Microsoft assembles a private cloud so you don’t have to
The backbone of a cloud is infrastructure. At its core, it really is an try to deliver compute power, networking and storage as efficiently and responsively as possible. Every serious public cloud player has its own industry-leading approach.
The average business has neither the purchasing scale nor the incentive to innovate on that level. Although investment in a non-public cloud is probably going to supply efficiencies and increased agility, nearly all of IT departments will search for pre-canned solutions where possible.
Microsoft’s upcoming System Center Virtual Machine Manager ( SCVMM ) 2012 and ancillary technologies provide a terrific example of what the sort of solution will seem like.
In select company
A virtual machine is nothing with no network to speak on, and that makes network equipment selection important. SCVMM can confer with the perfect networking gear, automating away tedious management tasks similar to adding a newly created virtual machine to the weight balancer.
Like any good cloud management software, SCVMM speaks VLANs and abstracts away the physical network into logical networks .
Virtual machines will also be assigned to IP and MAC pools. IP pools provide for IP addressing that enables related virtual machines to be grouped in a logical fashion, while MAC address pools prevent the MAC address overlap issues that occasionally happen with unmanaged virtualisation deployments.
Compatible storage may be automatically discovered and storage pools could be assigned to individual hosts or to host groups. Currently these storage pools ought to be created using the native SAN software, but from there they are often managed by SCVMM.
SCVMM cash in on the features and resources native to the storage area network ( SAN ). Snapshots may be triggered and managed in the interface, and virtual machines moved from one 0 LUN 0 to the opposite with no need to maneuver the knowledge backward and forward over the network.
The benefits are evident in template management. If the SAN supports 1 cloning 1 , then a single virtual machine can potentially be duplicated dozens and even hundred of times on the native speed of the SAN’s disks. Connect the clones as much as a bunch and your new virtual machines are able to go.
SCVMM is familiar with that not all storage is created equal, and so offers storage classification. It’s little greater than another layer of abstraction nonetheless it becomes very useful at scale.
Larger private clouds can have multiple tiers of storage and multiple SANs providing storage to these tiers. Assign a given class of virtual machine to a given class of storage and also you do not have to fret about which physical device contains which virtual machines.
Server hardware selection is critical. In spite of your virtualisation vendor, you’ll run up against hardware qualification lists.
While using hardware not officially 2 logoed 2 and 3 listed as supported 3 is usually possible, it places you outside vendor support and consequently negates the worth of using an off-the-shelf private cloud.
Proper logo-ed servers have advantages. As a general rule they have a tendency to conform with a number of buzzword-bingo standards ( 4 DCMI 4 , 5 IPMI 5 , 6 Smash 6 , and so forth) that enable the all-important out-of-band ( 7 OOB 7 ) management.
The ability of the management software to speak to the OOB provider is a key enabler of efficiency. SCVMM uses this to do everything from turning off unneeded hardware to deploying hypervisors to new metal.
Within SCVMM, this functionality is termed power optimisation. By itself it’s not much of a whizz-bang feature. OOB management of servers – and tools to utilize it – had been a typical feature for it slow.
Dynamic optimisation is all about load management. SCVMM desires to be sure that the virtual machines in use have enough resources available so they can work unhindered.
To do that, it keeps an eye fixed on various metrics and reacts to them. CPU, I/O and RAM utilisation are a given on this form of feature, but SCVMM has many more strings to its bow.
Some load changes have a predictable schedule and SCVMM enables scheduled rebalancing previous to anticipated spikes favorite. It’s also able (with some help) to sense hardware failures and move workloads proactively to avoid failure.
Here, integration with System Center Operations Manager ( 0 SCOM 0 ) is beneficial.
Using a feature called performance and resource optimisation ( 1 PRO 1 ), SCVMM can use anything monitored by SCOM as a trigger for dynamic optimisation. This opens up a global of possibilities.
Major server vendors write PRO packs for his or her equipment. Servers, networking equipment, even blade chassis might be monitored by SCOM. Hardware failures are monitored and SCVMM could be configured to reply in several ways.
A dead fan in a server requires maintenance, but reckoning on the fan it would be something which will watch for some time. A dead DIMM or bad CPU fan will be another story. SCVMM can also be told to evacuate the host and switch it off pending maintenance.
SCOM can monitor greater than just PRO pack-backed hardware. It may monitor guest operating systems and compatible applications directly. Well-known errors could be solved with the correct remedies: reboot the virtual machine, shut it down, spin up a diagnostic virtual machine, revert to backups etc.
SCOM’s monitoring capabilities don’t seem to be limited to monitoring Windows guests. Unix and Linux operating systems 2 are supported 2 to boot.
The ability to observe the development logs of an operating system provides a way of monitoring applications that don’t have direct integration with SCOM. If the applying in question leaves behind an invaluable entry in a log file somewhere, SCVMM may be configured to behave on it.
Another feature of SCOM is the flexibility to watch SNMP. While SCOM 2007 R2′s SNMP support had a 3 steep learning curve 3 , the outcome was ultimately definitely worth the effort. SCOM 2012′s 4 implementation 4 is smoother and incorporates its own SNMP stack, rather than hoping on the single provided by the operating system.
A little creativity allows every kind of interesting things
SNMP monitoring has fairly obvious uses in allowing SCVMM to head virtual machines around based on events including power failures, thermal excursions or humidity issues.
Yet nearly anything is also an SNMP device. a bit creativity makes it possible for all types of 5 interesting things 5 .
Smart meters are the complete rage, and that they can certainly be 6 monitored via SNMP 6 . With just a little tinkering and scripting, you can compare power usage to current electricity spot prices, with SCVMM suspending virtual machines and powering off non-critical nodes when electricity prices exceed the high watermark. Similarly, it might probably spin up high-load virtual machines when energy prices are low.
Legacy applications can sometimes have weird requirements. One example from my personal experience is a server that prints a sheet of paper at any time when an order is available in. It’s so old it doesn’t use the printer queue properly and blows up each time the printer is out of paper.
With SCOM and SCVMM i’d manage to catch printer errors via SNMP and suspend the virtual machine until someone attends to the printer. When the state of the printer changes, the virtual machine may be resumed.
Security and unexpected event handling become automatable with these twinned management applications.
Unexpected load spike or potential denial-of-service attack? Spin up helper virtual machines to assist balance the burden. Intrusion detection system noticed something alarming? Spin up a number of specialist systems to do more in-depth analysis.
Taking the protection into the physical world, you may tie on your security system. Motion sensor detects something out of bounds? Spin up some specialist virtual machines to do voice or facial recognition. The chances are endless.
Every virtualisation provider has an extra tackle infrastructure management, and Microsoft’s is as much occupied with managing the operating systems in use because the physical hardware.
SCVMM 7 can use 7 VMware’s ESX, Citrix’s XenServer or Microsoft’s own Hyper-V because the underlying hypervisor. Each offers an abstraction layer for third-party management tools, and Microsoft has wholeheartedly embraced the heterogeneous data centre environment.
Each hypervisor has its own constraints. VMware requires which you purchase the complete ESX vSphere software license, in spite of the fact that it’s to be ultimately managed by SCVMM.
The interoperability functionality isn’t found in VMware’s ESXi offerings. Despite full licensing, SCVMM’s interactions with ESX are 8 mediated 8 entirely by the vSphere software.
Free to roam
The functionality cross-over for VMware hypervisors under SCVMM is just not exact however continues to be generally acceptable for production use. It’s useful for those transitioning clear of VMware, or those people who are trying to maintain a heterogeneous environment for other reasons, akin to avoiding vendor lock-in.
SCVMM doesn’t have an identical constraints when managing Citrix’s XenServer. It doesn’t need to plow through the Citrix tools to get work done. This has a couple of unique advantages, as SCVMM has features that Citrix’s tools don’t.
By using SCVMM to cope XenServer you bring these additional features to XenServer hosts. Citrix’s advantages bleed through besides.
Using an SCVMM/XenServer combination gains you wider Linux support for your Microsoft-based private cloud than you can have if your entire hosts were Hyper-V based.
Hyper-V as a number offers its own 9 advantages 9 . SCVMM can talk on to Windows Deployment Services in addition to to Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).
This allows SCVMM to deploy Hyper-V hypervisors on to bare metal servers. It includes injecting drivers in line with per-defined host profiles in addition to joining the hypervisor to a website.
Once component of the domain, GPOs can be utilized to further simplify management and the hypervisor comes under control of the WSUS server. This in turns makes it possible for completely automated patching of the hypervisor under the control of SCVMM.
Another benefit to having Hyper-V because the host is that SCVMM has a 0 cluster wizard 0 . Making a cluster or adding a number to a cluster is now push-button simple.
High availability is a 1 big focus 1 for Microsoft. Virtual machine migration for Hyper-V 3.0 hosts can occur without the requirement of shared storage.
Together but apart
SCVMM has worked hard to optimise XenMotion virtual machine migration for XenServer hosts and feature enhanced cluster management for both the Citrix and Microsoft hypervisors.
Unfortunately, since vSphere acts as intermediary between SCVMM and ESX, SCVMM can get vSphere to accomplish high-availability-like actions, but cannot improve upon them nor truly integrate with them.
All of this cloudy wonderfulness, needless to say, would appear to present a single point of failure: SCVMM itself.
Microsoft 2 recognises this 2 and has taken steps to deal with it. SCVMM is a completely cluster-aware application.
The server software itself might be clustered, as can the SQL 2012 database it backs onto. The customer application is likewise cluster aware: if one node within the SCVMM cluster goes down the customer automatically reconnects to a different node within the cluster.
SCVMM can support 63 hosts per cluster with as much as 4,000 virtual machines per cluster ( 3 Hyper-V 3.0 3 cluster).
It can support multiple clusters and gives multiple simultaneous live virtual machine migrations. (Additionally, Hyper-V 3.0 clusters support multiple live virtual machine migrations within a single cluster.)
It offers a self-service portal for end-users in order that virtual machine creation doesn’t should be the only province of IT operations.
There is hope for much more functionality one day. Microsoft continues to work with vendors and industry standards bodies with the intention that everything it does within the private cloud space is as open as possible.
This stretches from the SMI-S storage integration through mandating that each aspect of each portion of its private cloud offerings is controllable via 4 PowerShell 4 to making sure that the virtual network switch built into Hyper-V is standards compliant and extensible.
When you place all of it together, Microsoft offers an awesome example of what an off-the-shelf private cloud infrastructure solution could and will be.
Of course, infrastructure isn’t all there’s to Microsoft’s private cloud play, but it is another article altogether. ®
This is the second one of 3 articles in a sequence about Microsoft’s tackle the personal Cloud. Part three is published next week.