Accelerating Service Delivery While Avoiding Silos

In a prior post on Red Hat’s Open Hybrid Cloud Architecture I discussed how IT consumers, having experienced the power of the public cloud are pressing Enterprise IT to deliver new capabilities. One of these capabilities is accelerated service delivery, or the ability to more quickly develop and release new applications that meet a businesses need. In this post I’d like to examine how the Open Hybrid Cloud Architecture provides the means to satisfy this capability and how it is different then other approaches.

There are 1000 vendors who can provide accelerated service delivery, why not just buy a product?
Many vendors will try to sell a single product as being able to accelerate service delivery. The problem with this approach is that accelerating service delivery goes far beyond a single product. This is because no single product can provide all the necessary components of application development that an IT consumer could want. Think about all the languages, frameworks, and technologies from Java, .NET, node.js to Hadoop, Casandra, Mongo to <insert your favorite technology name here>. The availability of these languages from a single product, vendor, or operating system in an optimized manner is highly unlikely. An approach that tries to accelerate service delivery within a single product or technology creates yet another silo and doesn’t solve the fundamental problem of accelerating service delivery across all an IT organization’s assets.

How can Enterprise IT provide accelerated service delivery capabilities while avoiding a silo?
By leveraging an architecture that is flexible and where each component is aware of it’s neighbors, organizations can accelerate service delivery without building a silo. Even better, having a component within your architecture that has a comprehensive understanding of every other component means virtually endless possibility for workload deployment and management. Want to deploy your workload as a VM using PXE on Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, a template within VMWare vSphere, instances on OpenStack using Heat, or a gear in OpenShift? You can only do that if you understand each one of those technologies. Don’t build your logic for operations management into a single layer – keep it abstracted to ensure you can plug in whichever implementation of IaaS and PaaS best meets your needs. Does your application maintain too much state locally or scale vertically? Then it belongs on a traditional virtualization platform like VMware or RHEV. Is it a stateless scale out application? Then you can deploy on OpenStack. Are the languages and other dependencies available within a PaaS? Then it belongs in OpenShift. However, just deploying to each of those platforms is not enough.  What about deploying one part of your workload as gears in OpenShift and another part as instances on OpenStack at the same time? You must be able to deploy to ALL platforms within the same workload definition! The Open Hybrid Cloud Architecture is providing the foundation for such flexibility in deployment and management of workloads in the cloud.

Can you provide an example?
Let’s look at an example of a developer who would like to develop a new application for the finance team within his organization. The developer would like to utilize ruby as a web front end and utilize .NET within an IIS application server to perform some other functions. This developer expects the same capabilities that he gets using Google App Engine in that he wants to be able to push code and have it running in seconds. The user wants to request a catalog item from CloudForms which will provide them with the two components. The first is a ruby application running in the OpenShift PaaS. The second is a virtual machine running on either Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, VMware vSphere, or Red Hat Open Stack. The service designer who designed this catalog bundle recognized that ruby applications can run in OpenShift and because OpenShift provides greater efficiencies for hosting applications then running the application within it’s own virtual machine the designer ensured that the component run in the PaaS layer. OpenShift also provides automation of the software development process which will give the end user of the designed service greater velocity in development. Since the IIS application server wasn’t available within the PaaS layer, the service designer utilized a virtual machine at the datacenter virtualization layer (vSphere) to provide this capability.

Step by Step
diagram01

1. The user requests the catalog item. CloudForms could optionally provide workflow (approval, quota, etc) and best fit placement at this point.

2. CloudForms provisions the ruby application in OpenShift Enterprise. The Ruby application is running as a gear.

3. CloudForms orchestrates the adding of an action hook into the OpenShift deployment. This can be done using any configuration management utility. I used puppet and The Foreman in my demo video below.

4. The user begins developing their ruby application. They clone the repository and then commit and push the changes.

5. The action hook within OpenShift is triggered by the deploy stage of the OpenShift lifecycle and calls CloudForms API requesting a virtual machine be created.

6. CloudForms provisions the virtual machine.

This is really just the beginning of the process, but hopefully you can see where it’s going. CloudForms can perform the deployment and tear down of the virtual machines each time a developer updates their application in OpenShift. It can even tie into other continuous integration systems to deploy application code into the IIS application server. This rapid delivery of the environment is taking place across both the PaaS and IaaS. It also doesn’t try to invent a new “standard description” across all different types of models, instead it understands the models and methods of automation within each component of the architecture and orchestrates them. While the virtual machines running at the IaaS layer don’t provide the same level of density as the PaaS, CloudForms and OpenShift can be combined to provide similar operational efficiency and expand the capabilities of OpenShift’s Accelerated Service Delivery across an IT organizations entire base of assets.

I still don’t believe you, can you show me?
Want to see it in action? Check out this short video demonstration in either Ogg or Quicktime format.

You can download the action hook here.

You can download the OpenOffice Draw Diagram here.

This is cool, what would be even cooler?
If the client tools could be intercepted by CloudForms it could provide a lot of operational management capabilities to OpenShift. For example, when `rhc app create` is run CloudForms could provide approvals, workflow, quota to the OpenShift applications. Or perhaps a future command such as `rhc app promote` could utilize the approvals and automation engine inside CloudForms to provide controlled promotions of applications through a change control process.

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