Monday, October 20, 2014

Understanding Windows Azure Pack and your service offerings

Understanding Windows Azure Pack and your service offerings

From time to time, I meet with customers (and also other system integrators) that is not fully aware of the definition of cloud computing.
I never expect people to know this to the very nasty details, but have an overview of the following:

·         Deployment models
·         Service models
·         Essential characteristics

What’s particular interesting when discussing Windows Azure Pack, is that the deployment model that’s relevant, is the private cloud. Yes, we are touching your own datacenter with these bits – the one you are in charge of.

For the service models, we are embracing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS – using the VM Cloud Resource Provider), and Platform as a Service (PaaS – Using the Web Site Cloud Resource Provider).

The essential characteristics are also very important, as we’ll find elasticity, billing/chargeback, self-service, resource pooling and broad network access.

If you combine just self-service and IaaS, this tells us that we empower our users to deploy virtual machines on their own. Right?
So having the flexibility to provide such service, we also rely on the underlying architecture to support this. Due to scalability (elasticity), we need to ensure that these users constantly have access to the solution – no matter what device they are using (broad network access), we need to find out who is consuming what (billing/chargeback), and last but not least – be able to produce these services in an efficient way that makes it cost effective and profitable (resource pooling).

So, it starting to make sense.

There is a reason for what we are seeing and we are providing these services by abstracting the underlying resources into clouds, plans and subscriptions with the Cloud OS.

Implementing a complete IaaS solutions may bring some obstacles to the table.

Organizations tends to think that IaaS is something they have provided for years. Perhaps they have provided virtual machines, but not a complete IaaS solution.
The reason for that is that IaaS is relying on abstraction at every layer. This is not only about virtual compute (memory, CPU), but also about virtual storage and virtual networking.
This is when it gets interesting, using network virtualization.

Remember that self-service is an essential characteristic of the cloud, right?
So delivering IaaS would also mean that the user is able to do stuff with the networking aspect as well, with no interaction from the service provider/cloud administrator.
This is why Software-Defined Networking (NVGRE) is so essential to this service model, and hence we run into the following obstacles.

·         The customer (most often service provider) wants to continue to provide managed services, such as:
o   Backup (both crash consistent and app consistent)
o   Monitoring (above the operating system level, covering the application stack)

This is what they are doing today, with their infrastructure. But this also has a high cost to operate due to all the manual operations needed and involved to get the wheels moving.

Luckily, Windows Azure Pack is able to cover both scenarios, providing a consistent experience to users/tenants no matter if they are running resources in a “legacy” infrastructure, or a new modern IaaS infrastructure.

The following architecture shows that we are using two Virtual Machine Management Stamps.
Both of these are located behind the SPF endpoint – which present the capabilities, capacity and much more to the service management API in Azure Pack.

A cloud administrator then creates a Hosting Plan in the Admin Portal of Azure Pack, which is associated with the legacy cloud in the legacy VMM server. This plan is available for the users/tenants who are subscribing to managed services.

A new plan is created, associated with the IaaS cloud and the IaaS VMM server, available for the users/tenants that need IaaS, without the requirement of managed services. They are dealing with these themselves.

Hopefully this blog post gave you an overview of what’s possible to achieve using Azure Pack and combine both kind of services using a single solution.

(Want more info? – please join my TechEd session in Barcelona next week).

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