5 Reasons to Consider a Full-Service Cloud Manager
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Public and private cloud has become a way of life for most IT operations. As companies explore cloud management, inevitably they come to a "build vs. buy" decision. I spoke with cloud architects who use Cloudify and asked why it was the right choice for their operations, here is what they said.
Cloudify is a world class cloud management system that works across public and private cloud environments. Its library of plugins allows you to leverage any cloud platform and any orchestration technology. Cloudify is also extensible, providing a development wireframe that enables you to create new plugins to integrate with additional tools, technologies, or homegrown services. Its unique "blueprint" technology enables you to rapidly build complex compute, network and application environments using little or no code. And it provides a fully featured "front end" allowing your users to manage their own environments across any datacenter or cloud platform. It also provides integration with CI\CD and ITSM tools to make it easy to include cloud environment orchestration as part of your existing IT and DevOps processes.. Here are some reasons why you may want to consider using Cloudify as your cloud management solution.
Your operation must expose resources, enable users to self-serve and then properly manage deployments. The architects I spoke with found that Cloudify brought significant operations improvements. Some customers rely on the Cloudify API to add automation to systems like ServiceNow However, Cloudify has an elegant, multi-tenant user portal with full RBAC (Role Based Access Control). This allows users to select and launch vetted deployments, creating a true self-serve environment. A user's tenant governs which environments they can choose and the applicable business rules. It also prevents users from interacting directly with cloud provider APIs and consoles.
Cloudify scales to multi-platform, multi-datacenter operations. So, users can be given options for geo-dispersed or platform redundant deployments. Since Cloudify governs the full lifecycle of each deployment, it allows for for day 0,1 and 2 operations. Users can manage and modify existing deployments without having to tear down and redeploy. It's also a great choice for highly repetitive tasks like CI/CD pipeline.
Cloudify deployments are based on "blueprints". Blueprints are a collection of TOSCA instructions and other files needed to deploy an environment. Cloudify also offers a rich set of supported plugins. Plugins interface to cloud platforms, APIs and other orchestrators. Cloudify's blueprint technology and plugins give you the power to create multi-domain, multi-platform deployments. It also empowers you to use underlying orchestrators like Terraform and Ansible. Blueprints are also "modular" so, you can have underlay and overlay blueprints or "add-on" blueprints. You can manage your deployments in a "Lego" fashion, building deployments piece by piece on vetted, proven deployment blocks. Additionally, plugins make it easy to add integrations and new platforms to your blueprints.
Cloudify's rich feature set gives users and administrators everything they need to deploy and manage even the most complex cloud environments. Cloudify customers are also finding that Cloudify improves agility and competitiveness. One Cloudify customer stated that they had hired a contract team to develop their in-house cloud system. After evaluating Cloudify, they saw that it exceeded their requirements. That contract team was re-tasked with developing revenue generating apps instead.
Here are some features which set Cloudify apart:
- Multicloud, multi-technology - Some cloud managers only cater to specific platforms. Others don't support multi-cloud (mixed public and private, or mixed cloud provider). Cloudify easily supports any environment through the use of their downloadable plugins.
- Multi-tenancy with governance - Users are segregated by tenant. Tenancy governs which blueprints, data centers and platforms are available. Also, since all the public cloud interactions occurs via the plugin, there is no need to give users access to your public cloud APIs and consoles.
- Plugins for all the most common technologies - Plugins provide all API interaction with the most common cloud platforms: AWS, Azure, GCP, vSphere, vCloud and OpenStack. Additionally, plugins allow you to use other technologies for orchestration and configuration management: Terraform, Ansible and Netconf. There are also native container plugins for Kubernetes and Docker. Here is a link to Cloudify's plugin list.
- Execution management - As each blueprint deploys, Cloudify gives a detailed graphical readout. Along with the execution graph, a scrolling list of execution events displays. Once a blueprint is installed, all the key deployment information: IPs, SSH keys, applications URLs, etc. is shown.
- Managed and measured deployments - Cloudify can install and monitor probes within your deployments. These probes allow Cloudify to report the deployment's health and stats. This makes Cloudify a true deployment manager, not just a deployment engine.
- Day 0, 1 and 2 operations - Cloudify has multiple workflows which can act on an existing deployment, doing scale up, scale down, upgrade or any other day 1 or 2 operation. This means you can modify an existing deployment without destroying and replacing it. One user I spoke with said that they have dozens of standing environments. The company decided to add firewalls to their standard. Rather than destroying all their deployments, they merely made a supplemental blueprint and upgraded all the existing deployments with a day 2 workflow.
Today, you may be using Azure. But next year, you may want to switch to AWS — or you may want to include private cloud as part of your strategy. You may want to migrate from a legacy private cloud platform to a public cloud platform, or migrate Infrastructure as Code (IaC) templates out of an existing tool into a single multicloud orchestration platform. Cloudify gives you the ability to create cloud and network resources over any public or private platform, using VMs, containers, applications and networking. Your architecture and strategy choices are wide open. Another benefit is the ability to reuse your current orchestrators. So, if you've built key automations using Ansible or Terraform, you can incorporate those orchestrators into your blueprint. The plugin technology also makes it easy to add Cloudify automation to your business operations and workflow systems. For instance, ServiceNow has a Cloudify integration on their ServiceNow Store.
You can get started with Cloudify very easily, just download the community version container or Linux application. Try it out in your lab or work with WWT to POC and compare Cloudify with other systems. There are three easy ways to get started:
- Download the Community version (which includes Terraform management).
- Register for a free 30 day trial of Cloudify Premium SaaS (Software as a Service) version.
- Talk to WWT and Cloudify about a Cloudify Premium project.
Cloudify also has a robust community and GitHub support with common plugins and sample blueprints. Additionally, Cloudify makes it easy to migrate to the commercial version through license or SaaS delivery.
So, for architects and technical decision makers here are some points to consider:
- What's your timeline for getting into production? A typical build project for cloud automation can take up to 6 months, where as a blueprint can take a few days or weeks depending on complexity.
- What's your plan for support? APIs to systems and cloud providers need regular maintenance, plus there will always be feature requests and enhancements. Cloudify is a commercially supported product with multiple annual updates and robust community support.
- What is the total cost of ownership, build vs. buy? While open source products have no license costs, there are engineering hours needed to build and maintain the system. For Cloudify, your engineering time is spent building blueprints, which get you directly to production.
- Are you encoring opportunity costs by building a system? Would hours and funds be better spent on revenue generating projects as opposed to building a cloud management system? Cloudify gives you a world class cloud management system with industry leading features and support. This frees your engineers to focus on building customer-facing applications vs. support infrastructure.
As you move forward with your cloud automation strategy, Cloudify is worth a look. WWT can help you with these decisions, we have experts in every facet of cloud and network automation.