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Managing Service Levels in the Cloud

Cloud Manager Takes Control of Virtual Workloads

Written by Michael Astle

Sometimes solving one problem creates new problems. Take the problem of server growth and utilization. When data centers are filled with physical servers where each plays a specific role, individual servers are often underused or overtaxed. Then comes along virtualization to solve that problem. Enterprises were quick to begin their adoption of virtualization as a way to consolidate servers, cut power costs and save on floor space in their data centers. Yet full adoption has been slow, and analysts say it will take until 2013 before even 69 percent of all workloads have been moved to virtual environments. The reasons for this slowing in the adoption of virtualization can be attributed to three barriers: security, management and server sprawl.

When workloads become virtual, they also become mobile, and mobility can be a nightmare for IT managers concerned with security, which should be everyone. Traditional hardware tools often can’t control security and ensure compliance, especially when the workload moves outside the enterprise firewall, along with identity, policy and compliance capabilities. For more information on virtual workloads and security, see Intelligent Workload Security in this issue of Novell Connection.

The next barrier to the adoption of virtual workloads is management. As organizations migrate to virtual infrastructures, they end up with environments that mix physical, virtual and cloud infrastructures. This mixture turns into management stacks that multiply by necessity just to manage the workloads. The result is complexity and inefficiencies that take their toll on the IT department’s time and budget. Yet for the foreseeable future, IT managers need to deal with physical, virtual and cloud infrastructures.

The third barrier to adoption is server sprawl. Server sprawl is a direct result of the solution to a problem. When the cost of servers dropped to commodity levels over the past decade, data centers simply added new servers every time the business needed a new service. The result was physical server sprawl that left many or most servers underused. Virtualization came along and solved this problem by consolidating physical servers onto virtual servers that are cheaper and substantially easier and faster to install and that better use data center resources. However, IT departments soon recognized an unintended consequence: virtualization throws a curtain over the costs for individual services that the business requests. IT departments can’t allocate costs to business departments, because the costs are spread virtually over numerous physical servers. With services essentially free to the business, the business requests more resources than are necessary, and the result is the over-provisioning of workloads. Enterprise infrastructures today are often over their capacity before consolidation projects are even complete.

Enter cloud computing. Cloud computing can remove that virtual curtain to reveal the cost of provisioning computing resources and improve the ability of IT to manage workloads and allocate their costs.

This article looks at what is new in Novell Cloud Manager, a management component of the WorkloadIQ approach by Novell, to meeting the needs of the intelligent workload management market. This article assumes you are familiar with many of the capabilities of the existing version of Novell Cloud Manager.

Cloud computing can reveal the cost of provisioning computing resources and improve the ability of IT to manage workloads and allocate their costs to the business.

Harnessing the Cloud

Novell developed Cloud Manager as the management component of its WorkloadIQ strategy to help enterprises rapidly deploy and manage private clouds, built either from existing virtual machines—likely the most common case—or from scratch. Where IT departments charged business units for physical resources in the past, Novell Cloud Manager gives them the ability to easily package and price services for the business user today.

One feature that makes Novell Cloud Manager flexible and cost effective for organizations with virtual environments is that it sits on top of and communicates with the organization’s existing virtualization technologies. It is compatible with VMware, Hyper-V and Xen, so organizations can continue to benefit from their existing investments while adding control and visibility.
(See Figure 1.)

Setting Up a Cloud

To understand how IT can package and price services based on virtual machines, let’s look at how you might set up a business service in a cloud using Novell Cloud Manager. Most organizations setting up a cloud already have a virtual infrastructure, so we’ll look at how you import and configure existing virtual machines.

Importing virtual machines is a fairly easy process. First, you log in to Novell Cloud Manager, select the Business Services option and click the Virtual Machines tab in the Cloud Manager window. Novell Cloud Manager discovers unassigned virtual machines and displays them in a new window.

You will import these into a new business service, but first you need to create the service and assign it to a user. You do this by clicking the Deployed tab, which opens a window showing existing services, and, in this version of Novell Cloud Manager, this window has a new link called Import. When you click this link an Import Business Service window opens. (See Figure 2.) This is where you create a service name, enter a business purpose and select a user for the service. Ideally, the user should be a member of the IT infrastructure team for the business unit.

To import the virtual machines that will make up this business service, click the Import button. This shows you the unassigned virtual machines. You will click on each virtual machine to configure it individually. In the configuration menu you can select the license cost—this is important, because the license cost is how your IT organization will charge the business unit for its service. (See Figure 3.) You also assign a service level. Bronze is the default and has a service level of 90 percent. You can also select Sliver, Gold or Platinum for service levels of 95, 99 or 99.95 percent respectively. You also assign the number of virtual CPUs, memory, available storage and the number of network interface cards.

Under the Disks tab, you now have the option to include the system and data disks in the cost of the service.

Click Import to import the workload and attach the cost and other settings.

All that’s left is to click OK after each configuration and Import when you’re finished configuring virtual machines. Cloud Manager then shows you the monthly costs of business services to the business units. (See Figure 4.)

Changing a Configuration

If you are familiar with the previous version of Novell Cloud Manager, you know that you can add services, but you haven’t been able to change the configuration of existing services—say, add more RAM. With the latest version of Novell Cloud Manager you can now change the service level and reassign resources, including the number of virtual CPUs, RAM, storage and the networks to which the service is associated.

In the Cloud Manager console, this is easy enough to do. The IT administrator assigned to the service logs into Novell Cloud Manager and selects the service that needs to be changed. (See Figure 5.)

The administrator selects the service from the menu and can then change the expiration date and business purpose description. The service level can be changed, as well as any of the resources. The administrator can also add new workloads from the Change screen.

Novell Cloud Manager can also assign up to 10 disks to a single service, including one system disk and nine data disks.

Cloud Manager is part of the Novell WorkloadIQ strategy that helps enterprises rapidly deploy and manage private clouds using existing virtual machines or from scratch.

Making Configuration Easier with Workload Templates

Novell Cloud Manager creates a workload zone and associated host group, which are managed by a Novell PlateSpin Orchestrate server. Although these functions are outside the scope of this article, it is important to know that with the zone and host group created, Cloud Manager then discovers appropriate templates from the Novell PlateSpin Orchestrate server. These templates, which you can edit, populate the configurations for future workloads to make your job easier.

Also simplifying your job, you can copy workload configurations. Let’s say you have to create five similar workloads. When you create the first workload you can specify to copy that workload five times. Then you can use the Change screen to make any necessary tweaks to each of those workloads.

Generating Reports

Novell Cloud Manager also generates numerous usage, cost and other reports that enable the IT organization to plan the purchase of resources based on usage trends, and they help the business to determine the cost of the services it uses and invest its limited money on services that make the most business sense.

Novell Cloud Manager is a powerful tool that enables organizations to deploy business services faster and with greater automation and consistency. At the same time, and equally important, it gives the IT organization the ability to attach costs to the business services it delivers, giving the organization the ability to control server sprawl and stop the proliferation of workload over-provisioning.

To learn more about Novell Cloud Manager, go to www.novell.com/products/cloud-manager/.

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