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Posted by on Dec 15, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

How Socialcast Could Change the World

Socialcast screenshot

Alright, maybe a little dramatic, but when I wrote my Docker is better on VMware article earlier this week it got me thinking about other technologies we’ve seen that improved when paired with another technology.  For example – Docker/VMware, Docker/Cloud Foundry, ViPR/vCAC, vCAC/Puppet, chocolate/peanut butter, etc.  There are literally hundreds of them.

But what about a social media application to use as a go-to for managing a virtual infrastructure?  One area we don’t see too much of is social media as a bone fide business application.  Not to say employees don’t tweet, or post how much they hate their boss on Facebook during 9:00-5:00, but for the most part outside of Sharepoint or an intranet site, companies really haven’t embraced a social media solution that IT could put it’s seal of approval on, let alone relied on it to manage a mission critical environment.

That is until now.  VMware purchased Socialcast back in May 2011 for an undisclosed amount.  Socialcast is a wonderful product!  We’ve used it internally at VMware for about the last three years and it really has solved some legitimate business issues.  It cut down on the amount of attachments that take up space in Outlook.  It became the primary source of information distribution throughout the company.  It cut down on the amount of emails we send and receive and it’s much easier to search for information on.  I could go on and on about how cool it is, but the really cool stuff is yet to come.

Let’s face it, corporate social media applications probably aren’t as sexy as automation and orchestration.  But it does have an API that may change all of that.  The API is powerful.  It can talk to other products like vCenter, vCloud Automation Center and vCenter Operations Manager.  You can learn more about what the API can do by visiting here: http://developers.socialcast.com.

So imagine posting a message about when and where you’re going to lunch, then post something like this (click image to enlarge) –

This would result in a job being created in vCenter or vCAC to provision a VM based off a template called ‘W2k8R2’ and install JRE, Tomcat server and SQL server to the image automatically through Application Director or Puppet, SCCM, etc.  Upon completion of the image being built, it would automatically ‘friend’ you as it’s creator, let you know when it’s been rebooted, powered off, etc. Would make itself part of a group of VMs that you own as well as other individuals on your team, provide an emoticon based on it’s vCOPs health and when you’re finished with it, tell it #decommission and it goes into VM heaven.

“How real is this”?  Is probably what you’re asking.  There’s a handful of folks within VMware that wants to make Socialcast into a one-stop-shop for all things social media and some things management.  There was a prototype presented at VMworld 2012 that got quite a few folks talking.  Here’s a blog post I found about it –http://blog.sciencelogic.com/a-new-approach-to-virtualization-management-at-vmworld-2012/08/2012 if you’re interested.

The VMworld 2012 keynote was the first time I saw the demo and it was impressive.  The demo showed simple interactions between Socialcast and vCenter.  The administrator created a VM in vCenter and upon creation it ‘friended’ him through Socialcast.  Pretty cool!

Turns out a customer I would later support this year also saw the demo and asked me to find out whatever happened to it.  It’s been somewhat of a skunkworks project the last few years, but thanks to customer interest has seen some new life lately.

Here’s the two primary use cases we’re working on:

  • Give teams access to the VMs they own via a simple management interface where they can do basic provisioning and operational tasks.
  • Cut down on the amount of alert ‘noise’ the owner a VM encounters using traditional tools.

Keep in mind Socialcast is a real and rather mature product today.  The ‘Friend-A-VM’ functionality is being developed and at this time is something VMware is only considering bringing to market.  What do you think?  Leave a reply with your opinion as to if this type of functionality would be valuable or not.  Have an idea on how it could be better?  Please share!  This is your chance to influence the feature set of a product.

 

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