Advanced Orchestration Turns Many Clouds into One

The more the enterprise turns to the cloud in support of expanding workloads, the more complex it becomes.

The cloud’s chief advantage over traditional infrastructure, after all, is the ease at which resources can be provisioned for any task. But problems arise when this is done on a piecemeal basis, most commonly when business units and even individuals take it upon themselves to build their own clouds with no thought to how they will integrate with either legacy infrastructure or the clouds that their colleagues are provisioning. In the end, the enterprise runs the real risk of recreating the same silo-based architectures that cause so much aggravation in the data center.

This is why cloud orchestration is emerging as a key growth area in IT circles these days. The ability to coordinate cloud activities through software not only enhances service and application performance, it helps streamline cloud architectures so you don’t end up paying for duplicate or unused resources.

Cloud providers themselves, in fact, are starting to see the value in providing integrated orchestration services within their platforms. CenturyLink, for example, spent a cool $12 million for Orchestrate, a Database-as-a-Service startup that specializes in managing workloads over disparate resources. The platform will allow organizations to leverage multiple distributed databases under a single API that enables full-text search, key-value storage and other functions in support of real-time Big Data analytics.

Meanwhile, Egenera is out with a new orchestration service aimed at bringing advanced management capabilities to solution providers and channel partners. The aim here is to enable them to provide ongoing management services to their enterprise clients without imposing substantial start-up costs. The Xterity platform is based on software that Egenera originally developed for converged infrastructure. It is now available on Equinix hosted data center facilities around the world, giving channel providers the ability to deliver management services virtually anywhere, usually at wholesale prices. The enterprise, of course, benefits from a scalable management platform that can coordinate activity across multiple clouds without having to hire an army of IT technicians.

Most orchestration platforms are built around the management and interoperability of virtual machines, but once those become containerized the challenge enters an entirely new dimension. Container specialist Docker is already working out an orchestration platform, having bought out the U.K.’s Orchid Laboratories and the Fig orchestration service. The company plans for containers to become the new basis for cloud computing and the emerging field of microservices, so the ability to deploy a coordinated pool of containers is a must. A key requirement is the ability to deploy applications over distributed multi-container architectures while still maintaining individual containers as discrete entities.

And cloud management firm RightScale recently announced the integration of its Cloud Portfolio Management platform with the PaaS-based ServiceNow enterprise management suite. The match-up allows organizations to quickly deploy best-of-breed management tools across public, private and virtual environments, including the ability to orchestrate applications across multiple cloud deployments. This includes not only VM provisioning, but automated deployment and management of multi-tiered cloud applications using standardized instances, software stacks and applications. Service brokerage is also available across public and private infrastructure, including AWS, Azure, OpenStack and vSphere.

Deploying database platforms in the cloud is all about flexibility. For this, there needs to be widespread compatibility and coordination across a multitude of underlying hardware and software constructs. Before the enterprise becomes overly reliant on the cloud for its database workloads, it would be wise to take stock of emerging management and orchestration platforms, just to make sure it can keep this sprawling work environment from spinning out of control.

Arthur ColeArthur Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.

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