Have you ever wondered how complex the online systems are? Systems such as online airline ticket booking system, Internet Services, Scientific research data systems, social networking sites and more such online systems make an end user’s job simple. Actually, these systems have lots of complex structure with complex processes running in the background which make these systems work as a single workflow.

Consider a case where a user is ordering a service by using an application hosted in cloud. The interface makes the entire process of ordering, approving, and provisioning look simple, as if it is a single application hosted on the same cloud. Most of the times, it is a set of applications hosted in various cloud environments, some to process the data and some to store data. Also, various platforms and infrastructure are involved in it. From user’s point of view it does not make a difference, but the service provider, whose system consists of various applications having a single interface, needs to manage the parts (modules of an app and various interlinked apps) of system hosted in various cloud environments. Managing all the parts of the system needs automation to minimize the admin intervention.

So, what exactly does the service provider need to manage? Service providers need to take care that the system is up and running all the time. As the traffic grows, the system needs to be scaled by creating new environments. Creating a new environment involves functions such as spinning up a VM, adding new instances during an auto-scaling event with auto scaling groups and elastic load balancers, and configuring the OS. Automating all these functions is part of cloud automation process. The functions may also include deployment automation tools. It is a must for engineers to arrange these automation tools in definite order under specific security groups or tools. All this involves numerous manual tasks that engineers need to complete to create an environment. This is where cloud orchestration helps.

Cloud Orchestration is a way to manage, co-ordinate, and provision all the components of a cloud platform automatically from a common interface. It orchestrates the physical as well as virtual resources of the cloud platform. Cloud orchestration is a must because cloud services scale up arbitrarily and dynamically, include fulfillment assurance and billing, and require workflows in various business and technical domains.

Orchestration tools combine automated tasks by interconnecting the processes running across the heterogeneous platforms in multiple locations. Orchestration tools create declarative templates to convert the interconnected processes into a single workflow. The processes are so orchestrated that the new environment creation workflow is achieved with a single API call. Creation of these declarative templates, though complex and time consuming, is simplified by the orchestration tools.

Cloud orchestration includes two types of models: Single Cloud model and the Multi-cloud model. In Single cloud model, all the applications designed for a system run on the same IaaS platform (same cloud service provider). Applications, interconnected to create a single workflow, running on various cloud platforms for the same organization define the concept of multi-cloud model. IaaS requirement for some applications, though designed for same system, might vary. This results in availing services of multiple cloud service providers. For example, application with patient’s sensitive medical data might reside in some IaaS, whereas the application for online OPD appointment booking might reside in another IaaS, but they are interconnected to form one system. This is called multi-cloud orchestration. Multi-cloud models provide high redundancy as compared to single IaaS deployments. This reduces the risk of down time.

Key features of Multi-Cloud Model

  • Flexibility to run applications on various IaaS platforms depending on the applications’ needs
  • Higher redundancy than single cloud models thus reducing the down time risk
  • Interoperability across multiple cloud environments

Benefits of Cloud Orchestration

Reduce overall IT costs:

  • By reducing the number of administrators, to a larger extent, required per server
  • By reusing the IT resources depending upon the business demands thus saving the cost for new purchase
  • By providing the facility of paying for only those resources that are being used

Improve delivery times and free up engineering time for new projects:

  • By reducing the provisioning time from weeks to hours
  • By increasing the capacity with the use of virtual servers thus avoiding the addition of physical hardware
  • By providing self-service management facility for end-user

Have smooth coordination between System teams and Development teams:

  • By standardizing service descriptions and policies, and SLAs
  • By building automated provisioning templates

Make the Catalog of Services available through a single pane of glass:

  • By aligning the business perspective with the IT perspective

Conclusion

Without cloud orchestration it is difficult to optimize cloud computing to its maximum potential. Owing to its multi-fold benefits, you can be assured that cloud orchestration easily helps service providers scale, reduce downtime risks and seamlessly align the various process for a great user experience.