Tuesday Oct 20, 2009

IDC Publishes Note on Ops Center

IDC is one of the leading analyst firms in the world, and they just posted a note about Ops Center's impact in the market.  The document is entitled Sun Ops Center 2.5: Managing Mixed Environments in Virtualized Sun Infrastructure and you can download the note here.  Definitely worth a read.

Tuesday Sep 29, 2009

Ops Center 2.5 Announced!

Today we're announcing Ops Center 2.5.  This is the first release of Ops Center since version 2.1 in April and the first major upgrade since the 2.0 release in February.  Check out the video below for highlights.  Also, you can read the press release here or go to the new, upgraded Ops Center Web Site for more details and more videos.

The final bits for Ops Center 2.5 will be shipping on October 11, in conjunction with the first day of the Oracle Open World conference.  We'll be demoing the product (including our forthcoming integration features that link Ops Center to Oracle Enterprise Manager) on the show floor and have a technical session for in depth discussion.  I'll post details here soon.  Please be sure to join us!

Wednesday Jul 22, 2009

xVM Ops Center at Supercomputing

Last month, Sun was a sponsor of the International Super Computing Conference (ISCC) in Germany, and the Ops Center team was there to show off the latest in how Ops Center can be used in High Performance Computing (HPC) environments.  Prasad Pai is our own HPC rockstar who has been responsible for major super computing installations like TACC, KISTI, and Clemson choosing Ops Center as part of their infrastructure.

Prasad was on hand to show off how Ops Center can be best used in these kinds of environments.  In particular, Ops Center's scalability and agentless hardware monitoring make it a great choice for these kinds of environments.  Below you can see a picture of Prasad demonstrating Ops Center at the conference.

Over the past couple of months, we've been upgrading customers from older Ops Center version to the newest available 2.1 version -- TACC just recently upgraded to 2.1.  However, there's even more coming in 2.5 that HPC customers will like.  In particular, because today's supercomputers use so many nodes, scalability is really important.  To that end, we've built a 1,000 node cluster (nicknamed Nessie) of older hardware that we can use for internal scalability testing.  Because Nessie is dedicated to the task, we can really abuse it in ways we wouldn't do to our customer's production (or even pre-production systems).  With this ability to try extreme use-cases we've been able to dramatically increase performance at large scale.  I'll plan to post a few stats about our performance work here soon.

Monday Jun 15, 2009

Managing Fiber Channel LUNs with Ops Center 2.5

One of the coolest parts of Ops Center's virtualization management features is Storage Libraries.  In Ops Center 2.1 storage libraries are based on NAS (either NFS or CIFS).  However, in Ops Center 2.5 we're adding support for LDOMs (as previously discussed) and LDOMs really like to have their guests hosted on SAN storage.  Thus, in Ops Center 2.5 we're adding the ability to create a Storage Library as a collection of LUNs.  This is going to be really powerful for large deployments.  Here are just a couple of screenshots to give you a taste for how this works.

Thursday Jun 04, 2009

Speeding Deployment of xVM Ops Center

Deploying a new data center management system isn't usually easy, but it doesn't have to be that hard.  As part of my on-going previews of xVM Ops Center 2.5, I wanted to show you some of the work we're doing to make it much easier.  When we release Ops Center 2.0, we did a major overhaul of the installer to make it much easier and faster.  However, even after installing the software for the Enterprise Controller, doing a useful deployment including the Controller, Proxies and Agents still takes some real know-how.  In order to help, we created check-lists and other helper tools.  However, it required instruction and left room for human error.

Thus, as part of the 2.5 release we're adding a new set of built-in deployment tools that take you through a step-by-step process to get up and running quickly.  Take a look below.

First, the wizard introduces you to the process through which you'll be going.

Next the Wizard shows you how all the components fit together.

And, here's where it gets interesting.  The old manual check-lists are now automated!  Check out the step below where all the checks for hardware and network resources are done automatically.

There's actually a several more steps where it walks you through the set up, but I'll show you just one of them below.  Here you get to select the typc of deployment you want to do and then the wizard will customize itself to that scenario and walk you through.

It's my personal goal for the next year to move from hundreds of individual Ops Center deployments to thousands of deployments.  This kind of technology will really help accelerate that rate.

Wednesday Jun 03, 2009

Managing Virtual Machines on SPARC

Over the past couple of weeks I've described some features of the forthcoming xVM Ops Center 2.5 release including improved Windows and Container management.  Well, here's another feature that people should find exciting: managing SPARC virtual machines via the Logical Domains (LDOMS) hypervisor.  Ops Center 2.5 will for the first time unify the management of SPARC Virtual Machines, x86 Virtual Machines and Solaris Containers (on x86 or SPARC!).  Below is a sample screenshot from the new UI.  You'll notice it looks very similar to the previous Container pictures I've posted (and these look similar to the xVM Server management screens I've shown before).  This new release of Ops Center will truely unify Sun's virtualization portfolio.

Tuesday May 26, 2009

xVM Ops Center 2.5

It's been about a month since we shipped Ops Center 2.1.  The field teams are in full swing rolling it out at new customers, but the engineering teams are all heads down working on new features for Ops Center 2.5!  It's a busy time to be sure, but I thought I'd take some time over the next few days to give you all a sneak peak of some of the new things coming in 2.5 -- which is due the second-half of this Summer.

The first one I thought I'd give you a peak at is Windows update management.  One of the key features for Ops Center has always been it's advanced support for patching Solaris and Linux systems.  However, we haven't been able to help people with Windows.  Well, in Ops Center 2.5 we're adding support for patching of Windows -- giving users a "single pane of glass" to manage Solaris, Linux and Windows patching.  Here's a screen shot just to whet your appetitie!

Keep an eye out for more previews of 2.5 features here.  More previews to come soon!

Monday May 04, 2009

Integrating xVM Ops Center Into Your Datacenter

I often get asked by customers about how they can integrate xVM Ops Center into an existing infrastructure that includes a monitoring framework like IBM Tivoli or HP OpenView.  For quite a while, my answer was that this was quite possible using the Ops Center WS-MAN API set.  However, it's recently gotten even easier.  Our partner Halcyon recently released a prepackaged integration between Ops Center 2 and a number of popular frameworks.  Owen recently covered this in-depth over on his blog (screen shots included!).  Go on over and take a look.

Sunday May 03, 2009

"Free" Hypervisor Options

Since my last post where I described that the xVM Server product is being bundled into xVM Ops Center, I got a lot of questions about whether this means there's no truly open source option for hypervisors from Sun.  Of course, first there is VirtualBox.  There have been over 10,000,000 downloads of VirtualBox and it keeps getting better and better.  However, lots of people are clearly interested in a type-1, bare-metal hypervisor that supports features like multi-CPU guests and migration.

One great option for people that want a completely open source type-1 hypervisor is the xVM hypervisor that's included in every copy of OpenSolaris.  This is the same hypervisor that's at the core of xVM Server, but it's exposed as a feature of the OS instead of as a managed appliance -- all the same base capabilities are there.  It can be a little tricky to get started with xVM hypervisor if you don't have exposure to this style of product.  However, Paul Telles recently put up a couple of blog entries that show everything you need in order to get the hypervisor installed at get your first Windows VM running inside:

Check it out!

Thursday Apr 30, 2009

What's Up with xVM?

Things have been very busy here since I last blogged frequently, so there is much to catch up on.  In conjunction with VMworld in September we announced the xVM Portfolio.  There were several products included, so it's time for an update on them all.

On the desktop side, we announed VirtualBox 2.0 last September, and since then have shipped version 2.1 and just this month released version 2.2 to rave reviews.   Also, Sun released our Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) software version 3.0.  3.0 is a major release and it now offers seamless integration between the VDI broker and VirtualBox, as well as Sun's new 7000 series storage appliances. See here for details.

On the server side, we released xVM Ops Center 2.0 in January this year.  Ops Center became Sun's unified systems management tool.  With version 2.0, key features include:

  • Management and monitoring of hardware and operating systems
  • Provisioning of firmware, operating systems and applications
  • World-class patch automation
  • IT compliance reporting
  • A new, super-slick graphical console
  • Scalability to handle thousands of systems

However, the question I've been asked a lot over the past few months is, "Where is xVM Server?"  In October we amped up our Early Access program with xVM Server EA2 and opened the program to hundreds of users.  We later followed up with an EA3 release and added even more users.  We got tons of feedback from users, and while there were many things they liked, there were some major themes that emerged that caused us to re-think parts of our strategy.  These included:

  • Participants requested a “hands off” installation process that could be used to deploy the hypervisor to many servers quickly.  The single-system install was "klunky" and not suited to an enterprise data-center.
  • Participants requested migration capability for guests between hypervisor instances.  Multi-host management was not an add-on option -- it was a requirement for serious use.
  • Participants requested more access to the underlying OpenSolaris instance to allow for more customization.  While people appreciated having a wrapper "appliance" around the core Solaris instance, it was a problem having a totally custom OpenSolaris distro for xVM Server.
  • Customers are now for more interested in larger “cloud” type deployments than smaller consolidation projects

As a result of these and many other observations, we concluded that a general purpose, multi-node solution is required.  Thus, we refocused our efforts around use-cases where Ops Center becomes the central way to manage the hypervisor and the underlying hardware.  In addition, we've started on a trajectory where we will converge the xVM Server and OpenSolaris lines so that exactly the same codebase is used for both. 

This week we released xVM Ops Center 2.1.  It's a substantial upgrade from the January 2.0 release.  It addressed feedback we received from the first 50 customer deployments of Ops Center 2.0 and added a few key features.  One key feature is Power Management.  With Ops Center 2.1 we now include the ability to interface with the Server's on-board Service Processor (ILOM) and create power reports such as:

  • View top 5 servers based on CPU Load and aggregate power usage in a group of servers.
  • View top 5 servers based on CPU load and aggregate power usage in a virtual resource pool.
  • View historical power usage for a server.
  • View historical aggregate power usage of a virtual resource pool.
  • View historical aggregate power usage of a group of servers.

With all the interest in Eco/Green computing we expect a lot of buzz around this.  However, the most interesting item is the release of a set of comprehensive x64 hypervisor management functions.  Ops Center can now:

  • Provision the xVM Server hypervisor onto bare metal servers.  It can do these completely "hands off" and it can do this for multiple servers simultaneously. It does all required network setup and plumbing as well (a major hurdle for our EA customers)
  • Creation of VM guests and provisioning of images to those guests (either via ISO install or network install)
  • Guest snapshotting and backup
  • VMDK file format support and import of VMware Virtual Appliances
  • NFS and CIFS network storage support for guest and ISO images
  • Live migration of guests from one host to another
  • Virtual Pool constructs for policy automation across hypervisor hosts based on load, as well as automatic failure recovery

Ops Center 2.1 includes a bundled xVM Server beta that is available to all Ops Center customers, and we will be running a formal beta program with key, interested customers to ensure this works reliably and at scale for real enterprise deployments.  If you are of of the existing hundreds of xVM Ops Center 1.0, 1.1, 2.0 or Sun Connection customer then you're eligible to upgrade to Ops Center 2.1 (which includes the xVM Server beta) for free.  Please contact your usual sales/support channels for details.  If you're interested to evaluating Ops Center for your datacenter then you can request that here.

I'd like to thank the hundreds of people who participated in the xVM Server EA program.  Your feedback has been been critical to us in ensuring we are building the product that customers need.  In the coming weeks I'll be posting a great deal more information here on what customers are doing with Ops Center and xVM Server, so stay tuned.


Thoughts on cloud computing, virtualization and data center management from Steve Wilson, Oracle engineering VP.


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