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How to Manage Hybrid Environments in Cloud Computing

Your company will probably have a hybrid environment: a traditional data center, a private cloud, and some cloud computing services. That hybrid is part of what makes cloud management so complex. They may use virtualized servers as well as dedicated physical servers.

Virtualization is using computer resources to imitate other computer resources or even whole computers. The term is very broad and can include virtualizing everything from memory to software.

This hybrid environment requires management of both the virtual servers and the physical infrastructure beneath. And, because there is a good chance that most enterprises won’t move all of their computing resources to the cloud, they have to be concerned with how this hybrid environment gets managed. Two important capabilities need to be in place to manage this hybrid world: the service catalog and the Configuration Management Database (CMBD).

The service catalog in cloud computing

One of the important factors in managing a cloud is to ensure a way to manage IT assets and activities. Enter the service catalog (defined as part of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library [ITIL] Service Design best practice). The catalog is a component list that makes up internal and external services that are available to an organization.

A typical service catalog includes such items as the definition of the service, its service level, who is entitled to use that service, and what components are required to execute that service. Clearly, a service catalog is required for organizations to manage services in a hybrid world — across data centers, private and public clouds, as well as hosted environments. The service catalog is an essential tool for both cloud providers and customers that need a view into the assets they are using. Many cloud providers package a service catalog to help their customers work between their cloud and external resources.

Cloud computing and the Configuration Management Database (CMDB)

To understand what services are being managed across your various computing environments, you should keep track of changes. That is the role of the Configuration Management Database (CMDB). For example, many cloud environments use extensive virtualization to add efficiency.

Virtualization enables the abstraction of hardware assets so that these assets can be used for multiple purposes. These varied uses increase the difficulty of tracking changes to these resources. However, it's important for the cloud provider (even if that’s you in your private cloud) to track these assets and understand what’s been changed and what state that service is in.

The CMDB will evolve into an important capability because it ensures that cloud services don’t fail because of an inadvertent configuration change.

Often, when vendors talk about managing the cloud, they’re only talking about how you manage resources over a virtualized infrastructure — about a self-service portal that lets you provision resources and some sort of automated resource allocation. They’re not talking about fixing problems, providing service level agreements, or managing security.

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