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Archive for the ‘Opalis’ Category

Battle for Cloud City: Microsoft strikes back? Part II.

In Opalis, Operations Manager, SCOM 2012, SCVMM 2012, Service Manager, System Center, Virtualization, Vmware on November 16, 2011 at 22:28

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Part I.

One of biggest advantages of posting on a blog when compared with writing an official proposal or something similar is that I get to ramble on about the things I feel are important. Or peculiar, alienating or just entertaining. Looking at private cloud management solutions in a more trivial way give me the opportunity to talk about factors that might or might not matter for most but do say something about how a product is perceived – a degree of brand value if you wish.

You might wonder where this will lead considering that fact that the more serious part of this series started of with some dubious analogies – but don’t worry I actually intend to make a point here. This is my comparison:

I’ve conjured five topics:

  • Names – If have to explain stuff to my boss and I’ve taken the “cloud” and “virtual” hurdles, I want to have a nice set of abbreviations or a awe inspiring product name to work with
  • Powershell – Very important. Maybe a bit overrated by some – a general sense of logic, a search engine and Powergui are all that are needed to keep you from flipping burgers.
  • “Open” Standards – In what sense can each offering be accessed, extended and customized by both vendors and end-users?
  • Citrix, Emc – Alliances – The cloud and virtualization market seems rather peaceful with what I perceive as a mutually beneficial status-quo between Microsoft and Vmware on the hypervisor front, between Microsoft and Citrix on the SBC/VDI front and Cisco and EMC working with both Microsoft and Vmware to tie everything together. However if we are talking about clouds, unification and abstraction a cloud management solution that provides more integration then the cliche “single-pane-of-glass” everyone seems to be selling might dictate the choice for a hypervisor the next time licenses expire…
  • Monitoring Sprawl? – We consolidated 200 servers into 4 pieces of hardware but need 15 servers to monitor our environment…and we might feel unsure about hosting a monitoring solution on a platform that’s monitored by that solution…or which damn web interface do I need to do this…and of course – how can be VM status be green, my server object in maintenance mode and my email stuck in my outbox?

My conclusion? If you are going “Vendor A unless” Microsoft scores the best on the “trivial” side of things. If you go “best-of-breed” vSphere, vCenter (and PowerCLI/CapacityIQ) are very strong at what they do.

Note Bene:

The success of Powershell, pre-alpha stuff from EMC like project Orion and SMI-S show that there is a need for a universal API and framework for managing infrastructure. The sad part is that those initiatives are not new and many technologies have fallen and entered the eternal cloud – or are still there and are still used by deemed unworthy by some (such as SNMP).

The question that remains is – who will bring balance to the force – the chosen but fallen Anakin or the Light’s side counteraction, Luke ?

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Battle for Cloud City: Microsoft strikes back? Part I.

In Opalis, Operations Manager, Service Manager, System Center, Virtualization, Vmware on November 7, 2011 at 10:57

If you like my content please do check out my new blog at thirdpartytools.net ! 

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far away business thrived on the planet of Bespin. An almost unlimited source of revenue – clouds – secured the quiet life of Cloud City’s inhabitants 🙂

But those days are gone and The Empire is attempting to take control of the clouds with its hosts of Hyper-V fighters and the SCVDMM (System Central Virtual Destruction and Mayhem Manager) aka “Death Star”.

A day after the announcement of the GA of Vmware’s vCenter Configuration manager, Vmware’s vOperations Suite and Microsoft System Center Suite are facing off in their battle for the private cloud. Of course there are other vendors that provide similar management suites – but because both suites are directly linked with each vendor’s own hypervisor layer I think both will be an obvious choice for customers. Almost a year ago I already voiced my views on why I think that Microsoft might have an advantage here – but in this post I want take a brief look at both suites ( and related products from both vendors) to see what areas of private cloud management they cover.

The term suite implies a set of tools built upon a central framework and using a single data set – however each suite consists of several essentially different products that have been brought together with varying levels of integration. This is because of the different roots of each product but also because each product is built to be used separately as well as in combination with the rest of the suites. This and the fact that both suites are able to connect to other system management software as well means that if a feature is missing from the suite that you might be able to integrate another products with either suite just as well. Both suites have links with EMC Ionix family for instance.

I’m going to do that by comparing each offering in 3 different categories:

  • Configuration and Monitoring: the five infrastructure layers
  • Trivia 😉
  • Management and additional features

I’ve compiled a small table for each category highlighting 4 or 5 components that I believe make up that category – each category will get its own post.

This is in no way a complete or even refined comparison but its also a comparison based on documented features and aspects of both products – however I do intend to test and blogs about the two suites extensively in the near future.

When I mention a product I am talking about its most recent version – unless stated otherwise. Most of the System Center 2012 stuff is still beta or RC, some might say that that makes this comparison unfair – on both sides. But I think the fact that Microsoft might lack some features because the product isn’t finished is nullified by the fact they don’t have  to provide the quality and stability needed for a released product. And you could make the same argument the other way around.

C&M: The five infrastructure layers

First Star Wars and now this category that sounds like a Kung Fu movie..

In this part I want to look at which part of your “private cloud” infrastructure each suite can manage, configure and monitor. The layers that I have defined here are:

  • Storage
  • Network
  • Hypervisor
  • Guests
  • Applications

This leads to the following table (click to enlarage):


My conclusion: Microsoft is able to cover every layer with regard to monitoring and most with configuration/provisioning etc. Vmware is not. But if you can’t configure network devices from System Center and you need another application to do that chances are that application will also be able to monitor those devices.

Nota Bene:

  • Service Manager and Orchestrator really add value because they are the applications that really tie all the data from SCOM and SCCM together and makes it possible to use that data to build an intelligent management infrastructure.
  • As mentioned in other blogs and sources – dynamic discovery, self learning performance and capacity analysis are key features in managing a highly abstracted/virtualized infrastructure. Vmware sees this and seems to have given such features priority offer more “classical” features.

Sources:

vCenter Operations Docs

vCenter Configuration Manager Docs

Nice blog post comparing Vmware with other systems management applications

Persistence is Futile

In Opalis, System Center on November 11, 2010 at 17:43

 

Opalis

In my earlier post I mentioned Opalis. Now what is Opalis? Opalis is an IT process automation tool. It gives you the possibility to visually design workflows that orchestrate, manage and monitor your whole process. By using integration packs Opalis is able to communicate with a host of different systems, vendors and platforms. You can get data out of systems, into systems and base your workflow’s logica on the repsonses you get from those systems.

In the breakout session I attended Opalis was compared to a mainframe run book: a formalization of all the steps involved in a process from start to end. And because of the great interoperability you can start by taking your “informal” processes and putting them into Opalis – no chance in functionality but know you let Opalis handle the execution (for instance calling Powershell), the monitoring/logging (by raising an alert in SCOM if something goes wrong or even creating an incident in Service Manager) and the decision making logic. So instead of incorperating all of that in every script you find in your environment you create a template which you can then reuse for every task.

Opalis itself was a so called third party tool vendor but is now a fully owned subsidiary of Microsoft and has been included in the System Center suite. In later posts I will try to get into the technical details of Opalis and how it relates to Microsoft Cloud management solution.