Please join the Dell TechCenter and our featured guest speakers who will provide a technical overview of Dell VIS Self-Service Creator.

We will be joined by:

  • Ganesh Padmanabhan, Dell VIS Creator Architect & Technical Marketing;
  • Tom Baumgartner, Dell VIS Marketing; and
  • Tom Harrington, Dell VIS Creator Engineer.

Technical Community - Background Reading


Dell VIS Self-Service Creator TechCenter Wiki Page


Chat Transcript



Dell-KongY Today's chat will cover Dell Virtual Integrated System (VIS) Self-service Creator.
Dell_NSA42 V2?
Dell-KongY We have Ganesh, Tom and Mike Carroll joining us today.
Dell-KongY Gents, please give a brief bio intro.
ganesh_padmanabhan My name is Ganesh Padmanabhan. I’m the technical product manager for VIS Self-service Creator. I have been in the industry for over 15 years, with a lot of background in storage and virtualization. I have previously launched many of Dell’s storage solutions and am currently responsible for the Dell VIS Architecture and portfolio.
TomBaumgartner My name is Tom Baumgartner. I work on the Virtual Integrated System marketing team, focused on messaging for Self-service Creator.
Dell-KongY Don't worry about writing down anything or jotting down notes. The chat transcript will be posted tomorrow afternoon.
DELL_TomHarrington My name is Tom Harrington, I'm an engineer with Dell working on VIS Self-service Creator. I have been in IT for over 15 years, with my main background in IT Operations.
Dell-KongY So gentleman, what is Dell Self-service Creator?
ganesh_padmanabhan Thanks for kicking off the discussion, Kong.
ganesh_padmanabhan VIS Self-service Creator is an automated provisioning platform that empowers authorized users to deploy and monitor compute resources, along with a complete set of IT governance toolkit for administrators to ensure security and controls.
ganesh_padmanabhan It’s a part of the Dell VIS Architecture. The Dell Virtual Integrated System (VIS) is Dell’s answer on building a complete dynamic data center through pervasive virtualization technologies and by driving incremental efficiencies in the data center.
ganesh_padmanabhan Of course more on VIS at: www.dell.com/vis I just also published a whitepaper on VIS Self-service Creator: http://content.dell.com/us/en/gen/d/business~solutions~power~en/documents~ps4q10-20110187-padmanabhan.pdf.aspx
Dell-KongY There is also a new VIS Self-service Creator wiki page on the TechCenter: http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/dell+vis+self-service+creator
Dell-KongY So I'm hearing automation, self-service portals, and resource management.
ganesh_padmanabhan Perfect, thanks Kong.
ganesh_padmanabhan Yeah, let's look at use cases to get a better understanding on the product.
Dell-KongY That being said, what are the customer use cases for VIS Self-service Creator?
Dell-KongY You beat me to the punch :).
DynOpsMark We have punch?
ganesh_padmanabhan LOL :).
ganesh_padmanabhan The most common use case is when the customer wants to deploy it as a service or kind of like an enterprise cloud to serve their internal/external customers.
DynOpsMark When a user requests a virtual machine in my environment, the service delivery team can take up to four months to provision a VM in our corporate environment, yet he can go to Amazon and get a machine in five minutes. Can VIS Self-service Creator help me with lowering my internal provisioning times?
ganesh_padmanabhan The need in this use case is to deploy and deliver services really fast, providing secure multitenancy, best resource optimization and to automate all of these and reduce the labor intensive tasks associated with it.
ganesh_padmanabhan Thanks for the question, Mark. Absolutely, that's exactly what VIS Self-service Creator does.
ganesh_padmanabhan VIS Creator automates the entire provisioning workflow and provides these to the end users via self-service.
ganesh_padmanabhan This reduces the delivery cycle from days and weeks to just minutes.
ganesh_padmanabhan Back to the use case: Using VIS Creator, you can carve out the right size machine at the right service level. With a Self-service portal, we speed up the delivery of resources/service to authorized users, while providing administrators granularity on control and security.
Fabian_Salamanca Question: Do we have some examples/use cases using SSC's chargeback feature?
ganesh_padmanabhan Absolutely! VIS Creator allows IT administrators to create a role-based catalog of workloads or applications that their users can then provision from—helps with standardizing images, etc.
ganesh_padmanabhan In that catalog, the admins can provide visibility into the cost of use of that workload, to assist the user to make the right decision and choose the right workload.
ganesh_padmanabhan For administrators, there is a very rich reporting available where chargeback reports can be generated and consumed by the businesses for resource/usage optimization.
DynOpsMark Ganesh: One of the challenges we face is not the provisioning of the container, but rather the applications that vary per user. Does SSC have the capability of customizing these provisioned machines?
ganesh_padmanabhan A cost can be associated with every template or what we call blueprint and on weighted use of CPU, memory and storage capacity associated with a workload.
Fabian_Salamanca Great! Thanks, Ganesh. Do we have some sort of catalog from GICs about consulting for workload cost definition?
ganesh_padmanabhan Fabian, quick one—yes, and we'll need to talk about the specifics.
Fabian_Salamanca Yup :).
ganesh_padmanabhan Mark's question: Yes, extensibility and customization is the cornerstone of the product.
Dell-KongY Ganesh: What type of image deployment and provisioning methods does Dell Self-service Creator support?
ganesh_padmanabhan Actually Kong, that question will also get to answer the extensibility.
DynOpsMark To further Kong's question, what infrastructure platforms can a creation take place on? VMware? Hyper-V? Xen? Physical?
ganesh_padmanabhan VIS as a whole and VIS Creator is built on a design tent of being open and providing choice in every layer of the stack for the customer.
ganesh_padmanabhan On the Hypervisor side, yes, VMware ESX, Citrix Xen, Hyper-V all the standard HVs are supported.
ganesh_padmanabhan From a provisioning method into which VIS Creator automated provisioning, a variety of methods are supported - using third party systems like BMC provisioning, WIM imaging, Kickstart and AutoYaST—not just VM Cloning as most other tools support.
ganesh_padmanabhan The list goes on, but even efficient thin provisioning tools and SCCM are supported, which also allows for customization to be run on specific app images that users provision.
DynOpsMark What if an organization has a team that has external scripts built for their environment?
ganesh_padmanabhan Good question, Mark.
ganesh_padmanabhan VIS Creator is extensible through Web services API and RESTful APIs. You can call scripts, commands, even other APIs quite easily without code changes and have them run.
Dell_NSA42 Question: We see a lot of provisioning products out there. Microsoft is launching Opalis, VMware has their tool. Why choose VIS SSC?
ganesh_padmanabhan Again, goes to stress the fact that this is not a rip and replace approach to a customer environment but protects their IP, investments.
ganesh_padmanabhan You are right about having different products out there.
TomBaumgartner Yes, and I think the ability to continue using existing resources and get continued value from investments already made is an important point.
ganesh_padmanabhan And I'd argue that is why you need a platform that is comprehensive, with an extremely fast time to value in an environment and allows utilizing existing investments.
DynOpsMark It looks like SSC can orchestrate across multiple platforms, which would give it an advantage in complex multi-platform environments, is that correct?
ganesh_padmanabhan For Opalis, I like the product, but to automate across different ecosystems, you need something more powerful.
DELL_TomHarrington Also Mark, existing scripts can be integrated into the user request process. So, you can prompt the end user for input during the request process that is then passed through Self-service Creator to your existing scripts.
Fabian_Salamanca Tom, do we have sample scripts?
ganesh_padmanabhan I think what Tom was mentioning is that IT admins can let users run a custom script at the end of their provisioning process, thereby ensuring that within the strict choices/standard images that you provide to them, there is a good deal of customization possible with that user.
DELL_TomHarrington Fabian, we have samples, but the real power is that it can integrate with whatever customers are already using. If they already have scripts that they run during their provisioning process, Creator can call those and pass user input to them.
TiredSysAdmin Thanks Kong.
TomBaumgartner Back to continuing the ability to fully use existing investments. It seems to me that another important related benefit to think about is the ability to control sprawl, which is often the result of virtualization getting a little beyond control.
Fabian_Salamanca @Tom: Agree completely, I'd like to show some sample scripting and user input in our VIS Pod.
TiredSysAdmin VM sprawl is a huge issue for me, is there a way to reclaim resources?
ganesh_padmanabhan Absolutely, another key use case of the VIS Creator product is sprawl control.
ganesh_padmanabhan Using policies, Creator has superior ability to deliver the right size machine at the right service level—use of constructs like provisioning groups and resource reservations.
ganesh_padmanabhan Allows leases to be associated to every app workloads so it will be automatically deprovisioned/reclaimed after the lease.
TiredSysAdmin Our developers seem to over exaggerate their needs, then hold on to their VMs like it’s their own child.
TiredSysAdmin So my storage is constantly running low, even though my computer is underutilized.
ganesh_padmanabhan Gotcha. I think there are a couple of things you can do here. Of course, show them the cost of the use and enforce a lease restriction and require a custom approval if they need to exceed that time.
ganesh_padmanabhan You can do that pretty easily with Creator as policies.
TiredSysAdmin Would I be able to charge on a utility-based model instead of a capital expenditure each request?
ganesh_padmanabhan And also from a reactive method, from VIS Creator you can then scan the environment and get those stranded VMs, reclaim and restore the capacity you need back to the pool.
Fabian_Salamanca @tiredsysadmin: Using cost allocation feature from SSC and charging the R&D cost center, they'll know having kids is expensive ;).
TiredSysAdmin LOL @fabian.
DELL_TomHarrington I need to share one of my favorite features of VIS SSC sprawl control. Coming from IT operations, you spend too much of your time tracking down users to get answers on “do you still need this?” With VIS SSC, you can send them a reclamation request through the product, which is very nice. However, if the user does not respond within, say 72 hours, some action is taken by default, i.e. the lease is reset to seven days. No more chasing down the end user.
TiredSysAdmin Tom, what if the user is on vacation, do you delete the machine for non-response?
ganesh_padmanabhan Well, the good thing is that the product is easily customizable. The workflow Tom described can be modified to take an exception to an “ooo” response (if you really want to :)) but a more practical thing most of our customers do is have that VM archived instead of being deleted.
TiredSysAdmin Can I migrate a provisioned VM from VMware to Hyper-V?
DELL_TomHarrington No, this is a configurable option. No deleting of VM by default. And the "convert to seven days lease" is just one option. Administrators can choose a traditional “await user response” system if that fits their environment better. Plus, VMs are powered off at the end of a lease, but the period of time before they are deleted is completely configurable by the admin. They can stay on disk or be moved to lower tier storage.
ganesh_padmanabhan Not with VIS Self-service Creator. On the infrastructure side of the world, we have AIM—our converged infrastructure product that allows you to do that—it's also an integral part of the VIS architecture.
ganesh_padmanabhan My response was for @tiredsysadmin: Can I migrate a provisioned VM from VMware to Hyper-V?
TiredSysAdmin OK. I see situations where a production VM on my ESX environment may need to go over to development to test a new feature.
TiredSysAdmin We have not virtualized our entire infrastructure.
DynOpsMark How much overhead do you need to implement SSC in your environment, Ganesh?
ganesh_padmanabhan I see a great value in having AIM in your environment. Even though this is not an AIM chat, you should check AIM out: Support migration of workloads across physical and virtual and across hypervisors—and pretty seamlessly.
Dell-KongY Dell AIM on the Dell TechCenter: http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/dell+advanced+infrastructure+manager
Dell-KongY Great demos with more on the way for both AIM and SSC.
ganesh_padmanabhan So, overhead is actually almost none - for one, implementation is pretty simple. It's a Windows-based install, very intuitive and does not require a bunch of deployment personnel, and mapping the constructs in the customer environment is also pretty simple and intuitive.
TiredSysAdmin So, could Creator kick off an AIM reprovision, or vice versa?
ganesh_padmanabhan Time to value is one of our most key features.
Dell-KongY Ganesh: What's the most valuable feature of this feature rich product?
ganesh_padmanabhan @tiredsysadmin: No, it cannot, but again, those are two distinct use cases.
ganesh_padmanabhan Oh.
ganesh_padmanabhan @kong: To me, the most valuable feature is the kind of control and governance that the product provides.
DynOpsMark Are there any metrics about how large this will scale to?
ganesh_padmanabhan The sheer ability of the product to carve out shared infrastructure into different reservations for different user groups and applying policies to deploy workloads across infrastructure subsystems, hypervisors and provisioning tools are really great.
Dell-KongY Time really flies when you learn about such a powerful and differentiated product such as Dell VIS Self-service Creator.
Dell_NSA42 Are we only talking virtual provisioning or are we talking physical provisioning too?
TomBaumgartner Hard to argue with that opinion, Ganesh. Especially since Creator is giving control to users that wouldn't typically otherwise have as many provisioning abilities due to the concerns over governance in an environment like that.
ganesh_padmanabhan On scale, we have environments as large as about 10,000 VMs that Creator manages. Scale is not a concern as we allow federation of multiple instances.
Dell-KongY I want to thank Ganesh, Tom B. and Tom H. for their invaluable insights :).
Dell-KongY As always, thank you kindly to our community who joined today's chat!
TiredSysAdmin This has been very informative. Kong, I am reading your links, thanks.
Dell-KongY Thank you @tiredsysadmin for your great questions and for the conversation!
ganesh_padmanabhan @dell-nsa42: Yes, but in the next version of the product.
Dell-KongY Look for two video demos from Ganesh and team!
Dell-KongY Thank you again gents!
Dell-KongY Those videos will be posted on the TechCenter in a day or two.
ganesh_padmanabhan Thanks Kong for organizing this, I really am excited to have a lot more VIS discussions in this forum.
Dell-KongY As a reminder, please join us next week as Peter will lead our chat on Dell KACE http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/02-22-11+dell+kace+chat
Dell-KongY Thanks again everyone! See you next week. Same place, same time, different chat :).