Technology, IT Infrastructure

Converged infrastructure orchestration likes open standards

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The key to a converged infrastructure, without which you really can’ t reap the benefits of the architecture, is the orchestration.

You need your IT staff toget to the point where they are designing things—setting up rules for resource consumption and workload interaction—and then tipping them into motion and occasionally tweaking the design, rather than (as is the general case now) constantly, manually, pushing resources at workloads. This is the only way most organizations will be able to sustainably manage a data center, in the sense that neither the staff size nor the staff workloads will have to grow to unsustainable levels to support the required services.

In order for orchestration to really work, you need a single system calling the shots (although it may, or perhaps should, delegate some responsibilities to other systems). This in turn requires that all the components slotted into provide compute, network and storage services, and any management subsystems to which the orchestrator delegates jobs, be manageable from that one platform.

There are two ways this gets done: the single-vendor approach and the open-standards approach. With the single-vendor approach, you buy everything from one provider. This is a great way to guarantee the interoperability of the parts, but has many significant drawbacks: it limits IT to that single vendor’ s vision and road map across all resource types, for example, and typically comes with a higher per-piece price.

The open-standards approach allows IT to mix and match resources from different vendors. As long as the orchestrator and management tools can talk to them, they can be folded in. This frees IT to seek the right resources or price points, but limits the choices to those systems that are sufficiently interoperable—and vendors don’ t always expose their coolest features to theopen-standards interfaces they provide. It also opens up the possibility offinger-pointing when there are problems with the integrations.

The take-away? Nemertes tends to advocate for an open, standards-based approach whenever practical. Even if you opt for the single-vendor approach in your first forays into integrated infrastructure, it would be wise to select a vendor that embraces open standards and will support your using other vendors’ stuff down the line.

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Paul Calento 255 Points | Sat, 03/31/2012 - 23:39

Single vendor approach. Open standards. There's another to consider. Customer requirements based on legacy items/requirements that will need to integrate with the converged infrastructure ... essentially a middle point. Orchestration would be easy(ier) if we were starting from scratch. But in most cases, we're not. 

--Paul Calento

(note: I work on projects sponsored by and HP)