Crowbar community support and 111111 sprint plan

The Dell Crowbar team is working to improve road map transparency. In the last few weeks, the Crowbar community has become more active on our lists, testing builds, and helping with documentation.

We love the engagement and continue to make supporting the list a priority.

Participation in Crowbar, OpenStack and Hadoop has been exceeding our expectations and we’re working to implement more community support and process. Thank you!!!

Our next steps:

  1. I’ve committed to post sprint plans and summary pages (this is the first)
  2. New Crowbar Twitter account
  3. I’m going to setup feature voting on the Crowbar Facebook page (like to vote)
  4. Continue to work the listserv and videos. We need help converting those to documentation on the crowbar wiki.
  5. Formalize collaborator agreements – we’re working with legal on this
  6. Exploring the option of a barclamp certification program and Crowbar support
  7. Moving to a gated trunk model for internal commits to improve quality
  8. Implementing a continuous integration system that includes core and barclamps. This will be part of our open source components.

We are working towards the 1.2 release (Beta 1) . That release is focused on supporting OpenStack but includes enhancements for upgrades, Hadoop, and additional OS support.

Our Sprint 111111 plan.

Source: Crowbar Wiki: [[sprint 111111]]

  • Theme: OpenStack Diablo Final release candidate.
  • Core Work: Refine Deployment for Nova, Glance, Nova Dashboard (horizon), keystone, swift
  • New additions: mySQL barclamp, Nova HA networking, kong
  • Crowbar internals: expose error states for proposals, allow packages to be included with barclamps to make upgrades easier, barclamp group pages
  • Operating system: added CentOS
  • Documentation: we’ve split the user guides into distinct books so Crowbar, OpenStack, and Hadoop each have their own user guide.
  • Pending action: expose the Hadoop barclamps
  • OS note: OpenStack is being tested (at Dell) against Ubuntu 10.10 only. Hadoop was tested against RHEL 5.7 and we expect it to work against CentOS also.

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:

Dell Crowbar Project: Open Source Cloud Deployer expands into the Community

Note: Cross posted on Dell Tech Center Blogs.

Background: Crowbar is an open source cloud deployment framework originally developed by Dell to support our OpenStack and Hadoop powered solutions.  Recently, it’s scope has increased to include a DevOps operations model and other deployments for additional cloud applications.

It’s only been a matter of months since we open sourced the Dell Crowbar Project at OSCON in June 2011; however, the progress and response to the project has been over whelming.  Crowbar is transforming into a community tool that is hardware, operating system, and application agnostic.  With that in mind, it’s time for me to provide a recap of Crowbar for those just learning about the project.

Crowbar started out simply as an installer for the “Dell OpenStack™-Powered Cloud Solution” with the objective of deploying a cloud from unboxed servers to a completely functioning system in under four hours.  That meant doing all the BIOS, RAID, Operations services (DNS, NTP, DHCP, etc.), networking, O/S installs and system configuration required creating a complete cloud infrastructure.  It was a big job, but one that we’d been piecing together on earlier cloud installation projects.  A key part of the project involved collaborating with Opscode Chef Server on the many system configuration tasks.  Ultimately, we met and exceeded the target with a complete OpenStack install in less than two hours.

In the process of delivering Crowbar as an installer, we realized that Chef, and tools like it, were part of a larger cloud movement known as DevOps.

The DevOps approach to deployment builds up systems in a layered model rather than using packaged images.  This layered model means that parts of the system are relatively independent and highly flexible.  Users can choose which components of the system they want to deploy and where to place those components.  For example, Crowbar deploys Nagios by default, but users can disable that component in favor of their own monitoring system.  It also allows for new components to identify that Nagios is available and automatically register themselves as clients and setup application specific profiles.  In this way, Crowbar’s use of a DevOps layered deployment model provides flexibility for BOTH modularized and integrated cloud deployments.

We believe that operations that embrace layered deployments are essential for success because they allow our customers to respond to the accelerating pace of change.  We call this model for cloud data centers “CloudOps.”

Based on the flexibility of Crowbar, our team decided to use it as the deployment model for our Apache™ Hadoop™ project (“Dell | Apache Hadoop Solution”).  While a good fit, adding Hadoop required expanding Crowbar in several critical ways.

  1. We had to make major changes in our installation and build processes to accommodate multi-operating system support (RHEL 5.6 and Ubuntu 10.10 as of Oct 2011).
  2. We introduced a modularization concept that we call “barclamps” that package individual layers of the deployment infrastructure.  These barclamps reach from the lowest system levels (IPMI, BIOS, and RAID) to the highest (OpenStack and Hadoop).

Barclamps are a very significant architecture pattern for Crowbar:

  1. They allow other applications to plug into the framework and leverage other barclamps in the solution.  For example, VMware created a Cloud Foundry barclamp and Dream Host has created a Ceph barclamp.  Both barclamps are examples of applications that can leverage Crowbar for a repeatable and predictable cloud deployment.
  2. They are independent modules with their own life cycle.  Each one has its own code repository and can be imported into a live system after initial deployment.  This allows customers to expand and manage their system after initial deployment.
  3. They have many components such as Chef Cookbooks, custom UI for configuration, dependency graphs, and even localization support.
  4. They offer services that other barclamps can consume.  The Network barclamp delivers many essential services for bootstrapping clouds including IP allocation, NIC teaming, and node VLAN configuration.
  5. They can provide extensible logic to evaluate a system and make deployment recommendations.  So far, no barclamps have implemented more than the most basic proposals; however, they have the potential for much richer analysis.

Making these changes was a substantial investment by Dell, but it greatly expands the community’s ability to participate in Crowbar development.  We believe these changes were essential to our team’s core values of open and collaborative development.

Most recently, our team moved Crowbar development into the open.  This change was reflected in our work on OpenStack Diablo (+ Keystone and Dashboard) with contributions by Opscode and Rackspace Cloud Builders.  Rather than work internally and push updates at milestones, we are now coding directly from the Crowbar repositories on Github.  It is important to note that for licensing reasons, Dell has not open sourced the optional BIOS and RAID barclamps.  This level of openness better positions us to collaborate with the crowbar community.

For a young project, we’re very proud of the progress that we’ve made with Crowbar.  We are starting a new chapter that brings new challenges such as expanding community involvement, roadmap transparency, and growing Dell support capabilities.  You will also begin to see optional barclamps that interact with proprietary and licensed hardware and software.  All of these changes are part of growing Crowbar in framework that can support a vibrant and rich ecosystem.

We are doing everything we can to make it easy to become part of the Crowbar community.  Please join our mailing list, download the open source code or ISO, create a barclamp, and make your voice heard.  Since Dell is funding the core development on this project, contacting your Dell salesperson and telling them how much you appreciate our efforts goes a long way too.

Crowbar modularized: latest changes that make clouds even easier to create, update, and maintain

In the last week, my team at Dell completed a major refactoring of Crowbar that significantly improves our ability to bring in community contributions and field customizations.  Today, we merged it into Crowbar’s public repo(s).

From the very first versions, our objective for Crowbar was to create the fastest and most reliable cloud deployments. Along the way, we realized Crowbar’s true potential lay in embracing DevOps as an operational model for maintaining clouds. That meant building up cloud deployments in layers from pieces that we call barclamps (extensions of Chef cookbooks). Our first version, centered on OpenStack Cactus, leveraged barclamps but was still created as a single system. This unified system was a huge step forward in cloud deployments, but did not live up to our CloudOps vision of continuous delivery.

In this version, each Crowbar barclamp is an independent delivery unit that can be integrated before, while or after installing Crowbar.

The core of the change is each barclamp, including the most core ones, are stored in independent code repositories. Putting the code into distinct repos means that each barclamp can have its own life cycle, its own maintainer site and its own dependency tree. This modularization allows customers to manage their Crowbar deployments with a very fine brush: they may choose to customize parts of the system, they could lock components to specific tag and they can bring in barclamps from other vendors.

While the core barclamps are automatically integrated into the Crowbar build using git submodules; other barclamps are installed into the system as needed. This allows you to pull in the suite of OpenStack barclamps at build time or to wait until your Crowbar system is running before installing. Once you install a barclamp, you are able to retrieve an updated barclamp and reapply it to the system.

This feature gives you the ability to 1) choose exactly what you want to include and 2) perform field updates to a live Crowbar system.

Let’s look at some examples:

  1. The Cloud Foundry barclamp can be sourced Cloud Foundry instead of bundled into the Crowbar repository. This allows the team working on the cloud application to take ownership for their own deployment. As a continuous delivery proponent, I believe strongly that the development team should be responsible for ensuring that their code is deployable (refer to my OpenStack “Deployer API” blue print attempting to codify this).
  2. DreamHost, maintainers of Ceph Storage, can maintain their own local barclamp repos for OpenStack that are cloned from our community Swift barclamp. This allows them to innovate and customize OpenStack deployments for their business and choose which updates to merge back to the community.
  3. Rackspace Cloud Builders can work on the most leading edge OpenStack features and maintaining workable deployments on branches. As the code stabilizes, they simply merge in their changes.
  4. Dell BIOS and RAID barclamps only support the PowerEdge C line today. When we offer PowerEdge R support, you will be able to install or update the barclamps to add that capability. If another hardware vendor creates a barclamp for their hardware then you can install that into your existing system.

I believe that these changes to Crowbar are a huge step forwards on our journey of creating a community supportable Open Operations framework. I hope that you are as excited as I am about these changes.

I encourage you to take the first step by trying out Crowbar and, ultimately, writing your own barclamps.

Post Scripts:

  • In addition to the modularization, the updated code includes RHEL as a deployment platform. At present, you must choose to be either RHEL or Ubuntu at build time.
  • We have enhanced the network barclamp to describe connections as more abstract connections, called conduits, between nodes. This is a powerful change, but requires some understanding before you start making changes.
  • We have only begun testing the change as of 9/12, we expect the system to be fully stabilized by 10/3. If you are not willing to deal with bugs then I recommend building the Crowbar “v1.0” tag (or using the ISOs from our July launch).

Cloudcast interview with Dell Cloud Solutions Team (quotes with time stamps)

Lloyds BarbershopTheCloudcast.net – Thank you for such a great series of questions. Wow, nearly 36+ minutes of cloudicious interview about the work my team at Dell is doing!

Thanks to our hosts for putting together a great series! They are:

Highlights from Episode 16: Dell, Dude you’re getting a cloud

  • 3:40 JBG “we are listening to our customers tell us what they want to accomplish”
  • 4:40 RAH “humility is part of [what we’re] doing … cloud is about learning and collaboration”
  • 6:40 RAH “OpenStack filled a niche. It was the first open source community cloud. … Not just open source, its open community.”
  • 7:15 RAH “We’re beyond critical mass. We’re seeing acceleration… we are transitioning into a community development.”
  • 7:30 RAH “It’s accelerating. It happening so fast.”
  • 8:00 RAH “We felt it was really important for people to be able to use it. We felt that it was important to get away from just people developing into people using. “
  • 8:57 – RAH “Cloud is not just one thing. You have to have all the pieces.”
  • 10: 15 – RAH “Cloud is always ready, never finished”
  • 10:50 – RAH “OpenStack is an alternative to public cloud including hosting providers seeking to offer their own cloud”
  • 12:40 – AD “Dell has been in the Big data space for many years now”
  • 20:15 – JBG “There’s a legacy of great partnerships that we leverage”
  • 20:48 – JBG “Conflicts have not come up because we are focused on the customer”
  • 21:30 – RAH “Shout out to Greg Althaus for solving these problems in such an elegant way. And we rewrote it 3 times”
  • 22:02 – RAH “Crowbar started from our frustration of bringing up a cloud quickly … so we took a DevOps approach.”
  • 22:41 – RAH “You had to have a system view AND a boot strapping view simultaneously”
  • 23:50 – JBG “Crowbar was born out of necessity because we were setting up and blowing away our clouds over and over and over again. “
  • 24:40 – JBG “We realized there were not many people thinking about all the pieces before OpenStack was installed”
  • 25:20 – RAH “We don’t think customers have all the answers before we show up. This is not unique to OpenStack.”
  • 28:20 – JBG “We’re seeing the community pick up Crowbar as a way to deploy”

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:

Crowbar source released, includes OpenStack Cloud install

I’m delighted to announce (official version) that my team at Dell has opened the Crowbar source under the Apache 2 license. This action is part of the broader Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution which includes OpenStack install packages, Crowbar, reference hardware architectures, and services/consulting to support deployments.

There are two important components to this news:

  1. Dell is officially offering our OpenStack Solution and helping advance the community’s ability to implement OpenStack quickly and consistently.
  2. Dell is releasing the Crowbar code (which is included in the solution) as open source.

Both are significant items; however, my focus here is on the Crowbar release.

Crowbar started as a Dell OpenStack installer project and then grew beyond that in scope.  Now it can be extended to work with other vendors’ kits and other solutions bits.

We are contributing Crowbar to the community because we believe that everyone benefits by sharing in the operational practices that Crowbar embodies. These are rooted in Opscsode Chef (which Crowbar tightly integrates with) and the cloud & hyper-scale proven DevOps practices that are reflected in our deployment model.

Where to get it?

What’s included?

  • A comprehensive set of barclamps to set up an OpenStack cloud.
  • Crowbar UI and Remote APIs to make it easy to set up your cloud
  • Automated testing scripts for community members doing continuous integration with OpenStack.
  • Build scripts so you can create your own Crowbar install ISO
  • Switch discovery so you can create Chef Cookbooks that are network aware.
  • Open source Chef server that powers much of Crowar’s functionality

What’s not included?

  • Non-open source license components (BIOS+RAID config) that we could not distribute under the Apache 2 license.  We are working to address this and include them in our release.  They are available in the Dell Licensed version of Crowbar.
  • Dell Branded Components (skin + overview page).   Crowbar has an OpenSource skin with identical functionality.
  • Pre-built ISOs with install images (you must download the open source components yourself, we cannot redistribute them to you as a package)

Important notes:

  • Crowbar uses Chef Server as its database and relies on cookbooks for node deployments.  It is installed (using Chef Solo) automatically as part of the Crowbar install.
  • Crowbar has a modular architecture so individual components can be removed, extended, and added. These components are known individually as barclamps.
  • Each barclamp has its own Chef configuration, UI sub-component, deployment configuration, and documentation.

On the project roadmap:

  • Hadoop support
  • Additional operating system support (specifically RHEL)
  • Barclamp version repository
  • Network configuration
  • We’d like suggestions!  Please comment!

Sites for more information: Joseph George, Barton George (launch day), Dell

Are Clouds using Dark Cycles?

Or “Darth Vader vs Godzilla”

Way way back in January, I’d heard loud and clear that companies where not expecting to mix cloud computing loads.  I was treated like a three-eyed Japanese tree slug for suggesting that we could mixing HPC and Analytics loads with business applications in the same clouds.  The consensus was that companies would stand up independent clouds for each workload.  The analysis work was too important to interrupt and the business applications too critical to risk.

It has always rankled me that all those unused compute cycles (“the dark cycles”) could be put to good use.  It’s appeals to my eco-geek side to make best possible use of all those idle servers.   Dave McCrory and I even wrote some cloud patents around this.

However, I succumbed to the scorn and accepted the separation.

Now all of a sudden, this idea seems to be playing Godzilla to a Tokyo shaped cloud data center.  I see several forces merging together to resurrect mixing workloads.

  1. Hadoop (and other map-reduce Analytics) are becoming required business tools
  2. Public clouds are making it possible to quickly (if not cheaply) setup analytic clouds
  3. Governance of virtualization is getting better
  4. Companies want to save some $$$

This trend will only continue as Moore’s Law improves the compute density for hardware.  Since our designs are leading towards scale out designs that distribute applications over multiple nodes; it is not practical to expect an application to consume all the power of a single computer.

That leaves a lot of lonely dark cycles looking for work.

Now all of a sudden, this idea seems to be playing Godzilla to a Tokyo shaped cloud data center.  I see several forces merging together to resurrect mixing workloads.

  1. Hadoop (and other map-reduce Analytics) are becoming required business tools
  2. Public clouds are making it possible to quickly (if not cheaply) setup analytic clouds
  3. Governance of virtualization is getting better
  4. Companies want to save some $$$

This trend will only continue as Moore’s Law improves the compute density for hardware.  Since our designs are leading towards scale out designs that distribute applications over multiple nodes; it is not practical to expect an application to consume all the power of a single computer.

That leaves a lot of lonely dark cycles looking for work.