HP uses OpenStack to glue CloudSystems to public clouds

Gradually rolling out Grizzly code on the HP Cloud

Before OpenStack was even an idea, HP had cooked up an all-blade system strategy and some utility computing control software that it merged together into the BladeSystem Matrix. The software in that automated cloud-in-a-box has now evolved.

BladeSystem Matrix now includes some elements of the OpenStack cloud controller and is designed to work with OpenStack-based clouds. HP is also adopting bits of the just-released "Grizzly" update to OpenStack in its public cloud.

The BladeSystem Matrix setup has now been split into three. The basic infrastructure cloud capability is packaged up as VirtualSystem, the full-on box with cloud orchestration (using HP's Insight server management and Opsware patch and app management tools as well as some bits of code licensed from Adaptive Computing) is called the CloudSystem, and if you plunk preconfigured apps atop the CloudSystem, you make an AppSystem.

You will note that while HP has chosen rack-based servers and the open source OpenStack controllers to run its own HP Cloud, the company has not ditched all of the software inside of the CloudSystem and gone with OpenStack. But some code that HP previewed last December is being rolled out as part of the CloudSystem 7.2 software release today. With this update, HP is weaving OpenStack into the CloudSystem software so it can support the KVM hypervisor championed by Red Hat.

The control freak at the heart of CloudSystem could already deploy VMware ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors for x86-based ProLiant blades and put HP's own IntegrityVM hypervisor on Itanium-based Integrity blades inside the CloudSystem. But rather than tweak this control freak so it could support any variant of KVM, including Red Hat's free-standing Enterprise Virtualization or the variant of KVM that Canonical embeds inside of its Ubuntu Server distribution, the HP KVM support for CloudSystem only allows for the KVM hypervisor embedded inside Red Hat Enterprise Linux to be deployed on the x86 server nodes.

OpenStack is basically used as an API translation layer between the CloudSystem control freak and the KVM inside of RHEL, by the way.

While that is somewhat limiting, the good news is that you can deploy ESXi, Hyper-V, and KVM on x86 blades and manage them all from the CloudSystem console. And this is important to the enterprises that HP is peddling hardware, software, and services.

HP wants to put CloudSystem at the heart of enterprise private and public clouds

HP wants to put CloudSystem at the heart of enterprise private and public clouds

"We see a small set of customers that are purely adopting OpenStack for their private cloud," Frances Guida, manager of cloud solutions and infrastructure at HP, explained to El Reg. "But we see a larger set of customers who are weaving OpenStack into a broader set of private clouds, and that is where CloudSystem comes in."

If you want, you can pay HP to create a variant of the CloudSystem software stack that runs on non-HP iron, according to Guida. She did not say what this might cost, but it's probably not a small number.

The CloudSystem 7.2 software also allows for workloads that are running on the private cloud in the data center to be burst out to the HP Cloud. In fact, this cloud-bursting feature is also based on OpenStack code that has been borged into the Matrix Operating Environment.

HP is offering a free trial that will allow for applications running inside of virtual machines to be burst out to the HP Cloud for three months at no charge. The free trial gives customers who want Linux server capacity 950 unit-hours per month to play with and up to 555 unit-hours per month for Windows. You also get 222GB per month of storage capacity for those compute images running on the HP Cloud and accepting work pushed to them from a CloudSystem running in the data center.

There is another more intense free trial called Cloud Runway that also provides CloudSystem bursting activation, which normally costs $2,300 to set up and includes 30 days of compute and storage on the HP Cloud, which is valued at $1,000. This Cloud Runway lets you have 60 days more of additional compute and storage capacity at a 50 per cent discount – a deal that expires on April 30.

The CloudSystem cloud-bursting capability can also push work out to the EC2 compute cloud at Amazon Web Services or the Symphony virtual private data center run by Savvis. You don't have to use the HP Cloud, but you will have to work out a deal on your own with either to give it a try. You can also burst from CloudSystem iron in one data center to another one if you have multiple data centers and fat Internet pipes linking them.

And because there is always a services angle to any HP announcement – or any IBM or Dell or Oracle announcement, for that matter – Big Meg is offering one service to help you burst between your CloudSystems and another to help you configure your CloudSystem to burst to the HP Cloud. The trials above may be free, but you have to figure out how to do it by yourself or pay HP to help. These services will be available later this summer.

Moving with care – and speed

While the Grizzly implementation of the OpenStack cloud controller has been available for two weeks, HP is not just grabbing all 820,000 lines of code and replacing its mix of earlier OpenStack software that is underpinning the HP Cloud public cloud.

"From a high level, we are committed to staying on trunk," explains Margaret Dawson, HP's veep of product marketing and cloud evangelism. "But we also have to make sure that it is enterprise ready. We are just doing additional testing to make it a hardened OpenStack implementation."

The object storage at the HP Cloud, which is based on the Swift component of OpenStack, has been moved up to Grizzly and has been transparently applied to the cloud without any interruption to users. The only thing that users might notice, says Dawson, is some improvement in object storage performance.

The Grizzly updates to the Nova compute and the Cinder block storage are in pre-production testing at the moment, and will be put on the HP Cloud in a few months.

HP is also rolling out an early access (meaning "private") beta of the Marconi message bus for OpenStack running as a messaging service for the HP Cloud, meant to provide similar functions to the AWS Simple Queue Service and Simple Notification Service.

SQS is a message queuing service that allows for multiple virtual machines to run application components that are dependent on each other and have messages pile up without stalling or crashing applications. SNS is a messaging service that pushes messages out of applications to the web, email, SMS services, and other things that people commonly look in for updates.

It's difficult to write a modern application without queuing and messaging service, which the OpenStack community clearly concedes in the Marconi specs.

Like the AWS with its SQS and SNS services, HP will eventually charge money for the Marconi service once it is generally available – but it's free during the beta period. AWS charges for data coming out of the SNS and SQS, but not for data as it is coming into its cloudy data centers to be processed by either.

As for what HP has been doing to contribute to the Grizzly release, the company had a bunch of developers working on different parts of the heavenly kernel.

HP developed the specification for Keystone domains, which are used to provide and abstract management container-to-group virtual machines and services running on an OpenStack cloud by user, group, or project. (Keystone is the identity management service in OpenStack.)

HP had five developers working on the Glance virtual machine disk images, and they contributed 25 different features. HP had six developers working on the Nova compute controller, with a total of 42 contributions; it had three developers working on the Switch object storage controller, with seven contributions, and other engineers also worked on volume backups for the Cinder block storage service. In the Quantum networking part of Grizzly, HP is working on a plug-in for its various SDN wares. ®

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