Dan's Take

Software-Defined Control for KVM and OpenStack Environments

Do you know where all your workloads are?

Cirba's Andrew Hillier came by to discuss the changes his company is seeing in the movement toward implementing software-defined environments and to announce that the company's added both KVM and OpenStack environments to the long and growing list of supported environments. Hillier and I have spoken before about Cirba's products and philosophy that datacenters should be seen as hotels or conference centers in which tenants come and go, rather than as condos in which tenants move in and stay a long time.

Optimization of Resource Utilization
In their race to reduce overall costs, increase levels of agility and reduce the overall perceived complexity of their computing environments, many organizations have adopted the goal of achieving the optimal use of their available systems, system memory, storage and network infrastructure.

To achieve that goal, operations staff need a tool that makes it possible to easily reserve "rooms;" check in, stay a while and do their work; check out; then have the "room" refreshed for the next "tenant." The reservation/optimization system should monitor and organize all of the types of systems found in the datacenter regardless of whether they're all industry standard systems or a mix of mainframes, midrange Unix systems or industry standard x86 systems.

This can mean that more work can be accomplished using the same resources. It can also mean that these organizations can safely reduce the number of systems in their portfolio and still meet their goals. They could also know in advance that their available resources weren't up to the task of accommodating all the scheduled work, with plenty of time for the organization to acquire new physical or cloud-based resources.

Cirba describes its capabilities in the following way:

"Cirba's award-winning Control Console provides unprecedented visibility into opportunities to increase efficiency and reduce capacity-related performance risks in KVM infrastructure. Using Cirba will eliminate the need for organizations to manually determine where workloads should be placed and enable them to make more efficient use of hardware and software resources. Cirba has been shown to increase VM density by an average of 48% in VMware-based infrastructure. In addition, Cirba's Reservation Console provides integration to OpenStack to automate the entire process of selecting the optimal hosting environment (including Region and Availability Zone) for new workloads and reserve compute and storage capacity. The Reservation Console automates 'fit for purpose' placements of new workloads across multi-hypervisor, multi-SLA, multi-site virtual and cloud environments.

Dan's Take: Physical, Virtual or Cloud, Oh My!
Increasingly, organizations are deploying ever more complex computing environments. It's likely that established workloads are hosted on mainframes, midrange Unix systems, industry standard systems running Windows or Linux, and somewhere in a cloud services provider's datacenter. Tools such as those offered by Cirba make it possible to create a unified, software-defined environment that makes best use of the available resources.

If you consider the wealth of different types of hosts, different  virtualization options, and both on- and off-premises computing options, the environment is overwhelmingly complex:

  • Virtual machine software (VMware ESX, Microsoft Hyper-V, Xen and KVM)
  • OS virtualization and partitioning software (containers, LPARS, VPARS, JARS  and so on)
  • Application virtualization (Microsoft App-V, Citrix XenDesktop or AppZero)

These different types of environments make it almost impossible for operations staff to keep on top of what's running, where it's running, or whether the workload is executing on- or off-premises.

Cirba appears to have an excellent handle on this complex environment, and should be considered as a way to gain control of a nearly uncontrollable computing environment.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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