Introducing the Scalr Service Catalog to Enterprise Scalr 7.4

February 15, 2017 Craig Peters

Hi! I’m new to the Scalr family, and as a product manager, happy to share some new capabilities being added to the already super-capable Scalr platform. Using my background building clouds and tools for automation of large scale processes, I’ve come to Scalr to help drive the philosophy of infrastructure-as-code even further into the product.


The Scalr UI provides a powerful and extremely flexible and scalable way to manage hybrid cloud environments. This week in Scalr Enterprise 7.4 we’ve extended that power to an even broader set of use cases by adding the Service Catalog which we’ve designed to make common or repetitive tasks super simple. This means that Scalr can be used by a much broader audience to manage applications in the cloud without needing extensive training. The catalog lists published blueprints, which we call Farm Templates, and asks for only the input the Farm requires. As with any feature in beta, your feedback is invaluable as we continue to improve and roll out additional capabilities. Please reach out to me at craig@scalr.com with your thoughts. 

 

A Farm Template is a text file (JSON) that defines the configuration of infrastructure and the orchestration required to automate the lifecycle of any apps or services running on that infrastructure. Farm templates define the attributes of a Farm including Farm Roles. Roles, Clouds, Orchestration, Global Variables and the ever expanding set of capabilities that the Scalr API exposes to enable this configuration on all Scalr supported cloud platforms. As this feature is still in beta, over the coming months we will be adding more items (like Security Groups) to the API for use in Farm Templates.

 

Catalog management is easy in Scalr as it leverages the proven Farm Builder to create the declarative definition of a Farm and associated Orchestration. To populate the catalog, create a template from an existing Farm from a menu option. You can then parameterize it with Global Variables, remove any elements you want users to provide, and specify anything you don’t want users to worry about. Then publish the template using the Scalr hierarchical model to a single environment or promote it to a higher scope to make it available across multiple environments.


Teams of Scalr users can be limited to the simple Service Catalog UI, then incrementally granted additional privileges thanks to the power of Scalr’s ACL model. Users can be members of multiple teams in multiple environments, so the Scalr ACLs enable users to have exactly the power they need for each project.


The new Farm Templates enable the use of Scalr in a much more flexible way in the mold of infrastructure-as-code. Engineers can use Farm Templates together with automation tools like Jenkins and CircleCI to ensure that continuous integration is done using the exact same configuration of infrastructure and software across the stages of continuous delivery, and even across clouds. Over the coming weeks I’ll be writing about how to leverage Scalr as a key tool for making all of your Enterprise services fully versioned and automated. Farm Templates are the way to write configuration files that define the infrastructure to run your applications on any platform while taking advantage of your configuration management tools (Puppet, Chef, Ansible) and leveraging the policy driven management that Scalr provides. Manage Farm Templates in your version control system, and automate your dev, build, test, deploy, and operate lifecycle through workflow tools (like Jenkins, Travis, TeamCity) and you have the core of Infrastructure as Code.


Now that we’ve added these capabilities you can a library of Farm Templates using the powerful Farm Designer. Once they’re published to the catalog, users with more repetitive tasks can now easily consume services through the catalog - no heavy lifting required. In both cases, the Scalr policy engine will ensure users operate within the appropriate financial, security and placement policies.

 

We look forward to you upgrading to the latest Scalr release and letting us know what you think about this new capability by contacting me at craig@scalr.com. And keep an eye out for updates from us on how to leverage Farm Templates for your implementation of Infrastructure as Code.

 

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