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SDDC 101: What is the Orchestration Management Layer, Anyway?

The goal of this policy-driven layer is to meet service requirements of whatever workloads are required at any time.

As data center managers have started to truly understand the benefits of virtualization in the data center, they have begun implementing software-defined infrastructure in some form or another—server, storage and/or networking, It’s commonly understood that each of these components, in a software-defined form, manages that function via software. But simply moving to software-defined server, storage and networking doesn’t create a true software-defined data center.

What’s missing is the orchestration layer—a framework that allows IT managers to implement policies to manage the data center’s applications and services in an automated fashion. Working together with the business logic layer, which translates requirements into language the orchestration layer can understand, everything from provisioning and patching to capacity management and compliance can be managed across the data center. The goal of this policy-driven layer is to meet service requirements of whatever workloads are required at any time.

If done correctly, everything from service deployment time to security will benefit. It also drastically reduces complexity by replacing manual, error-prone IT processes with standard, automated, repeatable processes. Other benefits include greater scalability, better control and compliance, improved customer experience and better quality of service.

Repetitive tasks, for example, can be automated and managed by the orchestration layer, freeing IT staff up for other duties. Cloud services are another area where orchestration can play a big role. When specific requests are made of the system or certain thresholds are met, specific cloud service components--from applications to server resources to bandwidth--can quickly be combined to deliver the service without human intervention.

Orchestration also can simplify and automate the disaster recovery process. By setting policies in advance, the orchestration software can set a series of failover plans into motion when specific pre-set events occur. Everything from resource reconfiguration to site network configuration to application startup is automatically managed.

Orchestration of security services is one of the most important functions. With the right policies, the software can protect applications, content, virtual machines and containers. It can be set up so specific security policies are triggered when certain events occur to specific parts of the data center. With this structure, important security features like incident response and remediation are fully automated.

To get the most out of the orchestration layer, make sure to clearly define policies and make sure they are approved by the right people. Next, test carefully by invoking actions the orchestration software should handle. Document the results carefully and verify that the software achieved the expected results.

Visit the VMware Cloud Services InfoCenter for more information, tools and advice on the journey through digital transformation. 

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