double Block Head with OpenStack+Equallogic & Crowbar+Ceph

Block Head

Whew….Yesterday, Dell announced TWO OpenStack block storage capabilities (Equallogic & Ceph) for our OpenStack Essex Solution (I’m on the Dell OpenStack/Crowbar team) and community edition.  The addition of block storage effectively fills the “persistent storage” gap in the solution.  I’m quadrupally excited because we now have:

  1. both open source (Ceph) and enterprise (Equallogic) choices
  2. both Nova drivers’ code is in the open at part of our open source Crowbar work

Frankly, I’ve been having trouble sitting on the news until Dell World because both features have been available in Github before the announcement (EQLX and Ceph-Barclamp).  Such is the emerging intersection of corporate marketing and open source.

As you may expect, we are delivering them through Crowbar; however, we’ve already had customers pickup the EQLX code and apply it without Crowbar.

The Equallogic+Nova Connector

block-eqlx

If you are using Crowbar 1.5 (Essex 2) then you already have the code!  Of course, you still need to have the admin information for your SAN – we did not automate the configuration of the storage system, but the Nova Volume integration.

We have it under a split test so you need to do the following to enable the configuration options:

  1. Install OpenStack as normal
  2. Create the Nova proposal
  3. Enter “Raw” Attribute Mode
  4. Change the “volume_type” to “eqlx”
  5. Save
  6. The Equallogic options should be available in the custom attribute editor!  (of course, you can edit in raw mode too)

Want Docs?  Got them!  Check out these > EQLX Driver Install Addendum

Usage note: the integration uses SSH sessions.  It has been performance tested but not been tested at scale.

The Ceph+Nova Connector

block-ceph

The Ceph capability includes a Ceph barclamp!  That means that all the work to setup and configure Ceph is done automatically done by Crowbar.  Even better, their Nova barclamp (Ceph provides it from their site) will automatically find the Ceph proposal and link the components together!

Ceph has provided excellent directions and videos to support this install.

Interview Transcript about OpenStack, Foundation, Dell & Crowbar

Rafael Knuth, Dell Rafael Knuth (@RafaelKnuth with Dell as EMEA Social Media Community Manager) has set an ambitious objective to interview all 24 of the OpenStack Foundation Board members.  I have the privilege of being the first interview posted (Japanese version!).   Here’s the whole series.

This is not puff interview – We spent an hour together and Rafael did not shy away from asking hard questions like “Why did Dell jump into OpenStack?” and “is VMware a threat to OpenStack?”  Rather than posting the whole transcript (it’s posted here), I’m including the questions (as a teaser) below.   There is some real meat in these answers about OpenStack, Dell, Crowbar and challenges facing the project.

WARNING: My job is engineering, not marketing.  You may find my answers (which are MY OWN ANSWERS) to be more direct that you are expecting.  If you find yourself needing additional circumlocution then simply close your browser and move on.

Some highlights…

Dell’s interest in OpenStack has been very pragmatic. OpenStack is something we really see a market need for.

Rackspace …  runs on OpenStack pretty much off trunk …  That’s exactly the type of vibrant community we want to see.  At the same time, there is a growing community that wants to use OpenStack distributions with support, certifications and they are fine with being 6 months behind OpenStack off trunk. That’s good, and we want that shadow, we want that combination of pure minded early adopters and less sophisticated OpenStack users both working together.

We are working with different partners to bring OpenStack to different customers in different ways. It is confusing. Your question about Dell Crowbar was right … it is targeted at a certain class of users, and I don’t want enterprise customers who expect a lot of shiny chrome and zero touch. That’s not the target by now for Dell Crowbar. We definitely need that sort of magic decoder page to help customers understand our commercial offering.

Questions from Interview:

  1. Dell is one of the very early contributors to OpenStack. Why is Dell engaging in this project?
  2. How does Dell contribute to OpenStack?
  3. Let’s talk a bit about Dell Crowbar, your team’s deployment mechanism for OpenStack.
  4. Let’s talk a bit about OpenStack raw vs. OpenStack distributions.
  5. What are the biggest barriers to OpenStack adoption as of now?
  6. What does a customer specifically need to do when moving from OpenStack Essex to Folsom for example?
  7. My next question is around proof of concept versus production, Rob. How are customers using OpenStack and can you give examples for both scenarios?
  8. I hear very often two different statements: “Open Stack is an alternative to Amazon.” The other is: “OpenStack is an alternative to VMware … maybe, hopefully in two or three years from now.”  Which of both statements is true?
  9. How do you view VMware joining OpenStack. Is it a threat to OpenStack or does VMware add value to the project?
  10. Let us speak about market adoption. Who are the early adopters of OpenStack? And when do you expect OpenStack to hit the tipping point for mass market adoption?
  11. Rob, for all those interested in Dell’s commercial offering around OpenStack … can you give a brief overview?
  12. Dell TechCenter that provides customers an overview over our OpenStack offering: Dell Crowbar as our DevOps tool in its various shapes and forms, OpenStack distros we support … cloud services we build around OpenStack … hardware capabilities optimized for OpenStack.
  13. What are the challenges for the OpenStack Board of Directors?

Crowbar releases for OpenStack Essex and Folsom

On the eve of the OpenStack design summit, it’s worth noting that the Crowbar team at Dell cut our final Essex release (aka Betty) last week. We’ve also committed the initial Folsom deployment scripts to the 1x development trunk under “feature/folsom” if you are doing Crowbar builds from DevTool (see bit.ly/crowbardevtool).

If you don’t want to build it, I’ve cut ISOs from the open source bits and posted them to http://crowbar.zehicle.com.

Andi Abes is presenting about the new Pull From Source (pfs) feature at the Summit on Monday. There’s a feature branch for that too and I’m going to check with him and try to post and ISO for that too.

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OpenStack Summit: Let’s talk DevOps, Fog, Upgrades, Crowbar & Dell

If you are coming to the OpenStack summit in San Diego next week then please find me at the show! I want to hear from you about the Foundation, community, OpenStack deployments, Crowbar and anything else.  Oh, and I just ordered a handful of Crowbar stickers if you wanted some CB bling.

Matt Ray (Opscode), Jason Cannavale (Rackspace) and I were Ops track co-chairs. If you have suggestions, we want to hear. We managed to get great speakers and also some interesting sessions like DevOps panel and up streaming deploy working sessions. It’s only on Monday and Tuesday, so don’t snooze or you’ll miss it.

My team from Dell has a lot going on, so there are lots of chances to connect with us:

At the Dell booth, Randy Perryman will be sharing field experience about hardware choices. We’ve got a lot of OpenStack battle experience and we want to compare notes with you.

I’m on the board meeting on Monday so likely occupied until the Mirantis party.

See you in San Diego!

PS: My team is hiring for Dev, QA and Marketing. Let me know if you want details.

Big Data to tame Big Government? The answer is the Question.

Today my boss at Dell, John Igoe, is part of announcing of the report from the TechAmerica Federal Big Data Commission (direct pdf), I was fully expecting the report to be a real snoozer brimming with corporate synergies and win-win externalities. Instead, I found myself reading a practical guide to applying Big Data to government. Flipping past the short obligatory “what is…” section, the report drives right into a survey of practical applications for big data spanning nearly every governmental service. Over half of the report is dedicated to case studies with specific recommendations and buying criteria.

Ultimately, the report calls for agencies to treat data as an asset. An asset that can improve how government operates.

There are a few items that stand out in this report:

  1. Need for standards on privacy and governance. The report calls out a review and standardization of cross agency privacy policy (pg 35) and a Chief Data Officer position each agency (pg 37).
  2. Clear tables of case studies on page 16 and characteristics on page 11 that help pin point a path through the options.
  3. Definitive advice to focus on a single data vector (velocity, volume or variety) for initial success on page 28 (and elsewhere)

I strongly agree with one repeated point in the report: although there is more data available, our ability to comprehend this data is reduced. The sheer volume of examples the report cites is proof enough that agencies are, and will be continue to be, inundated with data.

One short coming of this report is that it does not flag the extreme storage of data scientists. Many of the cases discussed assume a ready army of engineers to implement these solutions; however, I’m uncertain how the government will fill positions in a very tight labor market. Ultimately, I think we will have to simply open the data for citizen & non-governmental analysis because, as the report clearly states, data is growing faster than capability to use it.

I commend the TechAmerica commission for their Big Data clarity: success comes from starting with a narrow scope. So the answer, ironically, is in knowing which questions we want to ask.

Do Be Dense! Dell C8000 unit merges best of bladed and rackable servers

“Double wide” is not a term I’ve commonly applied to servers, but that’s one of the cool things about this new class of servers that Dell, my employer, started shipping today.

My team has been itching for the chance to start cloud and big data reference architectures using this super dense and flexible chassis. You’ll see it included in our next Apache Hadoop release and we’ve already got customers who are making it the foundation of their deployments (Texas Adv Computing Center case study).

If you’re tracking the latest big data & cloud hardware then the Dell PowerEdge C8000 is worth some investigation.

Basically, the Dell C8000 is a chassis that holds a flexible configuration of compute or storage sleds. It’s not a blade frame because the sleds minimize shared infrastructure. In our experience, cloud customers like the dedicated i/o and independence of sleds (as per the Bootstrapping clouds white paper). Those attributes are especially well suited for Hadoop and OpenStack because they support a “flat edges” and scale out design. While i/o independence is valued, we also want shared power infrastructure and density for efficiency reasons. Using a chassis design seems to capture the best of both worlds.

The novelty for the Dell PowerEdge C8000 is that the chassis are scary flexible. You are not locked into a pre-loaded server mix.

There are a plethora of sled choices so that you can mix choices for power, compute density and spindle counts. That includes double-wide sleds positively brimming with drives and expanded GPU processers. Drive density is important for big data configurations that are disk i/o hungry; however, our experience is the customer deployments are highly varied based on the planned workload. There are also significant big data trends towards compute, network, and balanced hardware configurations. Using the C8000 as a foundation is powerful because it can cater to all of these use-case mixes.

That reminds me! Mike Pittaro (our team’s Hadoop lead architect) did an excellent Deploy Hadoop using Crowbar video.

Interested in more opinions about the C8000? Check out Barton George & David Meyer.

I am seeking your vote(s) for the OpenStack Board

If registered, you have 8 votes to allocate as you wish.  You will get a link via email – you must use that link.

Joseph B George and I are cross-blogging this post because we are jointly seeking your vote(s) for individual member seats on the OpenStack Foundation board.  This is key point in the OpenStack journey and we strongly encourage eligible voters to participate no matter who you vote for!  As we have said before, success of the Foundation governance process matters just as much as the code because it ensures equal access and limits forking.

We think that OpenStack succeeds because it is collaboratively developed.  It is essential that we select board members who have a proven record of community development, a willingness to partner and have demonstrated investment in the project.

Our OpenStack vision favors production operations by being operator, user and ecosystem focused.  If elected, we will represent these interests by helping advance deployability, API specifications, open operations and both large and small scale cloud deployments.

Of the nominees, we best represent OpenStack users and operators (as opposed to developers).  We have the most diverse experience in real-world OpenStack deployments because our solution has been deployed broadly (both as Dell and through Crowbar.  We have a proven record of collaborating broadly with contributors, demonstrated skills at building the OpenStack community and doing real open source work to ensure that OpenStack is the most deployable cloud platform anywhere.

Let’s get specific about our leadership in the OpenStack project and community:

  • We have been active and vocal leaders in the OpenStack community
    • our team has established two very active user groups (Austin & Boston)
    • we have lead multiple world-wide deploy day events (March 2012  &  May 2012).
    • we have substantial experience in the field and know the challenges of running OpenStack for a wide variety of real-world deployments
    • our first solution came out on Cactus!  We’ve been delivering on Essex since OSCON 2012 (http://www.oscon.com/ ).
  • We represent a broad range of deployment scenarios ranging from hosting, government, healthcare, retail, education, media, financial and more!
  • We have broad engagements and partnerships at the infrastructure (SUSE, Canonical, Redhat), consulting (Canonical, Mirantis) and ecosystem layers (enStratus) and beyond!
  • We have a proven track record of collaboration instead of forking/disrupting – a critical skill for this project reflected by our consistent actions to preserve the integrity of the project.
  • We have led the “make OpenStack deployable” campaign with substantial investments (open source Crowbar, white papers, documentation & cookbooks.
  • We have very long and consistent history with the project starting even before the first OpenStack summit in Austin.

Of course, we’re asking for you to consider for both of us; however, if you want to focus on just one then here’s the balance between us.  Rob (bio) is a technologist with deep roots in cloud technology, data center operations and open source.  Joseph is a business professional with experience new product introduction and enterprise delivery.

Not sure if you can vote?  If you registered as an individual member then your name should be on the voting list.  In that case, you can vote between 8/20 and 8/24.