IBM Puffs Up New Cloud Controllers For Power Platforms
October 13, 2014 Timothy Prickett Morgan
As part of the Power Systems announcements on October 6, IBM did not just put out some new servers and an update to the current two releases of the IBM i operating system. The company also tweaked a bunch of software in the Power Systems stack, all of which is important because right now the Power platform is the platform of choice for Big Blue for just about every workload you can think of. There is no System x division.
If you want to build clouds based on Power machines, you have to have software to control the compute and storage components of that cloud, and IBM updated two different cloud controllers in conjunction with last week’s flurry of new products coming out of its Enterprise2014 event in Las Vegas.
The first updated cloud controller is called IBM Cloud Manager, and in announcement letter 214-377, you can see that this software was updated to the 4.2 release and, importantly, provides a seamless upgrade from the prior 4.1 release. Cloud Manager 4.2 is based on the upcoming “Juno” release of the OpenStack cloud controller, which is technically known as OpenStack 2014.2.0 and which is coming out on October 16 from the OpenStack community. With this update, IBM is adding support for the Sahara deployment tool for putting Apache Hadoop or its Spark query add-on on top of an OpenStack cloud. IBM is also adding support for the Trove project from OpenStack, which implements a database as a service layer on top of OpenStack clouds and helps automate the deployment, provisioning, and backup of both SQL and NoSQL databases. The IBM Juno OpenStack distribution also includes the Nova compute, the Swift object storage, the Keystone authentication, the Glance repository, the Neutron virtual networking, the Horizon dashboard, the Heat orchestration, and the Ceilometer telemetry components of OpenStack. IBM has also made sure that the Cinder block storage drivers work on Power iron as well.
IBM has also spent time creating what are called cookbooks using a popular system configuration tool called Chef that can install OpenStack on top of KVM, PowerKVM, and PowerVM hypervisors, and can reach out into X86 iron running Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware ESXi hypervisors as well as KVM. This hybrid option is important because many Power Systems customers also have X86 iron and they probably want to manage from the Power side, not the X86 side.
IBM has also added Platform Resource Scheduler, which I presume is part of its Platform Computing tools that are commonly used to manage myriad concurrent workloads on supercomputer clusters. In any event, this scheduler can move virtual machines (IBM has stopped calling them logical partitions on Power) around a cluster of Power iron to meet service level and other policy-driven objectives. These policies are sophisticated, and include scheduling based on packing, striping, load balancing, memory and CPU utilization balancing as well as VM affinity and VM anti-affinity methods.
Cloud Manager V4.2 runs on any Power-based system, including Power Systems, PowerLinux, BladeCenter, PureFlex, and FlexSystem branded machines. It will be available on December 12. IBM is pricing Cloud Manager in a number of different ways. You can buy a perpetual license to the software for $1,200 per socket plus $480 for a three-year Software Maintenance (SWMA) support contract. Or you can get an annual license (ALC) for $720 per socket. There is a slight uplift if you want to convert from 9×5 to 24×7 support.
Another tool that has been ported over to OpenStack, formerly known as SmartCloud Orchestrator and now known as Cloud Orchestrator, has been updated to V2.4 as part of last week’s announcements. This implementation of OpenStack is intended to integrate private clouds based on Power and X86 iron with the Amazon Web Services and SoftLayer public clouds. At the moment, Cloud Orchestrator supports the PowerVM hypervisor on Power-based systems, and it is based on the “Icehouse” release of OpenStack, which came out in April. Cloud Orchestrator lags a bit because IBM has to tweak hundreds of application patterns, which are part and parcel of the whole PureSystems sales pitch, to work with OpenStack. With Cloud Orchestrator V2.4, IBM is adding support for OpenStack Heat and Neutron, but it does not seem to have the richness of features that are coming with Cloud Manager V4.2.
While Cloud Orchestrator can control VMs on Power iron, it actually runs atop Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.4 or 6.5 and its integrated KVM hypervisor or VMware’s ESXi 5.0, 5.1, or 5.5 hypervisors. Pricing was not divulged.
It seems odd that IBM would have two OpenStack variants, and it seems likely that the company will try to make a single version of its OpenStack with all of the bells and whistles and that can be deployed on Power Systems iron. We will try to get a sense from Big Blue what the most appropriate tools are for IBM i shops and if there is a converged roadmap in the works.