This can be seen as a cynics journey into the cloud. Over the last 5 or so years everyone's talked about cloud computing with no one really having a clue. Now it seems that the cloud is starting to arrive and I figure it's time to find out what it is.
Step 1 : Learn what the hell is a cloud...
My first port of call is the Microsoft Virtual Academy. A free Microsoft resource set up as if it's an online college. Clearly very Microsoft focussed but that's good when you want to learn Microsoft products.
Track: Microsoft Private Cloud Infrastructure
Module 1: Microsoft Private Cloud Infrastructure - Overview
Link to video: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/edge/microsoft-virtual-academy-microsoft-private-cloud-infrastructure-module-1-microsoft-private-cloud-infrastructure-overview
My review of the first one: Very informative video - had to download it via WMV file though as streaming it stopped in a couple of places and it refused to rebuffer. The accompanying PDF file supplied all the supporting text that the presenter read which is useful. The exam however failed miserably as question #5 did not have any answers listed which made it tricky to answer - I have had to wait for it to time out twice now to let me try and pass the module.
Still - despite this issue a very good start.
Module 2: Microsoft Private Cloud Infrastructure - Configuration
Link to video: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/edge/microsoft-private-cloud-infrastructure-configuration
The second one continued in the same format with a very good level of information, I already know a fair bit about Windows clustering and Hyper-V so not too much in depth learning required. It's a good source to define what a private cloud is and how the components fit together.
Module 3: Microsoft Private Cloud Infrastructure - Management
Link to video: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/edge/microsoft-private-cloud-infrastructure-management
The third one continued in the same style but focussed around management. Lots more information about best practices.
Overall this course was very useful in giving an overview of the Private Cloud. I'm itching now though to start to get to the nitty gritty details. High level information is useful to understand everything but I'm one of those people who needs to see it working.
So I now know what a Microsoft Private Cloud is and what components comprise it. At the minute it seems to be in a state of transition with the new 2012 generation of System Center products coming out.
Having done the first track I moved onto the second applicable one on the MVA website.
Track 2 : Planning, Building and Managing a Private Cloud
I think this was a useful track to do as well. The first module was very much aimed at promoting the cloud experience (which wasn't really what I was looking for). I accidentally switched my brain off a couple of time during this one. The presenter didn't really inspire me that much. The second module had Symon Perriman from the first track who I thought did a great job so that was ok. The second and third modules had a lot more screencasts which I find useful. Overall though most of the information was already provided in the first track but it certainly didn't hurt to get it again.
A quick summary
But basically a private cloud comprises a companies locally hosted hyper-v servers running guest machines. It is like a traditional virtualised environment with a suite of management tools wrapped around it. The core features are:
Windows Server 2008 R2 running Hyper-V
Active Directory, DNS, DHCP
System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 / 2012
System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 / 2012
System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3 / 2012
System Center Opalis / Orchestrator
System Center Service Manager 2010 / 2012
System Center DPM 2010 / 2012
You certainly get the impression from the videos that the 2012 products have been designed with Private Clouds in mind specifically the VMM 2012.
As a quick overview:
System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) is used to control/manage/configure the virtual machines running on the Hyper-V hosts
System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) is used to provide software and hardware monitoring of the hosts and guests as well as providing troubleshooting information and PRO tips to SCVMM to control VM placement.
System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) is used to provide software updates, software installation, license management, OS deployment, software/hardware inventory, reporting and script deployment.
System Center Opalis / Orchestrator is used as a work flow tool to create custom actions using a graphical user interface; this integrates well into the System Center Service Manager.
System Center Service Manager (SCSM) is used to provide helpdesk services as well as being able to respond to certain conditions. For instance if SCOM raises an alert into SCSM a rule can be configured to run an Opalis/Orchestrator work flow to go and resolve that issue.
System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) is used to provide backup / restore services.
My next steps...
Well having gained an understanding of what a Private Cloud is I figure I now need to go and learn the additional components I don't know. Given I already know SCCM, SCVMM, Hyper-V and failover clustering I am planning on tackling SCOM next. I think I'm going to do SCOM 2007 R2 first and then 2012. I don't expect to get a thorough in depth knowledge but hopefully enough to be able to implement it in a private cloud, deploy agents, deploy management packs and install the PRO tips for SCVMM.