OpenCrowbar: ready to fly as OpenOps neutral platform – Dell stepping back

greg and rob

Two of Crowbar Founders: me with Greg Althaus [taken Jan 2013]

With the Anvil release in the bag, Dell announced on the community list yesterday that it has stopped active contribution on the Crowbar project.  This effectively relaunches Crowbar as a truly vendor-neutral physical infrastructure provisioning tool.

While I cannot speak for my employer, Dell, about Crowbar; I continue serve in my role as a founder of the Crowbar Project.  I agree with Eric S Raymond that founders of open source projects have a responsibility to sustain their community and ensure its longevity.

In the open DevOps bare metal provisioning market, there is nothing that matches the capabilities developed in either Crowbar v1 or OpenCrowbar.  The operations model and system focused approach is truly differentiated because no other open framework has been able to integrate networking, orchestration, discovery, provisioning and configuration management like Crowbar.

It is time for the community to take Crowbar beyond the leadership of a single hardware vendor, OS vendor, workload or CMDB tool.  OpenCrowbar offers operations freedom and flexibility to build upon an abstracted physical infrastructure (what I’ve called “ready state“).

We have the opportunity to make open operations a reality together.

As a Crowbar founder and its acting community leader, you are welcome to contact me directly or through the crowbar list about how to get engaged in the Crowbar community or help get connected to like-minded Crowbar resources.

Greg Althaus at 11/15 Austin Cloud User Group meeting (annotated 90 min audio)

Greg Althaus did a 90 minute Crowbar deep dive at this week’s Austin Cloud User Group.  Brad Knowles recorded audio and posted it so I thought I’d share the link and my annotations.  There are a lot more times to catch up with our team at Dell in Austin, Boston, and Seattle.

Video Annotations –  (##:## time stamp)

  • 00:00 Intros & Meeting Management
  • 12:00 Joseph George Introduction / Sponsorship
  • 16:00 Greg Starts – why Crowbar
  • 19:00 DevOps slides
  • 21:00 What does Crowbar do for DevOps
    • make it easier to manage
    • make it easier to repeat
  • 24:00 What’s included – how we grow / where to start
  • 27:20 Starting to show crowbar – what’s included as barclamps
    • pluggable / configuration
    • Barclamps!
  • 28:10 What is a barclamp
    • discussion about the barclamps in the base
  • 34:30: We <3 Chef. Puppet vs Chef
  • 36:00 Why barclamps are more than cookbooks
  • 36:30 State machine & transitions
  • Q&A Section
    • 38:50 Reference Architectures
    • 43:00 Barclamps work outside of Crowbar?
    • 44:15 Hardware models supported
    • 47:30 Storage Queston
    • 49:00 HA progress
    • 53:00 Ceph as a distributed cloud on all nodes
    • 56:20 Deployer has a map of how to give out roles
  • 58:00 Demo Fails
  • 58:30 Crowbar Architecture
  • 62:00 How Crowbar can be extended
  • 63:00 Workflow & Proposals
  • 65:40 Meta Barclamps
  • 71:10 Chef Environments
  • 73:40 Taking OpenStack releases and Environments
  • 75:00 The case for remove recipes
  • 77:33 Git Hub Tour
  • 79:00 Network Barclamp deep dive
  • 84:00 Adding switch config (roadmap topic)
  • 86:30 Conduits
  • 87:40 Barclamp Extensions / Services
  • 89:00 Questions
    • 89:20 Proposal operations
    • 93:30 OpenStack Readiness & Crowbar Design Approach
    • 93:10 Network Teaming
    • 94:30 Which OS & Hypervisors
    • 96:30 Continuous Integration & Tools
    • 98:40 BDD (“cucumberesque”) & Testing
    • 99:40 Build approach & barclamp construction
  • 100:00 Wrap up by Joseph

Talk with Team Crowbar! Online 11/8, Austin 11/15, Boston 11/29 & 11/29 & Seattle 11/30

My team at Dell has been getting a great response from our community about Crowbar. Thanks! We’re actively working a rock solid OpenStack deployment that will raise the bar on ease of deploy and drive operational excellence.

We have also heard that we need to improve access to the team; consequently, I’m delighted to announce a long list of places and dates where you can access us online AND in person.

Here’s the list:

Or in a calendar view:

Sun Mon Tuesday Wed Thursday Fri Sat
11/8 Online
Crowbar Chat
11/15 Austin
Cloud User
11/29 Boston
OpenStack Meetup
11/30 Seattle
Crowbar Drinks TBD
12/6 Boston
Opscode BoaF
12/8 Austin
OpenStack Meetup

OpenStack: Five Challenges & Conference Observations

I was part of the Dell contingent at the OpenStack design conference earlier in the month.  The conference opened a new chapter for the project because the number of contributing companies reached critical mass.  That means that the core committers are no longer employed by just one or two entities; instead, there are more moneyed interests rubbing elbows and figuring out how to collaborate.

From my perspective (from interview with @Cote ), this changed the tone of the conference from more future looking to pragmatic.

That does not mean that everything is sunshine and rainbows for OpenStack clouds, there are real issues to be resolved.  IMHO, the top issues for OpenStack are:

  1. API implementation vs specification
  2. Building up coverage on continuous integration
  3. Ensuring that we can deploy consistently in multi-node systems
  4. Getting contributions from new members
  5. Figuring out which projects are core, satellite, missing or junk.  [xref 2014 DefCore]

Of these issues, I’ve been reconsidering my position favoring API via Implementation over specification (past position).  This has been a subject of debate on my team at Dell and I like Greg Althaus’ succinct articulation of the problem with implementation driven API: “it is not fair.”  This also ends up being a branding issues for OpenStack because governance needs to figure out which is a “real” OpenStack cloud deployment that can use the brand.  Does it have to be 100% of the source?  What about extensions?  What if it uses the API with an alternate implementation?

Of the other issues, most are related to maturity.  I think #2 needs pressure by and commitment from the larger players (Dell very much included).  Crowbar and the deployment blueprint is our answer #3.  Shouting the “don’t fork it up” chorus from the roof tops addresses contributions while #5 will require some strong governance and inevitably create some hurt feelings.

OpenStack discussion at 5/19 Central Texas Linux Users Group (CTLUG ATX)

image

Greg Althaus (@glathaus) and I will be leading a discussion about OpenStack at the May CTLUG  on 5/19 at 7pm.  The location is Mangia Pizza on Burnet and Duval (In the strip mall where Taco Deli is).

We’ll talk about how OpenStack works, where we see it going, and what Dell is doing to participate in the community.

OpenStack should be very interesting to the CTLUG because of the technologies being used AND way that the community is engaged in helping craft the software.

OpenStack Design Conference Observations (plus IPv6 thread)

I’m not going to post OpenStack full conference summary because I spent more time talking 1 on 1 with partners and customers than participating in sessions.  Other members of the Dell team (@galthaus) did spend more time (I’ll see if he’ll post his notes).

I did lead an IPv6 unconference and those notes are below.

Overall, my observations from the conference are:

  • A constantly level of healthy debate.  For OpenStack to thrive, the community must be able to disagree, discuss and reach consensus.   I saw that going in nearly every session and hallway.  There were some pitched battles with forks and branches but no injuries.
  • Lots of adopters.  For a project that’s months old, there were lots of companies that were making plans to use OpenStack in some way.
  • Everyone was in a rush.  There’s been something of a log jam for decision making because the market is changing so fast companies seem to delay committing waiting for the “next big thing.”
  • Service Providers and implementers were out in force.
  • IPv6 is interesting to a limited audience, but consistently injected.

While IPv6 deserves more coverage here, I thought it would be worthwhile to at least preserve my notes/tweets from the IPv6 unconference discussion (To IP or not to IPv6? That will be the question.) at the OpenStack Design Summit.

NOTE: My tweets for this topic are notes, not my own experience/opinions

  • RT @opnstk_com_mgr #openstack unconference in camino real today < #IPv6 session going now – good size crowd
  • #NTT has IPv6 for VMs and tests for IPv6. If you set the mac, then you will know what the address will be.
  • it will be helpful to break out VMs to multiple networks – could have a VM on both IPv6 & IPv4
  • @zehicle @sjensen1850 (Dell) if IPv6 100% then may break infrastructure products – inside, easier to stay v4
    • you don’t want to paint yourself into a corner – IPv6 should not become your major feature requirement
  • typing IPv6 address not that hard to remember. DNS helps, but not required if you want to get to machines.
  • using IPv6 not hard – issue is the policy to do it. Until it’s forced. We need to find a path for DUAL operation.
  • chicken/egg problem. Our primary job is to make sure it works and is easy to adopt.
    • we are missing information on what options we have for transforms
  • where is the responsibility to do the translation? floating IP scheme needs to be worked out. IPv6 can make this easier.
  • idea, IPv6 should be the default. Fill gap with IPv4 as a Service? Floating needs NAT – v4aaS is LB/Proxy
  • unconference session was great! Good participation and ideas. Lots of opinions.

We had a hallway conversation after the unconference about what would force the switch.  In a character, it’s $.

Votes for IPv6 during the keynote (tweet: I’d like to hear from audience here if that’s important to them. RT to vote).  Retweeters:

Modularizing Crowbar via Barclamps – Dell prepares to open source our #OpenStack installer

My team at Dell is working diligently to release Crowbar (Apache 2) to the community.

  • We have ramped up our team size (Andi Abes was spotted recently posting on the Swift list).
  • We are collaborating with partners like Rackspace, Opscode and Citrix
  • We brought in UI expertise (Jon Roberts) to improve usability and polish.
  • We are making sure that the code is integrated with our Dell OpenStack Solution (DOSS).
  • We are lining up customers for real field trials.

The single most critical aspect of Crowbar involves a recent architectural change by Greg Althaus to make Crowbar much more modular.  He dubbed the modules “barclamps” because they are used to attach new capabilities into the system.  For example, we include barclamps for DNS, discovery, Nova, Swift, Nagios, Gangalia, and BIOS config.  Users select which combination to use based on their deployment objectives.

In the Crowbar architecture, nearly every capability of the system is expressed as a barclamp.  This means that the code base can be expanded and updated modularly.  We feel that this pattern is essential to community involvement.

For example, another hardware vendor can add a barclamp that does the BIOS configuration for their specific equipment (yes! that is our intent).  While many barclamps will be included with the open source release to install open source components, we anticipate that other barclamps will be only available with licensed products or in limited distribution.

A barclamp is like a cloud menu planner: it evaluates the whole environment and proposes configurations, roles, and recipes that fit your infrastructure.  If you like the menu, then it tells Chef to start cooking.

Barclamps complement the “PXE state machine” aspect of Crowbar by providing logic Crowbar evaluates as the servers reach deployment states.  These states are completely configurable via the provisioner barclamp; consequently, Crowbar users can choose to change order of operations.  They can also add barclamps and easily incorporate them into their workflow where needed.

Barclamps take the form of a Rails controller that inherits from the barclamp superclass.  The superclass provides the basic REST verbs that each barclamp must service while the child class implements the logic to create a “proposal” leveraging the wealth of information in Chef.  Proposals are JSON collections that include configuration data needed for the deployment recipes and a mapping of nodes into roles.

Users are able to review and edit proposals (which are versioned) before asking Crowbar to implement the proposal in Chef.  The proposal is implemented by assigning the nodes into the proposed roles and allowing Chef to work it’s magic.

Users can operate barcamps in parallel.  In fact, most of our barclamps are designed to operate in conjunction.

Reminder: It is vital to understand that Crowbar is not a stand-alone utility.  It is coupled to Chef Server for deployment and data storage.  Our objective was to leverage the outstanding capabilities and community support for Chef as much as possible.

We’re excited about this architecture addition to Crowbar and encourage you to think about barclamps that would be helpful to your cloud deployment.