Meeting Cloud Automation and Orchestration Challenges with Cloudify from GigaSpaces

logoWhite-OpeA recent Gartner study projected that through 2015, “80 percent of outages impacting mission-critical services will be caused by people and process issues, and more than 50 percent of those outages will be caused by change, configuration, release integration and handoff issues.”[i]

In addition, a recent survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute determined that “the average cost of data center downtime across industries was approximately $7,900 per minute (a 41-percent increase from the $5,600 in 2010).”[ii] VentureBeat editor-in-chief Dylan Tweney calculated Google lost $545,000 when an outage affecting all of their online services went down for 5 minutes in August 2013.[iii]

With an increasingly larger portion of business being transacted online, the impact of downtime on a company’s bottom line can be significant. With the move to Cloud and SaaS delivery models, both customer-facing applications and an organization’s entire IT infrastructure are at risk. Moreover, a worst-case scenario would be different teams running different tools for each layer – a sort of “anti-DevOps” approach. No doubt, there are still siloed IT organizations where multiple, redundant and incompatible tools are being deployed.

Chris Wolf, a research vice president at Gartner, in a recent posting states, “One of the great myths today is that there is all of this centralized hybrid Cloud management happening – for the most part, it doesn’t exist in terms of what folks are actually doing. In nearly every case where we see a hybrid Cloud environment, the customer is using separate sets of tools to manage its public and private Cloud environments. There just truly isn’t a ‘single pane of glass’ today; that’s the problem.”[iv]

While Wolf’s analysis might well reflect the current state of enterprise Cloud, there is no doubt that organizations building their own Cloud environments will surely look to standardize on automation and orchestration tools and processes that offer the most flexibility and speed of deployment capabilities while maintaining alignment with business goals. GigaSpaces developed Cloudify specifically to address these critical end-user requirements.

Cloud Journey

Cloudify enables customers to onboard and scale any app, on any Cloud, with no code changes, while maintaining full visibility and control.

GigaSpaces CTO Nati Shalom, in a recent blog post entitled “Eight Cloud and Big Data Predictions for 2014”, suggests, “Orchestration and automation will be the next big thing in 2014. Having said all that, the remaining challenge of enterprises is to break the IT bottleneck. This bottleneck is created by IT-centric decision-making processes, a.k.a. ‘IaaS First Approach,’ in which IT is focused on building a private Cloud infrastructure – a process that takes much longer than anticipated when compared with a more business/application-centric approach.”

In addition, Shalom states, “One of the ways to overcome that challenge is to abstract the infrastructure and allow other departments within the organization to take a parallel path towards the Cloud, while ensuring future compatibility with new development in the IT-led infrastructure. Configuration management, orchestration and workflow automation become key enablers in enterprise transition to Cloud, and will gain much attention in 2014.”

The Emergence of DevOps

Shalom also points to the emergence of DevOps, a combination of development and IT operations, as a “key example for a business-led initiative that determines the speed of innovation and, thus, competitiveness of many organizations. The move to DevOps forces many organizations to go through both cultural and technology changes in making the business and application more closely aligned, not just in goals, but in processes and tools as well.”

Cloudify Automation Slide

Cloudify Unifies the Cloud Stack

Cloudify is a Cloud orchestration platform developed by GigaSpaces that allows any application to run on any Cloud, public or private, with no code changes. More than three years ago, GigaSpaces anticipated the need for higher level tools to accelerate the onboarding and migration of mission-critical applications to the Cloud.

Since its release, Cloudify has been adopted by many large organizations – including multi-national financial institutions – as a de facto standard for bridging the gap between the IaaS layer and the application layer. With Cloudify, it is now possible to adopt a Cloud automation and orchestration framework that provides IT organizations, systems integrators, software developers and application owners with the ability to quickly deploy applications securely with standard interfaces (APIs).

Cloudify is designed to bring any app to any Cloud, enabling enterprises, ISVs, and managed service providers alike to quickly benefit from the Cloud automation and elasticity that organizations need today. Cloudify helps users maximize application onboarding and automation by externally orchestrating the application deployment and runtime.

Cloudify’s DevOps approach treats infrastructure as code, enabling users to describe deployment and post-deployment steps for any application through an external blueprint, which users can then take from Cloud to Cloud, unchanged. 

Cloudify is now available as an open source solution under the Apache license agreement or through GigaSpaces directly for those organizations looking for a premium services package. Cloudify and GigaSpaces work with many other open source Cloud automation and orchestration tools such as OpenStack’s Heat as well as Chef and Puppet. Cloudify also enables applications migrating to and from OpenStack, HP’s Cloud Services, Rackspace, AWS, CloudStack, Microsoft Azure and VMWare.

TOSCA (Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications) from OASIS is an open source specification that works to “enhance the portability of Cloud applications and services.” The goal of TOSCA is to enable cross-Cloud, cross-tools orchestration of applications on the Cloud. In the 3.0 version of Cloudify, GigaSpaces is working on putting TOSCA into the mix and using its concepts as a canonical application model.

Cloudify uses an orchestration plan, or blueprint, that is inspired by TOSCA. The blueprint contains an application topology model: IaaS components, middleware components and application components. For each of these elements, Cloudify describes the component lifecycle and dependencies with other components (dubbed relationships). In addition, each node defines a set of policies that allow Cloudify to enforce application availability and health.

Cloudify translates these topologies into real, managed installations by running automation processes described in the blueprint workflows. These workflows trigger the lifecycle operations implemented by the Cloudify plugin, which uses different Cloud APIs as well as tools such as Chef, Puppet and others.

OpenStack: The Open Source Alternative to AWS

“Deploy, manage and scale” is a mantra for rapid application delivery in the Cloud. As previously mentioned, AWS and other CSPs accomplish this through standardization on a single IaaS platform. Three years ago, AWS competitor Rackspace, along with NASA, introduced the OpenStack initiative – essentially as an open source alternative to AWS – which now has more than 50 IT vendors and CSPs actively supporting and participating in the community, including AT&T, Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, NetApp, Red Hat, Suse, VMware and Yahoo!.

OpenStack is a Cloud operating system acting as an IaaS platform to control large pools of compute, storage and networking resources throughout a data center. Released in September 2012 as open source software under the Apache license, OpenStack has become the most deployed IaaS platform in the world, embraced by thousands of service providers, government agencies, non-profit organizations and multinational corporations. The OpenStack community just announced the 8th release of its Havana software for building and supporting public, private and hybrid Cloud application infrastructure.

A recent survey conducted for Red Hat by IDG Connect shows 84 percent of enterprise IT decision makers surveyed say that OpenStack is part of future private Cloud plans. “Sixty percent of survey respondents indicated they are in the early stages of their OpenStack deployments, and have not yet either completed the implementation stage or are early in the process. Survey respondents cited management visibility (73 %); deployment speed (72 %); platform flexibility (69 %); better agility (69 %); and competitive advantage (67 %) as the unique benefits offered by OpenStack over private Cloud alternatives.”[v]

In early 2013, to keep pace with the innovation coming out of the open source Cloud community, Amazon introduced OpsWorks to provide AWS customers with a “powerful end-to-end platform that gives you an easy way to manage applications of nearly any scale and complexity without sacrificing control.” While OpsWorks is not an open source product, so far Amazon does not charge extra for it. OpsWorks does however support a few open source solutions such as Chef version 11 and open source development languages such as Java, PHP and Ruby on Rails along with open source databases MySQL and Memcached.

It remains to be seen whether a wide swath of customers will embrace OpsWorks – even within the AWS framework – because a dedicated, proprietary AWS solution that locks companies and their applications into the Amazon Cloud will likely have limited appeal for many organizations. Large enterprises and some SMBs not only need a solution that manages Cloud infrastructure resources and interactions with users, they also need portability across private and hybrid (private/public) Cloud platforms.

Cloudify User Insights

A large multinational financial services company that has implemented Cloudify offers the following insights.

  • Setup usually takes quite a bit of time when there are no best practices and no structure to follow. Cloudify allowed us to model this process in a very well defined way using application blueprints. When dealing with hundreds or even thousands of applications that we might want to migrate to the Cloud, this can be quite a timesaver.
  • Regarding ongoing operations, when an application or component fails, there is the cost of downtime and the cost of bringing the application back up again. Cloudify does a few things for us to avoid such situations.
  • Cloudify supports proactively scaling out an application when load increases, thus avoiding downtimes caused by overload.
  • Cloudify enables auto-healing application components upon failure, thus minimizing the Mean Time to Recovery (MTTR) when an application fails.
  • For enterprises like ours, with private Clouds, the ability for each application to consume only the amount of resources that it needs at any given point in time means significant improvement in our data center utilization and cost savings.
  • Development and testing in many cases requires replicating complete environments, which is very costly without a good automation framework. Cloudify allowed us to set up an entire application with all of its supporting resources at the click of a button. In fact, we have a few users that are using Cloudify only for that.

Conclusion 

There is no doubt that enterprises are looking for additional deployment support when it comes to implementing private and public Cloud solutions. The benefits of freeing up internal infrastructure and enabling DevOps to bring applications to market more quickly are unquestionably real. What is not so clear is which path to the Cloud will provide the least friction and the fastest time to value.

Cloudify is winning converts in the banking, finance, retail, hospitality and telecom industries as well as gaining credibility with partners such as IBM, HP and Alcatel-Lucent when customers require native OpenStack and multi-Cloud support. A framework and approach that touches all the Cloud layers unifying the Cloud stack while simultaneously simplifying DevOps is a compelling combination of capabilities.

Enterprises looking to “Cloudify” their mission-critical applications will be hard pressed to find a more comprehensive, innovative, intuitive, open-source, community-supported solution than GigaSpaces has created in Cloudify.

This post is an excerpt from a whitepaper entitled Cloudify from GigaSpaces: Delivering Mission-Critical Applications to the Cloud at the Speed of Business. The full report can be viewed through this link


About Gary MacFadden

Gary's career in the IT industry spans more than 25 years starting in software sales and marketing for IBM partners DAPREX and Ross Data Systems, then moving to the IT Advisory and Consulting industry with META Group, Giga and IDC. He is a co-founder of The Robert Frances Group where his responsibilities have included business development, sales, marketing, senior management and research roles. For the past several years, Gary has been a passionate advocate for the use of analytics and information governance solutions to transform business and customer outcomes, and regularly consults with both end-user and vendor organizations who serve the banking, healthcare, insurance, high tech and utilities industries. Gary is also a frequent contributor to the Wikibon.org research portal, a sought after speaker for industry events and blogs frequently on Healthcare IT (HIT) topics.
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