Crowbar lays it all out: RAID & BIOS configs officially open sourced

MediaToday, Dell (my employer) announced a plethora of updates to our open source derived solutions (OpenStack and Hadoop). These solutions include the latest bits (Grizzly and Cloudera) for each project. And there’s another important notice for people tracking the Crowbar project: we’ve opened the remainder of its provisioning capability.

Yes, you can now build the open version of Crowbar and it has the code to configure a bare metal server.

Let me be very specific about this… my team at Dell tests Crowbar on a limited set of hardware configurations. Specifically, Dell server versions R720 + R720XD (using WSMAN and iIDRAC) and C6220 + C8000 (using open tools). Even on those servers, we have a limited RAID and NIC matrix; consequently, we are not positioned to duplicate other field configurations in our lab. So, while we’re excited to work with the community, caveat emptor open source.

Another thing about RAID and BIOS is that it’s REALLY HARD to get right. I know this because our team spends a lot of time testing and tweaking these, now open, parts of Crowbar. I’ve learned that doing hard things creates value; however, it’s also means that contributors to these barclamps need to be prepared to get some silicon under their fingernails.

I’m proud that we’ve reached this critical milestone and I hope that it encourages you to play along.

PS: It’s worth noting is that community activity on Crowbar has really increased. I’m excited to see all the excitement.

Crowbar’s early twins: Cloudera Hadoop & OpenStack Essex

I’m proud to see my team announce the twin arrival of the Dell | Cloudera Apache Hadoop (Manager v4) and Dell OpenStack-Powered Cloud (Essex) solutions.

Not only are we simultaneously releasing both of these solutions, they reflect a significant acceleration in pace of delivery.  Both solutions had beta support for their core technologies (Cloudera 4 & OpenStack Essex) when the components were released and we have dramatically reduced the lag from component RC to solution release compared to past (3.7 & Diablo) milestones.

As before, the core deployment logic of these open source based solutions was developed in the open on Crowbar’s github.  You are invited to download and try these solutions yourself.   For Dell solutions, we include validated reference architectures, hardware configuration extensions for Crowbar, services and support.

The latest versions of Hadoop and OpenStack represent great strides for both solutions.   It’s great to be able have made them more deployable and faster to evaluate and manage.

Crowbar deploying Dell | Cloudera 4 | Apache Hadoop

Hopefully you wrote “Cloudera 3.7″ in pencil on your to-do list because the Dell Crowbar team has moved to CHD4 & Cloudera Enterprise 4.0. This aligns with the Cloudera GA announcement on Tuesday 6/5 and continues our drive keep Crowbar deployments both fresh and spicy.

With the GA drop, the Crowbar Cloudera Barclamps are effectively at release candidate state (ISO). The Cloudera Barclamps include a freemium version of Cloudera Enterprise 4 that supports up to 50 nodes.

I’m excited about this release because it addresses concerns around fault tolerance, multi-tenant and upgrade.

These tools are solving real world problems ranging from data archival, ad hoc analysis and click stream analysis. We’ve invested a lot of Crowbar development effort in making it fast and easy to build a Hadoop cluster. Now, Cloudera makes it even easier to manage and maintain.

Cloudera Manager Barclamp posted! (part of updated Dell | Cloudera Apache Hadoop Solution)

My team at Dell has been driving to transparency and openness around Crowbar plus our OpenStack and Hadoop powered solutions.  Specifically, our work for our coming release is maintained in the open on the Dell CloudEdge Github site.  You can see (and participate in!) our development and validation work in advance of our official release.

I’m pleased to note that our Cloudera Manager barclamp has been posted to Github!

This barclamp supersedes  the Hadoop barclamp in the next release of the Dell | Cloudera Apache Hadoop solution.  You can built it in Crowbar using the “cloudera-os-build”  branch for Crowbar.  Do not fear!  The Hadoop barclamp still exists (hadoop-os-build branch).

Both the new and original Hadoop barclamp use the Cloudera Hadoop distribution (aka CDH); however, the new barclamp is able to leverage Cloudera‘s latest management capabilities.  For the Dell solution, Cloudera Manager has always been part of the offering.  The primary difference is that we are improving the level of integration.  I promise to post more about the features of the solution as we get closer to release.

Analyze This! Big Data | Apache Hadoop | Dell | Cloudera | Crowbar

This article about Target using buying patterns to expose a teen was pregnant before she told her parents puts big data analysis into everyday terms better than the following 555 words (of course, I recommend that you read both).

Recently, I had the pleasure of being one of our team presenting Dell’s BIG DATA story at an internal conference. From the questions and buzz, it’s clear that the big data is big news this year. My team is at the center of that storm because we are responsible for the Dell | Cloudera Apache™ Hadoop™ solution. The solution is significant because we’ve integrated many pieces necessary to build and sustain a Hadoop cluster: that includes Dell servers, the Cloudera Hadoop distribution, the Crowbar framework and Services to make it useful.

Big Data Analytics spins data straws into information gold.

Before I jump into technical details, it’s worth stating the big data analytics value proposition. The problem is that we are awash in a tsunami of data: we’ve grown beyond the neat rows and columns of application databases, data today include source like website click logs and emails to call records and cash register receipts to including social media tweets and posts. While much of the data is unstructured noise, there is also incredibility valuable information.  (video of my Hadoop “escalator pitch”)

Value is not just hidden inside the bulk data; it lies in correlations between sets of the data.

The big data analytics value proposition is to provide a system to hold a lot of loosely structured information (thus “big data”) and then sift and correlate the information (thus “analytics”). The result is a technology that helps us make data driven decisions. In many applications, the analysis is fed directly back into applications so they can alter behavior in near real-time. For example, an online retail store could offer you purple bunny slippers as you browse for crowbars in the hardware section knowing that you’re reading this post. That is the type of correlations on disparate data that I’m talking about.

This is really two problems: storing a lot of data and then computing over it.

Hadoop, the leading open source big data analytics project, is a suite of applications that implement and extend two core capabilities: a distributed file system (HDFS) and the map-reduce (M-R) algorithm. My point is not to define Hadoop (others have done better and here); instead, I want to highlight that it’s a combination big data analysis is a merger of storage and compute. When learning about any big data analysis solution, you cannot decouple how the data is stored from how the data is analyzed – storage and compute are fundamentally linked.

For that reason, the architecture of a Hadoop cluster is different than either a traditional database or compute cluster. The IO and the resiliency patterns are different. Since Hadoop is a distributed system, hardware redundancy is less important and eliminating IO bottlenecks is paramount. For this reason, our Hadoop clusters use a lot of local, non-RAID drives with a target of delivering a 1:1 CPU core to spindle ratio (ratios are tuned based on planned loads).

Imagine that you are looking for correlations in web click data. To do that analysis, Hadoop need to spend a lot of time cracking open log files, sifting for specific data and then reporting back its results. That process involves thousands of jobs each doing disk IO, CPU & RAM workload and then network transfer; consequently, contention between network and disk demands reduces performance.

Wow… that’s a lot of description and just scratching the surface of Big Data Analytics. I’ll going to have to add the technical details about the Dell solution architecture (Hardware) and software components (Cloudera & Crowbar) in another post.

Hadoop Crowbar released to open source! (plus AN HOUR of videos!)

I’m proud to announce that my team at Dell has open sourced our Apache Hadoop barclamps!  This release follows our Dell | Cloudera Hadoop Solution open source commitment from Hadoop World earlier this month.

As part of this release, we’ve created nearly AN HOUR of video content showing the Hadoop Barclamps in action, installing Crowbar (on CentOS), building Crowbar ISOs in the cloud and specialized developer focused builds.

If you want to talk to the Crowbar team.  We’re attending events in Boston 11/29, Seattle 11/30, and Austin 12/8.

Here are links to the videos:

More Hadoop perspectives from Dell:  Joseph George on what it means and  Barton George‘s backgrounder about barclamps.

Dell is open sourcing Crowbar Apache Hadoop barclamps!

I’m very excited to announce that my team at Dell will be open sourcing our Apache Hadoop Crowbar barclamps by the end of the month.

This release raises the bar on open Hadoop deployments by making them faster, scalable, more integrated and repeatable.

These barclamps were developed in conjunction with our licensed Dell | Cloudera Solution. The licensed solution is for customers seeking large scale and professionally supported big data solutions. The purpose of the open barclamps (which pull the open source parts from the Cloudera distro) is to help you get started with Hadoop and reduce your learning curve. Our team invested significant testing effort in ensuring that these barclamps work smoothly because they are the foundational layer of our for-pay Hadoop solution.

Included in the Hadoop barclamp suite are Hadoop Map Reduce, Hive, Pig, ZooKeeper and Sqoop running on RHEL 5.7. These barclamps cover the core parts of the Hadoop suite. Like other Crowbar deployments (see OpenStack), the barclamps automatically discover the service configurations and interoperate. One of our team members (call him Scott Jensen) said it very simply “I can deploy a fully an integrated Hadoop cluster in a few hours. That friggin’ rocks!” I just can’t put it more eloquently than that!

I’ll post again when we flip the “open” bit and invite our community to dig in and help us continue to set the standards on open Hadoop deployments.

For more perspectives on this release, check out posts by Barton George (just for devs), Joseph George (About Hadoop) and Aurelian Dumitru

Barton posted these two videos of me talking about the release too:

Hadoop & Crowbar:

Dev’s Only Short:

Big Questions? Big Answers with Dell BigData solution (plus Crowbar gets RHEL)

In my enthusiasm for all things Dell + OpenStack, I have neglected to talk about my team’s interesting Big Data work with Apache Hadoop.  Hadoop is a suite of open source projects for analyzing large data sets of unstructured data.  Initially, Hadoop centered around use of the map-reduce algorithm; however, it’s grown way beyond that as the community has worked to solve problems related to data storage, discovery, and scheduling.

Big Data clouds are well suited to my team because the model (non-redundant/cloud) and scale (hyper) of their deployments.  It should be no surprise that builders of analysis clouds have the same goals (maximizing operational ROI per compute unit) as builders of other types of clouds.

Our Hadoop solution relies on the same core principles (CloudOps) and technologies (Crowbar) as our OpenStack solution.  Like our other cloud solutions, we are working closely with a proven leader: Cloudera.  Now that we’ve formally announced our solution and partnership, I can talk a about what we’re doing on the Big Data front.

One extra thing that I’m proud to announce, we’ll be adding Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) support to Crowbar to support our Hadoop solution.  This support is not just at the node level: we are making Crowbar admin run on either platform too!  This is significant for two reasons:

  1. It expands the number of platforms and support options for Crowbar users
  2. It provides the framework to support more varieties of node operating environment (e.g.: XenServer, BSD, DRDOS, etc)

For more information, check out: