Building an Infrastructure Cloud with Oracle VM for x86 + Enterprise Manager 12c

Cloud Computing?

Everyone is talking about Cloud these days. Everyone is explaining how the cloud will help you to bring your service up and running very fast, secure and with little effort. You can find these kinds of presentations at almost every event around the globe. But what is really behind all this stuff? Is it really so simple? And the answer is: Yes it is! With the Oracle SW Stack it is! In this post, I will try to bring this down to earth, demonstrating how easy it could be to build a cloud infrastructure with Oracle's solution for cloud computing.

But let me cover some basics first:

How fast can you build a cloud?
How elastic is your cloud so you can provide new services on demand?
How much effort does it take to monitor and operate your Cloud Infrastructure in order to meet your SLAs?
How easy is it to chargeback for your services provided?

These are the critical success factors of Cloud Computing.
And Oracle has an answer to all those questions. By using Oracle VM for X86 in combination with Enterprise Manager 12c you can build and control your cloud environment very fast and easy. What are the fundamental building blocks for your cloud?

Oracle Cloud Building Blocks

#1 Hardware

Surprise, surprise. Even the cloud needs to run somewhere, hence you will need hardware. This HW normally consists of servers, storage and networking. But Oracles goes beyond that. There are Optimized Solutions available for your cloud infrastructure. This is a cookbook to build your HW cloud platform. For example, building your cloud infrastructure with blades and our network infrastructure will reduce complexity in your datacenter (Blades with switch network modules, splitter cables to reduce the amount of cables, TOR (Top Of the Rack) switches which are building the interface to your infrastructure environment. Reducing complexity even in the cabling will help you to manage your environment more efficient and with less risk.

Of course, our engineered systems fit into the cloud perfectly too. Although they are considered as a PaaS themselves, having the database SW (for Exadata) and the application development environment (for Exalogic) already deployed on them, in general they are ideal systems to enable you building your own cloud and PaaS infrastructure.

#2 Virtualization

The next missing link in the cloud setup is virtualization. For me personally, it's one of the most hidden "secret", that oracle can provide you with a complete virtualization stack in terms of a hypervisor on both architectures: X86 and Sparc CPUs. There is Oracle VM for X86 and Oracle VM for Sparc available at no additional  license costs if your are running this virtualization stack on top of Oracle HW (and with Oracle Premier Support for HW). This completes the virtualization portfolio together with Solaris Zones introduced already with Solaris 10 a few years ago.

Let me explain how Oracle VM for X86 works:

Oracle VM for X86 Overview

Oracle VM for x86 consists of two main parts:

- The Oracle VM Server: Oracle VM Server is installed on bare metal and it is the hypervisor which is able to run virtual machines. It has a very small footprint. The ISO-Image of Oracle VM Server is only 200MB large. It is very small but efficient. You can install a OVM-Server in less than 5 mins by booting the Server with the ISO-Image assigned and providing the necessary configuration parameters (like installing an Linux distribution). After the installation, the OVM-Server is ready to use. That's all.

- The Oracle VM-Manager: OVM-Manager is the central management tool where you can control your OVM-Servers. OVM-Manager provides the graphical user interface, which is an Application Development Framework (ADF) application, with a familiar web-browser based interface, to manage Oracle VM Servers, virtual machines, and resources. The Oracle VM Manager has the following capabilities:

  • Create virtual machines

  • Create server pools

  • Power on and off virtual machines

  • Manage networks and storage

  • Import virtual machines, ISO files, and templates

  • Manage high availability of Oracle VM Servers, server pools, and virtual machines

  • Perform live migration of virtual machines

I want to highlight one of the goodies which you can use if you are running Oracle VM for X86: Preconfigured, downloadable Virtual Machine Templates form edelivery With these templates, you can download completely preconfigured Virtual Machines in your environment, boot them up, configure them at first time boot and use it. There are templates for almost all Oracle SW and Applications (like Fusion Middleware, Database, Siebel, etc.) available.

Templates

#3) Cloud Management

The management of your cloud infrastructure is key. This is a day-to-day job. Acquiring HW, installing a virtualization layer on top of it is done just at the beginning and if you want to expand your infrastructure. But managing your cloud, keeping it up and running, deploying new services, changing your chargeback model, etc, these are the daily jobs. These jobs must be simple, secure and easy to manage. The Enterprise Manager 12c Cloud provides this functionality from one management cockpit. Enterprise Manager 12c uses Oracle VM Manager to control OVM Serverpools. Once you registered your OVM-Managers in Enterprise Manager, then you are able to setup your cloud infrastructure and manage everything from Enterprise Manager.

What you need to do in EM12c is:

  • ">Register your OVM Manager in Enterprise Manager
    After Registering your OVM Manager, all the functionality of Oracle VM for X86 is also available in Enterprise Manager. Enterprise Manager works as a "Manger" of the Manager. You can register as many OVM-Managers you want and control your complete virtualization environment

  • Create Roles and Users for your Self Service Portal in Enterprise Manager
    With this step you allow users to logon on the Enterprise Manager Self Service Portal. Users can request Virtual Machines in this portal.

  • Setup the Cloud Infrastructure
    Setup the Quotas for your self service users. How many VMs can they request? How much of your resources ( cpu, memory, storage, network, etc. etc.)? Which SW components (templates, assemblys) can your self service users request? In this step, you basically set up the complete cloud infrastructure.

  • Setup Chargeback
    Once your cloud is set up, you need to configure your chargeback mechanism. The Enterprise Manager collects the resources metrics, which are used in a very deep level. Almost all collected Metrics could be used in the chargeback module. You can define chargeback plans based on configurations (charge for the amount of cpu, memory, storage is assigned to a machine, or for a specific OS which is installed) or chargeback on resource consumption (% of cpu used, storage used, etc). Or you can also define a combination of configuration and consumption chargeback plans. The chargeback module is very flexible.


Here is a overview of the workflow how to handle infrastructure cloud in EM:

EM Workflow

Summary

As you can see, setting up an Infrastructure Cloud Service with Oracle VM for X86 and Enterprise Manager 12c is really simple. I personally configured a complete cloud environment with three X86 servers and a small JBOD san box in less than 3 hours. There is no magic in it, it is all straightforward. Of course, you have to have some experience with Oracle VM and Enterprise Manager. Experience in setting up Linux environments helps as well. I plan to publish a technical cookbook in the next few weeks. I hope you found this post useful and will see you again here on our blog. Any hints, comments are welcome!

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This is the Technology Blog of the Oracle Hardware Presales Consultant Team in Vienna, Austria. We post about our technology fields: server- and storage hardware, operating system technologies, virtualization, clustering, datacenter management and performance tuning possibilities.

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