Five Critical Layers of Next-Gen Data Center Automation and Orchestration

As more users utilize content delivered directly from cloud resources, the data center will need to be able to handle the influx of new demand

Bill Kleyman

August 17, 2015

5 Min Read
Five Critical Layers of Next-Gen Data Center Automation and Orchestration
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If you look at the modern data center and cloud landscape you’ll notice a lot more interconnectivity and new capabilities to dynamically pass resources. Some solutions even allow for cross-connects for the easier flow of data. The interesting piece here is how all of these technologies, which are currently influencing the end user and corporation, are directly pushing for the evolution of the modern data center through data center automation. Cloud computing, Big Data and IT consumerization have transformed the data center into the central hub for everything.

Today, there are entire organizations that are born from a cloud model which resides within the data center. Looking ahead, new cloud and data center control systems will only continue to become more critical. As more users utilize content delivered directly from cloud resources, the data center will need to be able to handle the influx of new demand.

This means creating new efficiencies at all levels via data center automation.

Here are the Five Key Automation and Orchestration Layers:

  • It’s no longer about 1-to-1 application server mapping. Now, with high-density computing and the need for greater levels of multi-tenancy, servers are hosting more users and more workloads. Data center administrators don’t have the time to configure individual blades. Now, hardware and server profiles are built in seconds. Admins only need to insert a new blade and allow the server layer automation to take over. New technologies allow administrators to create powerful “follow-the-sun” data center models where hardware automatically re-provisions itself for the appropriate set of new users. These policies can then scale cross-data center. When coupled with a load-balancing solution, you can dynamically port users to a data site that is most efficient for the workload and has the available resources. All of this is done through orchestration and automation policy.

  • Software/Application: New technologies are able to look at applications running within the data center or within the cloud and help automate and control them. Power physical and virtual load balancers, for example, can see that a certain type of application is receiving too many connections. From there, an automated process will allow the administrator to provision another instance of the application or a new server which will host the app. Furthermore, a few examples of automation include technologies like provisioning services. Application layering and provisioning services are able to connect directly into virtualization brokers to help the delivery and control of both desktops and applications. Other platforms like CloudPlatfom, OpenStack and Eucalyptus further help automate and create true cloud orchestration. From there organizations are able to granularly control hosts, clusters, various zones, and even core virtual machine resources.

  • The virtualization and hypervisor layer is more important than ever. Today, they sit as the bridge to both your data center and the cloud. Automation and orchestration tools aim to directly integrate with the virtual layer to better control resources, virtual services delivery, and the virtual workloads themselves. Automation has become such an integral piece that you have direct plug-ins into the hypervisor platform. For example, you can send VMs from one data center to another. Or, you can push entire repositories from an on-premise data center to a cloud facility all from the virtual layer. You can even integrate security policy, user control, and application automation into your hypervisor. With all of this in mind, the virtualization layer is a critical (and powerful) piece when creating your orchestration and automation strategy

  • Although still emerging, there are already very large organizations deploying technologies like CloudStack, OpenStack, and even OpenNebula for their cloud automation and extension layers. Furthermore, many cloud automation and orchestration tools now place governance and advanced policy control directly into their products. Some technologies allow cloud admins to control security aspects of their cloud. Aside from being able to control costs around resource utilization, utilizing these cloud controls creates a very dynamic automated cloud platform. Finally, automation solutions like Puppet help create a unified management and automation approach to sometimes very heterogeneous data centers. Puppet is capable of controlling environments – cloud, virtual, and physical – and allows you to automate the management of compute, storage, and network resources. To support a diverse cloud model, you can use a VMware platform, CloudStack, OpenStack, Eucalyptus, Amazon, or even your own bare-metal data center.

  • Data Center: Some services bridge the gap between IT and control engineers for connecting, managing, and automating industrial networks and control systems. Today's industrial organizations are driven to increase production and reduce costs while maintaining quality and safety. As networks converge, the physical infrastructure becomes even more critical to support the demands of real-time control, data collection, and device configuration. In a recent article, we discussed the concept of a “lights-out” data center. Although we’re not quite at that sort of advanced-robotics data center automation level, many large data center providers are looking at ways to align data center power, cooling, environmental, and overall management all together to create one intelligent control layer. The future may very well aim to directly unify cloud automation with data center resources control and delivery.

When creating any sort of data center automation or orchestration architecture, remember to design around your use case and your business. The whole idea here is to simplify business process and create new levels of efficiency. New solutions spanning the entire data center allow you to proactively manage very dynamic workloads and a diverse set of users. You’ll create better visibility into the distributed data center and be able to truly utilize the capacity of the cloud. Through it all, you’ll allow your content to flow more efficiently and allow the user to be much more productive.

About the Author(s)

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise technology. He also enjoys writing, blogging, and educating colleagues about tech. His published and referenced work can be found on Data Center Knowledge, AFCOM, ITPro Today, InformationWeek, NetworkComputing, TechTarget, DarkReading, Forbes, CBS Interactive, Slashdot, and more.

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