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
New File Services Capabilities of PowerFlex 4.0
Tue, 16 Aug 2022 14:56:28 -0000|
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“Just file it,” they say, and your obvious question is “where?” One of the new features introduced in PowerFlex 4.0 is file services. Which means that you can file it in PowerFlex. In this blog we’ll dig into the new file service capabilities offered with 4.0 and how they can benefit your organization.
I know that when I think of file services, I think back to the late 90s and early 2000s when most organizations had a Microsoft Windows NT box or two in the rack that provided a centralized location on the network for file storage. Often it was known as “cheap and deep storage,” because you bought the biggest cheapest drives you could to install in that server with RAID 5 protection. After all, most of the time it was user files that were being worked on and folks already had a copy saved to their desktop. The file share didn’t have to be fast or responsive, and the biggest concern of the day was using up all the space on those massive 146 GB drives!
That was then … today file services do so much more. They need to be responsive, reliable, and agile to handle not only the traditional shared files, but also the other things that are now stored on file shares.
The most common thing people think about is user data from VDI instances. All the files that make up a user’s desktop, from the background image to the documents, to the customization of folders, all these things and more are traditionally stored in a file share when using instant clones.
PowerFlex can also handle powerful, high performance workload scenarios such as image classification and training. This is because of the storage backend. It is possible to rapidly serve files to training nodes and other high performance processing systems. The storage calls can go to the first available storage node, reducing file recall times. This of course extends to other high speed file workloads as well.
Beyond rapid recall times, PowerFlex provides massive performance, with 6-nines of availability1, and native multi-pathing. This is a big deal for modern file workloads. With VDI alone you need all of these things. If your file storage system can’t deliver them, you could be looking at poor user experience or worse: users who can’t work. I know, that’s a scary thought and PowerFlex can help significantly lessen those fears.
In addition to the performance, you can manage the file servers in the same PowerFlex UI as the rest of your PowerFlex environment. This means there is no need to learn a new UI, or bounce all over to set up a CIFS share—it’s all at your fingertips. In the UI it’s as simple as changing the tab to go from block to file on many screens.
The PowerFlex file controllers (physical) host the software for the NAS servers (logical). You start with two file controllers and can grow to 16 file controllers. Having various sizes of file controllers allows you to customize performance to meet your environment’s needs. The NAS Servers are containerized logical segmentations that provide the file services to the clients, and you can have up to 512 in a cluster. They are responsible for namespaces, security policies, and serving file systems to the clients.
Each of the file volumes that are provided by the file services are backed by PowerFlex volumes. This means that you can increase file service performance and capacity by adding PowerFlex nodes to the storage layer just like a traditional block storage instance. This allows you to independently scale performance and capacity, based on your needs.
The following table provides some of the other specs you might be wondering about.
Max file size
# of files
# of ACLs
User File Systems
Snaps per File System
Beyond the architectural goodness, file storage is something that can be added later to a PowerFlex environment. Thus, you aren’t forced to get something now because you “might” need it later. You can implement it when that project starts or when you’re ready to migrate off that single use file server. You can also grow it as you need, by starting small and growing to a large deployment with hundreds of namespaces and thousands of file systems.
With PowerFlex when someone says “file it,” you’ll know you have the capacity to support that file and many more. PowerFlex file services provide the capability to deliver the power needed for even the most demanding file-based workloads like VDI and AI/ML data classification systems. It’s as easy managing the environment as it is integrated into the UI.
If you are interested in finding out more about PowerFlex file services, contact your Dell representative.
Author: Tony Foster
1 Workload performance claims based on internal Dell testing. (Source: IDC Business Value Snapshot for PowerFlex – 2020.)