Tag Archives: Virtualization

IT Service Brokerage: Technical Mindset – Infrastructure

“…if an application moves from an environment where disks/volumes are mounted using WWNNs/WWPNs as end-point IDs (fibre channel) to an environment with IQNs as end-point IDs (iSCSI) we often have to re-validate and re-engineer.  If the application were to list its own requirements it would actually just be something like ‘xGB block storage, isolated, with <performance guarantee 1> and <performance guarantee 2>’.  There would be no mention of WWPNs or IQNs, fibre channel or iSCSI.  The list above is the type of [automated/attached] description needed that would help make the application portable.  It fits into a trust-based model (aka Promise Theory)…”

The above is an excerpt from my recent post on our Cisco UK & Ireland blog.  You can read the full post here: http://gblogs.cisco.com/uki/it-service-brokerage-technical-mindset-infrastructure/

 

DevOps Collections #4

The plan is to produce some more guides/write-ups over the coming weeks… but for now, here’s the latest Continuous X and DevOps related noise:

1_DevOpsBox

Source CY14 W39–44

 

DevOps Collections #3

Another aggregation of Continuous X and DevOps news and information put together for colleagues at work but thought to be worth sharing outside of that group.  * = help with prioritising what to read if you’re hard pressed for time.

  • Where does DevOps work in the enterprise? (itskeptic.org) *
    • The terms “Bimodal IT” and “Trimodal IT” have recently been used to describe the potential split of strategies for different classifications of IT systems – i.e. ‘old stuff’ and ‘new stuff’ and the different opportunities with each (pretty much = don’t hold up ‘new stuff’ because of ‘old stuff’ requirements – they’re different).  This article talks about ‘DevOps in Enterprise’ being more successful when when addressing the ‘new stuff’ rather than being reverse engineered against existing/legacy systems.
  • Making DevOps Work in Complex Enterprise Environments (devops.com)
    • However, if you are going to try to reverse engineer against the ‘old stuff’ to some degree then here’s a starting point.  Interestingly, we have reference to where data centre tech/infrastructure services can make a different in a more generic sense: “Save that bespoke Windows config as a virtual machine, then you can subsequently redeploy it… use an enterprise infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), whether private or public cloud, hosted or on-premises, especially for newer applications… adopt platform-as-a-service (PaaS), either out-of-the-box or by building a PaaS that will support your unique environments”
  • DevOps with a purpose: It’s about your applications (devops.com) *
    • “I recommend analyzing your business goals and application portfolio using the pace-layering method, which focuses on three categories of applications – systems of record, systems of differentiation, and systems of innovation”.  Back to the ‘old stuff’ vs. ‘new stuff’ but with a bigger link to systems thinking and what can really affect the business – I like these classifications.
  • Docker closes C round for $40m (DevOps.com)
    • “There have now been 21 million downloads of the Docker platform, up from 3 million at DockerCon. Over 35,000 “Dockerized” applications are now available on the Docker Hub Registry, and more than 13,000 Docker-related projects have launched on GitHub. Docker has also seen rapid growth in the technology partner ecosystem with over 100 companies – including industry heavyweights Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat and VMware – having announced Docker–supporting platform initiatives.”
  • The DevOps Mindset: Real-World Insights From Tech Leaders (Rackspace – Click “Download Now”)
    • Collaborative culture, elevated & shared goals, collaborative culture, elevated & shared goals, collaborative culture… if people say it enough it will happen everywhere right?  Some interesting comments from ‘DevOps leaders’ within different orgs in this document.  The real question that still remains is what changes in the DevOps model in order to apply it within a large multi-national organisation? You may notice that none of the interviewees sit within an org bigger than 2000, most are in the hundreds… the question still remains.
  • Microservices and PaaS (activestate.com) *
    • An interesting overview of complementary application architecture changes – small distributed units/modules instead of big monolithic tiers.  A 3 part article.
  • Change your thinking about Change Management (devops.com – Chris Riley)
    • “change management, the tools, can be detached from change management the governance. And then no longer tied to the reactive philosophy”.  A practical look at opportunities around Change Management within a DevOps philosophy.
  • Putting the Ops in DevOps (indecorous.com)
    • “the nearest I can come to “you’re doing it wrong” is when people announce the death of Ops as a job function…. in truth it’s very, very hard to excel in both the development and operational aspects of building and running a large computer system. These people do exist, but trying to find them and hire them is hard (and expensive). Moreover, beyond a certain (small) scale it’s actually woefully inefficient to have everyone doing everything.”  Tips from someone ‘doing DevOps’.
  • To Help DevOps-ify The World, ScriptRock Raises $8.7M (Forbes)
    • ”the company’s product, GuardRail, focuses on helping IT departments understand how their various systems are operating wherever they may be located. Instead of this information being strewn across the organization in multiple departments and locations, GuardRail brings it all to one central location”.
  • How to skill up in DevOps and what rates you can expect in 2014-15 (eSynergy)
    • An insight into the kind of rates contractors can expect for a ‘DevOps’ skillset.
  • Developing and enabling a DevOps culture in your team (devops.com) *
    • An interesting take on how to revitalise existing personnel under a DevOps effort instead of seeing them as a barrier to change.
      • Additional anecdotal points elsewhere: theopsmgr
  • Dissecting Effective Developer Workflows to Save Time & Lower Costs (Flux7)
    • A look at the realities and results of ‘shifting things left’.
  • Harvard Business Review Survey: IT responsiveness predicts business success (devops.com)
    • “Nearly half of respondents reported that their companies have missed opportunities because their IT department was too slow to respond to shifting business needs. And approximately 49 percent reported that a lack of bandwidth in IT is the primary obstacle of the organization to take advantage of digital technologies… Approximately 42 percent of organizations report that they have a poor track record of facilitating collaboration across IT and business functions.”
  • The Road to DevOps (ActiveState)
    • An example of the dangerous mindset out there that can cause ‘Ops’ to go against the grain of a DevOps movement.  This article is not the guidance needed for establishing the right culture imo.
  • Q & A: Puppet Labs CIO Nigel Kersten (devops.com)
  • Leading the Horses to Drink … Support and Initiate a devops transformation – Damon Edwards (video)

FYI The DevOps Cookbook is reportedly at draft/review stage.  This will likely turn out to be a ‘must read’.

There is also apparently ‘DevOps Training’ for ‘DevOps Certifications’ popping up now.  While it helps with the foundational knowledge side of things it is also an indication of the beginnings of a cottage industry that might ultimately break the DevOps ‘following’.  With that in mind, two more articles:

 

DevOps Collections #2

Another inch up the curve… As before, there are notes so that you can be selective with your reading and there are * against the reads to maybe prioritise if you’re hard pressed for time.

  • Enterprise DevOps – The Opportunity & The Challenge (Benjamin Wootton) -> A concise slide deck that could act as a guide to your own talking points if facilitating an ‘Intro to DevOps’ session.
  • Common Objections to DevOps from Enterprise Operations (Dev2Ops) -> “The quickened pace puts a lot more pressure on the centralized ops team because they often get the work late in the project cycle (i.e. when it’s time to release to production). Because of time pressure or because they are over worked, operations teams have difficulty turning requested work around and begin to hear developers want to do things for themselves….. unfortunately, a centralized devops team can become a silo and suffer from the same “late in the cycle” handoff challenges the traditional ops group sees.  -> A practical view of the kind of situation ‘Agile‘ can create on the Ops side when it’s mainly Dev pushing a cultural shift towards DevOps. *
  • Include Ops people in user stories for Operability (HighOps) -> “Many organisations use terminology which is unhelpful and counter-productive towards Operability
  • The Continuous Delivery Maturity Model (InfoQ) -> Taking five key categories, Culture & Organisation, Design & Architecture, Build & Deploy, Test & Verification and Information & Reporting, the aim of this article is to establish a method of measurement for where an organisation is with ‘Continuous X’.  This particular model defines five maturity levels: base, beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert.  Measuring against this model can help you to work out how best to support your customer.  Image available. *
  • Two Ways DevOps Unlocks the True Potential of Agile (devops.com) -> “The good news is, organizations can close their gaps and realize the true value of Agile development by incorporating DevOps processes and tools into their systems development life cycle (SDLC)… The DevOps principle to employ here is getting the operations team involved in testing earlier in the SDLC – essentially shifting their work left – and the tool that can help is service virtualisation”.  This article is effectively saying if Ops are involved earlier in the SDLC then they can help get QA/testing environments as close to a real-world Production environment as possible and monitor the whole SDLC.  This is advantageous when considering the implications of Continuous Delivery and Deployment. By simulating constrained or unavailable systems across the SDLC, service virtualization enables developers, testers and performance teams to work in parallel for faster delivery and higher application quality and reliability
  • DevOps and Change Control (sdncentral) -> A rhetoric and some guidance on ‘if everything’s constantly changing, how do we manage and track the change?’
  • Why DevOps Matters To The CIO (contino) -> “technology that can be used to innovate and succeed in a competitive marketplace… the challenge of delivering technology that enables their business to succeed… DevOps is a movement and set of best practices that has a lot of value for the CIO who is operating against this backdrop.”  Effectively a DevOps sales pitch to a CIO. *
  • How to Celebrate DevOps Success (ranger4) -> “So what might a DevOps SMART goal look like?” Metrics and rewards acting as a stimulus for successful DevOps…?  Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness (SCARF) needs to be looked at in each person’s role/group of people in the eyes of this writer.
  • DevOps: The Operational Amplifier (DevOps Journal) -> “Maintenance windows exist in the enterprise, after all, to manage expectations with respect to downtime and disruption specifically because of the interdependent nature of enterprise applications…..The thing is, these numbers are only going to get worse as the Internet of Things continues to put pressure on organisations”  This article takes a look at the unaligned growth of IT services vs. the people operating said services.  DevOps can be the tool, the ‘amplifier’ to allow a few Ops folks to manage a world of [near] exponential growth.  “That means APIs – strong APIs – as well as extensibility and flexibility. Infrastructure cannot remain rigid and static in an environment that is rapidly changing. It must be dynamically configured, extensible, and imminently flexible.” *
  • Testing in a Continuous Delivery world (SD Times – Rob Marvin) -> “If there’s one overarching principle, it’s to automate everything”  This article gives a good indication of the anticipated push of automation through the entire stack from a SDLC perspective.  We at Cisco talk about automating at an infrastructure level but tying full software revision control inclusive of infrastructure services is where things are heading… i.e. Regression testing is mentioned in this article – if I regress my software, I’d like to regress the infrastructure state below it… in an automated fashion…

DevOps Collections #1

DevOps continues to heave itself up the hype bell curve and with that there are some very interesting reads out there.  I put the list below together for my team at work, it’s a summary of recent articles that touch on different sub-areas of DevOps.  I’ve added notes so that you can be selective with your reading.  I’ve also put * against the reads to maybe prioritise if you’re hard pressed for time.

If you wish to read something that takes you on a bit of a ‘business view, real world’ journey through ‘Why DevOps, what does it deliver, etc.’, I can recommend The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win.  It’s actually a candidate for bedtime reading without the person (i.e. me on this occasion) telling you so with a smirk on their face!

Give me what you’ve got!

Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) gets me as giddy as UCS did, here’s a great demo video very recently published:

 

We’ll be looking at ACI from a number of different angles over the coming months…

Run that last bit by me again

Near and far: UCS Service Profiles and Roles The image above is a simple representation of the ‘true and absolute’ technical convergence that Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) introduced in 2009.  This led to some considerations regarding roles and demarcations between subject-matter expertise (SME) within ICT Departments/Organisations.

Consolidation, rationalisation, convergence.. whatever apt/buzz word you want to use, ICT has continuously made use of this general concept to move things forward and be more efficient.  From Cisco’ s Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data (AVVID) way back when to LAN and SAN convergence underpinned by the innovation around Data Center Bridging (DCB) and to a certain extent IP-based storage protocol evolution, there are benefits to customers and vendors when moving forward using this general construct.  Vendors can focus their R’n’D, engineering and support efforts on what matters (and also monetise innovation), customers and providers can ‘do more with less’ and more-easily adapt to the ever changing nature of their business or sector.

A couple of general technical themes that slim technology down are  1) Modularisation (inc. ‘re-use’)  and  2) Taking an [often physical] element and emulating it in a new logical form, whether that be abstracted over a [new?] common foundation or by merging two elements using the ‘pros’ of both/all existing paradigms and [hopefully] dropping the things that aren’t so good.

Other than the maturing of these technical shifts, humans are without doubt the main hurdle to deal with.  If we take Voice, Video and Data convergence in the ‘noughties’ we were taking very distinct areas and bringing them together with one area appearing more influential; a case of adapt or risk becoming irrelevant -> individuals with positive and/or negative intent went against the grain…  Back in the DC, UCS didn’t necessitate anything quite as a drastic as that but there is/was potentially at least some blurring of the lines.

One point of control, three areas of expertise… you choose the demarcation lines between humans (if any): UCSM1

 

Holistically speaking:

In addition to some obvious reasons for the lack of a need for severe changes around the alignment + skills of people when adopting UCS, there was also a shift in how we interfaced with the infrastructure… and that’s really the crux of this post and what will make new systems and market shifts easier and easier to adopt… Skills Meeting

UCS introduced a clear single point of control with an associated API for Compute, LAN (Access) and SAN (Edge/Initiator).  Other than the obvious uses of this API; Unified Computing System Manager itself (i.e. the tabs above) and other mainstream software packages with wider remit, we have seen ‘raw’ applications of the native HTTP-based interface and also some adoption of a Microsoft PowerShell option that wraps common API calls into “cmdlets”.

One of the notable differences between convergence today and the convergence of the past is an ‘alleviation’ offered by programmability and standardised scripting + automation.  Taking a broader look at expertise areas, there has been a ‘meet in the middle’ occurring between Infrastructure teams and Programming & Development teams (i.e. not only within the infrastructure bit).  This effort to meet in the middle encompasses some skills development focused on common and universal ways for people from different ‘infrastructure’ SME backgrounds to be more similar to each other than in the past.

i.e. Less of this 😉 (image courtesy of a very talented colleague…):

Traditional Roles

 

Ok ok I get it!… an example please?

Let’s take the creation of a UCS Service Profile.  I’m a Network SME… I might create these items so that they can be used within one or many Service Profiles:

  • A new org/container.
  • Segments (aka VLANs today) to be supported northbound of UCS and made available within the system.
  • MAC Address Pools – Using ‘my own’ prefixes so that I can identify zones/workload-types in a granular and structured way vs. standard non-hierarchical defaults.
  • virtual Network Interface Card (“vNIC”) templates and their associated characteristics such as the VLANs trunked to the OS/Hypervisor, QoS policy, pinning policy, etc.
  • “Dynamic Connection Policies” to bring together a multi-vNIC connection profile that can be associated with a given x86 node/service profile/service profile template (e.g. ‘I want those pre-defined 6 x vNIC templates and those pre-defined 2 x vHBAs as an over-arching template’).
  • etc.

I’m a Compute SME… I will make use of the items created by the Network SME (and others from a Storage SME) and add to them to complete a Service Profile (or SP Template):

  • UUID Pools – Using ‘my own’ prefixes so that I can identify zones/workload-types in a granular and structured way vs. less-structured ‘burned-in’ defaults.
  • Re-usable BIOS policies for different workloads.
  • Boot-order configuration templates inc. boot-from-SAN for different workloads.
  • Full firmware packages.
  • A Service Profile Template including an option from each of the above and a pre-defined dynamic connection policy (or selected vNIC/vHBA templates).
  • Individual Service Profiles spawned from a Service Profile template.
  • etc.

However, if both SMEs wished to interface using the UCS HTTP-based API they could adopt an approach using Microsoft PowerShell (aka “UCS PowerTools” in this case).  Here’s a subset of configuration from each of the lists above:

Network SME:

UCS PowerShell Network

Compute SME:

UCS PowerShell Compute

It all looks pretty consistent to all people involved now doesn’t it?  Static text mixed with variables for the bits that we want to define… all ‘translatable’ if read through to most involved.  The same would apply if we used XML/JSON and a REST/SOAP mechanism instead… which I will detail further in my next post (a bit too much for this one).  These common and universal ways of interfacing with the system(s) can often make it easier for people of different backgrounds to interpret what other SMEs are having to consider and therefore configure.  The view is of the ‘basic requests’ and not of the complexity associated with the old/existing views into technology silos… inc. GUIs and the frightening introductory view that they give!