Software Defined Hybrid Datacenter

The past two weeks have been very interesting to say the least.  As I made my way through OpenStack, and as my last post says, starting with DevStack.  Which I quickly came to find was way to easy.

So easy in fact it was the beginning of a shift in the core of what I envisioned the future if the Datacenter to be.  You would think that being told your job has been eliminated would have had a greater impact, but it was only the beginning. Since that day, I have been on a wild eye opening ride into OpenStack, Open source, VMware solutions and how they all will be part of the Datacenter of the future.

The hybrid cloud will be defined as a hybrid of the VMware Stack, and OpenStack + additional Open Source tools as well as  the hybrid Operations of ITOps and DevOps.  IMHO, the reason we have now settled on the hybrid cloud as an industry is because no one knew the difference between Private vs Public vs Hybrid and which one they needed. And why should they? We are supposed to be simplifying the Datacenter, and not adding complexity.  At least from the consumers view.

I recently was asked to give my input on an RFP for the build out and consolidation project. to consolidate 16 datacenters into a new Greenfield datacenter.  Or at least that’s what I was told. As I dug into the RFP, it was obvious they didn’t know what they wanted, and had made some bad decisions/assumptions based on previous experience with VMware products, which didn’t meet their needs 2 year prior.  They wanted a new datacenter that could utilize new and current gear.  They didn’t want to be forced to virtualize and especially not with VMware. They wanted to keep cost down by utilizing bare metal OS installs, avoid licensing costs of the VMware Stack. They wanted a Cloud too. So they were open to Open Stack.

Confused?

The impression they had, was that if they didn’t virtualize, but went with bare metal installs, it would cost less then VMware licensing, using less servers. They wanted a cloud in the non virtualized Datacenter.  And they threw OpenStack in because they heard it was free.

I had to read through multiple times before I could decipher that they really had no idea which was offered by whom, and just wanted the cloud services they heard about, regardless who or where they came from. Which, I can completely understand.  They just didn’t know how to verbalize it.

We were looking upwards of 16K machines to start, brand new, purchased, with no virtualization. with a steady stream of new servers throughout the next few years.

This proved to me, although only a single instance, that there is still a lot of confusion around what a cloud is, and why you want to run your business in one.  I think there is confusion around what to do once you have a cloud, which is why the Tenant Ops team has now joined the Ops party.

So back to my experience with OpenStack.  What sticks out the most, and what has changed my views, was how simplistic it is to achieve cloud.  Here I was, thinking it was so complex, yet I had a cloud within 15-20 min which includes the time to download the latest daily build of the CloudVM from Ubuntu.  Daily build.  Useable, and including the user data automation, so the VM is ready to go right after deployment.  OOTB.

I just went to OpenStack.org. From there DevStack.org.

3 Steps to Cloud:

1 Install Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise) or Fedora 16
2. Download DevStack
3. Start the install

Then you attach to your dashboard and start provisioning VMs.

I had to dig into this deeper, and granted, this is my honeymoon time with OpenStack. Maybe I’ll find the warts at scale, but even that has been radically simplified with tools from PistonCloud for example.  During my time at VMware, one thing I could not understand, was the lack of bare metal provisioning from the MUI, to Virtual Center to vCenter.  I always thought that a mix between vCenter and the Altiris Deployment Console were a match made in heaven.  Throw in the Bladelogic ESX agent, and its provisioning nirvana.

The first was actually accomplished by HP.  I even have it running in my home lab using HP Insight  integration w/ vCenter. And yes, I use the vCenter Appliance exclusively.

Yes there is AutoDeploy, but was initially offered at a higher sku, but lacked  couple things to see broader adoption.  Like integration into the vSphere Client.

Now we have Puppet/Razor, Razor, PistonCloud and a few others who have the journey to the cloud very simple and almost an after thought. A given.  Next up will be answering the question “what do I do now?” Once customers achieve their own cloud.  I know there are folks looking at this already, and I’ve seen how fast a startup can move compared to a larger shop. I think  OpenStack coming into its own over the next year will bring in a new era of the converged software defined hybrid datacenter.

Convergence is another key to simplistic computing at scale.  And by convergence I mean whatever hardware stack you choose, VCE, HP, white box etc, there will be the converged building blocks of compute and storage resources.

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