Mar 26 2017

Getting Started with Alexa Skill for Nutanix

I have been working on an Alexa integration with Nutanix clusters, and I am happy to make the first release publicly available.

Natural language processing (NLP) is becoming ubiquitous in many fields of science, and data center infrastructure is no different. However, tentatives to make NLP useful in a transactional world have largely failed because of the number of low-level tasks that would need to be requested to achieve a higher level goal or objective.

As an example, a top-level goal would be to request that a data center presents an SLA of 99.9999% over the next week due to some extraneous end of month workloads. For achieving this outcome, a series of tasks and decision processes would have to be treated and converted into low-level tasks, such as setup multiple replication points, enable a DR sites, change a RAID group or replication factor, increase the number of simultaneous backups, etc.

However, to create this decision, orchestration and automation processes without hard-coding, the entire process requires te use of higher-level APIs that can abstract the user intent; these are called Intentfull APIs.

Nutanix doesn’t provide an Intentfull API today, but if we as a technology community aim to develop NLP as a way to interact with the world, all tech vendors need to abstract tasks from higher-level objectives.

 

If you don’t have Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, check out the Reverb for Amazon Alexa on Apple App Store for both iPhone and MAC. Reverb allows you to interact with Alexa from anywhere. Via Alexa, Reverb answers questions, reports traffic and weather, gives info on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules, and more using the Alexa Voice Service.

The Alexa Skill for Nutanix

This skill that I developed focus solely on reading operations at this point, and I plan over time iterate on the type of transactional requests that are possible, even including task execution and virtual machine and disaster recovery operations for the Acropolis hypervisor (AHV).

 

Here are the videos from some Alpha users:

 

 

Back to Alexa Skill for Nutanix and How to Start using it.

 

On your Alexa app or alexa.amazon.com go to Skills and search for Nutanix, then enable the “Nutanix Unofficial” Skill for your Alexa account.

 

You may start using the skill immediately, but unless you register your cluster with the Skill you are receiving information from my home cluster, an Intel NUC running Nutanix Community Edition.

Nutanix CE is the only supported edition at this point.

 

Try few operations:

“Alexa, open Nutanix Unofficial.”
“Help.”
“Alexa, ask Nutanix Unofficial to get cluster name.”
“Alexa, ask Nutanix Unofficial to get cluster summary.”
“Alexa, ask Nutanix Unofficial to get critical alerts.”
“Alexa, ask Nutanix Unofficial to get warning alerts.”

You may also request a cluster property:

“Alexa, ask Nutanix Unofficial to get cluster property.”
Alexa – “What property would you like to retrieve?”
Here are some options {name|utilization|health|hosts|alerts|summary|machines}

 

To register your cluster you must expose TCP/9440 from your cluster to the Internet. The communication between Alexa and the Nutanix cluster is done via API calls using TCP/9440 port.

The service that executes these calls is Amazon Web Services (AWS) Lambda. I recommend that a firewall is used to secure and prevent unauthorized tentative access. Amazon Web Services (AWS) publishes its current IP address ranges here. The Alexa Skill for Nutanix executes read-only activities, but you should consider creating a dedicated local PRISM user with necessary credentials for Alexa.

Check out my article Securing Nutanix PRISM for Alexa Skill with NGINX Container

 

The next step

 

Several applications and IoT devices interact with Alexa using OAuth 2.0 token authorization. However, OAuth is not yet available for use with Nutanix. For this reason, there is a need to connect your Alexa UsedId with your cluster, for both association and security purposes.

Say: “Alexa, open Nutanix Unofficial” and wait for an acknowledgment.
Say: “Cluster registration.”

At this point, go to alexa.amazon.com and look for the card with your Alexa UserId and the URL for registration. The URL in the Alexa card directs you to an online form where you will provide your Alexa UserId, the Nutanix public IP address, username, password. Finally, enter the Word Verification reCAPTCHA.

 

Your cluster information is stored in a MySQL database secured with a strong password authentication in an Amazon Web Services (AWS) instance. The service that executes calls to the cluster is the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Lambda.

After submitting the form your data is automatically inserted into the database, and your cluster is linked to your Alexa UserID. Only you, in any Alexa enabled device, can connect to your cluster using the service.

 

I hope you have fun and I welcome feedback for improvements of the service. If you have the time, I would appreciate a video recording (demo) with you using the Alexa Skill published on Twitter. Feel free to tag and follow me at @andreleibovici.

 

 

Older posts «

» Newer posts