Tag Archives: cloudforms

Scalable Infrastructure

In a previous post I outlined the common problems organizations face across both their traditional IT environments (sometimes called mode-1) and new emerging IT environments (sometimes called mode-2). These included:

  • Accelerating the delivery of services in traditional IT Environments to satisfy customer demands
  • Optimizing traditional IT environments to increase efficiency
  • Creating new development and operations practices for Emerging IT environment to  innovate faster
  • Delivering public-cloud like infrastructure that is scalable and programmable

I’d like to show you a quick demonstration of how Red Hat is delivering scalable infrastructure with the capabilities that enterprises demand. Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform delivers scale-out private cloud capabilities with a stable lifecycle and large ecosystem of supported hardware platforms. Many organizations are building their next generation cloud infrastructures on OpenStack because it provides an asynchronous architecture and is API centric allowing for greater scale and greater efficiency in platform management. OpenStack does not, however, provide functionality such as chargeback, reporting, and policy driven automation for tenant workloads and those projects that aspire to do so are generally focused solely on OpenStack. This is not realistic in an increasingly hybrid world – and enterprises that are serious about OpenStack need these capabilities. By using Red Hat CloudForms together with Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform it’s possible to provide capabilities such as reporting, chargeback, and auditing of tenant workloads across a geographically diverse deployment. In the demo below I demonstrate how chargeback across a multi-site OpenStack deployment works.

I hope you found this demonstration useful!

P.S. – If you are a Red Hatter or a Red Hat Partner, this demonstration is available in the Red Hat Product Demo System and is named “Red Hat Cloud Suite Reporting Demonstration”.

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Optimizing IT

In a previous post I outlined the common problems organizations face across both their traditional IT environments (sometimes called mode-1) and new emerging IT environments (sometimes called mode-2). These included:

  • Accelerating the delivery of services in traditional IT Environments to satisfy customer demands
  • Optimizing traditional IT environments to increase efficiency
  • Creating new development and operations practices for Emerging IT environment to  innovate faster
  • Delivering public-cloud like infrastructure that is scalable and programmable

I’d like to show you a quick demonstration of how Red Hat is helping optimize traditional IT environments. There are many ways in which Red Hat does this, from discovering and right sizing virtual machines to free up space in virtual datacenters, to creating a standard operating environment across heterogeneous environments to reduce complexity. In this demonstration, however, I’ll focus on how Red Hat enables organizations to migrate workloads to their ideal platform. In the demonstration video below you’ll see how using tools found in Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform in conjunction with automation and orchestration from Red Hat CloudForms it’s possible to migrate virtual machines in an automated fashion from VMware vSphere to either RHEV or Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform. Keep in mind, these tools assist with the migration process, but need to be designed for your specific environment. That said, they can greatly reduce the time and effort required to move large amounts of virtual machines once designed.

I hope you found this demonstration useful!

P.S. – If you are a Red Hatter or a Red Hat Partner, this demonstration is available in the Red Hat Product Demo System and is named “Red Hat Cloud Suite Migration Demonstration”.

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Accelerating Service Delivery Demonstration

In a previous post I outlined the common problems organizations face across both their traditional IT environments (sometimes called mode-1) and new emerging IT environments (sometimes called mode-2). These included:

  • Accelerating the delivery of services in traditional IT Environments to satisfy customer demands
  • Optimizing traditional IT environments to increase efficiency
  • Creating new development and operations practices for Emerging IT environment to  innovate faster
  • Delivering public-cloud like infrastructure that is scalable and programmable

I’d like to show you a quick demonstration of how Red Hat is helping accelerate service delivery for traditional IT environments. Developers or line of business users request stacks daily to create new services or test functionality. Each of these requests results in lots of work being done by operations and security teams. From creating virtual machines, to installing application servers, and even securing the systems – these tasks take time away from valuable resources that could be doing something else (like building out the next generation platform for development and operations). There are many solutions that exist for automating the deployment of virtual machines or the applications inside of the virtual machines, but Red Hat is uniquely positioned to automate both of these. By leveraging Red Hat CloudForms in conjunction with Red Hat Satellite it is possible to create a re-usable description for your application that can be automatically deployed via self-service with governance and controls across a hybrid cloud infrastructure. In the demonstration below we show the self-service automated deployment of a wordpress application consisting of HAProxy, 2 WordPress application servers, and a MariaDB database across both VMware vSphere and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization.

P.S. – If you are a Red Hatter or a Red Hat Partner this demonstration is available in the Red Hat Product Demo System under the name “Red Hat Cloud Suite Deployment Demo”.

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Ansible Tower Dynamic Inventory from CloudForms

In my previous post I showed an example of how as part of the provisioning of a service CloudForms could be integrated with Ansible Tower to provide greater re-usability and portability of stacks across multiple infrastructure/cloud providers. Now I would like to show an example of how Ansible Tower’s Dynamic Inventory feature can be used in conjunction with the inventory in CloudForms to populate an inventory that can have job templates executed on them. Right now CloudForms has hosts and virtual machines in it’s inventory that would be useful to Ansible, but in the next version container support will allow CloudForms to pass Ansible an inventory of containers as hosts as well (that will be really interesting).

For those not familiar, Dynamic Inventory is a feature in Ansible Tower that allows users to maintain an inventory of hosts based on the data in an external system (LDAP, cobbler, CMDBs, EC2, etc) so they can integrate Ansible Tower into there existing environment instead of building a static inventory inside Ansible Tower itself. Since CloudForms can maintain discovery of existing workloads across many providers (vSphere, Hyper-V, RHEV, OpenStack, EC2 to name a few) it seems natural that it would be a great source of providing a dynamic inventory to Ansible for execution of job templates.

I authored the ansible_tower_cloudforms_inventory.py script to allow users to build a dynamic inventory in Ansible Tower that comes from CloudForms virtual machine inventory. This means that any time a user provisions a VM on vSphere, Hyper-V, OpenStack, RHEV, EC2, or other supported platform – CloudForms will automatically discover that VM and Ansible Tower will have it added to an inventory so it can be managed via Ansible Tower.

To use the script simply navigate to Ansible Tower’s setup page and select “Inventory Scripts”.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 8.18.25 PMFrom there select the icon to add a new inventory script. You can now add the inventory script and name it and associate it with your organization.

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You should now see the added inventory script.

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Now within the inventory of your choosing add a new group named “Dynamic_CloudForms” and change the source to “Custom Script” and select your newly added script within “Custom Inventory Script”.

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Your new group should be added to your inventory

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One last thing needed by the script is the cloudforms.ini file. This file holds things like the hostname of your CloudForms instance, the username and password to use to authenticate, and other information. You’ll need to place this on your Ansible Tower server in /opt/rh/cloudforms.ini. I also found I had to install the request service on the Ansible Tower server (`yum install python-pip -y; pip install requests`).

Now you should be able to run the “start sync process” manually from the inventory screen (it’s an icon that looks like two arrows pointing opposite directions). You could also schedule this sync to run on a recurring basis.

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And Voila! Your inventory has been populated with names from CloudForms. The script will take into account some VMs may be powered down or actually be templates and add only those machines with a power_state of “on”.

It should be noted that the inventory script currently adds the VM based on it’s name in CloudForms. This is because my smart state analysis isn’t set up in my appliance and I don’t have any other fields available to me. What should be done eventually (when smart state is working) is changing the ansible_tower_cloudforms_inventory.py script to query for the ip address or hostname field of the VM. One more thing … I skipped a lot of the security checks on certificates (probably not a good thing). It shouldn’t be difficult to alter the script and python requests configuration to point to your certificates for a more secure experience.




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A Technical Overview of Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure (RHCI)

I’m often asked for a more in-depth overview of Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure (RHCI), Red Hat’s fully open source and integrated Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering. To that end I decided to write a brief technical introduction to RHCI to help those interested better understand what a typical deployment looks like, how the components interact, what Red Hat has been working on to integrate the offering, and some common use cases that RHCI solves. RHCI gives organizations access to infrastructure and management to fit their needs, whether it’s managed datacenter virtualization, a scale-up virtualization-based cloud, or a scale-out OpenStack-based cloud. Organizations can choose what they need to run and re-allocate their resources accordingly.


RHCI users can choose to deploy either Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) or Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform (RHEL-OSP) on physical systems to create a datacenter virtualization-based private cloud using RHEV or a private Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud with RHELOSP.

RHEV comprises a hypervisor component, referred to as RHEV-H, and a manager, referred to as RHEV-M. Hypervisors leverage shared storage and common networks to provide common enterprise virtualization features such as high availability, live migration, etc.

RHEL-OSP is Red Hat’s OpenStack distribution that provides massively scalable infrastructure by providing the following projects (descriptions taken directly from the projects themselves) for use on one of the largest ecosystems of certified hardware and software vendors for OpenStack:

Nova: Implements services and associated libraries to provide massively scalable, on demand, self service access to compute resources, including bare metal, virtual machines, and containers.

Swift: Provides Object Storage.

Glance: Provides a service where users can upload and discover data assets that are meant to be used with other services, like images for Nova and templates for Heat.

Keystone: Facilitate API client authentication, service discovery, distributed multi-tenant authorization, and auditing.

Horizon: Provide an extensible unified web- based user interface for all integrated OpenStack services.

Neutron: Implements services and associated libraries to provide on-demand, scalable, and technology-agnostic network abstraction.

Cinder: Implements services and libraries to provide on-demand, self-service access to Block Storage resources via abstraction and automation on top of other block storage devices.

Ceilometer: Reliably collects measurements of the utilization of the physical and virtual resources comprising deployed clouds, persist these data for subsequent retrieval and analysis, and trigger actions when defined criteria are met.

Heat: Orchestrates composite cloud applications using a declarative template format through an OpenStack-native ReST API.

Trove: Provides scalable and reliable Cloud Database as a Service functionality  for both relational and non-relational database engines, and to continue to improve its fully-featured and extensible open source framework.

Ironic: Produces an OpenStack service and associated python libraries capable of managing and provisioning physical machines, and to do this in a security-aware and fault-tolerant manner.

Sahara: Provides a scalable data processing stack and associated management interfaces.

Red Hat CloudForms, a Cloud Management Platform based on the upstream ManageIQ project, provides hybrid cloud management of OpenStack, RHEV, Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware vSphere, and Amazon Web Services. This includes the ability to provide rich self-service with workflow and approval, discovery of systems, policy definition, capacity and utilization forecasting, and chargeback among others capabilities. CloudForms is deployed as a virtual appliance and requires no agents on the systems it manages. CloudForms has a region and zone concept that allows for complex and federated deployments across large environments and geographies.

Red Hat Satellite is a systems management solution for managing the lifecycle of RHEV, RHEL-OSP, and CloudForms as well as any tenant workloads that are running on RHEV or RHEL-OSP. It can be deployed on bare metal or, as pictured in this diagram, as a virtual machine running on either RHEV or RHEL-OSP. Satellite supports a federated model through a concept called capsules.

CloudForms is a Cloud Management Platform that is deployed as a virtual appliance and supports a federated deployment. It is fully open source just as every component in RHCI is and is based on the ManageIQ project.

One of the key technical benefits CloudForms provides is unified management of multiple providers. CloudForms splits providers into two types. First, there are infrastructure providers such as RHEV, vSphere, and Microsoft Hyper-V. CloudForms discovers and provides uniform information about these systems hosts, clusters, virtual machines, and virtual machine contents in a single interface. Second, there are cloud providers such as RHEL-OSP and Amazon Web Services. CloudForms provides discovery and uniform information for these providers about virtual machines, images, flavors similar to the infrastructure providers. All this is done by leveraging standard APIs provided from RHEV-M, SCVMM, vCenter, AWS, and OpenStack.


Red Hat Satellite provides common systems management among all aspects of RHCI.

Red Hat Satellite provides content management, allowing users to synchronize content such as RPM packages for RHEV, RHEL-OSP, and CloudForms from Red Hat’s Content Delivery Network, to an on-premises Satellite reducing bandwidth consumption and providing an on-premises control point for content management through complex environments. Satellite also allows for configuration management via Puppet to ensure compliance and enforcement of proper configuration. Finally, Red Hat Satellite allows users to account for usage of assets through entitlement reporting and controls. Satellite provides these capabilities to RHEV, RHEL-OSP, and CloudForms, allowing administrators of RHCI to maintain their environment more effectively and efficiently. Equally as important is that Satellite also extends to the tenants of RHEV and RHEL-OSP to allow for systems management of Red Hat Enterprise Linux  (RHEL) based tenants. Satellite is based on the upstream projects of Foreman, Katello, Pulp, and Candlepin.


The combination of CloudForms and Satellite is very powerful for automating not only the infrastructure, but within the operating system as well. Let’s look at an example of how CloudForms can be utilized with Satellite to provide automation of deployment and lifecycle management for tenants.

The automation engine in CloudForms is invoked when a user orders a catalog item from the CloudForms self-service catalog. CloudForms communicates with the appropriate infrastructure provider (in this case RHEV or RHEL-OSP pictured) to ensure that the infrastructure resources are created. At the same time it also ensures the appropriate records are created in Satellite so that the proper content and configuration will be applied to the system. Once the infrastructure resources are created (such as a virtual machine), they are connected to Satellite where they receive the appropriate content and configuration. Once this is completed, the service in CloudForms is updated with the appropriate information to reflect the state of the users request allowing them access to a fully compliant system with no manual interaction during configuration. Ongoing updates of the virtual machine resources can be performed by the end user or the administrator of the Satellite dependent on the customer needs.


This is another way of looking at how the functional areas of the workflow are divided in RHCI. Items such as the service catalog, quota enforcement, approvals, and workflow are handled in CloudForms, the cloud management platform. Even still, infrastructure-specific mechanisms such as heat templates, virtual machine templates, PXE, or even ISO-based deployment are utilized by the cloud management platform whenever possible. Finally, systems management is used to provide further customization within the operating system itself that is not covered by infrastructure specific provisioning systems. With this approach, users can separate operating system configuration from the infrastructure platform thus increasing portability. Likewise, operational decisions are decoupled from the infrastructure platform and placed in the cloud management platform allowing for greater flexibility and increased modularity.


Common management is a big benefit that RHCI brings to organizations, but it doesn’t stop there. RHCI is bringing together the benefits of shared services to reduce the complexity for organizations. Identity is one of the services that can be made common across RHCI through the use of Identity Management (IDM) that is included in RHEL. All components of RHCI can be configured to talk to IDM which in turn can be used to authenticate and authorize users. Alternatively, and perhaps more frequently, a trust is established between IDM and Active Directory to allow for authentication via Active Directory. By providing a common identity store between the components of RHCI, administrators can ensure compliance through the use of access controls and audit.


Similar to the benefits of shared identity, RHCI is bringing together a common network fabric for both traditional datacenter virtualization and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) models. As part of the latest release of RHEV, users can now discover neutron networks and begin exposing them to guest virtual machines (in tech preview mode). By building a common network fabric organizations can simplify their architecture. No longer do they need to learn two different methods for creating and maintaining virtual networks.


Finally, Image storage can now be shared between RHEV and RHEL-OSP. This means that templates and images stored in Glance can be used by RHEV. This reduces the amount of storage required to maintain the images and allows administrators to update images in one store instead of two, increasing operational efficiency.


One often misunderstood area is around what capabilities are provided by which components of RHCI.  RHEV and OpenStack provide similar capabilities with different paradigms. These focus around compute, network, and storage virtualization. Many of the capabilities often associated with a private cloud include features found in the combination of Satellite and CloudForms. These include capabilities provided by CloudForms such as discovery, chargeback, monitoring, analytics, quota Enforcement, capacity planning, and governance. They also include capabilities that revolve around managing inside the guest operating system in areas such as content management, software distribution, configuration management, and governance.


Often organizations are not certain about the best way to view OpenStack in relation to their datacenter virtualization solution. There are two common approaches that are considered. Within one approach, datacenter virtualization is placed underneath OpenStack. This approach has several negative aspects. First, it places OpenStack, which is intended for scale out, over an architecture that is designed for scale up in RHEV, vSphere, Hyper-V, etc. This gives organizations limited scalability and, in general, an expensive infrastructure for running a scale out IaaS private cloud. Second, layering OpenStack, a Cloud Infrastructure Platform, on top of yet another infrastructure management solution makes hybrid cloud management very difficult because Cloud Management Platforms, such as CloudForms, are not designed to relate OpenStack to a virtualization manager and then to underlying hypervisors. Conversely, by using a Cloud Management Platform as the aggregator between infrastructure platforms of OpenStack, RHEV, vSphere, and others, it is possible to achieve a working approach to hybrid cloud management and use OpenStack in the massively scalable way it is designed to be used.


RHCI is meant to complement existing investments in datacenter virtualization. For example, users often utilize CloudForms and Satellite to gain efficiencies within their vSphere environment while simultaneously increasing the cloud-like capabilities of their virtualization footprints through self-service and automation. Once users are comfortable with the self-service aspects of CloudForms, it is simple to supplement vSphere with lower cost or specialized virtualization providers like RHEV or Hyper-V.

This can be done by leveraging the virt-v2v tools (shown as option 1 in the diagram above) that perform binary conversion of images in an automated fashion from vSphere to other platforms. Another approach is to standardize environment builds within Satellite (shown as option 2 in the diagram above) to allow for portability during creation of a new workload. Both of these methods are supported based on an organization’s specific requirements.


For scale-out applications running on an existing datacenter virtualization solution such as VMware vSphere RHCI can provide organizations with the tools to identify (discover), and move (automated v2v conversion), workloads to Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform where they can take advantage of massive scalability and reduced infrastructure costs. This again can be done through binary conversion (option 1) using CloudForms  or through standardization of environments (option 2) using Red Hat Satellite.


So far I have focused primarily on the integrations between the components of Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure to illustrate how Red Hat is bringing together a comprehensive Infrastructure-as-a-Service solution, but RHCI integrates with many existing technologies within the management domain. From integrations with configuration management solutions such as Puppet, Chef, and Ansible, and many popular Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs) as well networking providers and IPAM systems, CloudForms and Satellite are extremely extensible to ensure that they can fit into existing environments.


And of course, with Red Hat Enterprise Linux forming the basis of both Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform leading to one of the largest ecosystems of certified compute, network, and storage partners in the industry.

RHCI is a complete and fully open source infrastructure-as-a-service private cloud. It has industry leading integration between a datacenter virtualization and openstack based private cloud in the areas of networking, storage, and identity. A common management framework makes for efficient operations and unparallelled automation that can also span other providers. Finally, by leveraging RHEL and Systems Management and Cloud Management Platform based on upstream communities it has a large ecosystem of hardware and software partners for both infrastructure and management.

I hope this post helped you gain a better understanding of RHCI at a more technical level. Feel free to comment and be sure to follow me on twitter @jameslabocki

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White Paper: Red Hat CloudForms – Delivering Managed Flexibility For The Cloud

Businesses continually seek to increase flexibility and agility in order to gain competitive advantage and reduce operating cost. The rise of public cloud providers offers one method by which businesses can achieve lower operating costs while gaining competitive advantage. Public clouds provide these advantages by allowing for self-service, on-demand access of compute resources. While the use of public clouds has increased flexibility and agility while reducing costs, it has also presented new challenges in the areas of portability, governance, security, and cost.

These challenges are a result of business users lacking the incentive to adequately govern, secure, and budget for applications deployed in the cloud. As a result, IT organizations have looked to replicate public cloud models in order to convince business users to utilize internal private clouds. An internal cloud avoids the challenges of portability, governance, security, and cost that are associated with public clouds. While the increased cost and inflexibility of private clouds may be justified, the challenges public clouds face make it clear that a solution that allows businesses to seamlessly move applications between cloud providers (both public and private) is critical. A hybrid cloud built with heterogeneous technologies allows business users to benefit from flexibility and agility, while IT maintains
governance and control.

With Red Hat CloudForms, businesses no longer have to choose between providing flexibility and agility to end users through the use of cloud computing or maintaining governance and control of their IT assets. Red Hat CloudForms is an open hybrid cloud management platform that delivers the flexibility and agility businesses want with the control and governance that IT requires. Organizations can build a hybrid cloud that encompasses all of their infrastructure using CloudForms and manage cloud applications without vendor lock-in.

CloudForms implements a layer of abstraction on top of cloud resources–private cloud providers, public cloud providers, and virtualization providers. That abstraction is expressed as the ability to partition and organize cloud resources as seemingly independent clouds to which users can deploy and manage AppForms–CloudForms cloud applications. CloudForms achieves these benefits by allowing users to:

• build clouds for controlled agility
• utilize a cloud-centric deployment and management model
• enable policy-based self-service for end users

This document explains how CloudForms meets the challenges that come from letting users serve themselves, while maintaining control of where workloads are executed and ensuring the life cycle is properly managed. IT organizations are able to help their customers better utilize the cloud or virtualization provider that best meets the customer’s needs while solving the challenges of portability, governance, security, and cost.

Read the White Paper

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Red Hat’s Open Approach for PaaS

Ogg Version


Platform-as-a-Service, or PaaS, solutions in public clouds are flexible and fast, and can meet growing business demand. However, public PaaS lacks needed privacy and compliance features. OpenShift Enterprise by Red Hat, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, and Red Hat CloudForms use an open approach for PaaS. Red Hat customers enjoy agile development, with greater availability, scalability, and control over their infrastructure.

OpenShift Enterprise utilizes a multi-tenant cloud architecture that streamlines application service delivery. Developers are free to choose the right tools and focus on what they do best—writing code. With OpenShift Enterprise, language runtimes are standardized and open. Code, once written, is widely deployable while other PaaS providers use proprietary hooks that limit portability.

OpenShift Enterprise is built on Red Hat Enterprise Linux—the same software handling millions of dollars daily in trades and analysis. Red Hat Enterprise Linux supports all major hardware platforms and thousands of applications. It provides portability between physical systems, virtual machines, and private, public, and hybrid clouds.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux runs best on Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization uses the powerful and ubiquitous Kernel-based Virtual Machine (or KVM) hypervisor and oVirt, a virtualization management platform. Both KVM and oVirt are successful open source projects led by Red Hat. KVM has achieved industry-leading virtualization performance benchmarks and the highest government security certification.

While Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization is the best foundation for running Red Hat Enterprise Linux and OpenShift Enterprise, Red Hat believes that a truly open hybrid cloud must be portable across all resources.

CloudForms provides resource and systems management for hybrid Infrastructure as a Service clouds. By abstracting resources and creating application blueprints, system administrators can deploy OpenShift Enterprise across supported providers, update underlying instances of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and track systems—all through a self-service portal. This leaves developers free to focus on projects that provide business value.

OpenShift Enterprise, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, and Red Hat CloudForms can improve performance, scalability, and reliability for enterprise cloud deployments–without relying on proprietary lock-in or hooks that restrict development and flexibility. Red Hat solutions are a strategic choice for organizations looking to achieve an open hybrid cloud.

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