This chapter highlights some of the challenges faced in managing hybrid cloud environments that contain a mix of private and public clouds and traditional virtualized infrastructure. It then introduces Red Hat CloudForms, its architecture, its components, and features that overcome these challenges.
The following topics are covered in this chapter:
What is a cloud management platform?
Hybrid cloud management challenges
Introducing Red Hat CloudForms
Types of provisioning
The open source version of Red Hat CloudForms
At the time of writing this book, Red Hat CloudForms 3.1 is the latest version.
Simply put, a cloud management platform is a piece of all-in-one software with integrated tools that provide a unified platform for provisioning, management, billing, control, and governance of resources across different types of cloud deployments, such as private and public, and virtualized infrastructures.
A more formal definition of a cloud management platform is well made by Gartner, which is a global research company in America.
Gartner defines a cloud management platform as:
Integrated products that provide for the management of public, private and hybrid cloud environments. The minimum requirements to be included in this category are products that incorporate self-service interfaces, provision system images, enable metering and billing, and provide for some degree of workload optimization through established policies. More-advanced offerings may also integrate with external enterprise management systems, include service catalogs, support the configuration of storage and network resources, allow for enhanced resource management via service governors and provide advanced monitoring for improved "guest" performance and availability.
According to Gartner, when choosing a cloud management platform, here are some capabilities to look for:
One of the important challenges in running a cloud infrastructure is management. This challenge is compounded if you also have a heterogeneous environment of on-premise virtualized infrastructure. Let's take a look at some of the most common hybrid cloud management challenges companies face in day-to-day operations:
Centralized management: Most companies will already have a virtualized infrastructure and also be using either both private and public clouds or at least one of them. Hence, they will have management tools for each of these infrastructures, for example, a management tool for VMware, another for a public cloud (such as Amazon Web Services), and then maybe a tool for managing a private cloud (such as OpenStack). The challenge is in managing them separately.
Life cycle management: Life cycle management involves automation of tasks such as requesting resources, approval, provisioning, customization, reconfiguration, and finally retiring the resources. A lack of life cycle management capabilities can lead to losing track and continuing to run needless resources, causing management and cost overhead. This results from the need to manage individual silos.
Capacity management: One of the reasons for which companies move to the cloud, especially a hybrid one, is to be able to meet the sudden demand of resources from a public cloud, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS). The challenge is to know when to cross over and provision new resources through automation.
Chargeback: Being able to accurately collect utilization data and charge back a tenant or internal department is another challenge that most companies face. It involves performing a manual process or the use of a vendor-specific tool, which again results in manual aggregation in the case of a heterogeneous environment. Companies face the lack of a unified platform for chargeback.
Governance: With self-service being one of the main reasons for cloud adaptability, governance becomes key to hassle-free, automated commissioning and decommissioning of resources. Also, in the case of a hybrid cloud, the challenge is to make it work seamlessly across environments instead of separate governance policies for virtual and the cloud.
Orchestration: Orchestration templates are vendor-specific and fail to work across providers. The challenge is a platform from where an orchestration template will be able to deploy resources across virtual and cloud environments.
Integration: A diverse IT environment consisting of physical, virtual, and cloud infrastructures running in different types of hardware, stack, and platform in different geographical locations makes integration of services difficult.
Security and Compliance: This is a challenge that always figures at the top of the list. Administrators need to ensure that compliance is met when provisioning resources across different types of infrastructures, users do not have more than the required permissions, and resources are provisioned with a set standard or configuration.
Unified analytics: Having a unified view of resources, their consumption across environments, and providers to monitor; viewing trends; checking performance; and forecasting are other challenges that businesses face with a hybrid cloud deployment.
External cloud: Another challenge with hybrid cloud deployments is integration with external or public clouds for workload deployment. In most cases, this is managed separately in a manual way, or it is sometimes scripted, but still it requires a lot of hassles. Presenting external clouds as an extension of your data center or private cloud is still a challenge.
Red Hat CloudForms is a scalable, open, and extensible management platform that provides insight, control, automation, and integration capabilities all under a single pane of glass. It is apt for managing resources distributed across private and hybrid clouds, and also includes support for traditional virtualized environments.
It can help you build a private cloud using existing virtualized infrastructure and deliver self-service infrastructure resources, such as compute, storage, and networking. It provides an advanced virtualization management platform with capabilities such as:
Monitoring and tracking
Capacity management and planning
Resource usage and optimization
Workload life cycle management
Policies to govern access and usage
Red Hat CloudForms can also help you build and manage a hybrid cloud from a unified platform, or just provide enhanced management capabilities to existing private cloud environments built using platforms such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack. Some of these capabilities include:
A self-service portal and catalogs
Controls for managing requests
Quota enforcement and usage
Chargeback and cost allocation
It follows an open-hybrid cloud strategy, making it possible to use external technologies such as VMware, Hyper-V, and Amazon Web Services EC2 and run Linux, as well as Windows workloads alike.
An easy-to-deploy management appliance available for different virtualization and cloud platforms
A lightweight web-based interface meant to administer, manage, and operate a private or hybrid cloud
Directory integration support for control and compliance, which supports existing technologies such as Active Directory, IBM Blue Pages and LDAP
A multitenant architecture that's secure and isolated, with each tenant containing its own data and network
It provides secure and compliant management across infrastructure platforms by using policies
It ensures high availability through the clustering of hosts and zoning of cloud resources
Load balancing capabilities through clustering
The unified management of resources spread across geographical locations
Support for heterogeneous infrastructure and cloud platforms
Improved automation through services and service catalogs
A better optimization of resources
A single tool to manage it all
The architecture of Red Hat CloudForms consists of a host of features that together form the adaptive management platform, which sits on top of the virtualized and cloud infrastructures, providing a unified management experience.
Red Hat CloudForms consists of the CloudForms Management Engine, which is the primary component. This appliance is provided as a secure, high-performance, and preconfigured virtual machine in different formats for different deployment environments, such as Open Virtualization Format (OVF) for VMware, QCOW2 (QEMU Copy On Write) image for Red Hat OpenStack, and Red Hat Virtual Appliance for RHEV.
In addition to the CloudForms Management Engine, there are some other components that make up the platform:
Virtual Management Database: This collects information about the virtual infrastructure and appliance. It is usually part of the CloudForms Management Engine Appliance, but can be deployed on another machine as well.
CloudForms Management Engine Console: This provides the User Interface (UI) required to view, manage, and control the CloudForms Management Engine Appliance. It uses Web 2.0 mash-ups and web service interfaces for communication.
SmartProxy: This component can either be used as part of the CloudForms Management Engine Appliance or be installed separately on an ESX server. It performs actions on behalf of the CloudForms Management Engine Appliance on data stores. The communication between the appliance and SmartProxy takes place over HTTPS.
Red Hat CloudForms provides a lot of capabilities which can be broadly categorized into four different feature sets, that build upon one another to provide seamless, unified management of the hybrid cloud infrastructure:
Insight: The insight feature set includes discovery, monitoring, utilization, performance, reporting, analytics, chargeback, and trending, which give operational visibility of the hybrid cloud environment
Red Hat CloudForms provides a host of infrastructure management benefits depending on the use case and implementation, some of which include:
Infrastructure providers are platforms that provide virtualization capabilities to on-premise/co-located hardware consisting of machines that run a piece of virtualization software. Currently, the following infrastructure providers are supported:
Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager
Red Hat CloudForms can provision virtual machines (also called as instances in the cloud terminology) and hosts (otherwise called servers).
The provisioning types supported on VMware are:
The provisioning sources supported on a Red Hat infrastructure are:
The term "instance" is used for virtual machines when creating in Amazon EC2 and OpenStack infrastructures. CloudForms uses images to deploy instances that are available from the respective cloud providers.
There is an open source version of CloudForms available, called ManageIQ. Red Hat CloudForms is actually a downstream of this community product, to which Red Hat is a major contributor. More information about ManageIQ can be obtained from http://manageiq.org/.
In this chapter, we looked into the challenges that system administrators and DevOps personnel face in managing multiple environments spread across traditional virtualization and cloud platforms, and saw that the architecture and components of CloudForms have features that can solve this.
In a nutshell, Red Hat CloudForms is a heterogeneous cloud management platform that solves many operational challenges, not only for cloud infrastructures, but also for virtualized infrastructures from a unified platform. It addresses the capabilities that you should look for and much more.
In the next chapter, we will learn how to install and configure Red Hat CloudForms appliance on an OpenStack environment, access the browser-based user interface, and navigate around.