What is cloud orchestration?

IBM Cloud Orchestrator

Cloud computing remains a powerful technology that enables computer use via the internet. Companies often use it to reduce their capital costs and daily costs while they are powerful online applications such as Software as a service or Unified Communications as a Service. Cloud computing has become essential with over 25% of American and European companies currently using public clouds, whose forecast in 2021 will increase to 44%. Organizations often use a combination of public cloud and private cloud solutions in what is mentioned hybrid cloud, and usually have more than one cloud provider, known as multicloud.

With so many types of cloud computing used simultaneously in an organization, there is quite a bit of complexity and the potential for these clouds to turn into a storm, with both data and applications used in multiple cloud solutions. Cloud orchestration is the process to manage these multiple workloads in an automated way for different cloud solutions, with the aim of summarizing this in a single workflow. Just like the challenge of an orchestra is to have all the instruments perform the same piece, this makes orchestration in the clouds as the musical conductor who controls the performance and keeps it in sync. This can be quite a challenge because cloud orchestration entails heterogeneous systems in both public and private cloud solutions that, because they are often geographically separated, require the management of the network that also connects them.

Cloud orchestration vs. cloud automation

A related term for cloud orchestration is cloud automation, and too often these terms are used interchangeably, although they are not synonyms. Cloud Automation refers to the control of a single task, such as starting a web server and making it reproducible quickly, via an automated path with minimal intervention by the operator. This requires manual coding to automate the process, which is a stand-alone process and a single workload.

Cloud orchestration, on the other hand, includes the coordination of multiple tasks. The manual coding requirements are often less, because encryption is built from cloud automation, preventing unnecessary work. Compared with cloud automation, cloud orchestration works at a higher level of coordination, because the processes are already streamlined by cloud automation.

Although there is an academic difference between cloud automation and orchestration, they are practically used at the same time. In good use, workloads are supported with high efficiency and at lower costs.

Cloud orchestration is also used with container technology, which is a cost-effective and easily scalable way to implement applications at both public and private cloud providers. The open source container software, Kubernetes also offers orchestration in the cloud, leaving other orchestration solutions, including VMWare and OpenStack, for the integration of container support.

Cloud orchestration models

There are two types of cloud orchestration models: one cloud and multicloud. For the one cloud model, multiple applications are all running on the same cloud service provider, which is a simpler installation. The more complicated but also more powerful model is the multicloud setup. Here we have multiple applications located on different cloud platforms, and multicloud orchestration interconnects them so that they can function as a single system, with the advantage of high redundancy.

The approach to cloud orchestration can offer several advantages, such as:

  • Cost savings – By coordinating the processes, it reduces the amount of IT resources required and the number of system administrators.
  • Capacity increase – Physical resources are coordinated with virtual sources, so that the overall capacity is increased in times of peak demand for rapid scaling up when needed.
  • efficiency – Cloud orchestration simplifies the management of repetitive tasks through automation. This generally requires less IT staff, so they can be reassigned for other tasks.
  • Supports DevOps – Cloud orchestration supports self-service portals, allowing users to choose from standard offers. This facilitates innovation and efficiency for DevOps teams.
  • Better connections – Cloud orchestration offers interconnections with heterogeneous devices, which also provide more resilience.

How does cloud orchestration work?

Cloud orchestration is achieved through a supplier that offers this; an example of this is the IBM Cloud Orchestrator, which supports public, private and hybrid clouds. Using this platform promises benefits of reducing "Service Time to 90 percent" and reducing delivery times. By fully automating previous manual workloads, general processes are implemented and costs are reduced. Innovation is also accelerated by public cloud services, while company policy is consistently imposed. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are also met.

IBM Cloud Orchestrator 2.5 is offered in two layers: Base and Enterprise Edition. Both layers include the advanced orchestration platform, a customizable self-service portal, can automate many IT processes and work with multiple cloud providers, including Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure and IBM's SoftLayer. The higher Enterprise tier level adds instant health dashboards, multi-tenant cloud usage reporting and what-if capacity analysis.

A dramatic case study of cloud orchestration technology can be found in the company for greeting cards American greetings implementation of the IBM Cloud Orchestrator. With the efficiency they achieved, they could simultaneously lower their hardware costs by 300%, while also reducing their server provisioning time from 20 hours to just 5 minutes, a reduction of 99.6%.


Open source cloud orchestration

Another example of a cloud orchestration provider is Cloudify. It is an open source cloud orchestration program designed for automating the implementation, configuration and remediation of application and network services in hybrid cloud and stack environments. " It has multiple building blocks, including:

  • DevOps best practices for managing networks via code
  • Multi-tenancy that can automate the management of cloud resources
  • A robust workflow engine designed for "fault tolerance and recovery"
  • Supports the creation of blueprints
  • Several teams can all work on the same platform with the ability to monitor applications and network services
  • Supports API Pluggability

True to its open source DNA, Cloudify has a Cloud Academy for learning and meetup groups.

With the rise of the cloud, in all its variations, cloud orchestration is becoming increasingly important, to offer end users a seamless experience. As a maestro who conducts an orchestra, good cloud orchestration can deliver that and much more.