Edge Cloud Service Orchestration with Azure and Azure Stack

Introduction

Microsoft has grown its Azure offering by leaps and bounds, especially in the past year. In our previous blog post about our Azure and Azure Stack plugins, we pointed out that Microsoft’s cloud service is seen as a definite number two in public cloud, behind Amazon’s AWS, but is quickly gaining among large enterprises. And, with their recent introduction of Azure Stack, there is definitely room to say they are already leading the pack in private cloud.

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Cloudify’s flexible service orchestration glues together and manages all the components in your stack from the infrastructure up to the application, including networking, through day-2 operations such as heal and scale. This is especially prominent when it comes to hybrid cloud and multi-cloud services that require more sophisticated network configuration.

And Azure, due to its popularity, is a prime candidate for multi-cloud as well as hybrid private-public with the introduction of Azure Stack. Azure Stack also brings with it a very interesting edge computing use case with the ability to utilize it as an edge device on its own.

Also, in the context of service orchestration, our plugin integrates with Azure Resource Manager (ARM) enabling users to deploy their already created ARM templates, so even resources that Cloudify doesn’t natively support can still be orchestrated through the use of a template.

This post will go into the different use cases for Cloudify with Azure and Azure Stack, including:

  • Managing multi-cloud deployments on Azure and other clouds
  • Hybrid Cloud Orchestration of Azure and Azure Stack
  • Connecting multiple Azure Stack edge devices

Multi-cloud Azure and OpenStack/AWS orchestration

A few months ago, we showed off a Cloudify VNF Onboarding demo with TM Forum of two Fortigate VNFs, one on Azure and the other on OpenStack. Cloudify, in conjunction with ONAP (in this use case), is able to deploy and onboard VNFs, or any service, on multiple cloud infrastructures with a single blueprint and connect them.

As we covered in our multi-cloud VNF onboarding blog post about this use case, the two machines were connected with port forwarding in a microservices architecture. The use case also enables the ability to scale out as needed or heal a machine using policies that define metrics which trigger the necessary workflows.

We also have a multi-cloud online lab which anyone can try for free. Users can test drive Cloudify’s capabilities in orchestrating and managing multiple deployments simultaneously on Azure and OpenStack (as well as AWS). All it requires is that the user has an Azure account and you can read the step-by-step documentation here.

The lab itself walks users through deploying a Kubernetes cluster and installing WordPress as well as installing a Drupal application (not in a K8s cluster) all on top of OpenStack. It then directs the user to install a MariaDB cluster and HAProxy on Azure (or AWS), which connects the frontend and backend deployments.

Azure Stack and hybrid cloud orchestration

Introduced only about a year ago, Azure Stack quickly found a home amongst the many Microsoft shops. You may even have some holdouts with their own racks getting on the Azure Stack train and finding that as a way to transition some of their workloads to Azure as well.

The real differentiators for Azure Stack are that it brings organizations an identical private cloud version of the public cloud offering, feature for feature, and the fact that it plays nice with Azure public cloud. This makes hybrid cloud an even more solid reality for organizations that have previously had to do a lot of refactoring or haven’t pulled the trigger yet.

Cloudify, with its Azure plugin, brings Azure Stack capabilities as well making it a great option for hybrid cloud in Microsoft-centric organizations. In this manner, Cloudify is able to seamlessly integrate workloads by connecting both clouds with a unified dashboard.

Azure at the edge with Cloudify

The edge domain is quickly making new technologies such as IoT, smart cars, and augmented reality an actual reality. The sheer scale of edge devices in the world is set to explode in the next few years. And with Azure Stack, edge devices will have a private cloud built exactly for that scenario.

There are still some challenges with edge computing as we have mentioned in earlier posts, but with open, flexible orchestration, Cloudify can be used in multiple ways to solve them. One of the many use cases has Cloudify installed on the master cloud on top of Microsoft Azure (or Azure Stack) to control multiple remote edge clouds with Azure Stack. With Cloudify at the edge on top of Azure Stack, local workflows can be executed even while there is no internet connection. Cloudify can also be used to manage any number of Azure Stack regions simultaneously.

Final notes

Enterprises and CSP’s are embracing public cloud more aggressively today as part of their digital transformation agenda. Azure is gaining popularity amongst many of those organizations and one of the key differentiators from other clouds is the value they bring with Azure Stack. The challenge now becomes how quickly enterprises can speed up the adoption and transformation of their existing workloads with Azure.

For organizations looking to move from OpenStack/VMware to Azure, Cloudify’s tight integration with OpenStack, VMware, and Azure makes the transformation significantly smoother due to the interoperability with the big cloud platforms and the open, flexible nature of Cloudify. The integration and automation-first approach shortens the transformation time as compared with the hefty financial and time costs of migrating all of your applications.

Moreover, Cloudify’s integration with Azure Resource Management Templates allows customer to leverage existing Azure artifacts while maintaining interoperability with their existing environment artifacts under a common automation scheme. This will allow those customers to minimize the need for a long and complex transformation that is often needed to get the end-to-end automation experience.

Cloudify is now taking an Azure-first approach and making Cloudify a first-class citizen within the Azure environment starting with our Microsoft partnership as well as making Cloudify available on the Azure Marketplace (link to follow soon) and supporting Azure ARM and Azure Stack, on top of our Azure public cloud support. We plan to be even more tightly integrated with the rest of the Azure services as well and will release more posts as this develops.

Looking into the future

We see Azure gaining popularity among CSP’s and more enterprise market share, and the combination of Azure and Azure stack opens the door for many interesting use cases for managing edge and federated deployment scenarios that are common in these sorts of environments.

This is an where we see great potential for leveraging Cloudify success driving network orchestration and next-generation edge platforms which fit well with the global distribution that Azure and Azure stack can provide.

References



Author: Jeremy Hess
Jeremy is the community and growth manager at Cloudify. He is also co-chair of the Technical Marketing & Education ad-hoc for the OASIS TOSCA Technical Committee. While he isn't spending time with his wife and 2 daughters or brewing beer, Jeremy is an organizer of several meet-ups as well as events such as OpenStack Day Israel and DevOpsDays Tel Aviv.

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