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Embotics Cloud Management Blog

vCommander™ 5.7 Sneak Preview: Custom Attribute Sublists and Boolean Workflow Step Conditions

Today, I’m happy to provide a sneak peak at two vCommander 5.7 features. Despite being simple to use, custom attribute sublists and Boolean operations in workflow step conditions greatly increase the power and flexibility of vCommander automation.

Topics: Releases How-to Cloud Management Platform (CMP) vCommander

vCommander™ 5.6 Sneak Preview: Multi-Tenant Media Library

This week I’m back with another sneak preview of a great new feature coming in vCommander 5.6: a multi-tenant media library. This improves upon current functionality, which lets vCommander and Service Portal users mount media from the host’s physical drives or datastores, but all ISO/FLP files are globally available. Let’s take a look.

Topics: Releases Cloud Management Platform (CMP) vCommander

vCommander™ 5.6 Sneak Preview: Variable Assistant

One of the first customer support cases I handled at Embotics involved using vCommander variables to pass information out to a script. I was new to vCommander myself, of course – as was the customer – but we both had the same feeling. We knew that there was a variable that would provide the data we needed, but we couldn’t figure out which one it was, and that was frustrating.
The reference tables in the documentation were exhaustively complete. There were hundreds of variables listed, but no means to really narrow down the search. Needless to say, it took a very long time to close the support case, and although the customer ultimately was satisfied, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we had to do better.

Topics: Releases Cloud Management Platform (CMP) vCommander

What’s new in vCommander 5.2?

Release Date: November 4, 2014

Support for Microsoft Azure

This release introduces support for managing a Microsoft® Azure subscription with vCommander. With vCommander, you can integrate your Microsoft Azure public cloud environment with your private cloud infrastructure. vCommander allows you to create and manage workloads on the virtualization and cloud platform that is best for that workload, using criteria such as price, availability and technology.

vCommander supports a wide range of features with Azure, including inventory and reporting, change and configuration management, policy automation, cost visibility and chargeback, and self service and provisioning automation.

Cost Visibility and Chargeback

vCommander Release 5.2 provides major enhancements to cost reporting and analytics.

You can now specify that certain VM costs are calculated only when VMs are running, so that reports more accurately represent VM costs. This can apply to public clouds that do not charge for CPU and memory when a VM is powered off, and you can also optionally reflect this same behaviour for your on-prem costs.

You can now use formulas to calculate custom costs right in vCommander. For example, you might want to calculate total backup costs using total provisioned storage, the number of backups required, the compression ratio and the cost of backup storage. You can then easily extend this level of cost visibility to your end consumers of IT services.

For VMs that provide service to multiple lines of business (LOBs), you can now allocate costs to the LOBs that use the service. For example, if you provide an application as a service to three LOBs, you can allocate a percentage of the cost of the service to each LOB. This then more accurately reflects the true cost of service delivery in your environment.

Per-Tier Storage Quotas

Your storage capacity is likely divided into a few tiers with varying capabilities and cost. vCommander now allows you to set quota for each storage tier, at the organization level and the member level. You can set an overall storage limit, storage tier limits, or both, for both
organizations and members.

Networking Configuration

To support richer networking topologies and to enable multiple NIC/network VM provisioning automation, vCommander Release 5.2 introduces enhanced network visibility and placement.

You can now tag networks and subnets with zones – simple labels that describe the network’s purpose within your infrastructure, such as DMZ, Storage and Production. Network zones enable your users to select a network when requesting a new service, without requiring an understanding of the underlying infrastructure. This also helps administrators keep track of a large list of networks. It also provides for more simplified automated deployment in multi-tenant environments.
Organization Assignment and Migration

vCommander Release 5.2 provides powerful orchestration capabilities, allowing end users to transfer workloads among organization members, organizations, and compute resources. IT admins configure the necessary controls, so that the underlying infrastructure details are hidden from the end user. Example scenarios include promotion from staging to production, hand-off between developers and testers, and migration between high-end and lower-end compute clusters. Note that migrations are targeted to an individual on-prem hypervisor today, with plans for hybrid cloud migrations in the future.

Integration with Puppet

You can configure vCommander to use the Puppet Labs® IT automation system, Puppet. This integration allows vCommander to identify VMs as Puppet nodes. You can then set up workflows to create a Puppet node, authorize a node, and assign Puppet classes, groups and variables to VMs provisioned with vCommander.

User Experience Enhancements

We’ve made several enhancements to improve the user experience for both Service Portal users and vCommander administrators.

The Service Portal has a sharp, clean new look:

The Service Catalog in both the Service Portal and vCommander now has more screen real estate, making it easier to browse. We’ve also made it simpler for users to fill out a service request by merging the previous tabbed view into a single page for all components in the service.

Service Portal users can now drag VMs and virtual services into folders from the tree and from a table in order to more quickly organize their workloads. Administrators can also specify what properties appear in the VM Details pane for Service Portal users, thereby customizing the self-service experience specific to their own environment.

For vCommander customers with larger deployments, we’ve added a quick search capability to easily filter and administer the following lists: Organizations, Users, Policies, IP pools, and all types of workflows. We’ve also made it easier to onboard new customers or departments, by providing copy existing automated deployment destinations, service catalog entries, requests forms, and workflows. These same capabilities can also be configured with the vCommander REST API.

Topics: Releases What's New

What’s new in vCommander 5.1?

Release Date: April 17, 2014

Support for HP Helion Public Cloud

This release allows you to integrate your HP Helion Public Cloud environment with your private cloud infrastructure. vCommander allows you to deploy HP Helion Public Cloud images and manage instances.

vCommander is committed to extending its platform neutral support for clouds and hypervisors.

Console Proxy for Secure VM Connections

With the new vCommander Console Proxy, you can now secure your virtualized infrastructure behind a firewall while still permitting your users console access to their VMs. This is especially important for Service Providers and enterprises with data center security restrictions. When you configure the Console Proxy, your users have access to their VMs within a browser, without the need for a direct network connection to the managed system (vCenter or SCVMM).

Self-Service

Quotas are assigned via multi-tenant organization membership to set limits on the compute resources based on resource consumption. In vCommander Release 5.1 this has been enhanced so that you can now configure quotas such that powered-off VMs don’t count in CPU and memory usage calculations. By default, if this option is enabled, organization members cannot power on VMs when doing so would exceed quota. This allows for greater flexibility for self-service users.

Workflow Automation

vCommander Release 5.1 has added a number of new powerful workflow and self-service capabilities.

Specific to the provisioning process, these steps allow you to automate configuration of a requested VM and the Guest OS:

You run programs in the Guest to install software, assign networking settings at provisioning or decommissioning, join to an Active Directory domain, or run customization specs.

If you use BlueCatTM IPAM, you can directly integrate BlueCatTM with vCommander so that you can create host records or DHCP reservations.

You can now centrally manage all of your Guest OS credentials specifically for workflow automation. This centralized management allows you to use these credentials securely when running scripts or connecting to the guest OS, as part of fulfilling provisioning and change requests

Reporting and Analytics
In addition to the public clouds supported by vCommander, you can now compare costs on the following public clouds:

  • Google Compute Engine
  • IBM Softlayer
  • Rackspace
  • Microsoft Azure

You can also compare public cloud vendors’ on-demand pricing with their discounted, yearly term pricing. All public cloud costs are estimates and are intended for planning purposes only, in order to help you in determining current and future workload placement.

Topics: Releases What's New Cloud Management Platform (CMP)

What’s New in vCommander 5.0?

Support for Amazon EC2

This release allows you to integrate your Amazon public cloud environment with your private cloud infrastructure. Through Amazon Web Services (AWS), vCommander™ accesses Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) to allow you to deploy EC2 AMIs (Amazon Machine Images) and manage EC2 instances.

Topics: Releases What's New Cloud Management Platform (CMP)