Driving Utilization with Consumable Services with a Hyper-converged Cloud

IT organizations are facing a growing challenge to rapidly provide compelling consumer services that leverage new and existing data center infrastructure.

Dec 21, 2016 4 minute read

Wouldn’t it be great it we could quickly create a cloud experience with hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) to increase data center utilization, standardize services across multiple assets, and align with application use cases? WWT has looked at this specific scenario in our Advanced Technology Center (ATC).

But first, a quick recap of the benefits of HCI:

  • Easy to design, size, procure and lifecycle
  • Predictable and scalable performance
  • Power data management features
  • Start small and grow along with business needs
  • Simplified management
  • Low-risk hardware and software upgrades
  • Non-disruptive hardware lifecycles
  • Commodity-based compute and storage technology
  • Simplified and standardized management and APIs

That last point – simplified and standardized management and APIs – is arguably the most important as it relates to using HCI under a cloud management platform. If managing the infrastructure is complex, all resources are spent managing the infrastructure and not spent building out a more reliable and scalable cloud management layer. It’s the classic “we can barely keep the lights on” scenario. Alternatively, if the management APIs are non-existent or unstable, getting a cloud management tool to work at all, much less consistently, can be a significant and expensive ongoing effort. Both of these need to be in place, and HCI is the enabler that makes it happen.

Cisco CloudCenter (formerly CliQr) is an application focused cloud management platform that standardizes consumption of data center, private and public clouds. This platform provides:

  • Secure deployment and management of applications to data center, private and public clouds
  • Consistent user experience across the integrated environments
  • RESTful API for northbound and southbound integrations
  • Ability to leverage standard scripting languages as external services
  • Full subtenant support
  • Application benchmarking with cost and performance
  • Application migration and bursting

To drive consumption of the HCI infrastructure, WWT has deployed Cisco CloudCenter to quickly publish infrastructure (IaaS) apps (SaaS). With CloudCenter, a single application profile can be deployed to any integrated environment. In this case, we are creating a cloud with HCI.

In the ATC we integrated CloudCenter with our HCI to abstract the vCenter API’s based on parameters defined by our administrators. By creating “instances” we can publish virtual machine sizes that uniformly consume the available compute, network and storage elements with the infrastructure. As shown in Figure 1. application profiles are then created and published giving users the ability to self-provision a virtual machine or a full application build. In addition, the administrators also have the option to include deployment of software agents such as Tanium or automate external systems like a F5 Load Balancer and IPAM.

Figure 1: Application Profiles

application profiles

A significant aspect of this integration is empowering the IT team with the ability to quantify and drive data center utilization.

As noted in Figure 2 administrators have the option of assigning costs to instance types that they have configured. Effectively we are delivering a cloud experience to the end users with the ability to report actual data center utilization rates and reporting (i.e. “showback”), allowing for proactive planning and innovation with quantified data.

Figure 2:

These types of features align IT with the needs of the application teams that they must support. By giving the application owners and teams the ability to self-provision commonly used applications there are several distinct benefits:

  • IT is removed from transactional cycles allowing their focus to be on innovation
  • Application owners immediately gain efficiencies by reducing cycles and closing gaps in their application development projects
  • Rapid and efficient collaboration between IT and application teams

Today, IT teams should be exploring how the user experience of solutions like a hyper-converged cloud can help them increase service adoption and drive higher data center utilization rates, which significantly improves the return on investment and time-to-value for the IT organization. Meeting the business use cases by providing a compelling user experience is a key element in meeting those goals. 

Interested in hearing more? Reach out to your WWT account manager or contact us here.

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