, as we now also detect all disk information from VMware vCenter virtual machines as well as AWS AMI, and Microsoft Azure public cloud instaces. 

Have a lot of VMs? Users in environments with tens of thousands of VMs will be happy to learn that VM discovery and sync is more efficient and faster. 

Puppet Enterprise users can now also leverage multiple Puppet environments rather than the default "Production". This can further help customers simplify their IT environments. 

Get It Now

The CloudBolt Cloud Manager v4.6 is available today via the CloudBolt support portal. Our updates are just another feature, and take mere minutes to complete

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Topics: Public Cloud, VMware, Private Cloud, Upgrade, AWS, Puppet, azure, Nebula

Accelerate DevOps by Combining Automation and Cloud Management

Posted by Justin Nemmers

10/15/14 4:20 PM

The advent of DevOps in Corporate IT has dramatically increased the value that Configuration Management (lately, also known as CM and/or Configuration Automation/Data Center Automation tools) provided in a complex data center environment. Popular examples include Ansible, Puppet, and Chef. Whether your IT organization has implemented an end-to-end DevOps model, or you’re interested in implementing one, the unification of Cloud Management and Data Center Automation is a great way to ensure that your DevOps teams get the most out of IT-provided and supported services and resources.

At the core of highly productive and agile DevOps teams is the rapid access to required resources, and the ability to control what is deployed where. Long wait times for resource provisioning will not just delay release and product, but also likely anger your team. On the other hand, granting the DevOps team unfettered access to on-prem virt and public cloud resources is a capacity planning and potential financial disaster just waiting to happen.

As DevOps automates more of the application management and provisioning process with tooling (Related posting: Why Manual Provisioning Workflows Don't Work Anymore), it becomes more critical to effectively integrate CM with the actual infrastructure. Providing end users and developers alike with access to DevOps work product becomes more complex and challenging.  

Cloud-Management-and-Devops-is-like-PBandJ-72
DevOps and Cloud Management go together like peanut butter and jelly. Each makes the other more awesome. (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

So how does an IT organization achieve maximum value from the time and cost investment in these CM tools? By tightly integrating Cloud Management with their entire stack of CM tools.

Advantages

Using a cloud manager such as CloudBolt to integrate CM with the infrastructure provides immediate value.  By deploying both tools, IT can provide DevOps with: 

  1. Controlled access to required infrastructure, including networks, storage, and public cloud environments.
  2. A single API and UI capable of front-ending numerous providers, which means when IT changes cloud providers, DevOps doesn’t need to re-tool scripts and automations.
  3. Fully automated provisioning and management for real-time resource access. 

CloudBolt allows IT to natively configure and import application and configuration definitions as well as automations directly from your CM tool of choice. End users can then select the desired components, and deploy them onto appropriately sized system or systems in any environment.

IT organizations can put into place hard divisions between critical environments—such that only certain users and groups can deploy systems, services, and applications into specific environments. For instance, CloudBolt will prevent a developer from deploying a test app onto a system that has access to a production network and production data.

Results

Customers that have implemented CloudBolt also are able to chose from one or more CM tools based on capabilities of a specific tool. Does one team prefer Puppet over Chef? Each team can be presented with a discrite slice of underlying infrastructure that makes use of their preferred CM tool(s).

The result is clear: more effective DevOps teams that spend less time dealing accessing resources, and more time getting their work done. IT is happy because CloudBolt enables them to improve governance of entire enterprise IT environments, and finally offers IT the ability to alter underlying infrastructure technology choices in ways that are fully abstracted from end users. By using a single CloudBolt API to access and deploy resources, DevOps isn’t disrupted when IT alters underlying infrastructure technology.

Interested? You can be up and running with CloudBolt today. All you need is access to a Virt Manager or a Cloud Platform, and less than 30 minutes.

Schedule a Demo  or try it yourself

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Topics: Cloud Management, Automation, Puppet, Chef

Declare your Independence from Standard Cloud Management

Posted by Justin Nemmers

7/2/14 8:50 AM

Introducing the latest release of CloudBolt C2: v4.5

Connector Updates

With C2 v4.5, we’ve added two new connectors that further expand the breadth of technologies IT organizations can manage from a single-pane-of glass.

Google Compute Engine support gives administrators the ability to seamlessly offer end users controlled access to yet another public cloud provider. This includes the ability to install and manage applications from a supported configuration manager, as well as the ability to include GCE instances in C2 Service Catalog service templates.

Google Cloud Platform CloudBolt C2
Google Compute Engine CloudBolt C2
C2 v4.5 includes support for Google Compute Engine in the Google Cloud Platform.

We’ve also totally re-written and re-based our OpenStack connector. In this update, we’ve focused on compatibility, and we’re now able to support Icehouse, Havana, and Grizzly from the major OpenStack providers such as Mirantis. Of course, C2 can include OpenStack-backed resources when provisioning applications, running external flows, and accounting for licenses, just to name a few. C2 is already the best dashboard for OpenStack, and it’s getting even better with each release. No Horizon development needed!

openstack-cloud-software-vertical-large

We’ve also made some additional updates to our vCenter connector, including improved error handling when your VMware tools are out of date, and allowing for longer Windows hostnames. We’ve also made the Windows disk extending messages more clear and straightforward.

Amazon Web Services has also received some developer love. C2 now synchronizes both the public and private IP addresses for each AWS EC2 instance.

Configuration Management

We worked closely with the engineering team at Puppet, and now have a unique capability: C2 can now discover and import classes from a Puppet server.

Chef integration is even better: C2 now enables Chef bootstrapping on Windows and Ubuntu Linux systems.

User Interface Updates

Updates to the C2 UI are perhaps more subtle, but focused on helping users and administrators more effectively manage large numbers of applications and servers. We’ve integrated simple indicators describing the total number of selected items in each data table, making it much easier to manage large environments.

Did you know that you can use C2 to open network-less console connections on C2-managed servers? We’ve made this feature faster and more reliable in C2 v4.5.

Upgrading

Upgrading C2 is just like any other feature in C2: fast, easy, and predictable. Upgrading to C2 v4.5 is now even faster and easier than before.

Sounds Great, I Want It!

CloudBolt C2 has been recognized by Gartner for our industry-leading time to value. We effectively eliminate the barrier to entry for enterprise Cloud Management. C2 v4.5 is available today. Request a download, and you'll be up and running in your own environment in no time.

Schedule a Demo or try it yourself

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Topics: Upgrade, AWS, Puppet, Chef, OpenStack, GCE

API v2, Chef Roles and Orgs, AWS Elastic IPs, and Add VMware Disks

Posted by Justin Nemmers

3/18/14 12:14 PM

We’re pleased to announce the immediate availability of CloudBolt C2 v4.4.1.

This release is jam-packed with new capabilities intended help IT organizations better manage and access their existing IT resources—not just through the provisioning process, but through the entire lifecycle management process as well.

Even before the C2 v4.4.1 update, customers have some pretty awesome things to say about us:

Upon completing a 2.5 day PoC with a large complicated user:

"You accomplished more on day one than VMware did in two weeks."

Other praise:

"If we were to build something, this is exactly what it would look like."
“This is completely plug and play.”
“Wow, that seemed almost too easy.”

And my personal favorite… Upon quickly knocking out a Chef and vCloud Orchestrator use case that vexed every other vendor:

Customer, to co-workers walking by office:
“Dude, you have to see this. It’s [explicative] awesome!”

C2 v4.4.1 builds on an already awesome product.

CloudBolt C2 v4.4.1 features a completely re-designed API. Our new API layer enables the programmatic control of C2 by parties that prefer a command line-based interface, or want to cleanly integrate C2 into an existing scripted process.  While this capability isn’t new to CloudBolt, it’s much improved and deeper functioning in C2.

C2 API browserC2's built-in API browser greatly aides development against the new C2 API v2

VMware

You talked and we listened. Customers asked us for better management of new and existing VM virtual disks in VMware. C2 users can now add new disks to VMware-backed VMs. C2 also ingests more information about existing VM disks.

vmware datastore add disk virtual machineUsers can add additional virtual disks to VMware VMs

Customers were also looking for a way to manually set the root password on Linux-based VMware guests.  Despite the VMware API not directly supporting this, we’ve developed a way to allow users to specify a new root password at provisioning time, and C2 will ensure that the provisioned instances will be accessible using that password.

Configuration Managers: Chef and Enterprise Chef Configuration Management

The Chef connector has been enhanced to provide support for the import and management of Chef Roles.  Now users can interface with and select Chef Roles for assignment and deployment to servers both at provisioning time and in an ongoing manner. Along the same lines as roles, C2 v4.4.1 also includes a new Chef Community cookbook importer in the UI. Browse and import community-provided Chef recipes and Cookbooks. 

chef configuration management roles

Running Enterprise Chef?  We haven’t forgotten about you. In fact, C2 boasts the industry’s best Chef integration, and we’re expanding that important relationship to include integration with Enterprise Chef features and capabilities. C2 v4.4.1 adds support for Enterprise Chef organizations. We’ve also added support for hosted Chef, and for those of organizations using Chef to manage software on EC2-based instances, we now support communication with AWS-based Chef servers, but also the deployment of Roles, CookBooks, and Recipes to EC2-based servers.

Configuration Managers: Puppet

We didn’t forget about our Puppet Labs integration, either. In this latest release, we’ve expanded the details C2 collects about the Puppet nodes. The latest Puppet configuration management report status and link to the entire report are now available from the Puppet connector details page.

Amazon Web Services

C2 now has deeper support for EC2 and related components. First, users can now directly manage AWS Elastic IP addresses right from C2—both at provisioning time, and in an ongoing basis. In addition to detecting and importing AWS availability zone metadata, C2 now supports assignment of a specific actual availability zone within a region.

Amazon web services assign elastic IP addressUsers can now select and associate AWS Elastic IP addresses from within C2.

Usability Improvements

Don’t forget that we use C2 to manage our own It environments. This helps us identify places where C2 could be a little more usable after a few small tweaks. In this release, we’ve made a number of these little tweaks, but I’ll discuss a few of the more important ones here. C2 v4.4.1 now automatically validates IP addresses when entered on the order form.  We also noticed that the latest Firefox web browser update broke C2’s built-in console access application. C2 v4.4.1 fixes that. We’ve also added the ability to download a job log file directly from the UI—no need to log into the actual C2 instance.  Lastly, and thanks to a customer that uses C2 to manage 10k+ VMs, and hundreds of OS templates, we’ve drastically improved the performance of VMware OS template import.

How to get it

If you haven’t yet seen C2 in action, get started here.  Ready to kick the tires yourself?  Request a download. Already runnung C2? Log into our support portal to download the Cloudbolt C2 upgrade today.

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Topics: Feature, VMware, Puppet, Chef

New Release: CloudBolt C2 v4.1 Cloud Manager

Posted by Justin Nemmers

9/26/13 3:22 PM


Customers are speaking, and we’re listening. C2 v4.1 contains a host of customer-suggested enhancements that are designed to enhance the capability and usability of C2’s management of a wide variety of IT resources.

CB Web Slides v4.1

Virtual Private Clouds and Amazon Web Services

In C2 4.1, the AWS connector now has the ability to detect, manage, and deploy systems into VPCs. C2 Environments backended by the AWS connector will now discover VPCs, VPC subnets, and other VPC-specific options such as security groups. C2 will also now auto-create C2 Environments for each selected VPC/Region, which nearly eliminates additional setup and configurations required.

VMware Integration Improvements

As we showed with our latest AWS updates, we’re always on the lookout for additional features to add to existing connectors. In this release, we’ve improved our VMware integration by adding more in-depth automatic C2 Environment creation for each VMware-hosted cluster present in vCenter. C2 will also now auto-discover any resource pool or datastore options as configured in vCenter, and will automatically create and map those options to C2 fields.

Re-Importing and Updating

Once AWS and VMware environments are created, C2 can now auto-detect and re-import changes to the underlying configuration of those environments. This includes things like VMware datastores, resource pools, and AWS security groups.

The Docs

We now include the full CloudBolt C2 product documentation as part of the install. The bottom of every page contains a link to access the embedded product documentation.

Speeds and Feeds

Despite our class-leading interface—recognized as the most intuitive available in a Cloud Manager, we’re always working to improve the user experience and keep it at the top. In C2 4.1, we’ve worked to get the rust out of many parts of the interface—so it will be faster than ever—especially on the server list page for environments that have thousands of servers. We’ve also polished the interface in several areas to help with usability. 

Additional Improvements

We already talk to Puppet Configuration Management, and now we speak that language even better with a updated Puppet connector in C2 4.1. 

We’re the only Cloud manager that can use itself to test your critical provisioning workflows. Configuring the Cloud Supply Chain Validator (CSCV) capability in C2 4.1 is now fully managed in the C2 UI, rather than requiring a configuration file modification.

For Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager (RHEV-M), C2 will now automatically import the RHEV-M API certificate.

I want to see it!

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Topics: VMware, Red Hat, Upgrade, Release Notes, AWS, vCenter, Puppet

Cloud Managers: When Free Isn’t

Posted by John Menkart

9/9/13 12:41 PM

Recently a number of large IT vendors have begun bundling their cloud management software with their existing product suites. This results in the appearance that the vendors’ cloud management technology is free, or near free, and thus appears to have a significant price advantage over other technologies such as CloudBolt C2 that offers real value to customers.

vendor solution suite cash cow
Is that "free" product really just a loss leader for the cash cow solution suite?

VMware, CA, IBM, HP and others have jumped onto this bandwagon to incent customers (any customers) to adopt their proprietary Cloud Management Platform. My question is: why would a company give customers something for free that is valuable and takes resources to develop, maintain, and support?  The answer is that they wouldn’t.

We all know the adage of “there is no free lunch”. So what is the reason the apparent price of these supposed solutions is so low, or even as a free line item on your quote?

1)   You get what you pay for. If a product has little actual value, and as a result companies are unlikely to pony up cash post-evaluation, then giving the product license for free makes the overall expenditure look like a better deal. It also distracts the customer from looking too closely at the product, and from realizing that license cost is the tip of the cost iceberg. The time to implementation and functional use of the products combined with the resources consumed during the implementation process will likely dwarf the initial acquisition cost.

2)   Vendor Lock In. Cloud computing by its nature is intended to provide customers significant choice. It can free customers from an unhappy marriage with their vendors and enable adoption of best of breed technologies across the board. Despite this, many large vendors are using their free or low-cost cloud managers to lock-in customers to their larger solution suite. In short, the Will VMware work as hard to support alternative to vCenter hypervisors in vCAC? Will BMC ever make supporting Puppet, Chef or HP SA as easy and feature rich as the support for BMC BladeLogic? Any reasonably savvy customer intuitively knows the answer to these questions. The fact is: free products are loss leaders. They’re meant to drive revenue from other products and make it difficult if not impossible to switch to alternatives once deployed. As a result, they all have a significant bias toward the rest of the vendor’s solution suite.

The next time your vendor rep tells you that their solution is just as good as CloudBolt C2 and free (or nearly), think about why they are so anxious to avoid having their product scrutinized in comparison to C2. Look closely, and understand their motivation, or you could be accepting a free tool only to be forced to feed the cash cow that is all of the other vendor’s products.

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Topics: John, Vendors, Puppet

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