Going beyond server virtualisation

Next-generation virtualisation goes way beyond server virtualisation and provides the platform for virtualised storage, virtualised networking and cloud orchestration tools that are essential elements of a software-defined data centre. Cloud-native architectures, containerised data and hyperconvergence are some of the technology approaches that a next generation, software-defined data centre can enable and the benefits of these are huge. Businesses are more agile, flexible and dynamic. Administrators can centrally control their infrastructure, regardless of where it is situated and applications move to centre stage, repositioning technology as a business enabler, not a separate department.

One huge trend in the data centre is hyperconvergence, which relies on software-defined storage, whereby the hypervisor dynamically allocates the right amount of storage to the applications that are running in the data centre. Additional compute, storage and management resources are delivered by adding additional server hardware, which is then viewed as shared storage and allocated to the apps as they need it, via the hypervisor. Without this level of next-generation virtualisation, achieving a hyperconverged infrastructure is not possible.

Virtualised networks work in a similar fashion, using the hypervisor to pool the network resources and attach them to individual virtual machines based on the defined policies for each application. The underlying network acts as a simple packet forwarding mechanism, whilst the management, provisioning and security features are all dealt with by the hypervisor. Because virtualised networks completely decouple the network functionality from the network hardware, they differ from software-defined networks, which use clever software to manage networking hardware rather than separating it entirely. The benefits of this hardware decoupling are realised when moving virtual machines between logical domains, as there is no network reconfiguration required and the administration overhead savings can be immense.

Likewise cloud orchestration is a buzz word right now and a next generation virtualisation platform really does provide the right foundation for a cloud-native environment, where different cloud services can be combined and managed simply. Making tangible reductions in administration overheads once again becomes a reality if you have a platform that can help you to manage all of your cloud services. The use of cloud services is growing massively, especially those in the public cloud market, as concerns around security and privacy are allayed and confidence in the public cloud providers grows. Indeed, Gartner predicts that globally, public cloud usage will grow by 17.3% in 2019 to total $206.2bn and many of the businesses using public cloud will also have a mix of SaaS applications, private cloud services and on-premises, physical infrastructure. What is already and will be even more important for customers is a platform where everything can be managed, without dipping in and out of interfaces and requiring different accreditations and skills.

In short, a next generation virtualised environment is much more than virtual machines. As hardware becomes almost irrelevant, the hypervisor is the powerful tool of choice, and the applications dictate what resources are needed, where and when. The application really does become king.U

Gartner Forecasts Public Cloud Revenue to Grow 17.3 Percent in 2019

IT Automation

How open source agentless IT automation can help deliver a competitive edge

Automating legacy technology and processes using cloud services is a sound strategy in theory and many businesses have increased their competitive edge by doing just that. IT Automation minimises the risk of human error or inconsistency and allows a business to reduce the time it spends on repetitive IT administration tasks. Automation also enables applications and services to be developed and delivered much quicker. In fact, Gartner estimates that the Application Release Orchestration (ARO) market grew by an estimated 37.5% in 2017, taking what they call the Delivery Automation: ARO market size to over £200million globally.

It’s not all plain sailing though. Moving systems and processes that were built to be on-premise to the cloud for automation, is often difficult. Sometimes the benefits of automation can’t be realised, because the complex processes reduce productivity and negate any gains you may have made.

So how do businesses take advantage of automation technology to make sure they’re running their operations in as lean and efficient way as possible?

Enter RedHat Ansible Tower; the result of a collaboration between RedHat and AWS and an automation solution that allows businesses to harness the power of the public cloud to provision the resources it needs, develop applications in the cloud and simplify configuration file management. In addition, it allows businesses to deploy and manage applications more easily, secure the infrastructure and orchestrate multiple configurations and environments making sure that the necessary storage, networks and databases are in place to support new applications.

Being open source, users of this solution benefit from the large network of developers and open source communities that RedHat has cultivated and many different deployments that are outlined in easy, repeatable playbooks.

But does it matter if you choose a solution which requires agents, or one that is agentless? Actually, yes and especially in the cloud, where agentless technology is faster and easier to implement, is compatible with a broader range of systems and applications and the risks associated with upgrades are minimised as they can be rolled out to the entire system in one go.

RedHat Ansible Tower is an agentless solution that works across a businesses’ entire AWS environment, giving visibility and control over to the business, via a visual dashboard. Applications can be built and deployed continuously in the cloud, with a series of playbooks to speed up and simplify the process. Resources can be provisioned wherever and whenever needed, and the whole set of configurations can be orchestrated from the same dashboard.

With role-based access policies providing control over who sees and can manage what, and custom security policies that will automatically be implemented when new applications or servers are provisioned, security and compliance is built in from start to finish.

Systems Administrators who were previously spending all their time running complex, manual processes to update and provision their environments and developing and deploying applications are now free to focus on core business initiatives. Administration overheads reduce, productivity improves and no time is wasted in getting applications to market. As a result, it’s true to say that agentless automation helps the whole business become more competitive.

Useful Links

Top 5 Challenges of Automating the Software Delivery Pipeline

5 Ways Agentless IT Automation Can Benefit Your Business

Agent vs. agentless: Monitoring choices for diverse IT ops needs

An initiation into infrastructure automation tools and methods