Introducing EMC Hybrid Cloud Part 2: What is EHC?

This is Part 2 of a 3-Part series. Be sure to view Part 1 and Part 3.

In the first part of this 3-part blog series, I covered the “why” of hybrid cloud:  Why are customers looking to adopt it? What are the problems that it solves? With the problem statement out of the way and having an understanding of the reasons why hybrid cloud addresses these problems, let’s get into specifics:  What is the EMC Hybrid Cloud (EHC)?

At its very core, EHC is a reference architecture for a true hybrid cloud solution. It leverages the vCloud Suite software stack from our Federation partner VMware, as well as EMC’s technologies for software-defined storage and data protection. Of course, a reference architecture is not useful unless it can be adopted by customers to solve their problems. EMC has a set of services to go along with EHC deployments so we can understand our customer’s requirements and design a hybrid cloud solution to meet those requirements.

Below is a graphic that illustrates all of the components that make up EHC. For the purposes of this post, let’s break up those components into three layers: infrastructure, automation, and service catalog.

EMC Hybrid Cloud

EMC Hybrid Cloud (EHC) Infrastructure

The core infrastructure of EHC is divided into familiar components of any data center: compute, storage, and network. At the compute layer, we’ll find the servers that will host the virtual infrastructure that supports the hybrid cloud solution. In the example above, we reference Vblock, but the solution does not require a Vblock to run. At the storage layer, you can leverage the full complement of EMC storage solutions, including storage platforms like VNX or VMAX. At the network layer, we leverage VMware NSX to provide network virtualization services.

EHC leverages VMware vSphere as the virtual infrastructure layer, relying on the trusted set of software that is included within the VMware vCloud Suite to provide the platform for the cloud. Additional components, such as those used for data protection and backup like Avamar and Data Domain, exist at this level as well. When you’re investing so much in deploying a hybrid cloud, protecting both your data and infrastructure is crucial.

EMC Hybrid Cloud (EHC) Automation

A cloud wouldn’t be a cloud, hybrid or otherwise, without automation. Automation allows users to access a service catalog and choose what they need and have it delivered “as a service”—automatically without administrative intervention. EHC is no exception. At the heart of EHC is VMware vCloud Automation Center (vCAC). vCAC provides not only the automation layer but also presents the service catalog to end users for provisioning of resources (more on that in a bit).

The technology within vCAC is what makes EHC a true hybrid cloud solution. vCAC can integrate with vSphere and vCloud Director as well as public clouds like VMware vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS) or Amazon AWS. Once integrated, services can be delivered out of an on-premises cloud or the public cloud all from a single service catalog presented to users. In the diagram above, we show connectivity to both vCHS as well as other EMC-powered cloud providers (of which there are many) that are compatible with EHC.

Additionally, EHC includes a key piece of EMC software called ViPR that enables a true software-defined storage environment. ViPR can be used to automate the provisioning and management of storage, integrating directly with vCAC to provide storage services from that same service catalog. IT can allow users to provision storage directly from a service catalog, instead of waiting for a storage administrator to allocate and present that storage. The integration of ViPR and a true software-defined storage model is one of the things that makes EHC a truly unique hybrid cloud solution.

EMC Hybrid Cloud (EHC)  Service Catalog

Finally, no cloud would be complete without a service catalog. A cloud, after all, is not a location or place where you run your services. It is an operating model for how to manage IT resources either within your own organization or hosted externally. IT resources are presented to users via a single portal—whether they are delivered with internal or external resources. If a cloud were a restaurant, the service catalog would be the menu from which users would order what they want.

The service catalog is presented from vCAC and includes all of the services that IT has chosen to deliver. The service catalog within EHC can be customized to include a company logo and other company branding, giving it a truly custom look and feel. For those that attended EMC World or watched the demos online, you’ve likely seen examples of what a service catalog looks like when it’s populated.

You’ll notice that there are other components in the diagram above, including applications and platforms, that can be used to develop and deploy cloud-based applications. We’ll cover use cases for EHC in a later post, but it’s worth noting that properly defining your service catalog is a key component to being successful with cloud computing in general (public, private, and hybrid).

What’s Next?

In this post we’ve described each of the layers of EHC and the components that live within each layer. Of course, a stack of hardware and software is only useful if you actually do something with it. In the next post we’ll talk about common use cases for EHC that you can leverage to bring value to your organization.

About the Author: Matt Liebowitz

Matt Liebowitz is the Global Multicloud lead for the Dell Technologies Consulting Services Portfolio. He focuses on thought leadership and service development for multicloud, automation and data center related Consulting services. Matt has been named a VMware vExpert every year since 2010 and is a frequent blogger and author on a wide range of cloud related topics. Matt has been a co-author on three virtualization-focused books, including Virtualizing Microsoft Business-critical Applications on VMware vSphere and VMware vSphere Performance. He is also a frequent speaker at the VMware Explore and Dell Technologies World conferences.