For most enterprises, the initial phase of the cloud transition is over. Organizations that want to get on the cloud are already up and running with basic storage, backup and recovery and various levels of cloud-based application support.
In many cases, this has led to the deployment of multiple clouds and cloud architectures that, if care is not taken, could lead to the same kind of silo-based data environments that exist within local, physical infrastructure.
This is the reason why many enterprises, and cloud providers, are leaning so heavily toward cloud orchestration. A multitude of smaller clouds can be very effective at accomplishing key tasks, but a pooled set of infinitely scalable, highly integrated services has the makings of an entirely new computing model.
A good way to look at orchestration is as an enabling technology that fulfills many of the initial promises of cloud computing, says Flexiant’s Jim Foley. Not only does it take away much of the complication of provisioning and integrating cloud infrastructure and services, but it also opens up numerous possibilities for customized cloud environments and application mash-ups that allow users to essentially self-define the kind of cloud they want and provide the means to build them. In this way, the cloud becomes the natural state of affairs in enterprise computing, rather than a planned initiative that must be purposely implemented in order to gain the maximum benefit.
This is part of the reason why service providers and system integrators are embracing orchestration so heavily, says The Whir’s Cheryl Kemp. According to a recent survey by Technology Business Research, more than 70 percent of the IT market is looking to deploy cloud orchestration solutions in the near future. With the ability to not only provide an integrated package of services and applications but also a means to tie directly into private and cloud and even legacy infrastructure, providers remove one of the major factors preventing the enterprise from a wholesale transition to a cloud-based data environment. Orchestration, then, is the difference between a collection of functioning parts and a well-oiled machine.
As well, orchestration can take place on many levels throughout the cloud stack. Ciena and Brocade, for example, have integrated the Brocade Application Resource Broker (ARB) with the Ciena V-WAN application to extend orchestration across the transport layer for improved cloud bursting, disaster recovery and on-demand provisioning capabilities. The companies say that network topologies and compute resources can now be configured within seconds, with full policy and security conditions customized down to the application level. In this way, users will be able to dynamically adjust service levels and other parameters to meet changing data requirements.
Dev/Ops can take advantage of broad orchestration as well. For instance, Canonical is employing Ubuntu Linux and its own Juju platform to enable drag-and-drop orchestration across dynamic cloud environments. The goal is to provide a visual representation of clouds and cloud services, thus allowing developers to compile the necessary environment using lines, boxes and “Charms” to establish working relationships. The company recently added a Charm bundling component that enables template-based deployment of customized services, programs and interconnections.
To say that orchestration is what makes the cloud is probably an overstatement. But it’s fair to say that orchestration is what makes the cloud better.
Enterprises that have just wet their feet a little in the cloud will find that taking the plunge is a lot easier and a lot more rewarding if accompanied by a robust orchestration platform.