The Journey to the Private Cloud Part 2 – The Management Layer

It’s great to see those of you in the private cloud community stepping up to the plate and contributing articles to the private cloud blog! We in the infancy of cloud computing and we’re all trying to ramp up and learn what private cloud is about, what advantages we gain from private cloud, and imagehow to architect, design, deploy and operate a private cloud. It’s going to be a great ride and we’re all fortunate to get in on the ground floor.

We start this week with another thought providing article by Vincent Montalbano. In this article, Vincent talks about the Management layer in private cloud architecture. I really liked this article and I especially appreciated how he points out that the private cloud architecture can be thought of like the TCP/IP architecture, where each element of the architectural stack has dependencies on each other.

Also, Vincent answers a very important question at the end of the article – that question being “so, how’s all this any different than what I’m doing now?”

Enjoy the article! Also, if you’re interested in contributing articles to the Private Cloud Architecture blog, let me know. Send me a note at and let me know what you want to write about. All you need to do it put it in a Word doc or a web page and I’ll take care of the rest. I’m looking forward to working with all of you!

Thanks! –Tom Shinder, the Private Cloud Guy

The Journey to the Private Cloud Part 2 – The Management Layer

by Vincent Montalbano

In Part 1 of Journey to the Public Cloud we started planning the migration from a traditional datacenter to the Private Cloud model. We reviewed the Operations layer and how it ties into the Microsoft Private Cloud Reference Model and how the Operations layer directly relates to delivering communication to the Management layer.

According to Microsoft, the Management Layer, “Provides management services to the Infrastructure, Platform, and Software Layers. It is comprised of the suite of management tools necessary to support the IT Service and Operations Layer and implements the operational processes. The Management Layer provides a baseline set of capabilities to the Infrastructure Layer and an incremental set to the Platform Layer and the Software Layer. The Operations and Management Layers represent the operational perspective within IT.”

The Management layer is positioned between Operations and Infrastructure layers in the Private Cloud Reference Model and directly supports the layers above it. The Private Cloud Reference Model is very similar to the TCP/IP stack with the layers above and below being dependent on each other for services. The Infrastructure layer contains physical and virtual servers, storage and network resources. The layers above the Infrastructure layer, (PaaS and SaaS) are where the services are delivered to the customer. The Management layer performs the administration tasks on the resource pools that make up the fabric of the private cloud which in turn are the services delivered to your customer.

For example, the Management layer will be responsible for provisioning a Virtual Machine with the necessary CPU, memory and storage. The Management layer can then name the new VM to your particular naming convention, add that VM to the domain, install and then configure the necessary services. When it is time to do maintenance, the Management layer will use Hyper-V Live Migration to move that VM to a different physical host during a maintenance window. Just think of what your daily administration tasks are and how you manage your systems in your datacenter today and you have the Management layer.

The Management layer of the cloud is made up of management tools, (Microsoft System Center) used by the IT staff in to perform the day-to-day administration, monthly maintenance and Change Management, (CM) in the datacenter.

The Management layer requires a “suite of management tools” in place to manage the following processes of the Infrastructure layer:

  • Service Reporting- a Business Intelligence application will create collaborative reports.
  • Service Management System- This is your incident management application that will be used to open trouble tickets, track incidents and automate tasks.
  • Service Health Monitoring- This application will monitor your server environments, (physical and virtual) and report the overall health of your Windows servers, services and applications.
  • Configuration Management Systems- Can comprehensively assess, deploy, and update servers, client computers, and devices across physical, virtual, and mobile environments.
  • Fabric Management- The single pane of glass to look at your entire virtualized infrastructure, (VMs, Networking and Storage)
  • Deployment Provisioning Management- Provides the ability to use automation to deploy bare metal and virtual machines through an integrated management system.
  • Data Protection- This is your data backups.
  • Network Management- Network switches, virtual local area networks, load balancers and the software that manages the network fabric.
  • Security Management – Active Directory and Federated Trusts that are scaled across multiple domains or platforms.

Cloud Computing On-Demand Services and Rapid Elasticity Uses the Management Layer

So you are saying to yourself “I have all of these systems and processes in place in my datacenter now, what is the difference?” The private cloud will use the Management layer tools to tie your systems together and eventually automate processes to provide on-demand services to your customers.

The above example of provisioning a virtual machine, naming and joining the domain is an example of a service that is being offered today as an on-demand service. Automated and on-demand services in the Management layer will also include the ability to create user accounts, automate responses to service issues and the scheduling and installation of software updates.

Any visit to Microsoft Learning where you enter your Windows Live ID and are provided a virtual server environment is an example of this VM provisioning on demand. The request for the virtual lab is initiated from a service portal by an authenticated user. This portal uses preconfigured VM templates to deliver to the customer request; this is an example of the Private Cloud that most of us have experienced.

Cloud computing characteristics also require the datacenter to have the ability to expand and contract their resources quickly. In our day-to-day lives as administrators, a common request comes for 20 VMs for a new project. The customer (think a department in your company) needs these ASAP and will be using these VMs for the next 6 months for a test environment to QA the upgrade to a new version of software. After the project is declared a success the VMs will be decommissioned and removed from service. This is an example of “Rapid Elasticity”, the ability to quickly add and remove resources from the datacenter. Using the Management layer tools these VM’s can be created and removed with minimal involvement from the IT staff. We will explore workflows in a future blog post.

My next post will be The Journey to the Private Cloud Part 3 – The Infrastructure Layer. We will be exploring my favorite topic — the physical and virtual infrastructure that composes the private cloud datacenter.

"The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent Microsoft’s or my employer’s positions, strategies or opinions”

Vincent Montalbano
Infrastructure Consultant Catapult Systems, Inc.
MCITP: Enterprise Administrator
MCITP: Windows Server 2008 R2 Virtualization
MCTS:System Center Configuration Manager, System Center Operations Manager
MCTS:Windows 7,Configuring

Tom Shinder
Principal Knowledge Engineer, SCD iX Solutions Group
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