Matrix is a sophisticated and complicated combination of HP blade servers and management software. Its breadth is staggering, but the system's complexity can also make it difficult to use. Matrix manages a wide variety of hardware, software and virtual machinery (chiefly VMware) in a control plane of IaaS. Its components consist of several servers, including a blade server, software controls, server storage and software. The package isn't just for HP systems, as CloudSystem Matrix can discover a long list of hardware and infrastructure by IP address range, although this wasn't tested.
Matrix, which we tested on HP blades, has a cloud-in-a-box feel. There are a number of software parts and pieces that go together and are managed through a Web-based administrative portal. The portal includes links to all the different application pieces.
The portal is quite daunting as there are so many menus, submenus and options on each screen; it begs for a huge display or two monitors. The operations of the CloudSystem seem stitched together and some parts of it seem to load another part, but we weren't sure which part was being loaded. Nonetheless, CloudSystem's breadth manages a wide variety of infrastructure.
The pivotal piece of Matrix works through an app called Insight Orchestration. Matrix has a discovery application that works on existing infrastructure, identifying assets and arranging them. These are added to a clever tool that uses icons to drag and drop a visual representation of discovered or inserted infrastructure.
Templates are then used to drag and drop objects like bare metal or virtual disks, servers, network and VLANs into a map. We could then connect the objects together, inserting details about a connection as we went through the design process.
Once the template is done, it's launched and a visual representation of deployment progress can be viewed, along with actions that might need admin approval during deployment steps. Users are then added, and we could connect to Active Directory to link users to the application.
We could also create asset pools of machines, dividing them up into objects. The more advanced versions of Matrix allow pooled/grouped assets to be branded.
Cloud apps could also be pooled in this way, so as to allow users to choose off-the-shelf configurations relating to specific or general tasks.
We had the ability to look at Cloud Maps, which were a strong visual interpretation of the cloud resources that we'd configured and deployed. We could then flip to the Capacity Advisor if we wanted to perform what-if type analysis for different scenarios. We found the user interface to be cumbersome, and procedurally not intuitive.