Orchestrating Cloud Operations – A Practical Example

In December, Zenoss spent a week working with a Cisco team in London. At the beginning of the week, we had a FlexPod with VMware. By the end of the week we had an IAAS cloud where a cloud tenant could order a VM and get automated service management. Here’s our report.

During the week, the team installed and integrated Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud  and Zenoss Cloud Service Assurance. CIAC supplied the service catalog, order management, orchestration, and provisioning functions, while ZCSA turned cloud infrastructure awareness into tenant-focused service assurance.

Here’s what we enabled.

The cloud infrastructure was based on Cisco’s Virtual Multiservice Data Center  reference architecture. A VMDC converged infrastructure design provides all the data center components for a public or private cloud – networking, compute, storage, and management.

ZCSA was installed and discovered the environment. This morning-long task gave us one place to go to see how every component of the VMDC infrastructure was working.

The team used common CIAC function to publish a service catalog, a list of compute resources that can be ordered by a customer. Adding a simple order management workflow approved the request and kicked off the key automation workflow that provisioned and customized the virtual server for the customer request.

We inserted a call to ZCSA into the VM provisioning workflow as a post-provisioning step. An HTTP request directed ZCSA to establish a tenant and linked the newly-provisioned VM to that tenant, publishing the key business relationship information so that ZCSA could provide tenant-focused monitoring.



Tenant-focused monitoring allows the cloud operations team to see how the infrastructure is working for each tenant customer, allowing them to rapidly investigate and respond to problems. The image above shows one tenant with three VMs on the left, and a small segment of the infrastructure relationships supporting a customer on the right. ZCSA maintains the status and infrastructure model relationships automatically once the tenant customer-to-VM relationship has been established by the CIAC provisioning workflow.

One of the interesting challenges in providing IAAS services is communicating back to the customer exactly how their resources are being used. Traditional enterprise IT departments have rarely published live, detailed performance and availability statistics to their end users, but it’s a given in a cloud environment. When you’re paying for compute resources by the hour, you want to know that you’re getting what you paid for!

To meet this need, we extended the CIAC service portal with information from ZCSA. The latest release of ZCSA includes a customizable tenant web app. The team added the app portlet into the standard CIAC service portal. As soon as a customer placed an order and the VM was provisioned, the customer could begin reviewing resource usage.

The ZCSA web application is designed to be customized, using a separate web server from the main ZCSA application and a highly functional open source JSON graphics library to retrieve services, service status, resources, and resource KPIs. The team did minor customization, choosing the data to be displayed in the service assurance view portlet and adjusting the look and feel to match the cloud portal. Easy!

The result of the week was extremely exciting and the closing demonstration was very well received. We had a working, highly functional IAAS cloud running in just a week.

Don’t get me wrong – the system wasn’t ready for production. We didn’t implement a billing system, for example, the service catalog was fairly sparse, and there are a number of additional workflows to be built and tested. Still, our result was extremely satisfying.

Thanks to Gerard Berthet and Tom Vu from Zenoss, Dimitris Vlassopoulous, Mudassir Iqbal, and Jennifer Chung from Cisco for their work during the week!





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