From The Expert Feature Article
January 08, 2014

OpenStack Gains Efficiency Through IBM Scheduler

The OpenStack cloud platform is gaining increasing traction, and as open source can be an efficient way for managed service and other providers to deploy clouds. The cheaper an MSP can set up a cloud, the more competitive the offering.

But there are ways to make clouds even more efficient, and IBM with its Platform Computing (News - Alert) line of tools, has one. Big Blue recently announced the IBM Platform Resource Scheduler for OpenStack.

“IBM Platform Resource Scheduler provides a fully virtualized, open and programmable architecture that ensures enterprises are taking advantage of all available cloud resources -- from application software licenses to available network bandwidth,” said Jay Muelhoefer, Director Strategy, IBM (News - Alert) Platform Computing. “IBM Platform Resource Scheduler is an important building block of SDE and helps cloud clients optimize infrastructure usage, reduce cost of cloud ownership, and deliver higher workload quality of service.”

The IBM tool is based on the purchase of the company Platform Computing, which was founded in 1992 to make clusters more efficient. IBM bought Platform in 2012.

Now the Platform technology is also being aimed at private and public clouds, and just recently aimed specifically at OpenStack installations. The new tool is a “a dynamic resource management tool for private and public OpenStack cloud, which automatically allocates the right resources to the right job, balance workload demand with infrastructure supply and ensure adherence to service level agreements,” IBM said.

The scheduler can be policy-driven, and can balance and optimize the use of virtual machines.

What is scheduling all about?

A cloud is much akin to a cluster, and in fact, they are very often based on true clusters. And reliability and uptime are critical if the cluster is to be truly productive. Good overall management, scheduling and monitoring helps insure clusters stay up and running.

The IBM scheduling engine helps make sure shared computing resources are fully utilized and exploited. While an unmanaged cluster or cloud does deliver benefits, they waste hardware resources because they are not fully utilized. And without proper management, your cloud is not as stable as it could be. A scheduler meanwhile makes sure your hardware, software, and IT investment works to its full potential.

At the same time the policy engine sets rules that determine which demands will be met with what amount of supply, and what type of resources will be allocated, all of which can be controlled by a priority-based schedule. Related workloads can be coordinated for faster processing and keeping projects in sync.

This way the entire share pool of OpenStack resources is maximized, allowing internal IT or service providers to meet service level agreements (SLA).

OpenStack on the Move

IBM is apparently picking a good target, at least according to new research from Red Hat (News - Alert), another OpenStack proponent, and when it comes to infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platforms, a full 84 percent of those surveyed plan to use OpenStack.

The research, sponsored by Red Hat and performed by IDG Connect, shows that most enterprise IT shops think OpenStack will be part of their infrastructure at some point in the future. This is according to the “2013 Path to an OpenStack-Powered Cloud” report which surveyed 200 IT decision makers.

“The survey findings offer a clear indication that OpenStack is quickly becoming a reality for many IT organizations, and can serve as a viable cloud infrastructure backbone for private cloud,” said Radhesh Balakrishnan, general manager, Virtualization, Red Hat. “The survey shows that business leaders understand that OpenStack can bring improved visibility, speed, flexibility and agility to the private cloud. As these organizations move to OpenStack-powered clouds, they are looking to IT industry leaders to deliver enterprise-class OpenStack by offering a normalized lifecycle, training and support, and a broad ecosystem of partners and OpenStack-certified solutions that will make their journey seamless.”

OpenStack is based on the Apache software license and is of course free. The tool is supported by a who’s who of tech companies including AT&T, Brocade, Cisco, Dell (News - Alert), HP, IBM, NetApp, Rackspace, Red Hat and VMware, among many others including new recruit F5.

OpenStack is far from the only game in town as it competes with market leader Amazon AWS and a surging Microsoft (News - Alert) Azure.

Getting to Know OpenStack

OpenStack, managed by the year-plus-old OpenStack Foundation, is a complex series of software and services that handle storage, can pool processing and control the network infrastructure.

These tools are aimed at IT, developers, vendors and of course service providers. The platform supports both private and public clouds.

So why is OpenStack suddenly so hot? IT is interested in the technology to improve management visibility (73 percent); boost agility (69 percent); increase speed of deployment (72 percent); platform flexibility (69 percent); and for competitive advantage (67 percent), the research found.

That said, it isn’t necessarily all smooth sailing as there are indeed challenges, such as limited budgets (23 percent); shortage of IT skill (32 percent), and concerns about whether OpenStack is mature (11 percent). 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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