Tech ONTAP Articles

Seed Your Cloud with the NetApp OpenStack Solution Kit


February 2016

Lee Caswell
Vice President of Product, Solutions, and Services Marketing

Cloud seeding is the science of modifying clouds in the sky to accomplish a specific purpose, such as delivering rain or snow on demand. It's a powerful concept and a direct corollary to the role that OpenStack® technology is now playing in the development of IT clouds.


Architecting a cloud requires a new infrastructure design strategy where shared infrastructure, nondisruptive operations, and mixed applications are assumed for hundreds, thousands, or even millions of users. When deciding whether to use public clouds or build an open-source solution such as OpenStack, considerations include the costs of building and running the cloud, as well as issues of control, compliance, and flexibility.


In this third article on our Data Fabric Solution Essentials solution kits, I introduce a NetApp® OpenStack Solution Kit that simplifies the deployment of a cloud-like infrastructure. It lets you customize your own clouds to deliver the precise blend of performance, economics, and flexibility that you need.

Removing the Guesswork from OpenStack Deployments

To meet the requirements of the next-generation data center, many enterprises are turning to OpenStack solutions to create a flexible cloud infrastructure. Part of the attractiveness of OpenStack is its ability to host traditional enterprise applications in addition to cloud-native or webscale workloads. In this way, it can bridge the gap between scale-up strategies and newer scale-out trends.


OpenStack is a community-driven project, so by nature it will hit some rough patches as it matures. Its absolute openness and flexibility invite uncertainty that must be tamed before enterprises can comfortably adopt it. As a result, there's a perception that although the benefits greatly outweigh the risks, OpenStack is hard.


We want to change that.


We teamed up with Cisco and Red Hat to create the OpenStack Solution Kit to effectively seed your cloud initiatives. The solution kit reduces configuration, deployment, and support risks through a prequalified integrated solution. The idea is to help you get up and running on an OpenStack private cloud solution in days, not months.



Figure 1) The OpenStack Solution Kit provides a validated way to take OpenStack from concept to reality, fast.




Source: NetApp, 2016



The OpenStack Solution Kit provides a fully validated reference architecture. Backed by a Cisco® Validated Design (CVD) and the FlexPod® Datacenter converged infrastructure, the solution kit takes the guesswork and risk out of deploying OpenStack. It's not meant to act as a universal, final OpenStack solution, but rather as a simple, low-risk way to put in place a representative OpenStack configuration.


Once it's in place, you can do the characterizations for your particular environment. What does the real-world performance look like? How much hardware did it actually take to get up and running? How much did it cost to build out? Your rent-versus-buy cloud calculations move very quickly from the theoretical to the practical.

New Workloads Demand New Flexibility

In broad terms, enterprise data centers run in what Gartner Inc. analysts call a "bimodal" IT model. Mode 1 is the realm of traditional, fixed, predictable, accurate, stable, mission-critical operations—the core systems of record for any enterprise. An example of a Mode 1 application would be a Microsoft® SQL Server® database used for financial transactions. Mode 1 operations have tended to remain on premises for data sovereignty reasons.


Mode 2 is a new world of flexible, dynamic, fast-moving, exploratory, nonlinear environments—typically systems of engagement with many customers or users. Mode 2 is where DevOps, agile development, and continuous deployment operate. Mode 2 flexibility has most often been delivered by a few massive hyperscale clouds. Barriers to working with the hyperscalers include legal or compliance issues, as well as a rental model that can be expensive when accessed over an extended period.


Data center clouds, like physical weather clouds, have an ephemeral quality that makes them naturally suited to Mode 2 operations. As a result, some enterprises are looking to deploy new Mode 2 applications in cloud-like environments while retaining their Mode 1 applications on traditional systems. OpenStack lets you use a variety of hardware architectures to deliver Mode 2 flexibility with a wide range of scale, performance, and management attributes.


Using OpenStack, enterprises and service providers can build Mode 2 expertise with capex economics rivaling the hyperscale rental model.



Figure 2) The NetApp vision for a Data Fabric enables free movement of data to and from cloud and on-premises resources.




Source: NetApp, 2016



Here's where the Data Fabric and the OpenStack Solution Kit enter the picture, because now you can choose where to put your data, as well as where to put your compute and networking resources. Maybe you leave all your Mode 1 data in on-premises storage but move some or all of your compute resources to an OpenStack cloud. Maybe you move some or all of your Mode 2 data to an OpenStack cloud, knowing you can just as easily move it back later if you change your mind.


With the Data Fabric holding everything together, you get data mobility and seamless data management. You get all the Mode 2 flexibility you need for the workloads you choose, but without giving up Mode 1 control.

NetApp, Cisco, and Red Hat Integration and Support

The OpenStack Solution Kit uses Red Hat Enterprise Linux software. On top of that are a range of OpenStack services, including block storage (Cinder), object storage (Swift), network (Neutron), compute (Nova), and image (Glance) services. The Cisco hardware includes UCS and Nexus offerings.


On our side, we built the solution kit using the NetApp AFF8020 All Flash FAS (AFF) high-availability storage platform. With NetApp's recent acquisition of SolidFire, the OpenStack Solution Kit will soon add even greater flexibility by offering another powerful all-flash array.


The other thing to remember about the OpenStack Solution Kit is that it not only integrates storage, compute, and networking technologies from NetApp, Red Hat, and Cisco, but it also integrates support for the solution. Because the solution kit is based on a CVD, you'll get committed support from all of us.


Instead of having to work with three different companies to put together the storage, networking, and compute pieces, you get an integrated solution with an integrated support plan. It's integration work designed to reduce risk in the field.

Choose your Deployment Preference, then your Architecture

While this Solution Kit is based on our award-winning All Flash FAS product, NetApp OpenStack expertise is also available for the entire NetApp portfolio, including the EF-Series and the new SolidFire product.


NetApp offers OpenStack integration value for server, storage, compute, and software resources across the broadest all-flash array portfolio in the industry. Selecting a preferred hardware architecture is an essential part of the OpenStack decision process, and you can match your priorities for speed, management, and scale elements with the best-suited NetApp product.


All Flash FAS delivers an enterprise-class all-flash array, merging all-flash performance with the industry-leading Data ONTAP® data management capabilities, which are fully exposed through OpenStack.


SolidFire appeals to those looking for cloud-like scalability in their storage infrastructure. The simple, seamless scale-out architecture offers logical and physical scaling based on server economics combined with high quality of service for many shared users.


The EF-Series offers a proven low-latency all-flash system ideal for delivering consistent performance in a dense form factor, with demonstrated reliability in nearly 800,000 units shipped worldwide.

Seed your Cloud, on your Terms

In previous articles, I introduced the Application Acceleration Solution Kit and the Snap-to-Cloud Disaster Recovery Solution Kit, for simplifying the deployment of flash and backup to the cloud, respectively. The OpenStack Solution Kit continues this trend, simplifying the deployment of custom clouds for the enterprise.


We help you build extremely flexible, cloud-like architectures and take advantage of OpenStack innovation without being exposed to undue risk. The NetApp vision of a Data Fabric is designed to provide more flexibility and freedom in choosing when and where it makes the most sense to put your data, whether in a public cloud, private cloud, on-premises disk or flash storage, or some dynamic combination.


Get started seeding your cloud today with assurance and ease, using the NetApp OpenStack Solution Kit as your starting point.



Lee Caswell is VP of Product, Solutions, and Services Marketing at NetApp, where he leads a team that speeds customer adoption of products, partnerships, and integrations. Lee was VP of marketing at Fusion-IO and held leadership positions with VMware and Adaptec. He holds a BA from Carleton College and an MBA from Dartmouth College.


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