HP service automation tools make nice with Chef, OpenStack

Administrators can now incorporate Chef scipts into their own HP orchestrated workflows

Hewlett-Packard has integrated its service automation programs with IT configuration and management programs Chef and OpenStack, a move that could make it easier for IT staff to work with these open source applications, often used by individual lines of business.

"We're giving a lot of focus to open source technologies like Chef and OpenStack," said Manoj Raisinghani, HP software senior director of global product marketing for automation and cloud management. As a result, "this allows the IT guy to work much more closely with the line-of-business owner."

In June, HP will release new versions of HP Cloud Service Automation (CSA version 4.1), Operations Orchestration (OO 10.1), and HP Server Automation (SA 10.1).

The company will also launch a new package using these programs, called the Orchestrated Datacenter, that allows organizations to automate many of their data center operations. The package can be used to control physical servers, virtual servers, networks, storage, databases, middleware and applications.

The package includes an entirely new software program, called HP Enterprise Maps, designed to help enterprise architects map high level business processes to IT resources.

HP is in a competitive market for IT automation and orchestration tools. Not only does it compete with other commercial offerings, from the likes of CA Technologies and BMC, but now must contend with nimble open source rivals as well, whose software is often implemented at the office, region or business unit level, rather than across the entire organization.

In many organizations, regional IT staff are using open source software programs such as Chef or OpenStack to help automate routine IT operations. Chef, for instance, is used to manage the configuration of servers and other IT equipment through the use of Chef scripts, or recipes. OpenStack provides a base for hosting IaaS (infrastructure as a service) services.

While Chef and similar tools are catching on in regional offices, the central IT operations have been slower to adopt them. HP's approach is to interoperate with this software as best as possible, so such tools can be used within HP's own stack of IT management software.

For instance, CSA now offers the ability to incorporate Chef recipes into service designs. This can be handy when the Chef scripts have been created by another party -- such as a business unit manager. "The IT guy doesn't have to go and recreate the Chef scripts" within CSA, Raisinghani said.

This integration with Chef will also give the administrator more tools for quickly setting up operations. For instance, Chef offers recipes for setting up and running Hadoop clusters, or running NoSQL databases such as MongoDB or CouchDB.

"Because they are importing the Chef recipes, they now have access to over 300 application processes that are part of Chef," Raisinghani said.

This also allows existing Chef scripts to be embedded in larger data center workflows.

Creating a service involves multiple steps of installation and configuration. The virtual machine must be set up, and then it needs to be populated with all the applications needed to run a service, such as the database, the application service, the core logic. Once everything is installed, the VM can then be placed in a service catalogue where it can be downloaded and shared by different business units.

The orchestration tools will also help organizations hook into the HP Cloud. In April, HP announced that it would be consolidating services under the Helion brand name, using its own OpenStack distribution, called HP Helion, as the base.

One early use of the HP tools has been at Air France, which found that automating its installation processes cut the cost of provisioning infrastructure by up to 85 percent.

The company has no disclosed pricing for any of the products. HP has also released a free community edition of Operations Orchestration that can run up to 100 workflows.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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