Tag Archives: hybrid cloud

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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The Synthesized Cloud: Hybrid Service Models

Today, Red Hat focuses on Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). Often, when speaking with organizations about a cloud opportunity I find myself asking questions to find out the appropriate service model for the customer.

“Do you want to just bring your code?”
“Would you like to access the operating system and perform optimizations?”
“How do you feel about kernel semaphores?”

OK, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea. The answers to these questions often help me determine which one of the models, and thereby solutions, to recommend for the situation. With regards to IaaS, Red Hat will soon be providing it’s Cloud and Virtualization Solution – A combination of virtualization and cloud management software that provides the benefits of a cloud computing model with all the underlying virtualization required. For PaaS Red Hat offers OpenShift Enterprise, a solution designed for on-premise or private cloud deployment which automates much of the provisioning and systems management of the application platform stack.

The Synthesized Cloud

Taking a step back, what is the purpose of having separate and distinct cloud computing models? Why couldn’t the models be combined to allow organizations to use elements of each based on their needs? One of the benefits of cloud computing is the ability for organizations to reach the highest level of standardization possible while increasing reuse. If this is the case, then it should be a goal to provide organizations with the ability to utilize not just a hybrid cloud, but a hybrid service model – one in which elements of IaaS could be combined with elements of a PaaS. By realizing a synthesis of IaaS and PaaS service models organizations could leverage the benefits of cloud computing more widely and realize the benefits even in what are often considered legacy, or traditional applications. Cloud Efficiencies Everywhere is, after all, a goal of Red Hat’s Open Hybrid Cloud. I’ll refer to this combining of IaaS and PaaS into a single service model as the synthesized cloud and I believe it is critical to realizing the full potential of cloud computing.

Why not just use PaaS?

Most organizations I have met with are extremely interested in PaaS. They find the increase in developer productivity PaaS can offer very attractive and the idea of “moving the chalk line” up to have developers bringing code instead of hardware descriptions as very exciting. PaaS is great, no doubt about it, but while PaaS can accelerate delivery for Systems of Engagement, it often does not account for systems of record and other core business systems. There is evidence that supports the idea that organizations are shifting from systems of record to system of engagement, but this is not a shift that will happen overnight and in some cases, systems of record will be maintained alongside or complimented with systems of engagement. Beyond systems of record, there are technologies that exist at the infrastructure layer that can be exposed to the platform layer that might not yet be available in a PaaS (think Hadoop, Condor, etc). In time, some of these technologies might be moved into the PaaS layer, but we likely continue to see innovation happening at both the infrastructure and platform services model layers. In short, IaaS finds its fit in both building new applications that require specific understanding of the underlying infrastructure (networks, storage, etc) and as the foundation for hosting a PaaS and consequently will always be important in organizations. For these reasons it’s important to leave our service model open and flexible while simultaneously having a single way to describe and manage both models.

Use the Correct Mix

The ability to use both platform and infrastructure elements is critical to maintaining flexibility and evolving to an optimized IT infrastructure. Red Hat is well positioned to deliver the synthesis of Infrastructure and Platform service models. This has as much to do with the great engineering work and strategic decisions being made by Red Hat engineers as it does the open source model’s propensity to drive modular design.

Some points to consider:

  1. OpenShift Enterprise, Red Hat’s PaaS, runs on Infrastructure (specifically, Red Hat Enterprise Linux).
  2. Thousands of other applications run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).
  3. Application Blueprints provide sustainable, reusable descriptions of any software running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
  4. Red Hat CloudForms can deploy Application Blueprints to a number of underlying resource providers.

Since Application Blueprints can deploy any software running on RHEL and OpenShift Enterprise is software running on RHEL we can deploy a Platform as a Service alongside traditional applications running on RHEL.


Figure 1: Combining PaaS and IaaS

Figure 1 depicts the use of an Application Blueprint to deliver a hybrid service model of IaaS and PaaS. During Design Time, a Developer and System Architect work together to design the Application Blueprint. This involves using CloudForms to define and build all the necessary images that will serve as the foundations for each element in the AppForm (a running Application Blueprint). CloudForms allows the System Architect and Developer to build all these images with the push of a button and tracks all the images at each provider. In this case, a single PaaS Element and two IaaS Elements were described in the Application Blueprint.

The design process also allows the System Architect and Developer to associate hardware profiles to each of the images, and specify how the software that runs on the images should be configured upon launch. Finally, user parameters can be accepted in the Application Blueprint, to allow for customization when the Application Blueprint is launched by it’s intended end user. The result of designing an Application Blueprint is a customizable reusable and portable description of a complete application environment.

Once the Application Blueprint is designed and published to a catalog, users or developers are able to launch the Application Blueprint, the result of which is an AppForm at Run Time. The running AppForm can contain both a PaaS and a mix of IaaS elements and CloudForms will orchestrate the configuration of the two service models together upon launch according to the design of the Application Blueprint.

An Example

Imagine an organization has a legacy Human Resources system of record which is a client server model built on Oracle RDBMS. Over time, they’d like to shift this system to a system engagement in order to make it more engaging for their employees. They’d also like to begin providing some data analysis via MapReduce to select individuals in the Human Resources department. In this case, replacing the system of record with a completely new system of engagement is not an option. This may be because of the cost associated with a rewrite or the fact that there are many back end processes that tie into the Oracle RDBMS that cannot be easily changed.


Figure 2: Example Scenario

In this example, the Application Blueprint is designed to include an OpenShift PaaS which delivers a scalable, manged application platform (Tomcat in this case) and both a Oracle RDBMS and Hadoop. Once the Application Blueprint is launched users or developers can access this entire environment and begin working. This goes beyond gaining increased developer efficiency at just the platform layer – it drives many of the efficiencies of PaaS across the Infrastructure as well.

Further Benefits of a Hybrid Service Model

There are many other benefits to this synthesis of PaaS and IaaS service models. One other I’d like to explore is it’s effect on system testing. With a hybrid service model, not only do developers have access to all the qualities of both PaaS and IaaS in a single description that is portable, but the Application Lifecycle Environment framework contained within CloudForms along with it’s ability to automatically provision both PaaS and IaaS can be leveraged to lay the foundation for a governed DevOps model. This provides greater efficiency in testing, accelerating delivery of applications, while allowing for control over important aspects of both the Infrastructure and Platform layers.

Figure 3: Governed DevOps

Figure 3: Hybrid Service Model leading to Governed DevOps

Figure 3 illustrates how the Hybrid Service Model allows for a governed DevOps model to be implemented. Before the hybrid service model, developers needed to request the required IaaS elements in order to complete a system test. This process is often manual and time consuming. With a hybrid service model in place, upon commit of new code to the source control system, the continuous integration systems contained within the PaaS layer can request a new test environment be created that includes the required IaaS elements for system testing. This greatly reduces the time required to test, and in turn, accelerates application delivery.

How do I get started?

Organizations can begin to prepare for a Hybrid Service Model by ensuring that all decisions made in their IT organization regarding cloud computing adhere to the properties of a truly open cloud. Namely that the technologies the cloud strategy they pursue:

  • Is Open Source
  • Has a viable, independent community
  • Embraces Open Standards
  • Allows freedom of Intellectual Properpty
  • Allows choice of infrastructure
  • Has open APIs
  • Enables portability

Red Hat’s Open Hybrid Cloud adheres to the following properties. To learn more about how Red Hat is optimizing IT with it’s Open Hybrid Cloud approach be sure to register for the Optimizing IT Virtual Event which takes place on December 5th, 2012 at 11:00AM EST and December 6th, 2012 at 9:00AM EST.

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Accelerating IT Service Delivery for the Enterprise

If you find this post interesting and would like to learn more about how Red Hat’s cloud solutions are optimizing IT be sure to register for the Optimizing IT Virtual Event which takes place on December 5th, 2012 at 11:00AM EST and December 6th, 2012 at 9:00AM EST.

Organizations are continually seeking ways to accelerate IT service delivery in order to deliver greater business value while simultaneously increasing flexibility, consistency, and automation while maintaining greater control.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) provides organizations faster delivery of applications to their stakeholders by automating many of the routine tasks associated with application development and providing standardized runtimes for applications. This results in developers being able to focus on writing code rather then performing mundane tasks that do not add value.

OpenShift is Red Hat’s PaaS. OpenShift provides access to a broad choice of languages and frameworks, developer tools, and has an open source ecosystem which gives voice to the community and partners who work with Red Hat on OpenShift. Languages and Frameworks in OpenShift are delivered as cartridges and OpenShift provides the ability to extend cartridges to include customized cartridges. Finally, and perhaps most importantly for the purposes of our topic today, OpenShift leverages Red Hat Enterprise Linux as the underlying operating system in delivering PaaS. This is important not only because Red Hat Enterprise Linux is highly certified and has a proven track record for handling mission critical workloads, but because Red Hat Enterprise Linux runs just about anywhere – including on thousands of physical systems, virtual infrastructure, and certified public clouds. It also provides OpenShift with access to some great underlying technologies that are native to Linux like LXC, SELinux, and Control Groups which provide secure multi-tenancy and fine grain resource control without the need to reinvent the concepts from scratch.

Red Hat first offered access to it’s OpenShift PaaS as a hosted service, now named OpenShift Online, starting in May, 2011. For roughly 18 months, Red Hat worked on honing OpenShift while it hosted thousands of applications in OpenShift Online. During this time, an ever increasing demand was building from IT organizations who wanted to replicate the success of OpenShift Online in their own datacenters.

For this reason, Red Hat released OpenShift Enterprise – an on-premise offering of OpenShift which allows IT organizations to accelerate IT service delivery in their own datacenter in the same way organizations did in the public cloud with OpenShift Online. OpenShift Enterprise was the first comprehensive on-premise PaaS offering for enterprises in the industry, and it is a big game changer.

When an organization wants to adopt OpenShift Enterprise there are several decisions they must consider carefully.

First, they must decide what will host the Red Hat Enterprise Linux that serves as a foundation to OpenShift. Should they use physical hardware, virtual machines, or do they want to run in a public cloud? The correct decision will be different for each organization based on their specific requirements. Furthermore, in the rapidly evolving IT landscape, organizations will likely want to change the underlying infrastructure their PaaS runs on top of relatively frequently. Take, for example, the rise of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization backed by KVM as a highly secure and industry performance leading open source hypervisor.  It is important that organizations maintain flexibility in being able to deploy OpenShift Enterprise to a choice of infrastructure while maintaining consistency of their deployments of OpenShift Enterprise at each provider.

Second, how will OpenShift Enterprise be deployed onto the foundation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux? An organization may decide that OpenShift Enterprise will be deployed in one large pool that is equally distributed to all end users. The organization may, however, decide to split OpenShift Enterprise into smaller deployments based on it’s decided application lifecycle workflow (For example, Development, Test, and Production OpenShift Enterprise deployments). Each deployment of OpenShift Enterprise requires installing software and configuring it. These redundant (and often mundane) tasks should be automated to reduce time to deploy and the risk of human error.

Third, which cartridges (languages and frameworks) will be made available to the users of OpenShift Enterprise? It is likely that an organization would desire to allow developers access to a broad choice of languages in a development environment, but limit the use of frameworks and languages in test and production to those that are certified to the organization’s standards. It is important for organizations to be able to control which cartridges are available and installed within each OpenShift Enterprise deployment.

While organizations want to accelerate IT service delivery by utilizing an on-premise PaaS they desire to do so in a flexible yet consistent manner which allows for choice of infrastructure, while leveraging automation and controlling what languages and frameworks users of the PaaS can utilize.

Red Hat CloudForms delivers these capabilities, allowing organization to deploy and manage OpenShift Enterprise across a wide range of infrastructure. It provides both cloud resource management by abstracting and decoupling underlying infrastructure providers from the end user and hybrid cloud management of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and the software installed within it.

CloudForms focuses on three key areas that provide cloud resource management and hybrid cloud management of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and the software that runs upon it.

First, it provides the ability to define a hybrid cloud consisting of one or more cloud resource providers. These can either be virtual infrastructure providers (For example, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization) or public cloud providers (For example, Amazon EC2). CloudForms understands how to build operating systems instances for these providers, so system administrators don’t need to understand the different processes for each provider, which often differ greatly. CloudForms communicates with the various cloud resource providers via the Deltacloud API.

Second, it allows for the definition and lifecycle management of Application Blueprints. Application Blueprints are re-usable descriptions of applications, including the operating systems, additional software, and actions that need to be performed to configure that software. In defining a single application blueprint a CloudForms administrator could deploy an application to the cloud resource provider of their choice. CloudForms will manage launching the correct instances and configuring the software as required, even if the topologies and properties of each cloud resource provider are different.

Third, CloudForms allows for self-service deployment of the defined Application Blueprints based on policy and permissions. CloudForms users can select the Application Blueprint from a catalog, provide user defined input that was designed into the Application Blueprint, and launch it. Upon launch they can begin using their application.

Organizations that want to achieve flexibility, consistency, automation, and management of OpenShift Enterprise can use CloudForms to create an Application Blueprint for OpenShift Enterprise.

Upon defining an Application Blueprint for OpenShift Enterprise within CloudForms, OpenShift Enterprise Administrators would be permitted to deploy, via self-service, new OpenShift Enterprise AppForms (running OpenShift Enterprise Deployments) to their choice of cloud resource provider based on the policy set forth in CloudForms.

Upon deployment of the OpenShift Enterprise AppForm, instances comprising the AppForm would automatically register to CloudForms for ongoing lifecycle management. Ongoing lifecycle management provides organizations the ability to update underlying instances of Red Hat Enterprise Linux in a manner in line with their defined processes. It also allows organizations to control which cartridges (languages and frameworks) are installed on which OpenShift Enterprise deployments. For example, the OpenShift Enterprise AppForm in the development Application Lifecycle Environment may have all cartridges installed, while OpenShift Enterprise AppForms in the Test and Production Application Lifecycle Environments only have organizationally approved cartridges (maybe python, java, php) installed.

If you’d like to see the benefits of using CloudForms to deploy and manage OpenShift Enterprise, read my earlier post which includes a video demonstration.

The combination of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, OpenShift Enterprise, and Red Hat CloudForms allows organizations to accelerate IT service delivery while increasing flexibility and consistency, and providing the automation and management enterprises require.

The slides used in this post are available in PDF format here.

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