Mind the Orchestration Gap in the Cloud
Do you find that the orchestration tools for building applications in the cloud seem to be missing key functionality? Orchestration tools hold great promise for making it easier to build cloud-based applications that are able to take advantage of the flexibility and cost savings of cloud infrastructures. Some new enterprising companies are working on building tools that integrate the application and network layers, which will allow developers to build cloud applications across hybrid environments faster and easier—and hopefully cheaper.
Orchestration is clearly important to anyone considering a cloud deployment. It can reduce the risk of cloud vendor lock-in, enable high availability and failover options across diverse cloud environments, and automate the entire software development lifecycle. For the most part, however, available orchestration systems have been long stuck in the application layer. This meant that most orchestration was typically deployed within the company’s private cloud bubble within a data center or public cloud environment. Little thought was put into how to incorporate other potentially different cloud environments across the WAN.
New orchestration tools are starting to emerge that address the obvious need to orchestrate the entire software system stack across a larger networks of resources, not just the virtual instances and applications within a data center. This includes the network beyond the virtual data center environment. By expanding to other clouds it is possible to create robust and highly available workloads that can truly take advantage of hybrid and diverse cloud environments around the globe.
One such tool is the recently announced cloudScape by Siaras, a new company based in British Columbia and Palo Alto. The concept is that cloudScape is an uber-orchestration tool that incorporates WAN-aware capabilities that would allow users to build applications across hybrid and diverse environments. Another company that is also working on a solution to the network layer gap is One Convergence, another budding company with a policy-based approach.
Orchestration was a hot topic at the OpenStack Summit held in Paris November 2014. Heat, the orchestration component in the OpenStack suite was under intense discussion about its future direction at the Design Summit sessions. The developers focused on the need to standardize the Heat API, make it more usable for integration with other orchestration tools, and generally make it more production ready. There was a general acknowledgment that Heat does not address the networking layer very much beyond the basics. Partially that is because it relies heavily on Neutron, the OpenStack networking component, which has its own growing pains.
Clearly there is much work to be done to bridge the orchestration gap between the networking and application layers. While Heat is going in the correct direction, it is an open source project that is dependent on the interests and whims of the contributors. In the meantime, Siaras, One Convergence, and other orchestration tool companies will hopefully fill the market need for more comprehensive and better integrated orchestration tools.