IBM Cloud Orchestrator: So easy an end-user could use it

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When talking about cloud, there is always the subtle implication that it’s a simple, one-click process. If I want to post my photo where people can see it, or download a new app for my smartphone, all it takes is one click. But what about the people who are actually setting up the infrastructure and applications to make your one-click experience successful? Is it just one click for them as well?

Well, if you look behind the curtains, typically it is not that simple. If you are a cloud provider, I’m quite confident you know this well. There are people dimensioning the infrastructure, taking care of the scalability (you do not want to get an “out of disk space” error when uploading the pictures of your last vacation), enforcing access control and setting up middleware and applications to make all these things happen.

But what about using the very same tool to provide an easy user experience for both the  consumer and the people setting the service up and managing it? One of the great features of IBM Cloud Orchestrator is that you can design and tailor a self-service offering according to the users’ needs and skills.

Let me use my favorite example. Imagine a three tiered application: a user front end (this could be an “upload my photo” button), a web server and a database.

Does the consumer of the service need to know which middleware, database or operating system is running behind the application? What about the storage device hosting his or her data? Not only does the consumer not care, but most likely he or she does not have the needed skill to appreciate this information and apply it to make a choice between one or another.

On the other hand, the IT team managing the service needs to know all these details and needs to be able to configure and support the whole thing.

What would this look like in Cloud Orchestrator?

Basically, you would see two offerings exposing two different coaches on top of a business process manager application that uses a virtual system pattern or an application pattern. A coach is the user interface of a process application and a process application is a workflow.

Here is how the coach may look to the consumer:

Cloud Orchestrator 1

Here is how it may look for the service administrator:

Cloud Orchestrator 2

Cloud Orchestrator 3

Behind these two user interfaces, you find exactly the same pattern:

Cloud Orchestrator 4

The difference is that while the consumer is using only the specific one they have access to, the IT team can access all processes exploiting the same service through the interface dedicated to them. For example, they can have test and production flavors of the same pattern, or provide the same service using different middlewares according to the customer subscription. They can also have visibility on all configuration parameters.

The business process is exactly the same for both cases. The whole complexity of looking for available resources, provisioning them if missing, approval logic, firewall, load balancer configuration, environment monitoring and metering, scalability rules and whatever else may be needed in the service offering can be customizable and made available to the coaches according to the needs.

By the way, you do not need to write all the pieces of the service offering by yourself, you can rely on a set of already available artifacts downloadable from the Cloud Orchestrator catalog.

So in the end, both consumers and the IT team are using the very same tool, Cloud Orchestrator. By coding a single  business process and a single pattern, you can provide multiple user experiences, tailoring them to the specific skills and needs of the consumer.

Do you want to discuss more on this topic? Follow me on twitter @DeGaRoss or comment below.

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