vCloud Integration Manager ties Cloud and CRM Together

VMware vCloud integration manager expedites cloud deployments by enabling service providers to integrate CRM info into the provisioning of cloud services.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Feb 7, 2012
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VMware (NYSE:VMW) is well known in the industry for its dominance in enterprise virtualization. VMware is now well positioned to dominate the cloud as well with its rapidly expanding vCloud programs and a new solution that will get those clouds provisioned quicker.

According to VMware, there are now 90 service providers and data center partners around the world that are vCloud Powered. The vCloud program was first announced in 2011 and by August had at least 25 data center partners. The new vCloud Integration Manager is all about helping data center partners to get their cloud deployments setup in an integrated way with existing customer relationship management systems.

"vCloud Integration Manager sits in between a customer relationship manager (CRM) system and vCloud Director, vSphere and the software that delivers the cloud service," Mathew Lodge, senior director of Cloud services, told InternetNews.com. "Essentially, the function that vCloud Integration Manager is doing is the automation around customer onboarding and the provisioning of services."

Lodge noted that what VMware saw happening is that their service provider customers were writing their own scripts in order to do the onboarding and CRM integration. VMware then came to the realization that the process could be standardized and productized to make it easier and faster for service providers to deliver service.

According to VMware, they developed vCloud Integration Manager to provide a simple and standardized way for service providers to provision vCloud Director, vShield and vSphere to more quickly get new customers up and running. Until now, service providers either had to do these tasks manually, or redirect development resources to writing undifferentiated "glue code" and/or automation scripts.

Integration Manager reduces operational costs by automatically stepping through the configuration process for vCloud Director to set up virtual data centers, virtual networks, administrator accounts and other cloud resources that the customer has ordered.

The underlying bare metal provisioning is still handled by vCloud Director. vCloud Integration Manager passes off the parameters to vCloud Director which then figures out where to put the resources for compute and storage.

vcloud integration manager

When it comes to integration with billing systems, VMware also has a solution in place. Lodge noted that the CRM system could know about service inventory for a given customer. When it comes to services that are based on usage rates, VMware has a solution called Chargeback and vCloud Integration Manager takes care of connecting what is provisioned with a metering record for the billing system.

Integration with any CRM system is done by way of REST APIs. Lodge explained that VMware provides the XML definition for the API, to enable the right calls to the CRM system.

While the vCloud Integration Manager helps to solve the challenges of deployment at a data center, there may well still be some data mobility limitations for enterprises. The vCloud program is all about certifying that data centers are VMware enabled, but that doesn't necessarily mean that enterprises can simply vMotion their data from one service provider to another.

"Today, we don't aggregate across service providers with a single vCloud Integration Manager instance, each provider would have their own," Lodge said. "That's something we're looking at for the future."

Nor does vSphere allow for vMotion to an external cluster. That is also something that VMware is looking at for future improvements. That said, Lodge noted that what enterprises can do today is use something called vCloud Connector to take a virtual machine and move it between providers in a manual fashion.

The overall goal of vCloud Integration Manager is to help service providers scale their cloud operations by automating processes. Moving forward, Lodge noted that VMware is working to help service providers provision a broader set of services.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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