In the first blog in this blog series, we talked about what a hybrid cloud is in general (and why customers are interested). In the second blog, we talked specifically about the EMC Hybrid Cloud (EHC) solution. Now that we understand the architecture of the EMC Hybrid Cloud, the next obvious question becomes, “This all sounds really cool, but what can I actually do with EHC?” I’m glad you asked…
Defining Use Cases and Your Service Catalog
Before we go into specifics, it’s important to take a step back and talk at a high level about use cases. EHC is a powerful solution, but it’s only a stack of hardware and software just waiting for you to tell it what to do. Not every organization wants or needs the same things out of a hybrid cloud, so there is no “one size fits all” solution.
First, you need to figure out your use cases. In other words, what do you want EHC to provide for your developers, administrators, and users (your “cloud consumers”)? Those use cases will ultimately populate your service catalog, which is what your cloud consumers will use to provision these resources. Think of it like a restaurant menu—you wouldn’t open up a restaurant without knowing what you were going to put on the menu.
Infrastructure as a Service
EHC was designed from the ground up to be deployed quickly. We were able to deploy EHC at EMC World in just 48 hours using a set of predefined use cases. The idea behind deploying so quickly is to help get customers up and running on a hybrid cloud without the usual months of effort. The primary “out of the box” use case for EHC is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), which allows you to provision new servers directly from a service catalog. For customers that are still provisioning servers manually, this is a huge win.
As we discussed in part one of this blog series, we frequently hear from customers that business units are going around IT and deploying their own resources directly from services like Amazon. It’s not that these users prefer Amazon, it’s simply that Amazon can provide this capability while IT cannot. Enter the EMC Hybrid Cloud.
With EHC, IT now has the same capabilities as Amazon to deliver those resources quickly and easily. Most users don’t care where the server lives, they only want it deployed quickly when they need it. EHC allows IT to better control those resources while still giving their users what they need.
Once IT becomes comfortable with the IaaS components of EHC, it’s time to start thinking about additional add-on use cases that can bring you closer to a true ITaaS model.
Applications as a Service
If you saw our Build a Hybrid Cloud Live demonstrations at EMC World, you saw that we didn’t stop at IaaS. As part of the demo, we showcased the ability to deploy applications or an entire application stack all from within that same service catalog. For example, we showed that EHC can deploy the entire software stack for a Microsoft SharePoint Server environment, including an Active Directory domain controller, a SQL Server, and a SharePoint Server all with just a few clicks.
Consider the SharePoint developer who wants to test a new application server, new code, or perhaps even a newer version of SQL Server. Rather than waiting days for IT to provision those resources, the developer can simply access the portal and have that entire environment in a matter of hours. This use case could be extended to include other applications or development environments, making EHC the “one stop shop” for developers in your environment.
You could also leverage EHC to deploy database as a service (DBaaS), as I discussed in a previous post. The EHC service portal can let developers and DBAs provision new database servers or individual databases, providing another layer of service to make IT more efficient.
You might not automatically think about hybrid clouds when talking about creating new users or services for those users in your environment. In fact, a typical new user process (often triggered by a workflow from HR) is often a manual process that has numerous steps that are prone to human error. Why not automate that process?
The automation engine of EHC is VMware vCloud Automation Center (vCAC), a powerful tool that can integrate into numerous other systems. vCAC can integrate into Active Directory to provision a new user account and grant access to the appropriate virtual desktop pool, integrate into your email platform to create a new mailbox, and provide access to a department-wide Syncplicity share—just to name a few examples.
Storage as a Service
EHC includes ViPR, EMC’s technology for true software-defined storage. ViPR can be integrated into the vCAC service catalog to provide access to storage provisioning in a way that is truly unique. This allows management and provisioning of storage that is automated and policy based, making it easier to quickly deploy storage for new projects. As your hybrid cloud grows and new storage platforms are added, they can all be managed by ViPR and provisioned via EHC.
In technology today we’re bombarded by the word “cloud” and all of the magical things it can do and problems it can solve. A lot of it may seem difficult to comprehend or simply too difficult to implement. EHC was designed to address that problem. We showed at EMC World that it can be deployed quickly, and that it can actually deliver on the full potential of cloud computing.
I hope this three-part blog series on the EMC Hybrid Cloud has been informative and useful as you consider implementing a hybrid cloud in your environment. The response from our demonstrations at EMC World has been overwhelming, with many customers looking to adopt EHC in their own environments. There’s a lot more to come from EHC, so stay tuned to this space to learn more about EHC both now and in the future.