Driving Innovation with the Dell Validated Platform for Red Hat OpenShift and IBM Instana
Wed, 14 Dec 2022 21:20:39 -0000|
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“There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.” – Brené Brown
In the Information Technology field today, it seems like it’s impossible to go five minutes without someone using some variation of the word innovate. We are constantly told we need to innovate to stay competitive and remain relevant. I don’t want to spend time arguing the importance of innovation, because if you’re reading this then you probably already understand its importance.
What I do want to focus on is the role that failure plays in innovation. One of the biggest barriers to innovation is the fear of failure. We have all experienced some level of failure in our lives, and the costly mistakes can be particularly memorable. To create a culture that fosters innovation, we need to create an environment that reduces the costs associated with failure – these can be financial costs, time costs, or reputation costs. This is why one of the core tenets of modern application architecture is “fail fast”. Put simply, it means to identify mistakes quickly and adjust. The idea is that a flawed process or assumption will cost more to fix the longer it is present in the system. With traditional waterfall processes, that flaw could be present and undetected for months during the development process, and in some cases, even make it through to production.
While the benefits of fail fast can be easy to see, implementing it can be a bit harder. It involves streamlining not just the development process, but also the build process, the release process, and having proper instrumentation all the way through from dev to production. This last part, instrumentation, is the focus of this article. Instrumentation means monitoring a system to allow the operators to:
- See current state
- Identify application performance
- Detect when something is not operating as expected
While the need for instrumentation has always been present, developers are often faced with difficult timelines and the first feature areas that tend to be cut are testing and instrumentation. This can help in the short term, but it often ends up costing more down the road, both financially and in the end-user experience.
IBM Instana is a tool that provides observability of complete systems, with support for over 250 different technologies. This means that you can deploy Instana into the environment and start seeing valuable information without requiring any code changes. If you are supporting web-based applications, you can also take things further by including basic script references in the code to gain insights from client statistics as well.
Announcing Support for Instana on the Dell Validated Platform for Red Hat OpenShift
Installing IBM Instana into the Dell Validated Platform for Red Hat OpenShift can be done by Operator, Helm Chart, or YAML File.
The simplest way is to use the Operator. This consists of the following steps:
- Create the instana-agent project
- Set the policy permissions for the instana-agent service account
- Install the Operator
- Apply the Operator Configuration using a custom resource YAML file
You can configure IBM Instana to point to IBM’s cloud endpoint. Or for high security environments, you can choose to connect to a private IBM Instana endpoint hosted internally.
Figure 1. Infrastructure view of the OpenShift Cluster
Once configured, the IBM Instana agent starts sending data to the endpoint for analysis. The graphical view in Figure 1 shows the overall health of the Kubernetes cluster, and the node on which each resource is located. The resources in a normal state are gray: any resource requiring attention would appear in a different color.
Figure 2: Cluster View
We can also see the metrics across the cluster, including CPU and Memory statistics. The charts are kept in time sync, so if you highlight a given area or narrow the time period, all of the charts remain in the same context. This makes it easy to identify correlations between different metrics and events.
Figure 3: Application Calls View
Looking at the application calls allows you to see how a given application is performing over time. Being able to narrow down to a one second granularity means that you can actually follow individual calls through the system and see things like the parameters passed in the call. This can be incredibly helpful for troubleshooting intermittent application issues.
Figure 4: Application Dependencies View
The dependencies view gives you a graphical representation of all the components within a system and how they relate to each other, in a dependency diagram. This is critically important in modern application design because as you implement a larger number of more focused services, often created by different DevOps teams, it can be difficult to keep track of what services are being composed together.
Figure 5: Application Stack Traces
The application stack trace allows you to walk the stack of an application to see what calls were made, and how much time each call took to complete. Knowing that a page load took five seconds can help indicate a problem, but being able to walk the stack and identify that 4.8 seconds was spent running a database query (and exactly what query that was) means that you can spend less time troubleshooting, because you already know exactly what needs to be fixed.
For more information about the Dell Validated Platform for Red Hat OpenShift, see our launch announcement: Accelerate DevOps and Cloud Native Apps with the Dell Validated Platform for Red Hat OpenShift | Dell Technologies Info Hub.
Author: Michael Wells, PowerFlex Engineering Technologist
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Accelerate DevOps and Cloud Native Apps with the Dell Validated Platform for Red Hat OpenShift
Thu, 15 Sep 2022 13:28:43 -0000|
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Today we announce the release of the Dell Validated Platform for Red Hat OpenShift. This platform has been jointly validated by Red Hat and Dell, and is an evolution of the design referenced in the white paper “Red Hat OpenShift 4.6 with CSI PowerFlex 1.3.0 Deployment on Dell EMC PowerFlex Family”.
Figure 1: The Dell Validated Platform for Red Hat OpenShift
The world is moving faster and with that comes the struggle to not just maintain, but to streamline processes and accelerate deliverables. We are no longer in the age of semi-annual or quarterly releases, as some industries need multiple releases a day to meet their goals. To accomplish this requires a mix of technology and processes … enter the world of containers. Containerization is not a new technology, but in recent years it has picked up a tremendous amount of steam. It is no longer just a fringe technology reserved for those on the bleeding edge; it has become mainstream and is being used by organizations large and small. However, technology alone will not solve everything. To be successful your processes must change with the technology – this is where DevOps comes in. DevOps is a different approach to Information Technology; it involves a blending of resources usually separated into different teams with different reporting structures and often different goals. It systematically looks to eliminate process bottlenecks and applies automation to help organizations move faster than they ever thought possible. DevOps is not a single process, but a methodology that can be challenging to implement.
Why Red Hat OpenShift?
Red Hat OpenShift is an enterprise-grade container orchestration and management platform based on Kubernetes. While many organizations understand the value of moving to containerization, and are familiar with the name Kubernetes, most don’t have a full grasp of what Kubernetes is and what it isn’t. OpenShift uses their own Kubernetes distribution, and layers on top critical enterprise features like:
- Built-in underlying hardware management and scaling, integrated with Dell iDRAC
- Multi-Cluster deployment, management, and shift-left security enforcement
- Developer Experience – CI/CD, GitOps, Pipelines, Logging, Monitoring, and Observability
- Integrated Networking including ServiceMesh and multi-cluster networking
- Integrated Web Console with distinct Admin and Developer views
- Automated Platform Updates and Upgrades
- Multiple workload options – containers, virtual machines, and serverless
- Operators for extending and managing additional capabilities
All these capabilities mean that you have a full container platform with a rigorously tested and certified toolchain that can accelerate your development, and reduce the costs associated with maintenance and downtime. This is what has made OpenShift the number 1 container platform in the market.
Figure 2: Realizing business value from a hybrid strategy - Source: IDC White Paper, sponsored by Red Hat, "The Business Value of Red Hat OpenShift", doc # US47539121, February 2021.
Meeting the performance needs
Scalable container platforms like Red Hat OpenShift work best when paired with a fast, scalable infrastructure platform, and this is why OpenShift, and Dell PowerFlex are the perfect team. With PowerFlex, organizations can have a single software-defined platform for all their workloads, from bare metal, to virtualized, to containerized. All on a blazing-fast infrastructure that can scale to thousands of nodes. Not to mention the API-driven architecture of PowerFlex fits perfectly in a methodology centered on automation. To help jumpstart customers on their automation journey we have already created robust infrastructure and DevOps automation through our extensive tooling that includes:
- Dell Container Storage Modules (CSM)/Container Storage Interface (CSI) Plugins
- Ansible Modules
- AppSync Integration
Being software-defined means that PowerFlex can deliver linear performance by being able to balance data across all nodes. This ensures that you can spread the work out over the cluster to scale well beyond the limits of the individual hardware components. This also allows PowerFlex to be incredibly resilient, capable of seamlessly recovering from individual component or node failures.
Putting it all together
Introducing the Dell Validated Platform for Red Hat OpenShift, the latest collaboration in the long 22-year partnership between Red Hat and Dell. This platform brings together the power of Red Hat OpenShift with the flexibility and performance of Dell PowerFlex into a single package.
Figure 3: The Dell Validated Platform for Red Hat OpenShift Architecture
This platform uses PowerFlex in a 2-tier architecture to give you optimal performance, and the ability to scale storage and compute independently, up to thousands of nodes. We are also taking advantage of Red Hat capabilities to run PowerFlex Manager and its accompanying services in OpenShift Virtualization to make efficient use of compute nodes and minimize the required hardware footprint.
The combined platform gives you the ability to become more agile and increase productivity through the extensive automation already available, along with the documented APIs to extend that automation or create your own.
This platform has been fully validated by both Dell and Red Hat, so you can run it with confidence. We have also streamlined the ordering process, so the entire platform can be acquired directly from Dell, including the Red Hat software and subscriptions. All of this is implemented using Dell’s ProDeploy services to ensure that the platform is implemented optimally and gets you up and running faster. This means you can start realizing the value of the platform faster, while reducing risk.
If you are interested in getting more information about the Dell Validated Platform for Red Hat OpenShift please contact your Dell representative.
Michael Wells, PowerFlex Engineering Technologist
Rhys Oxenham, Director, Customer & Field Engagement
PowerFlex and CloudStack, an Amazing IaaS match!
Sat, 18 Nov 2023 14:13:00 -0000|
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Have you heard about Apache CloudStack? Did you know it runs amazingly on Dell PowerFlex? And what does it all have to do with infrastructure as a service (IaaS)? Interested in learning more? If so, then you should probably keep reading!
The PowerFlex team and ShapeBlue have been collaborating to bring ease and simplicity to CloudStack on PowerFlex. They have been doing this for quite a while. As new versions are released, the teams work together to ensure it continues to be amazing for customers. The deep integration with PowerFlex makes it an ideal choice for organizations building CloudStack environments.
Both Dell and ShapeBlue are gearing up for the CloudStack Collaboration Conference (CCC) in Paris on November 23 and 24th. The CloudStack Collaboration Conference is the biggest get-together for the Apache CloudStack Community, bringing vendors, users, and developers to one place to discuss the future of open-source technologies, the benefits of CloudStack, new integrations, and capabilities.
CloudStack is open-source software designed to deploy and manage large networks of virtual machines as a highly available, highly scalable Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud computing platform. CloudStack is used by hundreds of service providers around the world to offer public cloud services and by many companies to provide an on-premises (private) cloud offering or as part of a hybrid cloud solution.
Users can manage their cloud with an easy to use Web interface, command line tools, and/or a full-featured RESTful API. In addition, CloudStack provides an API that is compatible with AWS EC2 and S3 for organizations that want to deploy hybrid clouds.
CloudStack can leverage the extensive PowerFlex REST APIs to enhance functionality. This facilitates streamlined provisioning, effective data management, robust snapshot management, comprehensive data protection, and seamless scalability, making the combination of PowerFlex storage and CloudStack a robust choice for modern IaaS environments.
You can see this in the following diagram. CloudStack and PowerFlex communicate with each other using APIs to coordinate operations for VMs. This makes it easier to administer larger environments, enabling organizations to have a true IaaS environment.
Figure 1. Cloud Stack on PowerFlex Architecture
Let's talk about IaaS for a moment. It is a fantastic concept that can be compared with ordering off a menu at a restaurant. The restaurant has unrelated dishes on the menu until you start looking at their components. For example, you can get three different base sauces (red, pink, and white) with just a red sauce and a white sauce. With a small variety of pasta and proteins, the options are excellent. This is the same for IaaS. Have a few base options, sprinkle on some API know-how, and you get a fantastic menu to satisfy workload needs without having a detailed knowledge of the infrastructure.
That makes it easier for the IT organization to become more efficient and shift the focus toward aspirational initiatives. This is especially true when CloudStack and PowerFlex work together. The hungry IT consumers can get what they want with less IT interaction.
Other significant benefits that come from integrating CloudStack with PowerFlex include the following:
- Seamless Data Management: Efficient provision, backup, and data management across infrastructure, ensuring data integrity and accessibility.
- Enhanced Performance: Provides low-latency access to data, optimizing I/O, and reducing bottlenecks. This, in turn, leads to improved application and workload performance.
- Reliability and Data Availability: Benefit from advanced redundancy and failover mechanisms and data replication, reducing the risk of data loss and ensuring continuous service availability.
- Scalability: Scalable storage solutions allow organizations to expand their storage resources in tandem with their growing needs. This flexibility ensures that they can adapt to changing workloads and resource requirements.
- Simplified Management: Ability to use a single interface to handle provisioning, monitoring, troubleshooting, and streamlining administrative tasks.
- Enhanced Data Protection: Data protection features, such as snapshots, backups, and disaster recovery solutions. This ensures that an organization's data remains secure and can be quickly restored in case of unexpected incidents.
These are tremendous benefits for organizations, especially the data protection aspects. It is often said that it is no longer a question of if an organization will be impacted by an incident. It is a question of when they will be impacted. The IaaS capabilities of CloudStack and PowerFlex play a crucial role in protecting an organization's data. That protection can be automated as part of the IaaS design. That way, when a VM or VMs are requested, they can be assigned to a data protection policy as part of the creation process.
Simply put, that means that VM can be protected from the moment of creation. No more having to remember to add a VM to a backup, and no more "oh no" when someone realizes they forgot. That is amazing!
If you are at the CloudStack Collaboration Conference and are interested in discovering more, talk with Shashi and Florian. They will also present how CloudStack and PowerFlex create an outstanding IaaS solution.
Register for the CloudStack Collaboration Conference here to join virtually if you are unable to attend in person.
If you want to learn more about how PowerFlex and CloudStack can benefit your organization, reach out to your Dell representative for more details on this amazing solution.