vFabric Application Director & VMware Cloud Applications Marketplace – An Interview with Dante Orsini, SVP Business Development,
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Dante Orsini leads business development at iland. Earlier this week we asked him a few questions about vFabric Application Director and the VMware Cloud Applications Marketplace to find out what his thoughts were about these recent VMware initiatives and how they can benefit iland customers.
What does vFabric Application Director do?
VMware vFabric™ Application Director is an application design tool that significantly simplifies and automates multi-tier complex applications in hybrid clouds. The product enables rapid deployments by using reusable standardized application configurations encapsulated in portable cloud application blueprints. In a nutshell it gives customers the ability to create their own Platform-as-a-Service.
How does this differ from creating a vApp and launching it in vCloud?
vCloud is focused on the infrastructure that is needed to deploy a virtual machine or groups of virtual machines. vFabric Application Director on the other hand is an extremely powerful design tool that allows you to create easily scalable cloud-based applications within a highly streamlined process. Using this tool you can quickly create multi-tier applications and easily add middleware components and services on the fly, streamlining the modeling process dramatically. vFabric Application Director also integrates with iland’s vCloud Services environment and supports various scripting languages to ensure that you are able to rapidly design, deploy, scale and even update application blueprints with ease.
Who will benefit from vFabric Application Director and what value will it bring?
iland customers will have the ability to create applications according to best practices without having to worry about cloud scaling. They can rest assured that these applications can be deployed not only within their own vSphere or vCloud-based environments but also in iland or any other cloud.
iland is also supporting the deployment of vFabric Application Director for many development teams who do not have access to a vCloud Director environment. These ISVs can deploy applications on iland’s infrastructure or their environment or even another cloud.
vFabric Director enables iland to create a richer public catalog that will expand on the OS templates we have today to other applications that will streamline our customers’ experience - whether that’s deploying various builds of a LAMP-stack to collaboration, content management and databases, and even virtual appliances
For example, if a customer wants to deploy a SQL server in the iland environment, what is the process they need to follow? The first step is to set up an account with iland. Secondly, they need to bring up the version of Microsoft Server that’s required. And finally, they have to install the version of SQL they want and patch and update everything. At that point they’re ready to go. The process is straightforward but it’s also time consuming. And what if you miss a step? With vFabric Director you can deploy that same application simply with a couple of clicks –making the whole process much quicker, easier and more reliable! And it’s also effortless to maintain because the vFabric Application Director tool makes it much easier to slipstream all the updates.
However, to take full advantage of vFabric Application Director, a user needs a vCloud environment.
What is the VMware Cloud Applications Marketplace?
The VMware Cloud Applications Marketplace or VMware Solution Exchange (VSX) as its otherwise known is VMware's online virtual appliance marketplace where you can evaluate, purchase and deploy partner products and solutions integrated with VMware's virtualization technology. Customers and partners can use the marketplace to exchange information, collaborate and engage on a range of topics and technologies in the rapidly evolving virtualization market.
What part will iland play?
iland is supporting the Cloud Applications Marketplace by enabling blueprints to be deployed within our cloud environment. We are collaborating with trusted ISVs in the marketplace and look forward to working with more as they create further blueprints using iland’s cloud infrastructure. Users can also use iland’s cloud infrastructure environment to try the applications listed in the marketplace.
iland will also use vFabric Application Director internally to create applications that we believe our customers will need to deploy day in and day out and we’ll make it easier for them to be able to do that.
The beauty of this tool is that it not only allows you to create the application – it’s also a modeling tool that allows you to work with individual components and decide what blueprint you want to use. Once created it has the ability to be updated very easily.
iland is collaborating with ISVs in the VMware applications marketplace and we’re looking forward to working with new ISVs to create blueprints that are deployed in the iland cloud services environment or any other cloud.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
When an IT administrator uses vCloud Director to deploy virtual machines (VMs) in the iland Cloud, it’s important to allocate the right amount of compute resources to those VMs. To do that an IT administrator needs to think about the:
- Number of vCPU’s
- Size of the virtual disk
- Number of vNICS
- Amount of memory required
Of these four variables, typically the two most difficult to determine are how many vCPU’s and how much memory to allocate to each VM. vCPU and memory exist as finite resources on a physical server but it’s these two resources that are the most demanded by the guest OS within each VM in the cloud.
As an IT administrator, you want to avoid over-allocating vCPU’s because over-allocation minimizes ROI. In fact, over-allocation of vCPU’s in a VM will cause performance problems for that VM and other VMs.
So how does an IT administrator size vCPU correctly?
CPU Usage through the “Virtualization Stack”
With a traditional server there is either an entire CPU or multiple CPUs (each with multiple cores) dedicated to the operating systems and the applications running on them. With virtualization however, vCloud Director abstracts that your VMs are running on a vSphere infrastructure in the background.
ESXi hosts support vCloud Director and provide a virtualization hypervisor that adds a layer between the OS and the physical CPU, allowing multiple VMs to share the hardware.
Instead of the CPU request from applications going to the OS and then the OS scheduling them on the physical CPU, the operating system in the VMs talks to virtual CPUs (which it thinks are real physical CPUs). Requests from the multiple virtual CPUs are scheduled by the hypervisor across the multiple physical CPU cores. Similar to memory sharing, CPU sharing in virtualization also occurs where the traditional OS CPU scheduler is maintained in both the OS of the VM and the hypervisor CPU scheduler.
Fig. 1:The “Virtualization Stack”
To summarize, CPU usage of physical servers differs from that of virtual servers because:
- In the physical world, applications are scheduled by the OS onto the physical CPUs
- In the virtual world, applications running on each OS, in each VM, make requests of virtual CPUs that are then scheduled by the hypervisor.
Single and Multi-Threading CPUs in vCloud Director
iland infrastructure hosts have multiple CPU cores in each CPU. The hosts’ CPU cores can execute “threads” in parallel. Think of a thread as a process so envision a CPU core being able to run multiple processes all at the same time (in parallel). However, having more than one CPU will only benefit applications that are multi-threaded applications. In other words, servers that are dedicated task-based servers (database servers, web servers, etc.) run a single-threaded application that will not see any performance benefit by adding more CPUs.
There are two ways to determine whether an application is single-threaded or multi-threaded:
- Ask the software developer/manufacturer if the application is multi- threaded and supports SMP (symmetric multi-processing).
- Assign the number of vCPUs to a VM, login and watch the application as the CPU demands increase. If the application uses only 25% of total CPU capacity (1 of the 4 cores), then it is a single-threaded application that can’t use more than one core. On the other hand, if the application is using 50%, 75% or 100% of the total CPU capacity (4 of the 4 cores), then it is mult-threaded.
In vCloud Director you only want to have multiple CPUs available if the application running on that host has multiple threads and can therefore take advantage of those CPUs.
If you over-allocate multiple vCPU’s to a VM and the primary application on that VM isn’t multi-threaded, you could actually cause performance issues for that VM and others. The reason for this is that with multiple vCPU’s, the hypervisor’s CPU scheduler must wait for multiple physical CPU time slots to become available before it can process requests from the multi-vCPU VM.
In other words:
- With one vCPU, CPU requests are quickly processed (or they are waiting on pCPU if no pCPU is available)
- With multiple vCPU’s, the hypervisor CPU scheduler must wait for multiple pCPUs to be available
- Having multiple vCPU’s when not needed will slow down VMs!!!
Fig.2: Application Processing with one vCPU
Fig.3: Application Processing with multiple vCPUs
Ensuring you have the right level of compute resources for each of your VMs will keep them running at optimum performance levels, keeping both your users and your management team happy.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Disaster recovery has become, well… a disaster, depending on who you talk to. There are numerous details that have to be considered prior to DR implementation: RTO (recovery time objective), RPO (recovery point objective), what to back up, retention policies, and perhaps most importantly, how the DR environment will be accessed by end users. In other words, how will your end users be affected?
Even after all of this has been determined, a company must make yet another important decision - how do we make it happen? Some organizations have the luxury of multiple datacenters at their disposal, large IT departments, and the expertise to implement their strategies in-house. But the majority of companies simply don’t have the staff, facilities, or experience required to attain their DR goals.
By leveraging VMware vCloud Director, iland provides a cloud-based DR solution that makes implementation, deployment, and the management of the DR plan easier—IT staff are able to configure their security layers and deploy virtual servers in minutes. vCloud Director is essentially a Web-based, self-service view of the cloud. It includes 10 Gigabit Ethernet connections to multiple Tier 1 providers, enterprise firewall services, and role-based access control through the integration of your directory services.
Because you have control over your DR environment, you can fine tune it to make sure it meets your business’s standards and test it as frequently as you want. Ultimately, you control your end users’ experience.
The takeaway here? The implementation and management of your DR plan doesn’t have to be a strain, nor do your customers have to take the brunt of unnecessary or unplanned downtime. vCloud Director is an effective tool that’s already preparing businesses (of all sizes) for natural and manmade disasters without having their customers feel the effects. iland and vCloud Director are changing things for the better.
Friday, August 10, 2012
The iland cloud represents a wealth of provisioned resources waiting to be filled with all the data and applications currently housed in a customer’s on-premise datacenter. When a company decides to deploy cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and shift their data into the cloud, one of the first questions asked is “How”?
iland provides several options that make it possible for IT organizations to migrate their data into the cloud:
You can package existing virtual machines into OVF templates and upload directly into the iland cloud. You can also deploy new virtual machines in the iland cloud and perform a manual migration of existing workload applications and data.
Double-Take Move is a popular migration tool that allows you to synchronize Windows server data and system state to target servers that can be deployed in the iland cloud environment. Double-Take offers a flexible option because it can synchronize Windows-based physical and non-VMware platforms into the iland cloud.
VMware vCloud Connector
If you already have an on-premise VMware environment you can use VMware vCloud Connector as an option. VMware vCloud Connector lets you view, operate on, and transfer your computing resources from your private cloud to the iland public cloud. VMware vCloud Connector copies templates, shuts down virtual machines across the WAN, and then allows the virtual machines to power back on following successful replication.
Manual migration is typically more suitable for those organizations with large data sets. Securely migrating data into the iland cloud is handled in two ways. First, iland can ship encrypted USB drives, where the copied data is protected by TrueCrypt. A second option is to transfer data via SFTP. There is a pre-seeding fee associated with initial data transfer into the iland cloud and our project teams works diligently with the customer to ensure secure migration.
There have been questions whether the iland cloud supports reformatting data to sync with SaaS providers formats for example. Since iland is an IaaS provider, only the underlying infrastructure is supported. Any OS level task is handled by the customer.
Migrating data and applications to the iland cloud requires a different process to traditional hardware-to-hardware solutions but is faster and easier because the cloud is a much more fluid environment. iland’s cloud gives you the freedom and flexibility to access your files from anywhere, at any time, enabling users to operate more productively and ultimately increasing your bottom line.
Friday, August 3, 2012
Customers moving from traditional physical deployment methods to iland cloud based models know that benefits include enhanced reliability, higher availability, improved cost savings, and rapid scalability. In this blog I want to focus on the ease and speed of scalability.
Planning for years of future growth becomes much easier when there is no longer the need to buy physical servers along with their estimated CPU, RAM and storage requirements. Instead customers can sign up for the exact quantity and tier of capacity they need and scale as their business grows.
Scalability is as quick and easy as ABC when you use the templates and vApp deployment capabilities of iland Cloud Services. Here’s what I mean:
One of the four tabs in vCloud Director is the “Catalog” tab. The catalog tab allows you to manage templates. A template is a “gold image” of a virtual machine that allows for efficient cloning when you need additional workload capacity. By “gold image” I mean a published template either by iland or you that is certified by your team to be the standard you want to deploy from. It is the copy that all future copies should be made from, until changes are made in the future that then become standardized at which point the “gold image” is updated to reflect those changes.
There are two sections to the Catalog tab: public catalog, and private catalog(s). The public catalog in the iland Cloud Services environment contains a list of templates published by iland. These templates contain the most popular configurations of Windows and Linux Operating systems as requested by our customers. The creation of private catalog templates can be completed one of three ways:
You can deploy an image from an iland template, or build a machine by hand in the vCloud Director portal and then choose the “add to catalog” option on the vApp once completed to create a custom template within the “my organization catalog” section of the catalog tab.
You can select the “import machine” option within the vApp Templates portion of your private catalog and select an OVF image from your local computer/shares to import directly into your catalogs.
If you have an existing vSphere deployment you can use a free tool from VMware called “vCloud Director”. vCloud Director allows you to control workloads and migrate templates from a single pane within your vSphere client. A more detailed posting on this topic can be found at: http://www.iland.com/blog/jack-bailey/vcloud-deployments-easy-123
Once you have the creation and management of templates perfected, adding additional capacity to existing vApps is simple:
First, go to the "My Cloud" tab select the vApp you would like to add resources to and right click to select "Open":
On the next screen click the "Add VM" button:
This will bring up a new virtual machine wizard that allows you to add new VMs to the vApp in one of three ways: by selecting a template from your "organization catalog", using the "public catalog", or by selecting the "new virtual machine" option at the bottom of the screen.
Scaling workloads to meet the demands of your organization really is as quick and easy as ABC.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Flexibility and agility—they’re the two attributes of a virtual environment on the VMware® platform that keep businesses functioning at peak capacity. If you’re already using VMware you’ll be pleased to know that iland offers a VMware hybrid cloud, making it possible for you to move your data into the cloud and manage it from the same VMware platform you’re already using. You might be wondering why anyone would want to transition data to a new cloud environment, other than for the simple management of virtual environments. Well, instead of having to buy expensive hardware, licensing, and storage to account for anticipated business growth, you can quickly spin up virtual machines whenever you need them.
Think about it. Overprovisioning for seasonal demands, special projects and even testing and development has slowed down business growth for years. With VMware-based, vCloud Powered services, the time and money you would have spent setting up new servers, SANs, licensing, cooling equipment, etc. could be used for future innovation or other initiatives that could propel your business forward. Better still, you can access all your resources from one, unified platform.
With iland Cloud Services, you can leverage the same security and performance you’ve been using versus having to convert your machines to a proprietary public cloud platform. These attributes are essential to a reliable disaster recovery solution—additionally customers can subscribe to backup offerings, making the recovery from an unplanned disaster easier and more efficient.
With a hybrid cloud, you stay in complete control while enabling a self-service provisioning model for end users. You can set up administrative permissions for others within your organization or integrate your directory services and if you house a portion of your data in the iland cloud, you’ll have greater control over your security and control the properties of the environment locally.
In a nutshell, IT departments and solution providers who are utilizing VMware can feel secure about extending their virtual environments into the cloud with vCloud hosting provider iland, maximizing their existing investments, and even extend their brand by white labeling the iland cloud.
Flexibility and agility. They’re the two attributes essential to a streamlined, cost-conscious, and progressive business.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
As a sales engineer for a cloud computing company that offers cutting edge technologies like SRM replication with VMware SRM 5.0 and vCloud™ Director 1.5, I get many questions from customers looking to follow best practices for deploying new and/or existing workloads to a public cloud. Two of the most popular questions are easily addressed using vCloud Director.
How do I provision a new server?
The Catalog tab in vCloud Director allows users to access and manage templates. A template is a “gold image” of a virtual machine that allows for efficient cloning when additional workload capacity is needed. There are two sections to the Catalog tab: public catalog, and private catalog(s).
Powered by vCloud Director, the public catalog in the iland Cloud Services environment contains a list of templates published by iland. These templates contain the most popular configurations of Windows and Linux operating systems that have been requested by our customers. Deploying from one of these templates is as simple as right-clicking the template and selecting “Add to cloud” which allows a customer to deploy a new machine in just 3 easy steps:
Step 1: The customer gives their new vApp a name and selects a lease time. Choosing a lease time of “never expires” allows the server to run until it is manually shut down or otherwise modified. Choosing any other length of time from the lease time drop down list automatically stops or deletes the server upon expiration of that lease time.
Step 2: The customer specifies the virtual datacenter within which to place the resources. iland customers have the choice of paying for resources either on a pay-as-you-go basis, or a reservation pool based on their work order, or other options for vDCs based on customer name (which is favored by cloud resellers), or department name (common for internal facing deployments).
Step 3: The customer selects networking options such as which network the machines will be provisioned on, and what type of networking scheme they will use (i.e. DHCP, Static, etc.). The customer then selects finish, or clicks next to access advanced network options such as vApp fencing. Et voilà – within seconds the deployment of a machine from the public catalog templates is complete!
Another common question is: Can I create my own templates?
Absolutely. If a customer wants to create their own template for future deployments of virtual machines, they can do so in one of three ways:
- Deploy an image from an iland template, or build a machine in the vCloud Director portal and then choose the “add to catalog” option on the vApp. This creates a custom template within their “my organization catalog” section of the catalog tab.
- Select the “import machine” option within the vApp templates section of their private catalog, then select an OVF image from their local computer/shares to import directly into their catalogs.
- Customers with existing vSphere™ deployments can use a free tool from VMware called vCloud Connector that allows a user to control workloads and migrate templates from a single pane within their vSphere client. The “template” tab within vCloud Connector provides iland customers with a seamless way to migrate existing templates from their current vSphere deployments to vCloud Director without the need to convert the image to a non-VMware format. The tool is bidirectional allowing users to also copy templates from vCloud Director to their local vSphere deployment.