Service Catalogs and the User Self-Service Portal

One of the most interesting features of CloudForms is the ability to define services that can include one or more virtual machines (VMs) or instances and can be deployed across hybrid environments. Services can be made available to users through a self-service portal that allows users to order predefined IT services without IT operations getting involved, thereby delivering on one of the major promises of cloud computing.

The intention of this post is to provide you with step-by-step instructions to get you started with a simple service catalog. After you have gone through the basic concepts, you should have the skills to dive deeper into more complex setups.

The Business Value of Red Hat CloudForms

When talking to IT leaders about Red Hat CloudForms, we often point out the time and cost savings that CloudForms can have on their organization. While we have several customer success stories that highlight the various benefits of CloudForms to each organization, we wanted a more formal study of the business value that CloudForms could bring to an organization. To that end, Red Hat commissioned a study, conducted by IDC, to look at the business value of CloudForms. This blog post will highlight some of their findings, with IDC’s complete report available for review.

Using Tags for Access Control

Most systems use Access Control Lists (ACL’s) to manage user’s access to objects. Common examples are ACL’s for file systems, LDAP, Web Servers and many more. Anyone who has had to create ACL rules and maintain them knows how complicated this can be. To make access control easy again, CloudForms uses tags. If the group a user belongs to has the same tag as the accessed object, access is granted, if not, access is denied.

This sounds simple and straightforward, but there are a couple of things to know about tags which make them very powerful, but also a bit tricky.

Using the CloudForms Topology View

When working with complex provider environments with many objects, the topology widget in Red Hat CloudForms can be extremely useful to quickly view and categorize information. The topology view provides the ability to view a container provider’s objects plus their details, such as the properties, status, and relationships to other objects on the provider. The topology view is also quite useful for showing cross-links between objects — all of which can be very difficult to visualize when only viewing an object’s summary page.

Migrating On-premise VMs to Azure

In 2008, the company I worked for at the time finally felt that virtualization was ready to host production workloads.  We stood up a two node VMware ESX 3.5 cluster, and started to migrate a handful of Linux, Windows and Novell Netware (!) servers from bare metal to virtual.  Even with VMware’s migration tooling, it was still a very manual process.  I scripted as much as I could, but my higher ups never felt good about farming the process out to lower level resources.  It was always me who was on the hook for physical to virtual migrations in after hour maintenance windows.

But that was a lifetime ago in terms of technology, and long before today’s DevOps mentality and tooling existed.  I don’t hear as many customers planning P2V (Physical-to-Virtual) migrations these days.  Instead, they’re asking about V2V (Virtual-to-Virtual), or to be more specific, how can they move on-prem workloads to the cloud: V2C (Virtual-to-Cloud).  Quite a few times, I’ve been asked “Can CloudForms help me migrate VMs from my internal virtual infrastructure to the cloud?”

Notify VM Owner of Upcoming Retirement

One side effect of quick and easy provisioning of virtual machines (VMs) is VM sprawl. To keep the number of VMs manageable, administrators set retirement dates to automatically retire the VM and free the hardware resources.

The risk with setting a retirement date is that the VM owner may not know (or may forget) that an active VM will be automatically retired. CloudForms has the ability to warn the VM owner that retirement of a VM is approaching. Customers want to be able to send multiple retirement warning emails to the VM owner. This can be achieved by modifying the retirement email methods in the Automate model.

CloudForms as a Container

The CloudForms 4.1 release (June ’16) delivered a new format for the CloudForms appliance: as a container in docker format. CloudForms has led the way by offering the appliance in several different virtualization and cloud formats, such as:

  • Red Hat Virtualization
  • Red Hat OpenStack Platform
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Microsoft SCVMM (Hyper-v)
  • VMware vSphere

With the new CloudForms container you can now host CloudForms on:

  • Red Hat OpenShift Enterprise 3
  • Red Hat Atomic Host (7.2 or higher)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (7.2 or higher)
  • Anywhere using docker

GUEST BLOG: Forrester’s Total Economic Impact Study of Red Hat CloudForms

The Red Hat Management portfolio has seen significant upgrades, including the latest release of Red Hat CloudForms 4.1, and has delivered efficiency and costs savings to worldwide customers. This is confirmed by analysts research and testimonials from customers like Cox Automotive, who saved almost 10 years of time and almost $5 million in soft savings. Moreover, because CloudForms supports a wide variety of platforms, including three of the largest public clouds – Amazon Web Service, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, CloudForms is well-suited for enterprises seeking to manage various stages of virtualization and cloud deployments, as well as containers. The following blog, written by Forrester Consulting, provides an example of the economic impact CloudForms could have on your business.

Author’s note: The following blog details a recent Total Economic Impact (TEI) study conducted by Forrester Consulting centered around Red Hat CloudForms. The results of that study can be viewed here.

First look at VMware vCloud provider in ManageIQ / CloudForms

With VMworld 2016 US event just around the corner, we thought it would be a good time to look at some of the new features introduced in the ManageIQ community related to our support for VMware.

ManageIQ is the open source project behind Red Hat CloudForms. The latest product features are implemented in the upstream community first, before eventually making it downstream into Red Hat CloudForms. This process is similar for all Red Hat products. For example, Fedora is the upstream project for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and follows the same upstream-first development model.

In this article, we look at the recent development of a vCloud provider in ManageIQ. VMware vCloud becomes the latest addition to the list of supported public cloud providers, joining Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and OpenStack.