Implementing Agile Systems Management in Cloud & Virtual Infrastructures

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1 Implementing Agile Systems Management in Cloud & Virtual Infrastructures Product Overview 1

2 Table of Contents Executive Summary Why Virtualize the Management Layer? Enterprise Management Still Based on Physical Data Center Model...2 Current Challenges with Agent Change Management A Modern Approach to Systems Management The Intigua Approach Intigua Benefits Rapidly Provision & Update Management Applications Ensure Uptime & Security for Business Applications Get Cloud-Ready Intigua Product Overview Product Tour Architecture Virtual Agents Central Server Central Console REST API Managing the Complete Agent Lifecycle Supported Management Applications Supported Platforms About Intigua

3 Executive Summary The promise of a more agile, automated and efficient IT infrastructure is drawing enterprises of all sizes to overhaul their systems and processes to be more virtualized and cloud-ready. Yet, there is a major obstacle that stops enterprises from fully realizing the benefits of cloud computing: How to extend existing enterprise management applications including essential technologies such as server monitoring, configuration and patch management, and security and compliance monitoring that were never designed for the massive scale and dynamic nature of today s private, public and hybrid clouds. These management applications are still based on a 20-year old operational model where management software agents must be physically installed and tightly-coupled to each server end-point. This model was originally designed for static, physical data centers where servers changed relatively infrequently and there were far fewer servers to manage. The Intigua Solution Intigua virtualizes the management layer, de-coupling agents from the underlying server infrastructure for the first time and eliminating the need to install physical agents on servers. By encapsulating agents in self-contained virtual containers similar to VMDKs Intigua makes ongoing management tasks such as provisioning and updating agents as simple as copying a single virtual agent file to all required servers. And by developing a new abstraction layer for enterprise management, Intigua transforms existing management applications into dynamic, policy-based data center services that are much simpler to provision and control. Intigua also helps improve uptime, performance and security by: Ensuring critical agents are installed and running properly at all times. Sandboxing agents in virtual containers to control their usage of VM resources (CPU, memory, I/O) and prevent outages due to misbehaving agents. Automating manual installation and configuration processes, thereby reducing the potential for human error and eliminating legacy approval processes that slow down ongoing tasks such as VM provisioning. Relationship to SDDC We are now seeing the emergence of the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) where all infrastructure services are delivered as virtualized software. The goal of the SDDC is to fully automate the process by which IT services are provisioned and maintained, in order to enable self-service private clouds and IT as a service. Virtualizing the management layer is a key requirement for the SDDC because it allows provisioning, updating and ongoing maintenance of management applications to be fully automated and integrated with other SDDC tasks such as server provisioning and updates. 1

4 Why Virtualize the Management Layer? Moore s Law-like effects are alive and well in the data center virtualization and elastic cloud computing provide enterprise-grade servers, storage, and networking at the click of a mouse. Unfortunately, the tremendous gains in deployment speed and simplicity are slowed by the complex burden imposed by management tools. Enterprises today can t fully benefit from the agility and cost-savings of cloud computing, because system management tools are still based on a 1990 s operational model designed for physical installation of management software on each physical endpoint. Management tools have not taken advantage of virtualization, so service levels stretch from hours to days or weeks as IT staff struggle to install and configure required agents. Today s data center management stack is deep, diverse, and mandatory. Enterprise systems management is essential for ensuring performance, uptime and security in cloud and virtual infrastructures, and IT relies on critical management tools such as performance monitoring, end-point security, configuration management, compliance monitoring and data backup to deliver. It is time for the management layer to move at the speed of the cloud. Management Today: Enterprise management is still based on a static 1990s operational model where physical agents are tightly bound to each server end-point. This legacy model was designed for static, physical data centers where servers changed relatively infrequently and there were far fewer servers to manage. In today s cloud and virtual environments, this traditional approach impacts agility, flexibility, risk and cost. Enterprise Management Still Based on Physical Data Center Model The legacy physical model for systems management is inherently inflexible and unsuited to the dynamic nature of cloud computing because it is: Complex: Today 5-15 management agents from multiple vendors (e.g., IBM, HP, VMware, Splunk) are physically installed on each server. This complex stack burdens already over-worked IT staff with 25-50,000 agents to install, upgrade, monitor, and remediate in a typical mid-sized data center. 2

5 Bound to Infrastructure: Management agents are deeply embedded into the OS of servers, often requiring manual configuration after initial installation. Agents share virtual machine (VM) resources and constantly compete with business applications for server resources (CPU, memory, I/O), threatening application stability, security and performance. Non-Standard & Fragmented: Each management application has its own specialized server console, along with the team, policies and expertise needed to support them. Simple tasks such as updating an agent or provisioning a new VM can take days or weeks, with multiple tickets and teams required to physically install and configure management software on each server. Fragile: Research shows that complex data centers experience monthly agent failure rates of 3-5%, imposing a heavy remediation burden on IT and exposing critical business systems to unnecessary risks. In fact, Amazon experienced precisely this type of issue when a failed agent brought down an entire Availability Zone for several hours. Installing or rolling back agents is often unreliable and time-consuming, can only be executed within difficult-to-schedule change windows, and is usually accomplished via custom scripts which are manual and error-prone. This inherent fragility translates into IT frustration, cost, and compliance risk. Current Challenges with Agent Change Management Change management for agents is a universally complex and time-consuming process. System administrators (SAs) know that the risks are high and the rewards non-existent when it comes to installing and upgrading agents. To minimize risk and pain, administrators typically adhere to a cumbersome change management process that involves the following steps: Scripting & Packaging: An unattended install script and/or automated deployment package is developed in the lab. Testing: The script/package is tested against all known server configurations (OS type/version, CPU type, etc.), complicated by the fact that target servers may be owned by different business units, with individual server configurations that may no longer match the reference standard being used in the lab. Change Request: Agent installation typically requires root access into the OS of all target servers writing into the registry or changing shared objects, copying files, etc., all of which can affect server performance and stability. IT must submit a formal change request to all business units with affected servers. This often entails multiple team huddle meetings -- over weeks or months -- before the change is finally approved, to reassure administrators that the changes will not be detrimental to their servers. Scheduling & Change Windows: The change is often scheduled during a limited number of available change windows or green zones, requiring SAs to be present during weekends or off-hours. 3

6 Implementation: The agent installation is executed, either via manual scripts or automated deployment. Sometimes the agent fails due to a mismatch between the intended configuration of the server and the actual field configuration. In case of failure, the SA must perform a rollback and re-install which can take 1-2 hours to execute (and up to 6-8 hours of elapsed time if IT also needs to request access to the server). Testing: The operational aspects of the new or updated agent are tested on the production server. Ongoing Management: When the server experiences any performance or stability issues, IT will often disable or uninstall the agent during troubleshooting operations to isolate the source of the issue. This requires a remote login to the server with root access, plus the time required to manually execute uninstall scripts if required. For servers that store or process regulated or sensitive data, this process adds significant overhead because it requires compliance sign-off plus an audit trail of all activities performed during the remote login. A Modern Approach to Systems Management It is time to optimize the management stack to fully capitalize on virtualized and cloud infrastructures. Management tooling can take full advantage of virtualization by addressing the following areas: Packaging: Replace invasive, OS-bound installations with a sandboxed management agent installation using a single self-contained file. Distribution: Provide virtual installation, upgrade, and rollback using either native tooling or corporate-standard software distribution frameworks (e.g., Chef, Puppet, Tivoli TPM, SCCM), enforced via the enterprise policy management system. Resource control: Leverage the hypervisor to orchestrate resource consumption by management tools in accordance with business SLAs and corporate policy. Transparency: Provide real-time analysis and integrated alerting of management tool status, performance, and issues. APIs: Enable access to the virtualized management stack via APIs, to allow integration with corporate standard consoles and server automation solutions, cloud orchestration platforms, reporting, and monitoring systems. The steps above apply the lessons of modern systems design and virtualization techniques to the management stack. With these capabilities system administrators will be able, for the first time, to: Provide continuous, real-time health checking and auto-remediation actions for management software -- to quickly identify and fix agent issues Sandbox agents in virtual containers that run in complete isolation from underlying VMs, yet provide all of the same functionality as physically installed software Control VM resources consumed by management software via centralized policies Enable rapid provisioning and compliance of security controls by installing virtualized agents in accordance with corporate policies, after provisioning or autodiscovery 4

7 Control privileged access by eliminating the need for root logins to provision, update and diagnose management software, improving compliance with SOX, PCI, HIPAA, NIST-800, NERC and other standards Provide Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) to ensure that only designated individuals have access to specific groups of servers and management products The Intigua Approach What if you could virtualize management transforming existing management applications into dynamic, policy-based, data center services that are simple to provision, update and control? By virtualizing the management layer, Intigua de-couples management software from the underlying server infrastructure, bringing new levels of speed and agility to enterprise management. Virtualizing the Management Layer: Intigua de-couples management software from the underlying server infrastructure for the first time, eliminating the need to physically install agents on each endpoint. This enables new levels of abstraction, automation & orchestration for hybrid infrastructures. Intigua eliminates the need to physically install agents on all server endpoints replacing physical agents with virtual agents. Virtual agents, or vagents, deliver the exact same functionality as their physical counterparts. vagents are encapsulated in a virtual container (similar to VMDKs), that can simply be copied to all servers via centralized policies, thereby streamlining provisioning and upgrades. This new approach enables IT to gain new levels of: Speed & Simplicity: Apply zero-install virtual agent to thousands of servers simultaneously, within minutes Consolidated Visibility & Control: Continuously monitor and control all of your agents in real-time -- from multiple vendors (IBM, HP, VMware, Splunk, etc.) -- via a single unified console and REST API 5

8 Automation & Abstraction: Leverage Intigua s REST API to build scalable automated processes and execute standard policies across heterogeneous environments, while integrating with other cloud orchestration tools SLAs & Security: Protect business applications by sandboxing and throttling agents via resource policies; ensure that critical agents are always up and running via auto-remediation policies Intigua Benefits Rapidly Provision & Update Management Applications Every update in distributed environments takes time and introduces the potential for instability. This is especially true when managing large virtual and physical infrastructures, Windows and Linux systems, 32- and 64-bit machines, and multiple data centers. The complexity grows rapidly when multiplied across multiple management vendors (IBM, HP, VMware, Splunk, etc.). Intigua fundamentally changes the dynamics and efficiency of IT service delivery. By virtualizing the management layer -- eliminating the need to physically install management software on each server -- Intigua streamlines and automates the entire lifecycle of management applications, enabling: Faster agent deployments, updates and rollbacks: Simply copy virtual container files to and from each target server. Rapid VM provisioning: Assign required vagents to all new VMs based on automated policies. Reduced troubleshooting time: Intigua provides central access to agent log files (without requiring root or privileged access), central control over agents, and auto-remediation actions that automatically re-start failed agents and related processes (such as WMI) based on policies. Simplified packaging and more reliable deployments: Agents now execute inside a virtual container whose contents are tightly controlled by central IT. Integration with configuration management tools: leverage Intigua s built-in distribution, or your configuration tool of tools such as Puppet, Chef, IBM TPM, HP-SA, BMC BladeLogic or Microsoft SCCM. Ensure Uptime & Security for Business Applications Application performance, availability and security are essential for meeting the needs of the business. Intigua delivers on these requirements by providing the following capabilities: Control agent resource consumption: Intigua vagents are managed by centralized resource controls, preventing agents from consuming too much CPU, I/O, and memory at the wrong times Ensure agents are healthy: Monitor vagents to ensure they are properly connected and operating, and raise alerts via console, SNMP, or API when not 6

9 Provision VMs that comply with corporate standards: Ensure that appropriate management agents are deployed on all VMs, according to corporate policies, to meet security and compliance requirements Rapidly deploy security controls: Keep pace with the constantly-changing threat landscape by deploying new security monitoring agents rapidly and centrally managing their behavior Get Cloud-Ready Virtualization and cloud deployments enable IT to deliver new levels of agility and efficiency, but many organizations are still unable to deliver on the promise of provisioning new servers to the business in less than 5 minutes. The reason? It can take days or weeks to install and configure critical agents on each VM. Each agent has its own specialized team, management console and hand-crafted scripts, so scheduling and performing installations are slow and painful. Intigua allows you system administrators to deploy and control their management stack from a central console or via a single set of REST APIs. Through this single interface, central policies, and a single, version-controlled, management tool repository, IT is able to managed sophisticated data center architectures with cloud efficiency. Intigua Product Overview Product Tour Continuous Real-Time Visibility & Control: The Intigua management console and REST API provide continuous real-time visibility into the health status of all deployed virtual agents, across heterogeneous environments. Deploying agents is as simple as selecting a server, or group of servers, and copying a single virtual agent file (similar to a VMDK) to them, without requiring the agent to be physically installed on each server. Agents can also be centrally started, stopped, and managed via the console or API. 7

10 Protecting Performance & Uptime for Critical Servers: Administrators can, for the first time, enforce centralized policies for CPU throttling, memory and I/O usage. They can also define proactive management functions such as restarting agents upon failure and custom script-based actions, eliminating the need for manual intervention. Intigua s hypervisor-aware platform discovers rogue VMs that do not have the proper agents installed and ensures they meet corporate standards for security, compliance and performance. Package Library: The package library shows all available packages and where they have been installed in your environment. Automated Configuration Actions: Each package includes automated configuration actions, such as selecting the appropriate back-end server, which are specified in the package or via custom configuration files. Unified View: Intigua provides a unified view across multiple management applications and across virtual and physical servers. 8

11 Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): Intigua simplifies security and compliance by providing instant-on protection for newly-provisioned VMs that require security agents, and by easing the roll-out of new security and compliance solutions to detect advanced threats. Intigua also reduces the need for privileged accounts to deploy and troubleshoot agents. At the same time, you can restrict access to specific agents via granular permissions defined via RBAC Logs & Alerts: All actions taken by administrators or by the Intigua system itself (such as throttling) are logged. Alerts can be sent via Syslog or SNMP to standard monitoring and ticketing systems. 9

12 Architecture Virtual Agent technology encapsulates agents in virtual containers (similar to VMDKs) that can simply be copied to all servers rather than physically installed on each server. The container sandboxes agents to ensure SLAs and insulate critical servers from misbehaving or overactive agents. Architecture Overview The Intigua architecture consists of four main components: Virtual Agents Central Server Central Console REST API Virtual Agents Intigua has developed patent-pending virtualization technology that transforms traditional physical agents into virtual agents, or vagents. A vagent is a virtual container that is simply pushed as a self-contained file to all endpoints. The agent executes inside the container without being installed on the endpoint, yet provides all of the same functionality as if the agent were physically installed on the machine. The agent communicates with its native console and performs its standard endpoint functions exactly as if it were a traditional physical agent yet no changes are made to the guest machine s registry or service manager as with an installed physical agent. Since vagents are never actually installed on target end-points, deploying new agents to existing machines or provisioning new VMs with all required agents is transformed into a far simpler process of copying files. Similarly, upgrades become an easy process of replacing one container file with another on all target machines. The key advantage is greater speed and agility which is gained by de-coupling agents from the physical OS on endpoints. 10

13 How vagents Work The container is a self-contained sandbox that encapsulates the native agent executable as well as a virtual OS, virtual file system, virtual registry and virtual service manager. It also contains other components required by the agent such as local files, configuration parameters, shared objects/dlls and other pre-requisites. All of these components are encapsulated in a single virtual agent image (.vai) file. The virtual OS ensures that vagents use virtual rather than physical resources whenever possible. A unique algorithm allows access to physical resources on the end-point when they are occasionally required by the agent to do its job. For example, a security agent scanning the entire disk would be given access to the non-virtual file system for the purpose of this scan. Protecting Critical Servers Virtual agents incorporate three functions for maximizing uptime, performance and security on critical servers: Throttling Layer Limits consumption of guest resources by each agent (CPU, memory, I/O) based on user-defined policies, similar to the way that users allocate compute resources for VMs. Since agents are typically the only other applications sharing VM resources with production applications and some agents are well-known for spiking CPU usage during specific operations such as file scanning or data backup -- these policies are important for reserving adequate quality of service for production applications. Auto-Remediation or Proactive Management Layer Detects failed or non-responsive agent processes executing inside the container, and applies remediation steps in real-time based on policies. For example the policy might be to restart the agent or related processes such as WMI. Users can also add custom health check scripts for execution by the container. Sandbox Functionality Prevents misbehaving agents from affecting server stability. Also prevents agent from making system calls that are not allowed for security or compliance reasons. How vagents are Delivered In virtualized ESX environments, the Intigua server delivers the container by copying the.vai file through the ESX hypervisor to the target VM (via VMware APIs). Network connectivity to each endpoint is not necessary, and the target VM can be located anywhere including in the internal network, DMZ or perimeter. For physical servers, the physical network is used to transport the container. This is also the current approach for supporting VMs residing on non-esx hypervisors such as HyperV or RHEV, or in public clouds such as AWS. Finally, you can also use any existing server automation or software distribution mechanism in your environment (such as Microsoft SCCM, IBM TPM, BMC BladeLogic, Chef and Puppet, etc.) to transport the container file and control it via the REST API. 11

14 No Single Point of Failure There is no single point of failure. If connectivity to the core server is lost or if the core server goes down, vagents continue executing since they only depend on the virtual container and guest OS to function. Increasing Deployment Reliability Traditional software deployments fail for multiple reasons: poor connectivity to the VM, failure to fully uninstall the previous version, hung processes, locked resources, etc. Each VM is slightly different from the other due to different applications, different patches or local configuration changes. Each OS has many moving parts, which makes every install and every upgrade slightly different. With Intigua, the agent is always running inside the same consistent container and hence the same OS environment -- making it much less vulnerable to the endless permutations that exist on production endpoints. Central Server The Central Server is delivered as a virtual appliance that users import into their vcenter. The appliance is based on standard RHL and comes preconfigured with Intigua software. The Central Server provides the following functions: vagent Packages Library Central repository for vagents. Policy Manager Allows users to define rules and apply them to vagents automatically. Server Database Maintains a list of servers with associated vagent packages and policies, and events and logs generated on the endpoints. Virtualization Manager Connector A library of connectors to vcenter (currently) and other virtualization management servers in the future (Hyper-V, RHEV, etc.) Core Server: The Core Server handles all communication with vagents. It pushes vagents through the hypervisor and monitors the state of vagents on endpoints. All communication via the hypervisor includes an authentication and encryption layer. In virtualized environments, the Core server also receives real-time notifications from hosts, alerting the system when congestion appears at the hypervisor layer (since bottlenecks often occur at the hypervisor level, it is insufficient to monitor only at the VM level). The server can alert vagents on a congested host to slow down execution of non-critical vagents in order to minimize any impact on application performance. Central Console The Intigua console is a web-based dashboard that provides a unified view of all agents in the environment, across multiple vendors and endpoints. It allows users to: View all objects in the environment: VMs, vagents, policies, packages, etc. Apply vagents to machines. Monitor activity and status of vagents. Manage the configuration of vagents. Manage policies for auto-remediation and throttling. The console communicates with the Central Server via a secured web interface (HTTPS). 12

15 REST API The REST API is a programmatic interface to Intigua services, accessible by typical scripting or programming languages. The Intigua console also uses the API to communicate with the server. The REST API can be used to integrate Intigua functionality with 3rd-party cloud management and orchestration platforms, server automation tools such as Puppet and Chef, and workflow automation systems such as HP-OM. For more information, please refer to the REST API documentation. Managing the Complete Agent Lifecycle Creating vagent Packages: Intigua currently offers a robust library of vagents for most popular management applications (see Supported Management Applications ). New agents are created by uploading agent installers (MSI, RPM, etc.) to Intigua s cloud-based service for conversion to vagent files. In the future, vagent generation tools will also be available for on-premises usage by customers. Discovering VMs: Intigua is tightly-integrated with vcenter, allowing the Intigua platform to discover all VMs and collect real-time information about them such as resource consumption. This allows vagents to be automatically applied to new VMs as they are provisioned. Deploying & Controlling vagents: From the console, you apply vagents to endpoints with a single click by first choosing the package, configuring any unique parameters, and then selecting the target endpoints. You can also remove vagents from selected endpoints, and centrally start or stop vagents for troubleshooting purposes. Migrating from Physical Agents to vagents: When a vagent is applied to a VM, the vagent automatically stops the physical agent s processes and services before launching the vagent. This is done by default and makes migration to vagent a seamless process. The vagent does not uninstall the existing physical agent, allowing it to be restarted in the future if required for troubleshooting purposes. Monitoring vagents: Users can continuously monitor the state of all vagents in real-time, receive alerts about malfunctioning agents, and detect agents that are over-consuming VM resources. You can also detect vagents that are running on the end-point but malfunctioning due to a communication issue with their native console, such as a problem with network connectivity or valid certificates. Troubleshooting: All agent logs can be viewed via the central console. Users can also start/stop agents, update configuration files or enable log settings from the central console, without requiring a login to the VM or the need for privileged credentials. Auditing: All activity performed in Intigua is logged for auditing purposes, including every package assignment, parameter change and user login. The log also includes a record of any abnormal vagent activity such as a vagent that stopped, encountered an error, or suffered from a resource shortage. 13

16 Supported Management Applications Intigua can virtualize any monitoring and management application including widely -used solutions such as: Chef EMC Networker HP Operations Manager (HPOM) HP Server Automation (HP-SA/Opsware) HP Discovery and Dependency Mapping Inventory (DDMI) IBM Tivoli Monitoring (ITM) IBM Provisioning Manager (TPM) IBM Tivoli Asset Discovery IBM Platform Symphony for Big Data analytics & grid computing Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) Nagios infrastructure monitoring Puppet Splunk Symantec NetBackup Symantec Backup Exec Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) Tenable LCE (Log Correlation Engine) VMware Hyperic monitoring and others based on customer demand. Supported Platforms Virtualization Platforms VMware vsphere 4.x VMware vsphere 5.x The following platforms are currently supported via TCP network connections rather than via hypervisor connectivity, with full support planned for the future: Microsoft Hyper-V Red Hat RHEV Oracle OVM Operating Systems The following operating systems are supported at the guest OS level: Windows bit Windows 2008 R2 64-bit Windows bit 14

17 Windows bit Windows bit (SP2+) Linux Red Hat EL 5 Linux Red Hat EL 6 Physical Servers Intigua supports physical servers via TCP network connections (for the OS platforms listed above). About Intigua Intigua virtualizes the management layer just as servers, storage and networks have been virtualized bringing cloud-grade speed and agility to enterprise management. Winner of the Best of VMworld 2012 Award, Intigua enables enterprises to ensure the performance, availability and security of critical applications in cloud, virtual and physical datacenters. Intigua is backed by leading VC firms including Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP) and Cedar Fund. Visit to learn more. 15

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