Frequently Asked Questions about Cloudify

This handy Cloudify FAQ covers some commonly asked questions and their answers.

  1. What is Cloudify anyway?
  2. How is Cloudify different from other Cloud Management, Orchestration or Automation platforms like Cloudforms, Ansible, or Terraform?
  3. Hybrid Cloud or Multi Cloud – What is the value of Cloudify in these environments?
  4. Is Cloudify provided as a service?
  5. What’s the quickest way to try Cloudify out?
  6. How is Cloudify different from configuration management tools like Chef, Puppet, SaltStack, and Ansible? Can I use Cloudify with these tools?
  7. Can I use my existing Ansible Playbooks, or Terraform templates with Cloudify?
  8. I’ve been hearing all kinds of buzz words lately – orchestration, Kubernetes, automation, ONAP, edge computing, infrastructure as code…what does it all mean?
  9. I’m already using Infrastructure as Code templates, why do I need Cloudify?
  10. I’m already fully running on Kubernetes, is Cloudify a good choice for me?
  11. What are the prerequisites for Cloudify?
  12. What Cloud platforms does Cloudify support? And how does it do it?
  13. Can Cloudify work within my data center or non-virtualized environment, or does it have to have an IaaS infrastructure?
  14. Can I use Cloudify in an air gapped or offline environment?
  15. I tried installing Cloudify and got an annoying error – where can I get help?
  16. What other technologies or tools does Cloudify integrate with?
  17. How do I get started with creating and using Cloudify blueprints, and where do I find them?
  18. Can I write my own Cloudify blueprints? How difficult is it?
  19. Can I use Cloudify on a single desktop?
  20. Can I use Cloudify for free?
  21. How does auto-scaling work?
  22. Commercial FAQ’s
  23. So Premium Cloudify vs. Community Version – what’s the difference?
  24. How about enterprise grade support?
  25. What’s the business value of Cloudify? (Connect it to convince my boss letter below)?
  26. I’m a huge Fortune 500 organization, is a product like Cloudify able to support my needs? Some of the other vendors are scaring me
  27. Who are your customers? Is this actually used in real production environments?
  28. How much does Cloudify cost?
  29. I’m loving this, but how can I build a business case to convince management?
  30. Anything else I should know?
  31. General Product FAQ’s
  32. How does Cloudify fit with my current development pipeline?
  33. How can I change the deployment after it has been created?
  34. How can Cloudify handle failures?
  35. Security FAQs:
  36. How does Tenant Management work in Cloudify?
  37. How does Authentication work in Cloudify?

 

Q: What is Cloudify anyway?

A: Cloudify is an open source, end-to-end platform designed to transform network services and multi-cloud applications, connect branches, deploy and manage multi-access edge and IoT devices, break down silos and deliver all services on-demand – automatically, at extreme edge scale.  


Q: How is Cloudify different from other Cloud Management, Orchestration or Automation platforms like Cloudforms, Ansible, or Terraform?

A: Cloudify is an orchestration platform and is not a traditional PaaS framework; although it can be used to automate one. PaaS platforms such as Cloud Foundry and OpenShift focus primarily on common application stacks and architectures, and are designed to improve developer productivity by making it easy to develop and deploy new, simple applications. Cloudify, on the other hand, is designed to handle complex, non-trivial applications and their underlying environments, that typically have multiple tiers which are not always the usual Ruby, Node, Java stack. By using blueprints to model the application/infrastructure or networking, Cloudify allows users to automate the deployment and management of any existing application/infrastructure/networking stack. In addition, it gives the user a much higher degree of control over the application stack itself – you’re not restricted to a specific version of a web server of a specific load balancer implementation, as you are with the usual PaaS/Cloud Management platforms. This abstraction of the elements (i.e all the parts needed to run a service) allows you to create complex services chains while using multiple clouds/tools/technologies. 

Read more about Cloudify vs. Terraform, Cloudify vs. Ansible


Q: Hybrid Cloud or Multi Cloud – What is the value of Cloudify in these environments?

A: Because Cloudify is built on the principles of the TOSCA standard, it allows us to set an abstraction layer from the underlying resources it orchestrates, whether these are different IaaS clouds, hypervisors, bare metal or even x86 based edge devices. Cloudify then allows you to deploy, configure and manage the full lifecycle of these resources. This allows you to use Cloudify for more advanced use cases like Environment as a Service, effectively allowing you to bring together your infrastructure, networking and security into reusable and ‘templatized’ environments that you can use for your different applications and their specific environment needs. 


Q: Is Cloudify provided as a service?

A: Cloudify is soon going to debut our Cloudify as a Service platform, which will give you the power of the Cloudify Manager available nearly instantly. All you need to do is login to the platform and connect it to the cloud you want to orchestrate resources on. Stay tuned or contact us for more info. 


Q: What’s the quickest way to try Cloudify out?

A: Use a free hosted lab or download the premium version. We are set to debut our Cloudify as a Service platform very soon, so stay tuned. 


Q: How is Cloudify different from configuration management tools like Chef, Puppet, SaltStack, and Ansible? Can I use Cloudify with these tools?

A: Configuration management (CM) tools are great for configuring individual servers and preparing them for service. Given a server and a desired state, they will make sure to take all the required steps to configure that server so that it ends up in the desired state.

Cloudify, on the other hand, looks at things from a complete environment perspective – i.e. given a description of an application stack with all its tiers, their dependencies, and the details for each tier, Cloudify will take all the steps required to realize that application stack. This includes provisioning infrastructure resources on the cloud (compute, storage and network), assigning the right roles to each provisioned VM, configuring this CM (which is typically done by configuration management tools), supplying the right pieces of information to each tier, starting them up in the right order, and then continuously monitoring the instances of each tier, healing it on failure and scaling that tier when needed. Cloudify can also integrate with these CM tools as needed for configuring individual VMs, and in fact this a best practice we encourage our users to follow. For example if you are using Ansible playbooks to do this, you can leverage the Ansible plugin to continue to do so. You can leverage others tools like Chef, Puppet and more by using our Script Plugin. Find additional official plugins on the Cloudify Documentation site


Q: Can I use my existing Ansible Playbooks, or Terraform templates with Cloudify?

A: Yes, see above. Cloudify enables you to leverage any Ansible Playbook or Terraform template which makes working with either tool is really intuitive with Cloudify. We have a whole page dedicated to using Ansible with Cloudify, and you can check out how to get started with the Terraform plugin here. So be sure to check it out if you’re using one of these tools, or learn more about leveraging your existing Infrastructure as Code setup.


Q: I’ve been hearing all kinds of buzz words lately – orchestration, Kubernetes, automation, ONAP, edge computing, infrastructure as code…what does it all mean?

A: Automation usually focuses on specific tasks. Orchestration is kind of like automation on steroids. It’s the automation of your automation (or the Orchestrator of Orchestrators…), what we mean by that, is that it’s the automation of workflows and processes, taking into consideration the order in which tasks need to be performed as well (for example starting a database before the web server during server provisioning). Here’s a good blog post on cloud orchestration vs. cloud automation that might be able to help.

Other buzzwords that you might have heard mentioned in the orchestration context, and more information about them:

 


Q: I’m already using Infrastructure as Code templates, why do I need Cloudify?

A:  As mentioned before, Cloudify can actually utilize those same automation templates, whether in the form of Infrastructure as Code or configuration management playbooks, and connect them to a more thorough automation that also connects to the CI/CD pipeline, and the portal for the actual users. This in effect makes the operations team life even easier, as they no longer need to do manual work to stitch together the application development team, with the infrastructure team, with the networking team in a seamless approach. This approach helps teams avoid the messy manual stitching needed for CI/CD to run on modern infrastructure.

You can read more about this – Figuring Out The Messy Middle (DevOps In The Modern Age) 


Q: I’m already fully running on Kubernetes, is Cloudify a good choice for me?

A:  While Cloudify has vast experience orchestrating Kubernetes environments, whether they are on Bare Metal, or managed Kubernetes services like GKE, AKS, ECS. Where Cloudify shines most is in orchestrating heterogeneous and distributed environments, like multiple clouds and VM and container based workloads. Having said that, if you are operating in a strictly 100% cloud native Kubernetes based environment, there is less value in using Cloudify.


Q: What are the prerequisites for Cloudify?

A:  Cloudify Manager is supported for installation on a 64-bit host with RHEL/CentOS 7.6. You can see the full list of the prerequisites here.

When running on clouds such as OpenStack, VMware or AWS, Azure, GCP, you need to have proper IaaS credentials and set them properly in the Secret Store. For more details, please see our documentation on deploying a Cloudify Manager Image


Q: What Cloud platforms does Cloudify support? And how does it do it?

A: Cloudify supports pretty much any cloud. No wait it’s true – hear us out. There are clouds that are supported out of the box with already available official plugins – the most common clouds OpenStack, vCloud, Azure, vSphere, AWS, Google Cloud, bare metal, or even on a hypervisor like KVM, along with others.

If you’re looking to use a cloud that doesn’t have an existing provider – you can write the provider plugin yourself (isn’t open source great?), or you can reach out to us for help.

 


Q: Can Cloudify work within my data center or non-virtualized environment, or does it have to have an IaaS infrastructure?

A: It sure can. Cloudify supports a Host Pool provider which basically means you can leverage your existing servers (virtualized or non-virtualized) for deploying and managing Cloudify services. We’ve even had users deploying Cloudify to orchestrate Kubernetes on bare metal!


Q: Can I use Cloudify in an air gapped or offline environment?

A: Yes you can. In fact many Cloudify users are in heavily regulated and secured environments and are using Cloudify in completely offline or air gapped installations. You can download Cloudify as a offline package using our RPM package as the RPM is self-contained, the installation process does not require Internet connection. You can find more details on offline installation of Cloudify here


Q: I tried installing Cloudify and got an annoying error – where can I get help?

A: You can post a thread in our Slack channel or user forum, or you can reach out to us directly – we’re always happy to help. 


Q: What other technologies or tools does Cloudify integrate with?

A: Cloudify was built out of the box to work with our favorite technologies – we’re not looking to replace great tools – we just want to work really well with them. So pretty much any tool you’re used to working with, Cloudify likely supports it. There are the obvious configuration management and infrastructure tools like Ansible, Terraform, Jenkins, as well as bash (for *nix systems) and PowerShell (for Windows). Some of our customers have also expanded on the plugin functionality and built their own plugins for ServiceNow, Infoblox, certain NetApp appliances, and much more. 

 


Q: How do I get started with creating and using Cloudify blueprints, and where do I find them?

A: You can find all of the officially supported blueprint examples in the Cloudify Blueprint Examples Github. You can take a test drive with a hosted Cloudify environment, and see how the blueprints work. This is the easiest way to experiment with Cloudify Manager on a fully enabled OpenStack environment. 

You can also check out our video tutorials to learn more about different Cloudify capabilities. To get started just follow the quick start guide on our download page.

 


Q: Can I write my own Cloudify blueprints? How difficult is it?

A: Of course you can. From newbie to ninja – somewhere in the vicinity of green belt.

If there is a blueprint you need that doesn’t exist in our examples repo, you can copy the syntax from the existing blueprints and create your own. Our blueprints are written in YAML so they’re pretty straightforward. To learn how to get started check out these resources on agile blueprint design


Q: Can I use Cloudify on a single desktop?

A: Yes. Cloudify supports a docker based installation on your local machine, which means for sandbox development, testing purposes or any other reason you may have, you can download and run a Cloudify image on your local environment and get started. Read more on the getting started page after you download or on the documentation

 


Q: Can I use Cloudify for free?

A: Users that need to use orchestration for sandbox, development, or local testing, can use the community version of Cloudify. Users that need to have multiple users and other production grade features, including support and maintenance are working with Cloudify Premium.


Q: How does auto-scaling work?

A: Auto-scaling let’s you define thresholds and rules to automatically add capacity to your deployment. You can check out this blog post that discusses auto-scaling in detail and our docs.


Commercial FAQ’s

Q: So Premium Cloudify vs. Community Version – what’s the difference?

A: Cloudify comes in an open source community version used for initial development environments and local use, and a Premium edition that includes all of the open source edition’s features, along with production grade features like High Availability, Multi Tenancy, and the Cloudify Composer for easy and dynamic blueprint creation. Learn more about the two versions here, and feel free to get in touch if you’d like to hear more.


Q: How about enterprise grade support?

A: Enterprise grade support and maintenance are included with your Cloudify Premium license. There are multiple support options available, that will be able to give you even better than industry grade SLA’s. You can find out more about Cloudify Premium here


Q: What’s the business value of cloudify?

A: As with most complex automation tools the easiest way to explain the value of Cloudify is in the time it saves your organization in eliminating duplicate and manual work. Our customers are seeing deployment times go down by almost 98% by utilizing Cloudify to orchestrate their environments. In addition many customers are reporting up to 60% increased efficiency in development velocity & Accelerated Time to Value with Cloudify.

Automation is no longer a question of just cost savings. It is in fact the lifeline of your business, and the core of being able to properly utilize today’s modern cloud infrastructure. Proper use of orchestration in the modern business workplace will allow faster development and innovation, meaning increased productivity, features and at the end of the day, higher customer satisfaction.

See one of our case studies to learn more about the business value of Cloudify. You can also read this short post on the business value of Cloudify’s Environment as a Service


Q: I’m a huge Fortune 500 organization, is a product like Cloudify able to support my needs? Some of the other vendors are scaring me…

A: Cloudify is already being used by many different types of Fortune 500 customers, including Banking, Insurance, and Communications service providers. We provide the highest level of support for all our customers, and are also working with multiple system integrators that can also help, along with specialized ’boutique’ cloud and system consultants. See more information about our customers below.


Q: Who are your customers? Is this actually used in real production environments?

A: Yes, Cloudify is definitely being used in production environments of some of the biggest companies in the world including multinational banks, insurance companies, credit analytics companies and tier one service providers. Some of the names that we are allowed to mention include Proximus, KPN, F5, Telstra, Palo Alto Networks, TIM, Leonardo, Turk Telecom, Societe Generale and many others. 


Q: How much does Cloudify cost?

A: Cloudify premium requires a yearly subscription license, with different bundles and options available, usually based on the number of Cloudify managers needed, and the number of orchestrated elements (VM’s, container pods, devices, uCPEs, VNFs or others). Please contact us to learn more about our pricing. 


Q: I’m loving this, but how can I build a business case to convince management?

A: Do you want to use Cloudify orchestration in your company, but not sure how to pitch it?

In addition to our previous answer about the business value of Cloudify. You can also see the template below for an email template that will help you explain all the benefits of cloud orchestration. If you want to talk to us about your specific use case and to understand how relevant Cloudify can be, feel free to drop us a line using our contact us page

Dear {Boss Name},

I recently came across Cloudify, and I really think we can use it for our cloud infrastructure  and automation needs. I’ve done a deep dive on many of the orchestration and infrastructure automation tools, and Cloudify stands out because of its vast scaling abilities, open architecture, versatile modeling, support for any cloud, and the long list of use cases that it can be used for. Bottom line is that it works great for operations, development and infrastructure teams.

Cloudify has a large user community and their customer base includes some of the largest Fortune 500 organizations. The reasons people are choosing Cloudify are: 

  • Its ability to handle end-to-end service composition between different orchestration domains such as Kubernetes, Ansible and Terraform in multi cloud environments AND connect it to their CI/CD toolchain.
  • It’s ability to seamlessly integrate with application development process and avoid vendor lock-in
  • Full lifecycle management: From complex configurations and deployments to day-2 automations: auto updates/scaling/healing.

Just some of the example customers that are using Cloudify:

  • FICO is saving up to 98% in deployment time using intelligent automation 
  • KPN has undergone a full digital transformation offering virtual services at a click of a button
  • One of the largest banks in North America realized a cost savings of 40% with their automated deployments of their applications to multiple cloud environments. 
  • A leading financial services institution is utilizing Cloudify for serving complex environments on demand leading to a 60% increase in development velocity and time to savings, all the while creating happy engineering teams 

Cloudify can be installed in air gapped and offline environments, and their vast knowledge in secure enterprise installations can be of great use to us. 

What’s best of all is that Cloudify Environment as a Service solution is really looking like the next generation of automation products, as it can allow us to keep using the many tools that our developers use and like, and integrate that seamlessly into Cloudify environment blueprints. These blueprints can allow us to utilize many of our services in an easy to use self service catalog. 

See some more about Cloudify and their Eaas service here or check out this short demo video 

This is just the tip of the many things that Cloudify can bring to the table and are useful for us. Do you need me to compose a more detailed summary of the product to share with others? 

Cloudify has also generously proposed to have a session with us to see if they can be relevant for our different use cases and how the Cloudify product works? 

Let me know if you want me to schedule that session with them?

 

Thanks,

{Excited.to.be.using.Cloudify}


Q: Anything else I should know?

A: Can we be frank? We value each and every Cloudify customer, user, and community member, so if you have any ideas or feature requests do let us know. 

We hope the site provides you with all the resources you need – docs, blog, videos and more. You can also find help in our user group or slack channel. Be sure to join us.


General Product FAQ’s:


Q: How does Cloudify fit with my current development pipeline?

A: Developers have been given “carte blanche” to do whatever they want. That was good for the initial adoption of the cloud but resulted in lots of silos and inefficiency. Now there’s an effort to consolidate the app pipeline. Cloudify EaaS is a new approach on how to drive a consolidation effort without compromising on agility. It so by decoupling the app from the infrastructure and at the time keeping the infrastructure automation itself agile through infrastructure as code. 

In addition to that Cloudify comes with built-in plugins for Kubernetes, Terraform, Ansible that developers usually use directly. The integration allows those developers to continue to use those tools and platforms in the same way they used before, and at the same time add a layer that takes care of the integration between those tools as well as curve out the complexity that is often involved in setting the environment to run any of those frameworks.


Q: How can I change the deployment after it has been created?

A: In the following link you can find the best practices for enabling more agile blueprint development and architecture that is more suitable for handling continuous development needs. Please see https://docs.cloudify.co/latest/bestpractices/agiledevelopmentbp/

You can also read this post about the deployment update workflow and how you can easily and dynamically change parts of a running blueprint deployment. 


Q: How can Cloudify handle failures?

A: Cloudify handles failure in the following way:

  • Reusable workflow – The cloud maintains the state of the workflow execution and can resume workflow from the point they failed.
  • In the case of failure of an external resource, Cloudify uses closed-loop automation to trigger either heal or scale operation on the failed node.
  • In the case where the infrastructure was created by other frameworks such as Terraform, Ansible, CloudFormation Cloudify will use the specific tool mechanism to handle the state of the deployment.

Security FAQs:


Q: How does Tenant Management work in Cloudify?

A: Cloudify premium comes with multi tenancy and with rich RBAC support. The RBAC allows the organization to control who has access to view or write specific blueprints, run workflows etc. 


Q: How does Authentication work in Cloudify?

  • Cloudify integrates with LDAP and also using SAML based Auth such as OKTA to handle authentication.
  • Communication between Cloudify and the managed environment :
    • Cloudify allows communication using SSH (Using Ansible or Fabric). This method is common when you have direct connectivity from the manager to the target environment.
    • Cloudify also allows communication via an agent. This method doesn’t require direct access to the managed environment as the agent pulls the task from the manager as opposed to the push method used in SSH.
    • Cloudify Spire allows another degree of delegation through nested orchestration architecture. In this case, each micro-orchestration covers a specific department/ region or site. The central orchestration only needs to have access to the local managers which act as a proxy to their managed environment.
    • The communication between the central manager and the micro-orchestration is done using the pull method and thus can take place also in cases where the managed environment is isolated from the central management.  This method of communication is also secured and can handle the environment under a high latency network or limited bandwidth.

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Founded in 2012, Cloudify has robust financial backing from Intel Capital, VMware, BRM Group, Claridge and other leading strategic and financial investors. Cloudify has headquarters in Herzliya, Israel, and holds offices across the US and Europe. Cloudify specializes in network orchestration, network automation, everything multi-cloud; providing orchestration solutions for expert orchestration software.