Before I was a software product manager, I led line-of-business application engineering teams, both here and at other companies. Back then, I was always amazed at how much conversation and negotiation with datacenter IT managers were required before we could land even small changes to production. Think lengthy change forms, capacity reservation requests, hardware lead times etc. It was work required for every new application request. Sound familiar? It turns out that everyone was trying to do the right thing, but we didn’t have the right tools to deliver IT services more effectively.
But cloud computing is making things much easier. As a “consumer” of datacenter services, I can now go back to datacenter IT (or “provider”) and ask for faster, cheaper and more reliable services to deploy my applications. Cloud computing also makes it possible for IT to offer datacenter infrastructure on-demand, in the same way that I can order up a piece of equipment online on my own.
Based on many recent conversations we’ve had with CIOs, cloud computing has indeed opened up an accelerated path for service consumers and service providers to better collaborate and deliver “IT as a Service” to their business counterparts.
Why? Because service consumers really want simplified ways to deploy and manage applications by themselves. And the service provider needs the automation to efficiently enable this experience along with the control and oversight to ensure applications are deployed where and how they should be.
A private cloud helps you deliver what the service consumer and the service provider want by providing a simple and effective way to deliver “IT as a Service” and today we are releasing three new products in our System Center 2012 lineup that help make your private cloud experience real – specifically App Controller, Service Manager & Orchestrator. As of today, App Controller and Service Manager are in public beta while Orchestrator is available as a public release candidate.
Think of App Controller as the service consumer’s single view to manage applications across the Microsoft private cloud and the Windows Azure public cloud. They can configure, deploy, visualize and update multi-tier application components in the context of the holistic service delivered to the business. This is consistent with the mental model of managing services, not servers. Service consumers have visibility across all the applications they’re responsible for in one view. This approach enables a world of standardized application blueprints (or service templates, as we call them in System Center 2012) which can be easily configured to specific application needs before deployment. Sounds cool, right? I wish these capabilities were around when I was a service consumer.
Of course, before getting to deploying applications, service consumers need to ensure that their private cloud infrastructure meets their applications’ requirements. Service Manager enables them to do that – again, in a self-service mode – through a Service Catalog which contains a set of pre-defined service offerings.
This goes a long way to make service consumers’ lives easier, but how does it help the service provider make this experience a reality? And further, how does it help the service provider who is managing the diverse underlying physical and virtual datacenter infrastructure? At the heart of the solution is Service Manager, which contains a Configuration Management Database (CMDB). This database leverages information from all kinds of IT resources which the service provider has configured, such as virtual machine templates, service templates, runbook automations and user roles from Active Directory. This makes it easy for the service provider to publish a Service Catalog of offerings to the service consumer, ensuring that resources are standardized according to business needs and only made available to the appropriate, designated users.
Finally, to connect and automate all the moving parts, System Center Orchestrator offers the necessary automation for service providers to integrate and extend their existing toolsets and build flexible workflows (or runbooks) that can span across multiple organizational silos and IT systems. By leveraging the capabilities of Service Manager and Orchestrator, a service provider can create a standardized and automated self-service experience that helps reduce human error and manual processes. The end result is simplification of datacenter management while enabling private cloud readiness and self-service across your business.
Go here to download and evaluate how App Controller, Service Manager and Orchestrator can enable your private cloud experience. We’d love to hear your feedback!
Stay tuned for additional blogs on this topic in the coming days!
System Center Product Management