Week in Review: Move Away from Virtualization Overheard with Bare Metal

Welcome to the RackN and Digital Rebar Weekly Review. You will find the latest news related to Edge, DevOps, SRE and other relevant topics.

Had Enough Virtualization Overheard? Time to Think Bare Metal

Software Defined Infrastructure (SDx) allows operators to manage data centers in a more consistent and controlled way. It allows teams to define their environment as code and use automation to execute that definition in practice. To deliver this capability for physical (aka bare metal) servers, RackN has created a Digital Rebar Provision (DRP) plugin for users of HashiCorp’s Terraform.

More on RackN Terraform Opportunity

Observability into Bare Metal Provisioning with RackN

(Posted 5/15 on Honeycomb.io Blog)

At RackN, a core design principle is that operations should be easy to track and troubleshoot. We work hard to automate provisioning with observable processes because insight into complex interactions within a modern data center is critical for success. So, it’s not helpful if we require complex technologies to understand where issues arise from disconnected processes. RackN and the open source Digital Rebar community require a simple, best in class solution to provide a better way to observe provisioning operations within our system without adding complexity and overhead.

Full Post on Honeycomb.io


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Week in Review : The CTO Advisor talks RackN at InteropITX

Welcome to the RackN and Digital Rebar Weekly Review. You will find the latest news related to Edge, DevOps, SRE and other relevant topics.

Rob Hirschfeld and The CTO Advisor from Interop ITX

During Interop ITX 2018, Keith Townsend had a chance to catch up with RackN CEO Rob Hirschfield to discuss the company. Learn how RackN orchestrates bare metal workloads to provide cloud capability to the data center.


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Immutable Image Deployment from Digital Rebar Mastered Golden Image

Shane Gibson, Sr. Architect and Community Evangelist, RackN created a new Digital Rebar Provision (DRP) video highlighting immutable provisioning from a “golden image” as well as the ability to create that “golden image” from within Digital Rebar Provision.

Highlights:

  • Immutable Image Deployment Solution to 20 Target Bare Metal Machines
  • Creation of a “Golden Image” in Digital Rebar Provision
  • Detailed Overview of the RackN Portal UX to Support this Demo

More information on the Digital Rebar community and Digital Rebar Provision:

DC2020: Is Exposing Bare Metal Practical or Dangerous?

One of IBM’s major announcements at Think 2018 was Managed Kubernetes on Bare Metal. This new offering combines elements of their existing offerings to expose some additional security, attestation and performance isolation. Bare metal has been a hot topic for cloud service providers recently with AWS adding it to their platform and Oracle using it as their primary IaaS. With these offerings as a backdrop, let’s explore the role of bare metal in the 2020 Data Center (DC2020).

Physical servers (aka bare metal) are the core building block for any data center; however, they are often abstracted out of sight by a virtualization layer such as VMware, KVM, HyperV or many others. These platforms are useful for many reasons. In this post, we’re focused on the fact that they provide a control API for infrastructure that makes it possible to manage compute, storage and network requests. Yet the abstraction comes at a price in cost, complexity and performance.

The historical lack of good API control has made bare metal less attractive, but that is changing quickly due to two forces.

These two forces are Container Platforms and Bare Metal as a Service or BMaaS (disclosure: RackN offers a private BMaaS platform called Digital Rebar). Container Platforms such as Kubernetes provide an application service abstraction level for data center consumers that eliminates the need for users to worry about traditional infrastructure concerns.  That means that most users no longer rely on APIs for compute, network or storage allowing the platform to handle those issues. On the other side, BMaaS VM infrastructure level APIs for the actual physical layer of the data center allow users who care about compute, network or storage the ability to work without VMs.  

The combination of containers and bare metal APIs has the potential to squeeze virtualization into a limited role.

The IBM bare metal Kubernetes announcement illustrates both of these forces working together.  Users of the managed Kubernetes service are working through the container abstraction interface and really don’t worry about the infrastructure; however, IBM is able to leverage their internal bare metal APIs to offer enhanced features to those users without changing the service offering.  These benefits include security (IBM White Paper on Security), isolation, performance and (eventually) access to metal features like GPUs. While the IBM offering still includes VMs as an option, it is easy to anticipate that becoming less attractive for all but smaller clusters.

The impact for DC2020 is that operators need to rethink how they rely on virtualization as a ubiquitous abstraction.  As more applications rely on container service abstractions the platforms will grow in size and virtualization will provide less value.  With the advent of better control of the bare metal infrastructure, operators have real options to get deep control without adding virtualization as a requirement.

Shifting to new platforms creates opportunities to streamline operations in DC2020.

Even with virtualization and containers, having better control of the bare metal is a critical addition to data center operations.  The ideal data center has automation and control APIs for every possible component from the metal up.

Learn more about the open source Digital Rebar community:

Week In Review: Immutability in your Data Center with RackN

Welcome to our new format for the RackN and Digital Rebar Weekly Review. It contains the same great information you are accustomed to; however, I have reorganized it to place a new section at the start with my thoughts on various topics. You can still find the latest news items related to Edge, DevOps and other relevant topics below.

Cloud Immutability on Metal in the Data Center

Cloud has enabled a create-destroy infrastructure process that is now seen as common, e.g.  launching and destroying virtual machines and containers. This process is referred to as immutable infrastructure and until now, has not been available to operators within a data center. RackN technology is now actively supporting customers in enabling immutability within a data center on physical infrastructure.

Read More

Physical Infrastructure Automation

Automation is not simply taking manual tasks and replacing them with a machine. Rather, it is a methodology to assemble hardware and software infrastructure in a reliable, repeatable way saving time and effort. Automation also provides IT teams with the capability to rapidly meet new business challenges, learn new technologies, and reduce fire drills rather than spending significant cycles manually pushing buttons.

Read More


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Cloud Immutability on Metal in the Data Center

Cloud has enabled a create-destroy infrastructure process that is now seen as common, e.g.  launching and destroying virtual machines and containers. This process is referred to as immutable infrastructure and until now, has not been available to operators within a data center. RackN technology is now actively supporting customers in enabling immutability within a data center on physical infrastructure.

In this post, I will highlight the problems faced by operators in deploying services at scale and introduce the immutability solution available from RackN. In addition, I have added two videos providing background on this topic and a demonstration showing an image deployment of Linux and Windows on RackN using this methodology.

PROBLEM

Traditional data center operations provision and deploy services to a node before configuring the application. This post-deployment configuration introduces mutability into the infrastructure due to dependency issues such as operating system updates, library changes, and patches. Even worse, these changes make it incredibly difficult to rollback a change to a previous version should the update cause an issue.

Looking at patch management highlights key problems faced by operators. Applying patches across multiple nodes may lead to inconsistent services with various dependency changes impacted not just by the software but also the hardware. The ability to apply these patches require root access to the nodes which leaves a security vulnerability for an unauthorized login.

SOLUTION

Moving the configuration of a service before deployment solves the problems discussed previously by delivering a complete runnable image for execution. However, there is some initialization that is hardware dependent and should only be run once (Cloud-Init) allowing a variety of hardware to be used.

This new approach moves the patching stage earlier in the process allowing operators to ensure a consistent deployment image without the possibility of drift, security issues as no root access is required, as well as simplifying the ability to instantly and quickly move backwards to a previously running image.

IMMUTABILITY OVERVIEW

In this presentation, Rob Hirschfeld makes the case of immutable infrastructure on bare metal within your data center using RackN technology. Rob delivers the complete story highlighted in this blog post.

DEMONSTRATION 

In this demonstration, Rob Hirschfeld and Greg Althaus do a complete immutable image deployment of a Linux server and a Windows server using the RackN Portal in less than 20 minutes.

Get started with RackN today to learn more about how you can change your model to this immutability approach.

  • Join the Digital Rebar Community to learn the basics of the Digital Rebar Provision
  • Create an account on the RackN Portal to simplify DRP installation and management
  • Join the RackN Trial program to obtain access to advanced RackN features

Immutable Infrastructure Delivery on Metal : See RackN at Data Center World

 

 

The RackN team is heading to San Antonio, TX next week for Data Center World, March 12 – 15. Our co-founder/CEO Rob Hirschfeld is giving a talk on immutable infrastructure for bare metal in the data center (see session information below).

We are interested in meeting and talking with fellow technologists. Contact us this week so we can setup times to meet at the event. If you are able to attend Rob’s session be sure to let him know you saw it here on the RackN blog.

RackN Session

March 12 at 2:10pm
Room 206AM
Session IT7
Tracks: Cloud Services, Direct Access

Operate your Data Center like a Public Cloud with Immutable Infrastructure

The pressure on IT departments to deliver services to internal customers is considerably higher today as public cloud vendors are able to operate on a massive scale, forcing CIOs to challenge their own staff to raise the bar in data center operation. Of course, enterprise IT departments don’t have the large staff of an AWS or Azure; however, the fundamental process running those public clouds is now available for consumption in the enterprise. This process is called “immutable infrastructure” and allows servers to be deployed 100% ready to run without any need for remote configuration of access. It’s called immutable because the servers are deployed from images produced by CI/CD process and destroyed after use instead of being reconfigured. It’s a container and cloud pattern that has finally made it to physical. In this talk, we’ll cover the specific process and its advantages over traditional server configuration.