Monday, May 5, 2014

Openstack and System z

Openstack and system z ? ? ?


I wrote a piece on Openstack in our System z Newsletter a couple of weeks ago. I thought I might share it over here as well.

People who read my blog know that I’ve mentioned Openstack already a couple of times. By the end of last year it was becoming quite clear that OpenStack is going to play an important role in the overall IBM strategy on Cloud ├ánd also in the System z world. So I started wondering : what is it ? What makes it so special ? And quite specifically : what does it mean for System z ? So I thought, let me try and understand this for myself and then make an attempt to explain this to my readers as well. And I can start by telling you that at te beginning I was quite sceptical about it. But therefore, let me take you a couple of years back.

It started out when I saw this chart for the first time at one or other mainframe presentation talking about System z Unified Resource Manager or zManager. It must’ve been somewhere halfway 2012 around the announcement of zEC12. The zManager part was clear to me, but why dragging in the Flex Systems, System x, Power and even VMWare for heaven’s sake ? Why sure, yet another layer on top of the rest ! And why this tight interlink with the distributed environments. No, this will never happen.


But then, as I mentioned already, in 2013 the name OpenStack popped up time and again. With the announcement of the zBC12 the graphic had undergone some changes : the OpenStack layer was added, z/VM was no longer under the umbrella of zManager but was put directly under OpenStack. And IBM told us that z/VM, as of z/VM V6.3, would be “the first System z operating environment that can be managed with these open cloud architecture-based interfaces”. Hey, where’s this going at ? Did I miss something ?


Let me tell you what we were missing : we’re looking at it from the wrong angle. We’re taking the bottom – up look. I have my own mainframe and I’m managing it. I’m managing its storage as well. And yes, perhaps zManager was a step forward : I could now manage several aspects from one, let’s call it, dashboard. But another layer on top of that ? That’s surely overkill. But you know what, take a step back and take a look at this from a business perspective instead. That’s just the opposite : you’re now looking from the top to the bottom. And frankly, at that point, you don’t even care whether you see the bottom. It’s like swimming in the sea : you just know there’s water all the way down. You won’t fall into some or other empty space and that’s exactly what OpenStack is going to do for you. You must be thinking in terms of business, resolving problems, analyzing data, getting ahead of the competition and all of this with more or less reliability, performance or security depending on what kind of workload you want to run. And let the technical guys take care of all the rest.

Switching roles again, as a technical guy, you can also make that step upwards. The constructors will take care of pretty much everything that’s underneath the OpenStack layer. You can move up to get close to the business people. You won’t be talking about LPARs or SSDs or Hypervisors. You’ll be talking their language about solutions and you’ll be implementing them on a totally different level. But it’ll work !

How on earth will that be possible ? Well, I think it’s time to tell a little bit more about OpenStack and IBMs (and lots of other companies’) commitment to it.

Openstack

But first let me explain where OpenStack is actually playing within the entire Cloud spectrum where anything can be delivered as a Service (AAAS - Anything As A Service).

For those who are completely unfamiliar with this we usually see these four levels presented : At the bottom we have the hardware, next up are the Infrastructure Services (IAAS – Infrastructure As A Service), then come the Platform Services (PAAS – Platform As A Service) and at the top level we have the Business Applications as Compononts (SAAS – Software As A Service).


Below you see how these levels can be filled in :

Click on the image in order to see a larger version
I deliberately chose illustrations with no specific vendor products as we’re talking open source here. Each of those layers has significant open source elements driving out a coherent way of approaching cloud computing today : private, public or hybrid. The objective is to help build out this open cloud architecture from the hardware all the way up to how people access it on any device interacting with an application. This leads the way to build out an architecture in such a way that it is open, that allows for innovation but also allows us to move the workloads where appropriate and to have a choice of application infrastructure as we start to build these things out.

Coming to OpenStack : OpenStack plays at the IAAS level. “OpenStack is a global collaboration of developers and cloud computing technologists that seek to produce a ubiquitous Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) open source cloud computing platform for public and private clouds. The idea is to have portability of a workload, a VM image … across different types of infrastructures.

OpenStack was founded by Rackspace Hosting and NASA jointly in July 2010. IBM joined Openstack in February 2011. By now IBM is a Platinum member meaning that it is a part of the body responsible for OpenStack governance. But why such a dedication to an open cloud software ?

Just as operating systems and virtualization technology come in both proprietary and open source versions, so does cloud platform software. The main reasons open source operating systems and virtualization technology have taken hold in the data center are usually cited as avoiding any vendor lock-in while at the same time optimizing on cost and performance. This trend has continued with cloud software technology solutions, where several proprietary and open source solutions are available on the market. However, without an open-standards approach, organizations will be locked in to a proprietary or point solution that doesn’t interoperate well or that is too costly over the long term. That’s why IBM is investing significantly in sponsoring and supporting open source solutions like OpenStack.

The lifeblood of any open source project is the community that contributes to it. This is important in terms of the basic usefulness of the project (and hence, product!) and the rate at which the project group accelerates new functionality.

The OpenStack community has close to 300 companies working together to develop an open source platform that is rich with cloud services. As an example, the latest release—Havana—had some 400 new features added by over 900 individuals from 145 different companies. These features include the core infrastructure-as-a-service layers (compute, network, and storage) and other key capabilities, which include automation, security, and a portal, just to name a few. (* - For this part of my text, I borrowed heavily from the ESG White Paper ‘IBM Storage with OpenStack Brings Simplicity and Robustness to Cloud’ from Mark Peters, Senior Analyst and Wayne Pauley, Senior Analyst)

This whole idea is reflected in the following illustration of OpenStack with the three core infrastructure-as-a-service layers (compute, network, and storage).

So, where does that all come together ? And how does it fit in with System z and its related Storage.

Openstack and System z . . . and more ! ! !

Therefore we go back to where we started : Openstack and System z. The starting point to me was z/VM 6.3 managed through OpenStack. In an article by Daniel Robinson System z Director Kelly Ryan commented on this : "Whatever cloud computing layer the client is running, whatever tools are pushing down on OpenStack, they can now push down on to z/VM and do the provisioning through it. You can envision a picture where you have your System z pieces, your PowerVM pieces, some VMware pieces, anything that ties up to OpenStack, available in a consistent manner".

The illustration below shows how that complete picture, including System z, will then look like. As you can see, it’s not only System z, it’s not only IBM distributed platforms, but it’s also 3rd party hypervisors and hardware. You can now service your business or let your business service itself from the grey layer. As a matter of fact all these companies contributing to the OpenStack project make sure that OpenStack is the one communicating with the lowest layer taking care of the provisioning of compute, networking and storage resources  . . . as I promised in the beginning.


We’ve seen how this already works for z/VM, but let me give you another example with the DS8870. You can find all the details about it in this redbooks Solutions Guide ‘Using the IBM DS8870 in an OpenStack Cloud Environment’ that you can find over here. It also contains some more technical details on OpenStack.

IBM wrote an IBM Storage Driver for OpenStack enabling OpenStack clouds to access the DS8870 storage system. This OpenStack driver provides an infrastructure for managing volumes and is the interface to the DS8870.
The dashboard provides a web-based user interface for managing OpenStack services for both users and administrators. So, the OpenStack cloud connects to the DS8870 storage system over an iSCSI or Fibre Channel connection. Remote cloud users can issue requests for storage volumes from the OpenStack cloud. These requests are transparently handled by the IBM Storage Driver. The IBM Storage Driver communicates with the DS8870 storage system and controls the storage volumes on it. Functionalities include such abilities as provisioning, attaching, snapshotting, basic backup, encryption, and quality of service (QoS). In the future, it will grow to include replication management and the changing of service level agreements (SLAs).
I describe this for the DS8870 but this is also already applicable to the XIV and the StorWize family.

Is OpenStack visionary, is it already reality ? As you can see for the moment it’s a bit of both but I’m nevertheless convinced that it’s becoming a reality that’s here to stay.

1 comment:

Aeldra Robinson said...

OpenStack Telemetry Service (Ceilometer) provides a Single Point Of Contact for billing systems, providing all the counters they need to establish customer billing, across all current and future OpenStack components.


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