Posts Tagged Red Hat

PaaS Gains Cloud Momentum

Guess you could say Gartner is bullish on Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). The research firm declares: PaaS is a fast-growing core layer of the cloud computing architecture, but the market for PaaS offerings is changing rapidly.

The other layers include Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) but before the industry build-out of cloud computing is finished (if ever), expect to see many more X-as-a-Service offerings. Already you can find Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS). Symantec, for instance, offers BaaS to service providers, who will turn around and offer it to their clients.

But the big cloud action is around PaaS. Late in November Red Hat introduced OpenShift Enterprise, an enterprise-ready PaaS product designed to be run as a private, public or hybrid cloud. OpenShift, an open source product, enables organizations to streamline and standardize developer workflows, effectively speeding the delivery of new software to the business.

Previously cloud strategies focused on SaaS, in which organizations access and run software from the cloud. Salesforce.com is probably the most familiar SaaS provider. There also has been strong interest in IaaS, through which organizations augment or even replace their in-house server and storage infrastructure with compute and storage resources from a cloud provider. Here Amazon Web Services is the best known player although it faces considerable competition that is driving down IaaS resource costs to pennies per instance.

PaaS, essentially, is an app dev/deployment and middleware play. It provides a platform (hence the name) to be used by developers in building and deploying applications to the cloud. OpenShift Enterprise does exactly that by giving developers access to a cloud-based application platform on which they can build applications to run in a cloud environment. It automates much of the provisioning and systems management of the application platform stack in a way that frees the IT team to focus on building and deploying new application functionality and not on platform housekeeping and support services. Instead, the PaaS tool takes care of it.

OpenShift Enterprise, for instance, delivers a scalable and fully configured application development, testing and hosting environment. In addition, it uses Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) for reliable security and multi-tenancy. It also is built on the full Red Hat open source technology stack including Red Hat Enterprise Linux, JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, and OpenShift Origin, the initial free open source PaaS offering. JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 6, a middleware tool, gives OpenShift Enterprise a Java EE 6-certified on-premise PaaS capability.  As a multi-language PaaS product, OpenShift Enterprise supports Java, Ruby, Python, PHP, and Perl. It also includes what it calls a cartridge capability to enable organizations to include their own middleware service plug-ins as Red Hat cartridges.

Conventional physical app dev is a cumbersome process entailing as many as 20 steps from idea to deployment. Make it a virtual process and you can cut the number of steps down to 14; a small improvement. As Red Hat sees it, the combination of virtualization and PaaS can cut that number of steps to six; idea, budget, code, test, launch, and scale. PaaS, in effect, shifts app dev from a craft undertaking to an automated, cloud-ready assembly line. As such, it enables faster time to market and saves money.

Although Red Hat is well along in the PaaS market and the leader in open source PaaS other vendors already are jumping in and more will be joining them. IBM has SmartCloud Application Services as its PaaS offering.  Oracle offers a PaaS product as part of the Oracle Cloud Platform. EMC offers PaaS consulting and education but not a specific technology product.  When HP identifies PaaS solutions it directs you to its partners. A recent list of the top 20 PaaS vendors identifies mainly smaller players, CA, Google, Microsoft, and Salesforece.com being the exceptions.

A recent study by IDC projects the public cloud services market to hit $98 billion by 2016. The PaaS segment, the fastest growing part, will reach about $10 billion, up from barely $1 billion in 2009. There is a lot of action in the PaaS segment, but if you are looking for the winners, according to IDC, focus on PaaS vendors that provide a comprehensive, consistent, and cost effective platform across all cloud segments (public, private, hybrid). Red Hat OpenShift clearly is one; IBM SmartCloud Application Services and Microsoft Azure certainly will make the cut. Expect others.

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HP and Dell Lead Latest Rush to Cloud Services

HP last week made its first public cloud services available as a public beta. This advances the company’s Converged Cloud portfolio as the company delivers an open source-based public cloud infrastructure designed to enable developers, independent software vendors (ISVs) and enterprises of all sizes to build the next generation of web applications.

These services, HP Cloud Compute, Storage, and HP Cloud Content Delivery Network, now will be offered through a pay-as-you-go model. Designed with OpenStack technology, the open-sourced-based architecture avoids vendor lock-in, improves developer productivity, features a full stack of easy-to-use tools for faster time to code, provides access to a rich partner ecosystem, and is backed by personalized customer support.

Last week Dell also joined the cloud services rush with an SAP cloud services offering. Although Dell has been in the services business at least since its acquisition of Perot Systems a few years back services for SAP and the cloud, indeed are new, explained Burk Buechler, Dell’s service portfolio director.

Dell offers two cloud SAP services. The first is the Dell Cloud Starter Kit for SAP Solutions, which helps organizations get started on their cloud journey quickly by providing customers with 60-day access to Dell’s secure cloud environment with a compute power equivalent to 8,000 SAP Application Performance Standard (SAPS) unit of measure and is coupled with Dell’s consulting, application, and infrastructure services in support of SAP solutions.

The second is the Dell Cloud Development Kit for SAP Solutions, which provides access to 32,000 SAPS of virtual computing capacity to deploy development environments for more advanced customers who need a rich development landscape for running SAP applications. This provides a comprehensive developer environment with additional capabilities for application modernization and features industry-leading Dell Boomi technology for rapid cross-application integration.

Of the latest two initiatives, HP’s is the larger. Nearly 40 companies have announced their support for HP Cloud Services, from Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) partners to storage, management and database providers. The rich partner ecosystem provides customers with rapid access to an expansive suite of integrated cloud solutions that offer new ways to become more agile and efficient. The partner network also provides a set of tools, best practices and support to help maximize productivity on the cloud. This ecosystem of partners is a step along the path to an HP Cloud Services Marketplace, where customers will be able to access HP Cloud Services and partner solutions through a single account.

Of course, there are many other players in this market. IBM staked out cloud services early with a variety of IBM SmartCloud offerings. Other major players include Oracle., Rackspace, Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), EMC, Red Hat, Cisco, NetApp, and Microsoft.  It is probably safe to say that eventually every major IT vendor will offer cloud services capabilities. And those that don’t will have partnerships and alliances with those who do.

Going forward every organization will include a cloud component as some part of their IT environment. For some, it will represent a major component; for others cloud usage will vary as business and IT needs change. There will be no shortage of options, something to fit every need.

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IBM PowerLinux Changes the x86 Calculus

With Linux reportedly the fastest growing operating system in the work and 99% of Global 2000 enterprises intending to include open source software in their portfolios by 2015 (up from 73% in 2012), clearly open source Linux has long crossed the adoption chasm and achieved enterprise acceptance. This is an ideal time for IBM to introduce its new PowerLinux servers, which deliver the performance of IBM Power Systems at x86 prices.

The IBM PowerLinux introduction includes two Linux-only models, a 2-socket, 2U rack server (7R2) and a 2-socket compute node (p24L) intended to plug into IBM’s newly introduced PureFlex appliance. Each socket contains 8 POWER7 cores and 256GB of memory, and IBM has tuned the machines for key tasks, like Big Data.  BottomlineIT covered the PureSystems introduction previously here. PureFlex is a computing appliance that accepts a variety of nodes in the form of blades, including PowerLinux as a compute node.

IBM’s goal was to deliver PowerLinux at a cost of acquisition competitive with x86 systems.  For example, the PowerLinux system including POWER7, virtualization (PowerVM), and the Linux open source OS (either Red Hat or SUSE) costs $21,282 (USD). By comparison, a comparable Dell/Intel system (able to handle the same workloads and running VMware vSphere Enterprise 5 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription and support comes in at $22,650 (USD). A comparable HP/Intel system running VMware vSphere Enterprise 5 and Red Hat subscription and support costs $24,838 (USD). Comparative cost data provided by IBM.  If you don’t want the PowerVM hypervisor, there is the KVM option.

Both the Dell and HP systems run 2-socket, 16-core 2.4GHz ER-2665 Sandy Bridge processors with32GB of memory, two 300GB SAS drives (15k), a 4x1GbE network controller, and a SAS, DVD, RAID storage controller. The PowerLinux system brings a faster 16-core processor (3.55 GHz) while matching the other specifications.

So, in terms of speeds, feeds, and cost, PowerLinux not only meets but exceeds the leading x86 systems for running virtualized Linux workloads. When you look at virtualization for PowerLinux compared to VMware vSphere 5.0, PowerLinux looks even better. PowerLinux handles 16 virtual CPUs per virtual machine vs. 8 for VMware and 4 CPU threads per core vs. 2 for VMware. Throw in the secure hardware-based hypervisor for PowerLinux (PowerVM) vs. VMware’s software-based hypervisor and the PowerLinux machine is the clear winner.

In terms of workloads, one beta user, the University of Hamburg (Germany), compared two PowerLinux machines with ten x86 Linux servers for a big file serving workload. The result: PowerLinux delivered a 50% performance gain and a 30% lower cost of virtual file server acquisition.

If you look at a Big Data analytics workload—another increasingly important workload—the PowerLinux server with 4 threads per core has an immediate advantage over Intel’s 2 threads per core. PowerLinux also can handle parallel file systems across multiple servers using HDFS or the highly optimized IBM GPFS. In short, PowerLinux servers can natively exploit massively parallel processing across Linux clusters, which is what you want for Big Data.

PowerLinux already has been highly tuned by IBM. Should you deploy it as a compute node in the PureFlex appliance, you get the added integration, optimization, and automated expertise (patterns) IBM has packed into that device too.

The appeal of the PowerLinux system is that IBM streamlined it to match or exceed x86 cost and performance objectives. It, indeed, can beat comparable x86 machines running Linux virtualized workloads and do it at less than x86/VMware prices.

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OVA and oVIRT Drive KVM Success

In the x86 world VMware is the 900-pound hypervisor gorilla. Even Microsoft’s Hyper-V takes a back seat to the VMware hypervisor.  KVM, however, is gaining traction as an open source alternative. Like an open source product, it brings advantages portability, customizability, and low cost.

In terms of overall platform virtualization, the Linux world may be lagging behind Windows in the rate of server virtualization or not, depending on which studies you have been reading.  Regardless, with IBM and Red Hat getting behind the KVM hypervisor in a big way last year, the pace of Linux servers being virtualized should pick up.

The driving of KVM today is being turned over to the Open Virtualization Alliance (OVA), which has made significant gains in attracting participation since its launch last spring. Currently it boasts over 240 members, up from the couple of dozen when BottomlineIT looked at it months ago.

The OVA also has been bolstered by an open virtualization development organization, the oVirt Project here.  Its founding partners include: Canonical, Cisco, IBM, Intel, NetApp, Red Hat and SUSE. The founders promise to deliver a truly open source and openly governed and integrated virtualization stack.  The oVirt team aims to deliver both a cohesive stack and discretely reusable components for open virtualization management, which should become key building blocks for private and public cloud deployments.

 The oVirt Project bills itself as an open virtualization project providing a feature-rich server virtualization management system with advanced capabilities for hosts and guests, including high availability, live migration, storage management, system scheduler, and more. The oVirt goal is to develop a broad ecosystem of tools to make up a complete integrated platform and to deliver them on a well defined release schedule. These are components designed and tested to work together, and oVirt should become a central venue for user and developer cooperation.

The idea around OVA and oVirt is that effective enterprise virtualization requires more than just a hypervisor, noted Jean Staten, IBM Director, Worldwide Cross‐IBM Linux and Open Virtualization, at a recent briefing.  In addition to a feature-rich hypervisor like KVM, Healy cited the need for well-defined APIs at all layers of the stack, readily accessible (reasonably priced) systems and tools, a corresponding feature-rich, heterogeneous management platform, and a robust ecosystem to extend the open hypervisor and management platform, all of which oVirt is tackling.

Now KVM and the OVA just need success cases to demonstrate the technology. Initially, IBM provided the core case experience, its Research Compute Cloud (RC2). RC2 runs over 200 iDataplex nodes, an IBM x86 product using KVM. It handles 2000 concurrent instances, is used by thousands of IBM employees worldwide, and provides 100TB of block storage attached to KVM instances via a storage cloud. RC2 also handles actual IBM internal chargeback based on charges-per-VM hour across IBM.

Today IBM is using KVM with its System z blades in the zBX. It also supports KVM as a tier 1 virtualization technology with IBM System Director VMControl and Tivoli system management products.  On System x, KVM delivered 18% better virtual machine consolidation in a SPECvirt_sc2010 benchmark test.

Recently KVM was adopted by DutchCloud, the leading ISP in Netherlands. DutchCloud is a cloud-based IaaS provider. Companies choose it for QoS, reliability, and low price.

DutchCloud opted for IBM SmartCloud Provisioning as it core delivery platform across multiple server and storage nodes and KVM as the hypervisor for virtual machines. KVM offers both minimal licensing costs and the ability to support mixed (KVM and VMware) deployments.  IBM’s System Director VMControl provides heterogeneous virtual machine management. The combination of KVM and SmartCloud Provisioning enabled DutchCloud to provision hundreds of customer virtual machines in a few minutes and ensure isolation through effective multi-tenancy. And since it can communicate directly with the KVM hypervisor, it avoids the need to license additional management components.

KVM is primarily a distributed x86 Linux platform and cloud play. It may, however, make its way into IBM’s zEnterprise environments through the zBX as the hypervisor for the x86 (IBM eX5) blades residing there.

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The Challenge of Managing Multi-Platform Virtualization

While virtualization has been experiencing widespread adoption over the past decade it was considered an x86-VMware phenomenon. Sure there are other hypervisors, but for most organizations VMware was synonymous with virtualization. Even on the x86 platform, Microsoft Hyper-V was the also ran. Of course, virtualization has been baked into the mainframe for decades, but most organizations only began to take notice with the rise of VMware.

Virtualization provides the foundation for cloud computing, and as cloud computing gains traction across all segments of the computing landscape virtualization increasingly is understood as a multi-platform and multi-hypervisor game. Today’s enterprise is likely to be widely heterogeneous. It will run virtualized systems on x86 platforms, Windows, Linux, Power, and System z. By the end of the year, expect to see both Windows and Linux applications running virtualized on x86, Power Systems, and the zEnterprise mainframe.

Welcome to the virtualized multi-platform, multi-hypervisor enterprise. While it brings benefits—choice, flexibility, cost savings—it also comes with challenges. The biggest of which is management complexity. Growing virtualized environments have to be tightly managed or they can easily spin out of control with phantom and rogue VMs popping up everywhere and gobbling system resources. The typical platform- and hypervisor-specific tools simply won’t do the trick. This will require tools to manage virtualization across the full range of platforms and hypervisors.

Not surprisingly, IBM, which probably has the most virtualized platforms and hypervisors of any vendor, also is the first with cross-platform, cross-hypervisor management in Systems Director’s newest version of VMControl, version 2.4, part of IBM’s System Director family of management tools. This is truly multi everything management. From a single console you control VMs running on x86 Windows, x86 Linux, and Linux on Power. One administrator can start, stop, move, and otherwise manage virtual machines, even across platforms. And it is agnostic as far as the hypervisor goes; it can handle VMware, Hyper V, and KVM.  It also integrates with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager and VMware vCenter. (I’ve been told by IBM that it also will be able to manage VMs running on the zEnterprise platform soon after a few issues are resolved regarding the mainframe’s already robust virtualization management.)

The multi-platform VMControl 2.4 dovetails nicely with another emerging virtualization trend—open virtualization. In just a few months the Open Virtualization Alliance has grown from the initial four founders (IBM, Red Hat, Intel, and HP) to over 200 members. The open source KVM hypervisor being championed by the alliance handles both Linux and Windows workloads, allowing organizations to dodge yet another element of vendor lock-in. One organization already used that flexibility to avoid higher charges by running the open source hypervisor for a test and dev situation. That kind of open virtualization requires just the kind of multi-platform virtualization management VMControl 2.4 delivers.

Multi-platform is where enterprise virtualization has to go. Eventually BottomlineIT expects the other hypervisors to get there, but it may take a while.

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