At the moment I’m working on a virtualised datacentre proof of concept with one of our worldwide partners. We’re creating automated provisioning and configuration of the BIG-IP Virtual Edition with a VMware environment.  Whilst working on the ins and outs of integrating our iControlTM API  into their orchestration tools I got to thinking about the source of the configuration data we were using to create the instances. 

Imagine this:  what if, when a Service Provider started working on a solution design, all the information required to build the solution went into a bid database that linked to tools to create design documents,  quotation documents and pricing?

Impressed by the quality and value of the proposal the customer hands over the PO. Beers (or non alcoholic beverage of your choice)  all round.  Now, this is usually where the hard work of deploying the thing starts (been there, done that).  Wouldn’t it be great to just enter the solution design reference into the provisioning system and go join the sales team for that beer? Meanwhile your provisioning system creates the required objects, configures the network, management, billing and  backup systems, does a few tests and emails the customer contacts their passwords to add their applications and content.

How far away are we from that vision? At the moment there are self service systems that allow you create comparatively simple systems, but if you want to benefit from the complex design and technology expertise of service provider, the process of getting from design to reality hasn’t changed much in 10 years.  As orchestration tools for managing virtualised compute environments mature, there will be real competitive advantages to be gained from integrating back into the solution design process.

Then I expect I’ll start blogging about the good old days…