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Building on OpenStack Infrastructure: CloudForms Plus ManageIQ

 

With the OpenStack Design Summit in full swing, much deserved attention is going to infrastructure—which is to say the on-premise foundation for operating systems such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux. A huge amount of activity is taking place within this layer as it evolves to supporting hybrid application models spanning both traditional enterprise applications and new-style cloud workloads. OpenStack is focused on the latter; a massive developer community is helping it become the best platform for stateless, modular, cloud-oriented applications.

 

However, enterprises need more than just the great cloud infrastructure provided by OpenStack. They also need features like chargeback, policy, orchestration, reporting and automation. And, they don't want OpenStack to become a stand-alone silo, isolated from their existing and future enterprise virtualization platforms and public clouds. Red Hat CloudForms is focused on solving both of these problems.

 

Consider first the need for cloud operations management tools, which include monitoring, management and automation across virtual and cloud infrastructure through a unified interface. CloudForms tools can discover, automate, monitor, measure and govern virtualization and cloud infrastructures. At a higher level, operations management is fundamentally about service lifecycle management, which provides for provisioning, intelligent workload management, metering, cost transparency and the retirement of resources when they are no longer required.

 

Because of the importance of these functions, in December 2012, Red Hat acquired ManageIQ with the aim of more rapidly bringing these capabilities to the CloudForms platform; the ManageIQ EVM product was already in production at major customers—and Red Hat continues to support that product.

 

The second need—avoiding new silos—requires hybrid cloud management, which spans heterogeneous platforms, whether on-premise or public clouds, and maintains application portability across those environments. Providing such capabilities was a guiding principle of CloudForms from the beginning: Cut across islands of technology, preserve existing IT investments and create common resource pools across a broad set of infrastructure.

 

We're working to deliver this full gamut of capabilities to Red Hat (and former ManageIQ) customers through the integration of technology Red Hat developed for CloudForms with that developed by ManageIQ. In part, they come from capabilities provided by ManageIQ EVM itself. It’s polished, highly functional, and in production. But these capabilities are also highly complementary to those that had been previously developed as part of CloudForms.

 

At one level, the two products were attacking similar hybrid cloud management problems. However, they were coming at those problems from different angles and had prioritized different use cases (which is to say different customer problems). For example, a cross-platform image template and construction function was prioritized for CloudForms over the operations management tools that ManageIQ built. Our plan is to aggregate this functionality and deliver it within a single product later this year. The reason that we can plan such relatively rapid integration is that both ManageIQ EVM and CloudForms were written using Ruby, which greatly simplifies bringing the two products together into a single unified whole.

 

We believe that this integration will enable Red Hat to more rapidly deliver on the promise of an open hybrid cloud to our customers. It will help them leverage their existing investments. It will help them avoid lock-in. It will help put them in control of their strategic direction. As a result, the integration of the existing capabilities within both ManageIQ and CloudForms—and helping our customers take full advantage of those capabilities to solve their business problems—is well underway and remains an important priority for Red Hat in 2013 and beyond.

 

However, at the same time we integrate our already considerable open hybrid cloud management product assets, we also plan to continue to add new functionality to support new market demands. One important project is adding support for OpenStack and then continuing to improve that manageability through a combination of CloudForms enhancements and our work within the OpenStack community. Of course, with both CloudForms and OpenStack, we'll also be doing the work required to make them predictable, consumable products for business.

 

We also plan on integrating CloudForms with OpenShift Enterprise for operational management of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) environments. OpenShift provides secure multi-tenancy within operating system instances using a variety of “container,” security containment (SELinux), resource management (Cgroups), and global namespace technologies. CloudForms can augment these capabilities with the ability to provision, monitor and scale the nodes themselves on OpenStack, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and other platforms.

 

Finally, we also intend to continue our work to more tightly marry application lifecycle management to other aspects of open hybrid cloud management. Red Hat Network Satellite has a long track record of helping customers manage large-scale Red Hat Enterprise Linux deployments using standard operating environments for efficiency and consistency. As operational management evolves to meet the needs of hybrid cloud infrastructures, we expect that the application lifecycle management provided by Satellite to evolve to handle both today's and tomorrow's applications.

 

Today, Red Hat CloudForms provides a single pane of glass for unified monitoring, management and automation across enterprise clouds and globally distributed, virtualized datacenters. And we expect those capabilities will only increase in the future as it leverages both the existing and future innovation of open source communities and projects, wherever they exist.