Managing converged infrastructures with Cloupia

During the recent VMworld 2012 event, Brian and I met with some of VMware’s eco-system partners.  One company that stood out was Cloupia, who offer an effective solution for managing tasks around orchestration, configuration and automation for converged infrastructure products such as EMC VSPEX and the VCE Vblock.  They also offer a rather nifty iPad based application that allows administrators to perform common management tasks from an easy to use iPad style interface.

The following are two videos we took with Cloupia co-founders, Raju and Bhaskar where we cover the topics of; what is the Cloupia product and how does Cloupia compliment and work in a Software Defined Data Center (SDDC)..

This is certainly an exciting product, especially for those businesses running a converged infrastructure product(s) and worth a look, for more information on Cloupia click here.

Video #1:  Managing converged infrastructures with Cloupia

 

Video #2: Cloupia and the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC)

Evolving EMC’s Vision – Transforming IT and Business

At VMworld 2012 (San Francisco), EMC’s Jeremy Burton (@jburton), EVP Product Operations and Marketing, laid out EMC’s evolving vision for Transforming IT and Business. There were several key themes that were highlighted, with the focus on how EMC sees the evolution of technology within the Data Center, as well as how EMC has been investing to align with the VMware vision of Software-Defined Data Center.

Pat Gelsinger – New VMware CEO – Brief Video Interview

With Pat Gelsinger’s transition from EMC’er to VMware CEO now complete and with his first, and well received, keynote at VMworld San Francisco now behind him he has no small task ahead, driving forward one of the hottest tech companies in the world to bigger and greater things.  During the VMworld San Francisco 2012 event the VMworld TV team spoke with Pat  about his vision for VMware, his thoughts on the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) and the VMware Community. 

From this informal video interview it is reassuring to see that Pat intends to continue executing on the “solid vision” set down by ex-VMware CEO, Paul Maritz, whilst continuing to develop and accelerate this vision further.  Pat Gelsinger certainly has his work cut out for him, though with his excellent track record in the IT industry VMware would definitely appear to be in safe and capable hands.

What is the VMware Software Defined Data Center (SDDC)?

The Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) is a term that you are going to hear a lot of from VMware and its partners.  It is a term that is applicable to businesses of all sizes and describes how VMware envisions that businesses will gain greater value from IT through the use of “intelligent software” which is run completely abstracted from the underlying industry standard hardware.  You are no doubt familiar with the role VMware has played in bringing server based virtualization into the IT mainstream, SDDC takes this to the next level by encompassing network and storage, and also abstracting these layers from the data running on top of them.

VMware see the SDDC as being the next-generation evolution of how data centers will be built to meet various business and technological challenges. Take note of the terms ‘intelligent software’, ‘software integration’ and ‘industry standard hardware’ as these underpin the concept of the SDDC, you’re going to hear these banded around the industry with increased frequency moving forward.

VMware SDDC

It should be pointed out that the SDDC is not in fact a term currently defined by any IT standards body, but is rather a holistic type vision on how VMware view Data Centers to be run.  The concept of the SDDC can at first be a little hard to wrap your head around, though it can be broken down into three basic layers:

  • Hardware Abstraction: Under-pinning the SDDC are Cloud technologies which provide a layer of abstraction from the underlying physical hardware (i.e.: compute, network & storage).  This layer of abstraction from the physical ensures that anything running within your Cloud won’t care about what physical hardware is running underneath.  This assists in keeping things standardised and easier for them to be moved around the Cloud.
  • Software Defined Data Center Services: Services that historically were embedded and run directly from proprietary physical hardware are now run as virtualized instances within the Cloud layer described above.  These services are the "intelligent software" that VMware refers to and could include services such; firewall, IDS/IPS, antivirus, data deduplication, replication and load balancing to name a few.
  • Policy Based Automation: Of course having all of these services is a great thing, but wrapping a layer of intelligent automation around the deployment/provisioning, configuration, management and operations of the Cloud and the SDDC services layer, mentioned above, is what really defines and provides the value of a SDDC.  In providing this level of policy based automation increased efficiency and decreased system provisioning times are achieved, which is very important to the majority of modern day businesses in achieving an edge over their competitors.
    So you are probably asking yourself, "how does the SDDC differ from Cloud Computing"?  The answer is simple, Cloud Computing is focused around the operational side of IT, it has provided a new way of delivering and consuming IT services, for example; the self provisioning of virtual machines on demand which can greatly reduce the time to provide the business with IT systems or service platforms.  The SDDC takes things to a new level by providing increased levels of value and intelligence to the deployment/provisioning, configuration, management and operations of a data enter, through all three layers outlined above.

What is a VMware SDDC

With this underlying infrastructure (i.e.: compute, network and storage) hardware in a SDDC being standardised and mainstream, then the focus, value and differentiation that a vendor (eg: storage or networking vendor) now provides sits at the software layer, rather than the more traditional combination of proprietary hardware and software.  Gone are the days when vendors invested heavily in producing their own proprietary chips and other components, with the x86 chipset being adopted as the defacto standard in most instances, vendors can turn their focus from hardware R&D to the software layer.  As you can no doubt imagine there are considerable financial savings to be had in vendors now not having to design and produce their own proprietary hardware.

Here at EMC almost all of our storage products are now based on the Intel x86 chipset and other industry standardised hardware (e.g.: hard drives).  We now provide our customers with value-add in areas that are based around the software (and of course other important areas such as after-sales support, etc) stack.

Early adoption of the SDDC is and will no doubt in the short term be from enterprise level businesses and service providers who are looking at new ways to resolve issues around scaling their sizeable data center environments.  The number of large service providers offering Cloud based offerings has increased dramatically in recent years and these services providers increasingly need to find ways to improve their operation efficiency, to lower costs and the time to bring their products to market.  Though over time with a wider adoption of SDDC we will no doubt see the SDDC move toward the mid and smaller business sectors.

I personally welcome the SDDC as it is yet another major concept, similar to Cloud Computing, that keeps this vIndustry fresh, moving forward and continuing to evolve and innovate.