Co-innovation VMworld 2021

Idem: Multi-Cloud Management Automation

Multi-cloud, multi-cloud, multi-cloud … it’s a mantra we hear a lot lately (including on this blog). Everyone seems to be touting the benefits of this elastic architecture. It gives you the flexibility to choose vendors based on specific requirements. It offers ease of scale. It reduces latency. It gives you more leverage with vendors, resulting in potentially lower costs. The list of benefits goes on.

However, despite all the airtime it’s been getting, multi-cloud adoption remains somewhat in its infancy — mostly because running and managing applications across multiple clouds is complex and difficult. We dove deeper into some of the issues involved with multi-cloud traditional and modern applications in this white paper.

The bottom line is that organizations are caught between a rock and a hard place — they need to remain agile while effectively managing resources across clouds.  What could remove this roadblock? Management-automation technology to simplify development and operations, allowing teams to leverage the native services offered by public and private clouds.

Introducing Idem

Today, my team (Accelerated Co-innovation Engineering, or ACE) revealed its recent work on Idem, a relatively young but growing management-automation technology project, in VMworld 2021’s solution keynote (see the video here or at the bottom of this post). Think of Idem as a next-generation SaltStack.

Idem is:

  • Fast: Idem is built from the ground up to safely run asynchronously and in parallel any number of management-automation tasks on any cloud.
  • Idempotent: Acknowledged in Idem’s name, idempotence is a fundamental requirement for any management-automation technology.
  • Stateless: Idem manages stateful resources (cloud virtual machines, Kubernetes clusters, serverless frameworks, networks, firewalls, etc.) and — with its properties of idempotence and parallelism — makes a great target for executing on modern serverless runtimes, such as Cloud Native Runtimes for VMware Tanzu.
  • Flexible: Idem plugins, the heart of the automation capabilities, are incredibly flexible and don’t stop at mere IaaS: they expose the entirety of cloud services to the automation-development teams and can auto-discover and incorporate new versions of cloud services into its automation capabilities — without updating Idem itself.

As a young project, we invite any and all to co-innovate with us in the Office of the CTO (OCTO) to calibrate and re-calibrate our technology against your use cases. Working together, we all win: our customers and partners directly guide the technology development, OCTO gets the calibration we need to hone our innovations to satisfy real-world use cases, and our customers’ customers get the benefit of higher-quality service levels via superior management automation.

Why we chose co-innovation as our methodology

Building management-automation technologies that expose the full complement of public and private cloud services (APIs) in a way that is easy for operations teams to use is a difficult proposition. It may not be a specialty of an organization’s development teams. Buying off-the-shelf (OTS) tools might not be the answer, either, because available solutions won’t necessarily meet all your needs. OTS tools often abstract away the native power of clouds and provide only lowest-common-denominator capabilities.

In addition to collaborating on open-source projects, there’s a great compromise between building and buying: co-innovating with ACE in VMware’s Office of the CTO (OCTO). We always seek to calibrate and re-calibrate our innovations with our customers and partners, and management automation is no exception. To do that, reach out to your account team lead, technical account manager, or customer success manager.


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