Tivoli Service Automation Manager 7.2.2 makes life easier for cloud service providers

Note: This week and through Jan. 4, we are posting the top 10 posts of 2012. This post is #8 and was originally published Jan. 5, 2012.

In my previous blog posts (“Does IBM use cloud?” and “Transforming a local economy with cloud computing”), I described two cloud computing solutions that take advantage of Tivoli Service Automation Manager to automate service delivery.

As mentioned by Marcela Adan in her blog post “Integrated service management for cloud: The heart of the IBM Cloud Service Provider Platform,” Tivoli Service Automation Manager (as part of IBM Service Delivery Manager) is the heart of the “manage” pillar of IBM Cloud Service Provider Platform. According to my personal experience, it is also the core of several IBM private and public cloud implementations all over the world.

For this reason, I was very curious (you know how IT people can get excited for such things ;-)) when some months ago I was told about the new features expected to be released in version 7.2.2. In this blog post I talk about some of them. Anyway, let’s first summarize the base capabilities already available in version 7.2.1.

Tivoli Service Automation Manager provides a set of pre-defined service definitions to automate virtual servers’ management. As highlighted in the following picture, it takes advantage of the integration of various components:

  • The Web 2.0 GUI provides end users with on-demand self-service access to the service catalog set up by their cloud provider.
  • Tivoli Service Request Manager (TSRM in the picture) implements the service catalog and the approval workflows related to service requests management.
  • Tivoli Provisioning Manager (TPM in the picture) provides the automation engine needed to implement provisioning, management and deprovisioning of cloud resources, including hardware servers, networks, operating systems, middleware, and application-level software.
  • Tivoli Process Automation Engine (TPAE in the picture) provides the underlying platform for process management.
  • The Administration GUI, available as part of Tivoli Process Automation Engine platform, provides the tools for the administration and configuration of all components.

As highlighted in the picture, Tivoli Service Automation Manager supports several virtualization technologies, including VMware, KVM and Xen on System X, LPARs on Power Systems, z/VM guests on System Z. It also provides a reservation feature that allows end users to schedule the usage of the needed resources so that they cannot be requested by other users.

Let’s now have a look at some of the new features in version 7.2.2.

Service provider support

This feature allows cloud service providers to create cloud environments that can be used by multiple customers (multi-tenancy). Its main strength is data segregation: as highlighted in the following picture, teams of users are assigned to a customer and, although a single cloud can support multiple customers, each user sees only the objects that are associated with the customer he or she is assigned to. In this way, resources can be used more efficiently. As shown in the picture, customers can share the same set of servers, storage, and network resources (using the same customer template), or be assigned to different physical resources.

Moreover, you can now assign quotas to each customer to define limits on the usage of specific resource pools. These limits define the amount of resources that can be requested by an individual customer, such as the amount of storage, memory, physical CPU, and disk. If service requests are submitted that involve modification of resources or reservation time, the framework checks whether the quotas in the requested pool allow for request processing.

Multi-tenancy, of course, is just a model for segregation of data, resources, and functionalities. Therefore it does not make sense only for cloud service providers addressing external customers, but it can be also used by enterprises to effectively model different groups of internal customers and lines of business.

Extension points

Tivoli Service Automation Manager 7.2.2 provides extension points that allow customers and third parties to define their custom enhancements. The main advantage over the previous version is that these new extension points have been designed to clearly separate product and custom code. Customizations can be therefore implemented more easily and flexibly, while ensuring serviceability.

Extension points regard several areas. The most significant are:

  1. Self-service user interface: An ad-hoc API allows adjusting the look and feel of the user interface to the company’s standards and to extend existing offerings by changing default values, modifying widgets, and adding custom panels that contain new input fields and user-defined widgets.
  2. Custom service definitions: Service definitions include management plans, which define the tasks needed to create service instances, and service topology, which identifies the structure of such service instances. Tivoli Service Automation Manager 7.2.2 simplifies the customization of management plans through extension nodes and the customization of service topology through task nodes. In particular, management plans can now be implemented using the advanced workflow technology that (as depicted in the following picture) allows defining workflows with a graphical editor.  Workflows are used to configure automated and manual tasks, which are required to complete a service request. Extension nodes allow providing workflows with custom functions that are not impacted by product upgrades. Task nodes, however, provide the capability to iterate over a set of topology node pairs and to start an operation workflow on each node; operation workflows can send emails, start Tivoli Provisioning Manager provisioning workflows, or start a management plan on another service instance. Task nodes can therefore be used to configure complex relationships between nodes in a topology.

New security model

The service provider feature also introduces changes to the security model. In particular, you can now define user access and rights by customer and team assignment, policy level (that define which cloud objects or resources the user can access), and security groups (that defines which requests the user can submit, and what information they can access).

Extended network content

Version 7.2.2 introduces new network objects, such as network templates and network segments, that provide the flexibility needed to address Cloud Service Provider scenarios. A network segment is a container grouping a set of network objects and configuration data to set up network connectivity between virtual network interfaces. Network templates allow grouping together different network segments and assigning them to a customer. In this way, you can address various scenarios such as:

  • One predefined network configuration (that is the same network template) for all customers
  • Different predefined network configurations per customer
  • Different network configurations per resource pool
  • Specific network configurations for a specific image
  • Different network configurations per set of virtual images (such as different configurations for Windows and Linux)

Moreover users can now use the web GUI to select the network configuration and to request additional disks for the servers they need to request (for example they can choose the VLan to which their virtual machines are going to be connected).

What else?

As you can imagine, there is a lot of other stuff in version 7.2.2 that would need too much space to be dealt with in one blog post.  For further information, you can have a look at the official documentation available (http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/infocenter/tivihelp/v10r1/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.ibm.tsam_7.2.2.doc%2Fc_slm_c_pdfguides.html) or contact me on Twitter (my handle is @Alfredolivieri).

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Alfredo Olivieri

About Alfredo Olivieri

Alfredo is an IBM architect based in Italy with 12 years experience in IT. As part of IBM Software Group Services, he contributes to design and deliver service management and cloud computing solutions and has a deep knowledge of the IBM Tivoli offering. He is co-author of two IBM Redbooks and has recently achieved an MBA at Warwick Business School (UK).
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