Tag Archives: Cloud Manager

Introduction to Cloud Computing – Cloud Manager

So, I normally teach this class as a two hour session and I had a heck of a time cutting out material and getting it down to something digestible for Internet (and slide deck) viewing. It’s a quick introduction to cloud managers and a continuation of my introductory cloud computing course.

OpenStack Administrative Interface

For an open source platform I think the basic interface provided out of the gate for OpenStack is OK.  A little sparse on options even for an end user interface.  Looks like a lot of development investment would have to be made to make the UI as clean as some of the other products I’ve seen.  It’s more important for them to get the automation process working correctly at this point in the project.  I like the key injection and the ability for dynamic volume provisioning.  Some other options I’d like to see would include cloning/snapshots.

I’m also not sure if you can create business rules for provisioning.  Some of the questions that pop to my head would be how do I limit the total number of resources available to this sample project.  A better question for this view would be how would the user know the total available resources left for his allowance for this project.  Reporting on if my project resources expire etc.

Developing Cloud Manager’s with the features needed for both a public or private cloud is a BIG project.  I’m sure the project team and Rackspace are up to the task.  I’ll continue to watch the progress of this project.

Cloud Manager Options

If you want to develop a Private or Public Cloud you have a couple of options for cloud managers.  Click here for a quick intro to why you need a cloud manager.  It seems that the defacto standard for VMware based virtualized environment has been vCloud Director.  The latest version has fixed the short comings of the previous version and is a solid choice for an all vSphere environment.  But what if you want to offer a tiered level of service for your compute stack?  Let’s say XenServer for development workloads and vSphere for production workloads or what if you didn’t want a vSphere environment for your cloud?

What are your options?

Novell Cloud Manager (Now NetIQ) 

But if you have a non-VMware environment or a mixed hypervisor environment then your options start to get thin for a simple to use and deploy solution.  Novell has a great product in their Novell Cloud Manager.  It’s based on Novell Orchestrator so, it’s not exactly simple to deploy.  But the interface is really slick and it’s a powerful solution.

It supports all the major hypervisors and has great list of features including Chargeback.


OpenStack is the open source cloud platform sponsored by NASA and Rackspace.  OpenStack has a long way to go before I would consider it simple at all.  It’s a typical open source solution.  There’s very little finish to the product.  You will need to dedicate development resources to the solution to get it installed and to maintain it going forward.  Hypervisor support is not as great either.  This is due partially to Microsoft lack of support in developing bug fixes for the interfaces to the project.  I’d put Eucalyptus in the same category as OpenStack. It’s much more mature than OpenStack but the out of the box interface is underwhelming.   You’d also have to get the Enterprise solution to support get support for vSphere.

Abiquo Enterprise

A solution for a smaller company I recently looked at is Abiquo Enterprise.  Abiquo claims that they have an open source project but I haven’t been able to get a distro of it for well over a year.  I did take a look at their enterprise solution.  It has one of the best interfaces I’ve seen and support all of the major hypervisors.  One area I found it lacking is Chargeback features.  There are no tools for provisioning based on cost of resources.  Overall I do like the product.

Do you have a different impression of these solutions? What other cloud managers have you used or recommend?

What Makes a Virtualized Environment a Cloud?

It’s all about the Cloud Manager.

According to NIST the characteristics of a cloud include Elastic, Broadband Access, Measured Service (Pay as you go), Self Provisioning and Pooled Service.  All of the cloud modes can meet the 5 characteristics.  But what makes a virtualized environment a “Cloud”.

This is a fairly common question.  After all you could slap together a hypervisor based infrastructure and have 3 to 4 of the characteristics of a cloud and be able to offer Infrastructure as a Service.  However to meet NIST’s and what I think what has become the common definition of a cloud you need all 5 attributes.

This is where the Cloud Manager comes into play.  All of the major Hypervisor providers will give you the tools you need to provide an Elastic, Pooled Service available via Broadband.  It’s the Measured Service and Self Provisioning that introduces the challenge.

Most people think of the cloud manager as the interface to the cloud provider’s service portal.  The cloud manager is actually the orchestration layer that ties the entire infrastructure together to enable your cloud offering.

The Cloud Manager enables the accounting for measuring service as well as the ability to orchestrate the provisioning of services once a user requests resources.  The orchestration of the provisioning attribute is an extremely complicated workflow to automate.

Think about everything that needs to happen in an infrastructure as a service.  A user requests a VM with 80GB of disk space, 2GB of RAM, 2 CPU Cores and a public IP.  All of these resources need to be provisioned in multiple systems and the accounting needs to be tracked throughout the life of the VM.  The Cloud Manager needs to communicate with the Hypervisor, Storage and Network.  In addition, if the environment is built on VMWare the orchestration layer needs to be aware of DRS and vMotion.

Now let’s complicate it a bit more.  Let’s say you want to offer varying levels of service.  You might decide to offer fast storage vs. slow, highly redundant vs. economical compute.  This means the orchestration between the cloud manager and infrastructure needs to me even more capable. In IaaS environments selecting a product to fulfill all of these needs can be difficult.  If you add the requirement that your solution be open to multiple Hypervisor platforms it further limits the list of available products.  This is one area where an all VMWare solution may not be an option as vCloud Director has its short comings in addition to being dependent of all VMWare compute layer.

Software as a Service and Platform as a Service can be even more complex depending on how the backend of the solution is provisioned.  I have yet to see a mature off the shelf solution that addresses SaaS and PaaS.

So it’s all about the Cloud Manager.  When investigating a private, community of public cloud don’t underestimate the importance of the “user interface”.  It’s actually the heart of your project and the area you’ll most likely spend the most time.