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Introducing Novell Cloud Manager

Soon to-be-released product creates and manages a cloud environment

Written by Jo De Baer and Eric Harper

If you’re organization is like most, you’ve found the realities of virtualization haven’t quite met your expectations. You were probably counting on virtualization to improve flexibility and reduce costs, but after spending money on large capital expenditures and consulting expenses, you'll still be coming up short of the promised ROI.

The private cloud has the potential to transform the virtualized data center by improving efficiency and reducing costs while radically increasing agility and business reponsiveness.

In addition, many application managers complain of long provisioning times, complex processes and poor visibility into application performance. I guess it’s no surprise that current estimates from industry analysts show less than fifteen percent of enterprise workloads have been virtualized.

The private cloud has the potential to transform the virtualized data center by improving efficiency and reducing costs while radically increasing agility and business responsiveness. However, implementing a private cloud presents its own challenges of security, management and sprawl. Until those challenges are addressed, organizations will continue to keep cloud computing in their plans without moving forward very quickly.

Novell Cloud Manager takes these challenges head on with a product that not only builds and manages a private cloud, but does so in a way that’s so easy to use and quick to implement, you could deploy and begin leveraging a private cloud in your own data center in days or weeks instead of months or years.

Novell Cloud Manager is also massively scalable and supports multi-tenancy, making it an ideal solution for building a new public cloud. We'll reserve this service provider focus, however, for a future Novell Connection article.

Provisioning a Service—The Typical Way

To understand the benefits of Novell Cloud Manager, I need you to first step back and think of how a typical service is provisioned in the traditional IT environment. Please note that in cloud terminology, business services are made up of one or more workloads that work together to accomplish a specific task. For example, a Web application could actually be made up of three different workloads: the Web application itself, the presentation layer users see and the back-end database that serves up the data to the application. These three different workloads work together to form one defined service.

So let's take our example here and pretend that you need to find a home for a new Web application you'll be hosting. The typical approach might be to spec out the server you need, get approval, order it and wait for it to show up. Then you'll work with your network and storage IT folks to get it racked, stacked, and properly provisioned. This process, in most enterprises, can take 60-90 days or more! That's two to three months of manual, error-prone, and difficult-to-track processes. Nothing is automated, and there's often a lot of red tape and hand-holding just to get the process started.

Novell Cloud Manager Provides an Easier Way

Now let's look at a similar example using Novell Cloud Manager. We'll start with an easy example—a new business service for file sharing. Instead of going through that whole process I just mentioned, you can make your request online through a Web portal. When you log in to Novell Cloud Manager, you’ll have the ability to select the workloads you need from an online service catalog.

With Novell Cloud Manager, it’s easy to make buying decisions based on your needs and your budget because you’ll immediately know what your costs will be.

Creating a New Business Service for File Sharing

First, you have to name your business service request. Because this is a new file share, we'll call it iFolder. (See Figure 1.) And you have to specify the business purpose, so let's say this is a new file share for the London office. You can also specify a start and stop date for this new business service; of course, we want it immediately.

Next, you'll choose the workloads you need. To help, you’re presented with a list of workloads from a catalog that has been created for you. (See Figure 2.) Just as important as what's on this list is what isn't on it. This list may not represent the entire catalog, just what’s available to you based on your role, your security level and whatever else the infrastructure manager has decided you need. It's impossible for you to request a business service that doesn't match your responsibilities. In our example, we’re creating a new file share so we'll choose the iFolder workload template from the list.

The next step is to define the computing power you require based on the options provided to you by the infrastructure manager. That includes CPUs, RAM, network and storage requirements. (See Figure 3.) nd finally, you must set a password to control access to the new workload you've created.

When you have your business service request looking the way you want it, submit your request and let Novell Cloud Manager take care of the rest. For example, it sends an e-mail to your manager to get approval for the new service request and its associated budget. Once the request has been approved, Novell Cloud Manager will automatically provision the service for you. And literally, within minutes, you created a new file share for your users.

Creating a New SAP Business Service

Let’s take another example. A new file store is pretty simple, so think about a business service that’s a little more complicated. Say you need a new SAP ERP application. Again, you know how the usual process goes, right? Ordering the server, provisioning the hardware and software, waiting 60-90 days at least. But with Novell Cloud Manager, even a complex service like SAP can be created quickly and easily.

Back at the catalog of workload templates once again, you’ll see that SAP NetWeaver is one of the options. (See Figure 4.) Now, this could very well be an SAP appliance that was created with SUSE Studio. As with many business services, you’ll need more than one workload. For example, you will also need a data base to power the SAP application. You can look through the workload templates and select Oracle 11g to power your SAP service.

There’s another part of this that’s very important. Since this is probably a mission-critical application, let’s talk about Service Levels. You have some options listed here in the lower left corner of the screen. (See Figure 5.) The Platinum level, for example, ensures 99.99 percent uptime. Each selection has a cost associated with it, and the prices change dynamically right there on the screen based on what's selected.

With Novell Cloud Manager, it’s easy to make buying decisions based on your needs and your budget because you’ll immediately know what your costs will be. Or maybe you’re going to start this service off in a test environment where that much uptime isn’t required. Then, later, when you go live, you can bump up the SLA to meet your changing needs.

That’s another big benefit of Novell Cloud Manager. As your needs change, you can respond very quickly.

Getting the Cloud Ready for Novell Cloud Manager

Let’s talk a little bit about the cloud itself. You’re probably wondering what changes you’ll have to make to your existing virtualization infrastructure to accommodate Novell Cloud Manager. The answer is simple: none. Novell Cloud Manager is designed to leverage your existing virtual infrastructure, without disrupting your architecture or requiring painful changes to existing systems. In particular, we support building your private cloud atop all of the major hypervisors–Xen, VMware ESX and Microsoft Hyper-V. Most importantly, Novell Cloud Manager can stitch together multiple virtual infrastructures, regardless of platform, into a single, unified cloud environment. We want to empower the enterprise with the option to use whatever virtual infrastructure that works best for your needs, without concern for lock-in.

In fact, there may be occasions where you don’t even have the infrastructure in-house to serve all of your workload requirements. And that’s okay too. Some of you may have a private cloud you’re using. Some of you may want to use an external cloud, such as Amazon: a private cloud for the simpler business services and an external cloud to accommodate those with high SLA demands. A future release of Novell Cloud Manager will support provisioning in external clouds as well. And it's completely transparent to users.

Opening Up Your Options

Novell Cloud Manager opens up a sky full of options. It lets you create and manage business services across a virtual infrastructure, private cloud and, soon, an external cloud in a secure and compliant manner. Delivering on the promise of utility computing, Novell Cloud Manager lets your users deploy IT services on demand, paying only for the resources they consume and the service levels they expect. And it lets you create a more intelligent infrastructure through integration with best-of-breed business service management and identity and access management solutions from Novell.

Novell Cloud Manager is designed to leverage your existing vitrtual infrastructure without disrupting your architecture or requiring painful changes to existing systems.

To learn more about this new product, visit You can download a white paper with more technical information, sign up to learn more about the product, learn how to follow Novell Cloud Manager news on Twitter, or sign up for the Early Adopter Program. And be sure to look for the release of Novell Cloud Manager later this fall.

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