Innovative Cloud-Based Group Management Features Mitigate Server Sprawl and Further Optimize Management, Monitoring and Reporting
BELLEVUE, Wash. — August 28, 2012 ― Tier 3, Inc., the enterprise cloud platform company, today introduced a new set of Server Group Management features that make it easier to maintain large server environments located in its Cloud. The newly unveiled capabilities provide users with a consistent and intuitive way to organize and manage virtual machines through group-based permissions, policies, bulk execution actions, and more.
As organizations move more of their workloads to the Cloud, organizing and managing those server farms can become challenging, expensive and time-consuming. The Tier 3 Cloud Server Group Management capability gives system administrators the tools they need to navigate these challenges starting with the ability to logically group and manage their large-scale cloud deployments. Groups are intuitively integrated within both the Tier 3 Control Portal and programmatic API, allowing administrators to create collections of servers that have their own permissions, policies and default server configuration settings. In addition, actions performed against the groups, such as rebooting or taking snapshots of a server, can be performed in bulk—allowing administrators to spend less time maintaining individual servers and more time optimizing their overall cloud environment.
The Tier 3 Cloud Server Group Management capabilities include:
Server Grouping: Rich, yet approachable features that allow system administrators to efficiently work with collections of servers, including grouping systems, to create logical containers of systems and sub-groups that are arranged by role or function, project or team.
Server Management: Execute server management tasks faster and more consistently across all systems in a group and save time by scheduling activities, installing software and managing server lifecycles in bulk instead of one at a time.
Reporting: Create monitoring and maintenance profiles at the group level for a more consistent application of proper monitors. Quickly access reports showing health and performance of each server within a group or see historical metrics and trending from the last hour through the last year. Use this information to make better decisions about whether to scale their environment up or down or identify which environments could be stopped, thus saving per-hour billing charges that would have otherwise been incurred.
Utilization and Cost Controls: To prevent runaway provisioning and the subsequent higher-than-expected bills, specify resource allocation thresholds for each groups to proactively control cost. By managing servers as a collective unit, administrators have a better perspective of the overall utilization of their environment
“Delivering IT operational agility and cost efficiencies while also enabling our customers to get further down the path toward experiencing true IT-as-a-Service capabilities is at heart of each of our technology innovations,” said Jared Wray, Tier 3 chief technology officer. “With the Group Management capabilities unveiled today our customers can better manage even the largest scale cloud deployments, saving time, saving money and further improving security.”
The group management features are generally available today. See a Server Group Management demonstration this week at VMworld booth 531 or read the groups customer use cases.
About Tier 3
Tier 3 unleashes business agility through unique, enterprise-class cloud services and software that puts global companies on the path to IT as a Service. The company’s virtual private cloud services combine both infrastructure (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) in a comprehensive platform. The Tier 3 Cloud increases IT operational efficiency and flexibility through advanced cloud orchestration and management capabilities. Global enterprises and service providers find the Tier 3 Cloud ideal for their entire business application portfolios, from development to production environments and mission-critical applications. The Company is based in Bellevue, WA, with regional presence in multiple locations in North America and Europe.
Organizations continue to invest heavily in data center expansion even while IT staffing has remained relatively flat. Every day, system administrators are being asked to do more with less. With that in mind, Tier 3 is introducing Group Management so that cloud users have a simple, efficient way to administer, secure and monitor collections of Tier 3 cloud servers as a single unit. This capability helps organizations with large clouds spend less time on routine maintenance and governance, and more time optimizing their environment and investment.
What happens once your cloud footprint expands beyond an initial block of servers? It’s no fun trying to manage individual servers in massive, scrolling lists. Tier 3 Group Management offers an organization scheme for customers who want to pool their servers based on business unit, system, or any arbitrary designation. We wanted to make sure that even the most complex landscape could be accommodated, so Groups support a very deep (32 level!) nesting structure.
This feature alone may not save users any significant time. Many cloud providers (and infrastructure management suites) offer metadata tags or other ways to create virtual collections of servers. However, Tier 3 Groups are a foundational part of the cloud platform and offer much more than a visual organization structure, including:
Time-saving administrations tasks
Personalized security settings
The administration aspects of Groups offer significant time savings for cloud users. First of all, users can apply a full range of power options to any or all of the servers in a Group (or sub-Group). Imagine using a temporary 50-node cluster for a compute-heavy data processing job, and using a single command to power down every machine at once. If only a subset of servers in the Group need to be rebooted, for example, then it’s easy to select which servers should respond to the command. Similarly, consider the case of putting a large block of servers into maintenance mode so that they can be patched and brought back online. Using Group Management, it’s simple to make this happen.
Another valuable administrative capability provided by Groups is the ability to install software or run scripts against any or all of the servers. This feature, called bulk execution, is expected to save countless hours of a previously manual task. Consider the scenario where you want to add a new firewall policy rule to a set of production Windows servers. Instead of logging into every machine and running a particular PowerShell script, Tier 3 users can issue a single command to simultaneously update all servers.
Third, Group Management makes administration easier by letting users define default settings for new Group servers. While every cloud infrastructure provider starts the server provisioning process with a default resource allocation (e.g. “2 CPUs, 4 GB RAM”), Tier 3 lets you personalize this default profile for each Group through a feature we call server defaults. These settings are inherited from their parent but users can quickly override this inheritance and configure unique server settings for networking, DNS, operating system, memory, CPU and storage. Each organization, or group owner, can define an ideal server profile and encourage administrators to build servers that best fit those needs.
How can administrators make sure that users don’t accidentally over-provision and incur unexpected charges? Traditionally, these administrators would have to actively monitor utilization and server counts. Using Tier 3 Group Management, our users can set capacity limits for each Group which prevents over-provisioning and free administrators from playing “cloud cop.”
Group Management also makes your cloud more secure. Each Group can have its own permissions policy which dictates who can access the group and who cannot. These permissions support inheritance, so administrators can set up an overarching policy for a Group that affects every sub-Group within it. We see many companies use the cloud to service multiple business units and we want to make sure that our customers have the freedom to secure their assets without having to create entirely new accounts in our system. We think that Group Management makes it much easier to secure logically distinct clusters that all reside in the same customer cloud.
Finally, Group Management offers time-saving monitoring tools that let you record and observe server performance at the Group level. Tier 3 users configure foundational monitors at the Group level, although by default, these are inherited from the parent Group. Alert recipients get identified for each Group (or are inherited from the parent) and this person receives an email message when a particular monitor has been exceeded its threshold. Administrators have access to reports that show the performance of each server in the Group. Using this view, the administrator can see both historical trends (up to one year) and live utilization information and make decisions about whether to scale their environment up or down.
We’re very excited about Group Management as it forms the foundation for many other innovative features in our product pipeline. Our customers are already using Groups to quickly perform maintenance activities, create unique permissions for their business units, and install or update software en masse.
If you’re a Tier 3 user, you should have full access to all the great Group Management features today. Keep an eye out for even more to come!