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Attention All Austin Stackers: OpenStack Meet Up This Thursday, 10/27!

October 24, 2011 Leave a comment
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A quick heads up for all cloud pros, enthusiasts, and interested parties in the Austin area…

Or those visting Austin this week…

Or those willing to travel to the Austin area this week…

Or those with reliable molecular teleportation technology…

Dell is sponsoring an OpenStack meetup at Tech Ranch Austin this Thursday night at 6:30pm!

OpenStack Meetup - Thu, 10/27  6:30pm

OpenStack Meetup - Thu, 10/27 6:30pm

It happens to coincide with the same week that Rackspace Cloud Builders is hosting their weeklong OpenStack training at Dell HQ, so we’ll hopefully get a number of our friends who are in town for that session.

I expect we’ll touch on OpenStack, Diablo, Crowbar, and a few demos, along w some ops and business discussions. 

You’ll have a number of the Dell OpenStack experts out at the event as well – Rob Hirschfeld, Greg Althaus, and more.

Here’s the link with all the details – http://www.meetup.com/OpenStack-Austin/events/37908242/

(And for those on the fence, we’ll pick up the tab on pizza and cokes.)

Come on out!  We’ll see you there!

Until next time,

JOSEPH
@jbgeorge

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The #Dell #Crowbar Software Framework: Who, What, When, Where, and How

August 1, 2011 1 comment

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It’s been about a week since Dell (the company I work for) officially announced the Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution, the market’s first HW / SW / Services solution for OpenStack – and the response has been great! 

(Check out my last blog post about it here for more details.)

Crowbar from Dell

Crowbar from Dell

Since this wasn’t your average announcement with a big company like Dell actually contributing to the community, I received a number of questions, comments, and accolades around our contributed software framework – Crowbar.

So I thought I’d pass on some of the people, history, functionality, and background behind Dell’s Crowbar software.
  

History

Since Dell had been a committed partner of OpenStack’s since it’s announcement in July of 2010 (over a year ago), we were among the first to begin working with the OpenStack code as we began developing the Dell solution for it.   Since it was very early, very raw code, there was a lot of installing / testing / coding / re-testing / blowing it away / reinstalling / testing / coding  / re-testing / blowing it away… you get the idea. 

And as any cloud technology goes, deploying OpenStack on bare metal took time, effort, and expertise

It wasn’t long before our solutions development team decided we’d automate this process to make our efforts quicker.  But lo and behold, we discovered that others in the community were dealing with the same thing.   A few early users indicated that it was taking them a full day to deploy OpenStack from start to finish, and in most cases, it was taking multiple days.

So we decided build out a quick, automated method of deploying OpenStack on bare metal technology that the whole community could use.

And Crowbar was born.
     

Functionality

Extending the capabilities of the Chef configuration management framework from Opscode, our team began developing Crowbar with the goal of installing a multi-node OpenStack cloud on bare metal PowerEdge C servers in less than four hours.  “Multi-node” was a key requirement as almost every use case we encountered required that. 

We announced Crowbar’s existence and development in early 2011, with our intent to field test, and then release to the open source community.  Over the course of time, we began testing it out in various instances and scenarios, as well as demo-ing it at various cloud events.  Many of you may remember us showcasing our progress at SCaLE, CloudConnect, and the Apr OpenStack Design Summit (which Dell sponsored).  

With time and experience, we came across a number of requirements for this type of a tool – automated BIOS configuration, RAID configuration, network discovery and set up, installation of the open source system monitoring tool Nagios, installation of the open source performance monitoring tool Ganglia, and more.  So we built it all in.

And based on the extensive cloud cloud experience on our team, we knew that cloud development and management is an ever evolving exercise – as the Dell OpenStack lead architect and OpenStack community celeb Rob Hirschfeld would say, “Cloud is always ready, and never finished.”  So Crowbar is designed in a way to manage change.  Add in a new supported server to the mix, and Crowbar detects it and proceeds to add it to the OpenStack pool.  When software needs to be updated, Crowbar can be leveraged to update once, and deploy to all.
     

Barclamps

Dell Crowbar featuring Barclamps!

Dell Crowbar featuring Barclamps!

And what about new components that come out?  There are a number of new OpenStack capabilities coming out of various projects – how do those get rolled in?

Barclamps.  

(Yes, we designed Crowbar with modularity in mind.)

Think of it this way:  Crowbar is made up of two general functionality categories – the Crowbar core and Crowbar barclamps.  The Crowbar core contains all the main functionality that allows Crowbar to perform tasks.  Barclamps are modules that actually perform a function.  So need to deploy OpenStack Nova (aka cloud compute)?  Leverage the Nova barclamp.  Need to deploy OpenStack Swift (aka cloud storage)?  Leverage the Swift barclamp.

Need to deploy some software that doesn’t have a barclamp?

You can create your own barclamp!

And that’s the beauty of Crowbar – we created (and will continue to create) barclamps that work for our customers, but we’re encouraging / training our customers to develop their own barclamps, and we want the community at large to do the same.
  

What real customers are doing with the Crowbar and the Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution

In our press release, one of our OpenStack customers, DreamHost, spoke about their success with the Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution.  Along with Dell server technology and services, the innovative DreamHost team really picked up on the Crowbar tool.  In fact, as they are working on hosted options for their Ceph technology, the DreamHost team has begun developing a barclamp for Ceph!

In fact, here’s what the DreamHost GM of Emerging Technologies, Ben Cherian, had to say about Crowbar:

“If Dell had not developed Crowbar, we would have been forced to write a similar tool ourselves. It’s a fundamental goal that we have in the company: automate, automate, automate. That’s how we drive down prices.”

Ben also went on to say that since Dell had already developed a technology like Crowbar, we ended up saving them four to six months of development time.
  

Common Questions

  1. Is Crowbar for Dell products only?
      
    The Crowbar software that we’ve developed at Dell will obviously work with Dell supported platforms.  But there is no reason that this framework will not work for any other vendor technology – all that needs to happen is for that vendor / user / community member to create a barclamp for that technology.
       
  2. Is Crowbar for OpenStack only?
      
    Obviously, our original use case is for OpenStack – it has been tested and validated for that model.  However, again, it is a flexible software framework.  We can see a number of use cases for OpenStack, and welcome the community to use it where it makes sense.
      
  3. What do I get with Crowbar as a part of the Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution vs open source Crowbar?
      
    There are two main differences at this point: 
      
    First, open source Crowbar has everything that the Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution Crowbar has, except for the BIOS and RAID capabilities, where we’re trying to clear some legal hurdles before we open source.  Once those are cleared, we expect to open source those capabilities.
      
    Second, when you get Crowbar as a part of the Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution, you will get full support from Dell via Dell Services.  Any questions, support, training you need on Crowbar, Dell delivers it.
      

Where do I get Crowbar?

OK, the question of the hour.   How do you get Crowbar?

  1. You get Dell-supported Crowbar when you purchase the Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution.
      
  2. You get open source Crowbar from our github site – http://www.github.com/dellcloudedge.
      

You can head over to http://www.RobHirschfeld.com and see much more TECHNICAL content on the Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution and Crowbar.  In addition to being our lead architect on OpenStack, Rob is actually one of the developers of the actual Crowbar software.  (You can also follow him on Twitter at @zehicle.)

And as always, if you want to learn more about the Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution, you can head to http://www.Dell.com/OpenStack.  Or if you’d like to reach out to us to learn more, drop me and the gang a line at OpenStack@Dell.com.
  

Until next time,

JOSEPH
@jbgeorge
  

Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution

Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution

THIS JUST IN: Dell Announces the Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution

July 26, 2011 6 comments

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On the heels of the one year anniversary of the OpenStack open source cloud operating system – here’s some awesome news…

Dell (the company I work for) announces the Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution, the market’s first hardware + software + services OpenStack solution for customers seeking to build out their own OpenStack clouds!

Let’s take a look under the hood, shall we?
  

Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution

Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution

Hardware (Dell PowerEdge C cloud optimized servers)

 Built on a reference architecture honed since DAY ONE of the OpenStack movement, the Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution offers a hardware configuration featuring cloud optimized Dell PowerEdge C servers.  Dell has built cloud infrastructure for some of the biggest names in the world, like Facebook and Microsoft Azure, and have used those learnings to develop the highly dense, power-efficient PowerEdge C servers that the Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution has been architected with.

  

Software (Dell Crowbar deploying and managing the OpenStack cloud platform)

When Dell began testing OpenStack in mid 2010, we were installing it, testing it, blowing it away, reinstalling it, tweaking it, blowing it away, reinstalling it… you get the picture.  And it wasn’t trivial.  These deployments took considerable time, effort, and expertise, so we developed the Dell Crowbar software framework extending Opscode’s Chef automation, which can deploy MULTI-NODE OpenStack clouds in hours or even minutes, rather than days when done manually.   (Anyone remember our team deploying a 6 node Nova and Swift OpenStack deployment in 29 minutes at CloudConnect?)   Crowbar enables BIOS and RAID setup and configuration, network setup, deploys open source tools like Nagios and Ganglia for monitoring, and much more.  

And hey, we’re a community here, right?  So here’s what the OpenStack community has been waiting to hear – Dell has now open sourced Crowbar!  We’ve made it available to the open source community via our Github site, which is linked below.   My partner in crime, Rob Hirschfeld, goes into Crowbar deep on his blog, so I’ve provided a link to his site below as well.  (FYI – we are still working through some of the legal aspects of BIOS and RAID capabilities, but decided to open source the rest of Crowbar while we work it out.)

And speaking of support…

    

Services (Dell Services + Rackspace Cloud Builders)

After a year of being in OpenStack, we’ve built up some expertise, so Dell Services, along with our partner Rackspace Cloud Builders, will be offering a plethora of services to help you make your OpenStack cloud a reality.

  • Consulting
  • Deployment
  • Training
  • Support for the entire solution – HW, Crowbar, OpenStack, etc
  • And a host of other services direct from Dell Services

When you get the Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution, you can call Dell for support on any aspect of the solution, and we’ll help you figure it out, with our crack support teams, our OpenStack engineers, and our OpenStack partners.

And those are the basics. 

  

Fast. Easy. Now.  The Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution

Fast. Easy. Now. The Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution

A few more comments….

Let me just say – I am proud that we’ve delivered this solution to market, but even PROUDER to be part of a company had the vision to see the potential of OpenStack on Day One.  Yes, that’s a big deal to me.

I’d like to call out a number of partners we’ve worked with to get to this point – Rackspace, Citrix, Opscode, Canonical, Intel, and others – the community is a big deal in OpenStack, and it’s great to have their support in this announcement.   I’m also very happy that one of our first Dell OpenStack customers, DreamHost, is a part of this announcement as well with a full case study on how they’re doing OpenStack with Dell.  (HINT: they’re neck deep in Crowbar and loving it!) 

We plan to celebrate the announcement big time at OSCON, so if you’re here, come by the Dell booth – demos, gear, giveaways, etc.   And our breakout session will be on Thursday (10:40am in room E-141) – “Prying Open the Cloud with Dell Crowbar and OpenStack” – Rob will present the deep down details on Crowbar. 
(And if you want to get in on the celebration, feel free to tweet the news and your thoughts – be sure to use hashtags #Dell, #OpenStack and #Crowbar…)

 

So What’s Next?

Time for YOU to start using this.  The Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution, Crowbar, all of it.   Talk to your Dell rep, emaial us at OpenStack@Dell.com, download Crowbar, start building Crowbar barclamps, discuss it in the forums, etc…  and get started building OpenStack clouds with Dell.
  

More info:

Until next time,

JBG
@jbgeorge

OpenStack’s First Year: How a Committed Community Made a Difference

July 23, 2011 Leave a comment

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You know the saying:  “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

This week has been a crazy one, so I didn’t get to chime in on Tuesday with my thoughts on the one year anniversary of OpenStack.

So today, I took some time to think back over the last year, and I realized how far we’ve come as a technology and as a community.  

In addition to the solid OpenStack technology that is being guided by market requirements and pushing the envelope, I believe that the unique set of OpenStack developers, partners, and users has helped get it to where it is. 

Pardon me, while I stroll through memory lane…
  

Design Summits

  • Austin Design Summit (July 13 – 14, 2010) – I’m not sure if we could have called this one a design summit as it was more of a meeting of minds, lots of ideas, and a ton of excitement about this new platform called OpenStack.  Got to hear from both Rackspace and NASA on the code bases, and how this could change the market.  I specifically recall our group of cloud solution attendees from Dell (the company I work for) talking about how much potential this technology had.  (And besides, this meeting was in our home town!)
      
    OpenStack was announced publicly for the first time a few days later on the 19th.  Dell was among a handful of companies who believed in the initiative back then – it was early – and we had to have vision.
      
  • San Antonio Design Summit (Nov 9 – 12, 2010) – This was held at the Weston Centre in San Antonio, and I remember thinking “where did all these people come from???”   We had a lot of international presence there from the UK, France, Japan, and other parts of the world.  It was exciting to think that in just four months, we’d already started going global. I also recall we started talking to the business of OpenStack – licenses, brands, etc, which was a good sign of progress.
      
    Dell did our part as well – Rob Hirschfeld and Greg Althaus, a couple of Dell OpenStack rockstars, each spoke on OpenStack deployment, reference architectures, and operational models. We also contributed gear for the InstallFest later that week, made up of PowerEdge C6100s and C2100s  (I also remember giving quite a few tours of the “server room” to see what Austin release was running on.)  
        
  • Santa Clara Design Summit (Apr 26 – 29, 2011)– Our first design summit on the west coast!  This one is still pretty fresh in my mind, but what blew me away was again, the growth!  The community grew and became more sophisticated.  Those that were learning at the first two design summits were blossoming experts at this design summit, having lived through the evolution of OpenStack.  Though I’m sure it was logistically nuts for the organizers as they greatly exceeded capacity, it was a great indicator that we were on to something special.
      
    The Dell team gave it our all here as well – Rob gave a session on what Dell was doing with OpenStack and Crowbar, and my favorite – daily live demos of Crowbar deploying multi-node OpenStack clouds on bare metal servers! (I’d time our guys – the best time was 29 min minutes for a 6 node OpenStack cloud running on Dell PowerEdge C 6100’s – not too shabby! 
      
    (Anyone remember the Crowbar bunny shirts?)
     

Year One Partners

I just checked the OpenStack.org site, and at THIS MOMENT, there are 91 partners in the community.  (Depending on when you read this, there could / will be more.)

You’ll find a number of key industry players there – Rackspace, Dell, Citrix, Intel, AMD, Cisco, Canonical, Brocade, Arista, Opscode, and more.  And this group has done a lot to further the intiative over the last year. 

Here are a list of a few examples. 

  • Rackspace announcing the creation of Rackspace Cloud Builders, who’s purpose in life is to service customers on OpenStack deployment, training, support, and consulting.
  • Citrix announcing Project Olympus and a distribution of OpenStack to come soon
  • Dell announces the Crowbar deployment software for OpenStack, and our intention to release an OpenStack solution to market
  • Canonical announces their intention to make OpenStack the default cloud platform in the Ubuntu operating system
  • Equinix’s sponsoring of a live OpenStack demo enviornment w support from Dell, Rackspace, and Citrix
  • Real live production usage by companies like Internap

What a year. 

I’d venture to say those of us who were there on Day 1 believed this was going to be big, but we’re excited that it has been adopted by the cloud community as much as it has.

And to all the partners, develeopers, and users who have made the first year amazing – I salute you.

We’re on to something big.   🙂
      

If you want to learn more about what Dell has done with OpenStack over the last year, and see if what we’re building is a fit for you, email us at OpenStack@Dell.com.
   

More info on OpenStack and the one year anniversary:

Until next time,

JOSEPH
@jbgeorge

#Dell and #OpenStack: An Insider Update

June 24, 2011 2 comments

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For those of you who don’t know, I’m a senior cloud strategist for Dell in our Cloud Solutions group, and I’m also the business / marketing lead for Dell’s OpenStack initiative.

We’ve been incredibly busy working on all things OpenStack, so I wanted to provide a bit of an update on where we’ve been, and where we’re going.

Last summer, Dell was one of a few vendors such as Intel, Citrix, and a few others, that got together and supported the fledgling new OpenStack movement founded by Rackspace and NASA.  

(The ONLY hardware solution provider that had the vision to so I should add.)

Since then, we’ve been active in the community, working with partners, and helpng customers on real OpenStack engagements.

  • Dell’s been an integral part of all three OpenStack Design Summits to date – sponsoring portions of the events, leading discussions on architecture and design, providing hardware for install fests, and meeting with partners and customers.
      
  • Crowbar anyone?  We’ve led the way in an operational model that starts with bare metal provisioning but provides a methodology for managing your evolving OpenStack instance.
      
  • Developed the popular technical whitepaper  “BootStrapping OpenStack Clouds” authored by Dell’s own OpenStack celebrities Rob Hirschfeld and Greg Althaus, as well as contributions from Rackspace OpenStack celebrity Bret Piatt.
      
  • Numerous lightning talks, OpenStack / Crowbar demos, and working with a number of partners like Rackspace, Citrix, Opscode, and others in their OpenStack initiatives

It should be clear that Dell’s a believer in what the OpenStack community is doing, and we are committed to being a part of the community, providing expertise where our core competencies are.  It’s been that way since we started back in July of last year.

So what’s the latest?

  • Did you know customers have already started working with Dell on getting OpenStack clouds in their environments?  
       
    That’s right – our involvement since the beginning puts us on the short list of community partners that have the most history with OpenStack, so we have a functional reference architecture, Dell developed Crowbar software, and cloud services that can work for customers today.  (Info at the end of this blog entry on how you can learn more about working with Dell to get real live OpenStack clouds in your environment.)
       
    In fact, check out one of our customers, Cybera, publicly blogged about getting OpenStack running on Dell PowerEdge C technology.  (Link to Cybera’s blog at the end of this entry – very deep technical info.)
      
  • Dell’s OpenStack Installer, better known to the community as #Crowbar, is coming along nicely!  When we announced the existence of Crowbar earlier this year, we were clear that our intention was to contribute it to the open source community.  We are well on our way there.  We’ve already submitted our blueprint to the OpenStack governance body for Crowbar as a cloud installer (more on that here from Rob Hirschfeld).
      
    And here’s a quick snapshot of our latest work on the Crowbar UI that Rob posted recently. 
      
    (What?  No more plain white background?  That’s right – we’ve got game. 🙂 )
      

    Dell Crowbar

    Dell Crowbar

       

  • The final comment I’ll make is that we see this summer as an important time for OpenStack – Cactus is out, Diablo is around the corner, partners are joining the community daily, and customers are getting excited.  More and more of our customers are finding out HOW REAL OpenStack, and are getting on board.
      
    Dell is going to continue to be a mover and shaker in OpenStack, so keep an eye out on Dell as we prepare to make our next big move in OpenStack.   
      
    Head back here often to stay up to date, and you can also follow myself and other Dell OpenStack leads on Twitter – @jbgeorge, @zehicle, @barton808, and others.
      

Here’s to the summer of OpenStack! 

More info:

Until next time,

JOSEPH
@jbgeorge

Cybera, OpenStack, Rackspace Cloud Builders and Dell

June 16, 2011 Leave a comment

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Recently, Cybera, a non-profit Canadian outfit who’s core objective is to drive innovation among Canada’s tech community, recently blogged about their path to production, open source cloud instance based on OpenStack, with their first installment being on the topic of hardware. 

Dell and Rackspace were fortunate to be called out as innovators in helping them on the path to the OpenStack cloud.

Here’s a quick excerpt on their server hardware choices:

We ordered four different types of servers (aka nodes). A management node (nova-api, nova-network, nova-scheduler, nova-objectstore), compute nodes (nova-compute, nova-volume), a proxy node (swift-proxy-server) and storage nodes (swift-object-*, swift-container-*, swift-account-*). All nodes were contained in the Dell C6100 chassis. Here are the specs:

  Processor Sockets Cores Threads RAM Disk
Management E5620 2 8 16 24 8 x 300 GB
Compute X5650 2 12 24 96 6 x 500 GB
Proxy E5620 2 8 16 24 4 x 300 GB
Storage E5620 2 8 16 24 6 x 2 TB

The disk on the compute nodes is used for VMs and volumes, which is to say:

  • a portion can be used for VM instances, the files that back the VMs
  • a portion can be used for volumes, the files that back the virtual hard disks for the VMs (technically speaking it’s logical volumes that back the virtual hard disks but you can think of them as files). See Managing Volumes.

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It’s a great read, and I highly recommend anyone even remotely considering OpenStack to take a look, and follow them as they continue to provide the community updates on their journey.  (The link to Cybera’s post is available at the end of this blog entry.)

As Dell announced a few months ago, we’re actively engaging telcos, hosters, service providers and others on getting them going on OpenStack today.   We have OpenStack experts on staff developing product, working with the community, and driving innovative design – you probably recognize some of the names – Rob Hirschfeld, Greg Althaus, and a few others. 

And we’re proud to say that Dell was the ONLY hardware solutions provider to have been part of the community since its creation in July 2010.

To date, we’ve

  • Authored the wildly popular “Bootstrapping OpenStack Clouds” technical whitepaper, which details hyperscale design for multi-node OpenStack clouds
      
  • Developed the as popular OpenStack tool, Crowbar, which deploys a MULTI-NODE OpenStack cloud in a matter of minutes rather than hours (yes, that “MULTI-NODE” differentiation is important).  It also allows for certain infrastructure configuration, network discovery, and is the basis for the operational model we feel will be optimal for OpenStack management.  
      
  • Defined a reference architecture for OpenStack on Dell PowerEdge C cloud optimized servers
      
  • Been developing relationships with a number of valued partners in the OpenStack community, such as Rackspace Cloud Builders, Citrix, Opscode and others, as we continue to get customers to a full OpenStack cloud.
      

If you’re looking to start on the path that Cybera has gone down with OpenStack as a cloud platform, we’d love to talk to you.  Reach out to us at OpenStack@Dell.com.

And stay tuned – the best is yet to come. 🙂

More info:

  
Until next time,

JBGeorge
@jbgeorge

VIDEO: #Dell and #Citrix discuss #OpenStack at Citrix Synergy 2011

May 31, 2011 1 comment

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Sameer Dholakia, VP of Marketing at Citrix, and I had a chance to visit with the VM blog team while we were at Synergy 2011 last week, and we talked about OpenStack, Project Olympus and how Dell and Citrix are helping move the OpenStack movement forward.

Some key items we touch on:

  • The history of OpenStack, where Dell and Citrix are pioneer community partners
  • Citrix’s announcement of Project Olympus, which include be a distribution of OpenStack
  • Core competencies that both Dell and Citrix bring to the OpenStack community
  • How OpenStack fits into Dell’s mantra of open, capable, and affordable.
      

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You can also read David Marshall’s Virtualization Report article on InfoWorld that details more about Dell, Citrix, OpenStack, and Project Olympus at https://www.infoworld.com/d/virtualization/citrix-commercializes-openstack-project-olympus-550?page=0,0

Learn more at www.citrix.com/olympus and www.dell.com/openstack

You can also email me at OpenStack@Dell.com.

Enjoy! 

Until next time,

JOSEPH
@jbgeorge