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Wednesday, 30 August 2017 04:06

What VMware Integrated OpenStack v4 is and why it matters

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VMware provides its own integrated release of OpenStack, the open-source cloud operating system. It’s a product you may not realise VMware packages up. iTWire spoke to VMware’s Mahesh Kumar to learn more.

VMware announced version four of its VMware Integrated OpenStack — or VIO — product this week, at VMworld 2017 in Las Vegas. The company says VIO v4 makes running your own cloud even easier than before for developers.

For those unfamiliar, OpenStack is an open-source cloud operating system to control large pools of compute, storage and networking resources.

Whether you are familiar with OpenStack or not, it may not be a product you’d ordinarily associate with VMware except as an underlying hypervisor, and one of several options.

iTWire asked Mahesh Kumar, senior director, VMware, to explain VMware’s driver for providing a bundled OpenStack.

Kumar explained that today’s modern corporate IT environment is strongly mixed-mode. The most obvious example of this is how physical infrastructure may well be spread across multiple clouds, whether it is your own private VMware hosted data centre, or leveraging Azure, AWS, Google, IBM or something else.

Yet, this is only the beginning; you might then be using containers or micro services or pivoting your applications in some other way on top of the virtualised servers.

Then, your application authoring and deployment might be further running in a mixed mode, whether the traditional client/server model that served the industry well for so long, to today’s extremely loosely coupled cloud-native apps.

Consequently, today’s modern IT department is handling this mixed mode environment across many facets.

“This then begs the question,” Kumar said, “how are you going to manage this? It is our option you need a polyglot cloud management platform able to understand and provide automations, operations and visibility in one platform for all this cloud – whether VMware Cloud or native, or mega-clouds like AWS, etc. It has to be a platform to provide IT all the relevant and necessary controls and governance while still providing developers all the services they need to build things and consume services without impinging on it.”

Some key factors are important here:

  1. What is the visibility we have? This includes real-time analytics for troubleshooting, and to look at the capacity you need now or for future planning, to look at configuration drifts for remediation, or many other individual pieces of information.
  2. Leading on from visibility is automation. Once you can see, and meet, SLAs, you want your developers to fire up an application server such as a LAMP stack as needed. You need a self-service policy-driven catalogue that is exposed to developers so they can consume what they need – “like a Chinese menu”, Kumar says. This catalogue allows developers to create whatever they need but allows the Operations team to retain control of VM sizes and other important details, by providing these options.

Having a catalogue of automatically created VMs provides an agile ecosystem which removes errors in a repetitive system.

However, “there are customers who don’t want a self-service catalogue but just want an API. This is where VIO comes in. It allows you to access your infrastructure as an API”, Kumar explains.

The OpenStack movement itself started seven years ago with the biggest theme or use case to provide a private-cloud like experience of Amazon Web Services.

“The reality was unfortunately different,” Kumar says. “OpenStack implementations took one form of several – either it was like a science project and did not make it to mainstream or production. Another was an army of engineers were dedicated to an OpenStack project and gave up in six months because they could not get it working. Or the third form was to be a services model and build-up OpenStack services for other companies.”

These are all valid experiences, Kumar notes, “but they took the sheen off OpenStack which was meant to be easy-to-use".

Thus, VMware eyed OpenStack and considered the concept was good, the product was good, but perhaps the implementation not so.

“VMware Integrated OpenStack is really about how to make OpenStack shrink-wrapped so IT departments — which are using our technology anyway — can make an OpenStack cloud,” Kumar says. “We have customer testimonies who have implemented OpenStack through VIO in two hours.

“We are providing a management layer, on top of tried-and-tested VMware technologies like vSphere. Any VMware technology provided can also be leveraged by VIO. As customers are very familiar with all these components, the learning time is very low.”

That’s VMware’s basis for providing VMware Integrated OpenStack. v4 specifically brings these enhancements, among others:

  1. container management and orchestration alignment
  2. resource tagging
  3. high availability
  4. cascading deletions of snapshots when deleting a volume
  5. dynamic resizing of memory and other components
  6. VIO is now itself exposed via automation allowing developers to even spin up their own OpenStack environment via the self-service catalogue
  7. capability to share images within the OpenStack community
  8. ability to map networks in different OpenStack clouds as one network

“How quickly can I install OpenStack and get it working? We solve this problem the most efficiently bar none,” Kumar says.

VMware contributes code to OpenStack for the benefit of all OpenStack users and contributes to other open source projects. “VMware has an open source group and an Open Source CTO,” Kumar says. One such project is Admiral, a container management system.

VMware Integrated OpenStack v4 will be available in general release worldwide within the next weeks.

The writer is attending VMworld 2017 as a guest of VMware.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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