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Who Will Automate the Cloud?

About five years ago, policy-based orchestration and datacenter automation—two of my favorite topics—were enjoying a renaissance due to rapidly growing virtualized environments. Quickly, most of the interesting start-up technology was acquired either by the big datacenter management gorillas or by the hypervisor makers.

Sadly, it’s taken too long for much of it to make its way back out. Why? Some solutions were oversold (they only automated relatively simple IT workflows, which were easily scripted) and some were over-engineered. Security was often an afterthought and reporting was virtually absent. And for the most part, the early solutions only dealt with server automation, which is of course only part of the picture.

For datacenter automation solutions to deliver significant ROI, they need to automate the lifecycle of a complete workload—including compute, network, and storage resources—and therein lays the problem. Even if an enterprise datacenter has as much elasticity in the network and storage layers as it has in its virtualized server layer, coordinating resource allocations, automating multi-tiered provisioning, and managing contention across multiple technologies, operational silos, and business units quickly becomes overwhelming. Especially if you also have to keep everything running.

Of course, writing policies to automate IT processes is much easier if you don’t have to manage the underlying resources at the same time, which is why the cloud is an ideal place to finally put automation and orchestration technology to the test.

We’ve been closely watching two start-ups that both aim to make IT infrastructure in the cloud as easy to manage as a Flickr album. Nimbula, recently out of stealth, is headed up by the team that delivered EC2. They intend to combine what they know about managing cloud IT at scale with enterprise-class control and security, and I’m eager to see more after a small taste at VMworld.

Also in the game is Abiquo, whose “resource cloud” concept delivers essentially a complete virtual enterprise, wherever it’s needed, with a terrific management dashboard that impressed even this tough GUI critic. Abiquo’s been testing its tech for a few years already, with an open source community edition and an impressive roster of early adopters.

I’ll be diving more deeply into cloud automation in the coming months...I'm eager to see the promise of true policy-based orchestration realized, finally.

  • Premiered: 10/18/10
  • Author: Taneja Group
Topic(s): Abiquo Automation Cloud Cloud Management Management Nimbula


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