Let’s say you’re an MSP and you want to add desktops to the list of hosted services you already provide. How do you design your data center so you can easily offer and manage all of these services side-by-side? Simple, use OpenStack in your software defined data centers! What advantages do managed service providers (MSPs) reap with this setup. Well, as it turns out, quite a few!

Why (or, what are) software-defined data centers?

A software defined data center (SDDC) refers to a data center where all aspects are virtualized, from the servers to the storage to the network, and delivered as a service. The hardware in a SDDC is managed via software, hence the “S”, which allows organizations to pool resources, improve efficiencies and expand or contract quickly based on needs.

Software defined data centers offer many benefits. Think about what server virtualization did for server utilization and optimization. Now, expand that to your entire data center. With SDDC, you abstract the hardware away from the servers, storage, and networking components, which improves utilization across the board while lowering costs and improving scalability.

And, importantly, SDDC includes different levels of automation, which provides greater agility and efficiency. Does a user need access to a new application, or desktop? In an SDDC, they simply request a service and, Voilà, that service is ready for them to use.

(Are you the CIO of your MSP and want to know more, here’s a very nice interview with Pat Gelsinger, CEO at VMware)

Typically, people envision applications and servers when they think of the services provided by an SDDC, but desktops and these services can live side-by-side.

Where does OpenStack fit in?

SDDC sounds great! Where do I sign up? First, by finding the correct “S” to manage your “DDC”. Vendors such as VMware have implemented SDDC solutions, but you can bet they come with a price tag. Luckily, there’s OpenStack!

OpenStack includes the cloud software you need to manage an SDDC, including servers (with Nova compute), storage (with Swift and Cinder object and block storage, respectively), and network (with Neutron). Need orchestration tools? Well, there’s the OpenStack Heat project for that.

So, what’s left? The end user, that’s what. A key aspect of a software defined data center is that it allows users to provision workloads on the fly, typically through a web portal. If you want to deliver desktops-as-a-service from your SDDC, you simply need a tool that integrates with the OpenStack APIs to automate requests and provisioning of desktop resources. – Tip: watch our webinar on how to make OpenStack VDI and DaaS a reality.

OpenStack DaaS for MSPs

When it comes down to it, a desktop resource is just another OpenStack instance, created from an image preconfigured with the required applications. In order to provide desktops-as-a-service, find (or build?!) a tool that allows users to select which image they want to use for their desktop and specify the instance size, so you can provide adequate compute based on the user’s applications and needs, without providing too much compute for other users.

Another key thing to look for in a DaaS tool is integration with OpenStack projects. OpenStack projects give you an easy way to separate desktops associated with different customers, giving you a fully multi-tenant solution.

A software defined data center managed by OpenStack provides all the compute, storage, and network tools you need to provide desktops-as-a-service that optimizes your data center usage. The key is simply to find a management tool that makes it fast and easy to request and create desktops in your newly optimized cloud. Make sure to check out our webinar to learn more about OpenStack DaaS for MSPs.