Disaster Recovery with Containers? You Bet!

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Overview

In this article we will discuss the benefits containers bring to business continuance, reveal concepts for applying containers to disaster recovery and of course show disaster recovery of a live database between production and DR OpenShift environments. Business continuance of course is all about maintaining critical business functions, during and after a disaster has occurred.  Business continuance defines two main criteria: recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO). RPO amounts to how much data loss is tolerable and RTO how quickly services can be restored when a disaster occurs. Disaster recovery outlines the processes as well as technology for how an organization responds to a disaster. Disaster recovery can be viewed as the implementation of RPO and RTO. Most organizations today have DR capabilities but there many challenges.

  • Cost – DR usually is at least doubles the price.
  • Efficiency – DR requires regular testing and in the event of a disaster, resources must be available. This leads to idle resources for 99.9% of the time.
  • Complexity – Updating applications is complex enough but DR requires a complete redeployment where the DR side almost never mirrors production due to cost.
  • Outdated – Business continuance only deals with one aspect,  disaster recovery but as mentioned cloud-native applications are active/active so to be effective today, business continuance architectures must cover DR and multi-site.
  • Slow – DR often is not 100% automated and recovery is often dependent on manual procedures that may not be up to date or even tested with the latest application deployment.

I would take these challenges even further and suggest that for many organizations business continuance and DR is nothing more than a false safety net. It costs a fortune and in the event of a true disaster probably won’t be able to deliver RPO and RTO for all critical applications. How could it when DR is not part of the continuous deployment pipeline and being tested with each application update? How could it with the level of complexity and scale that exists today and not 100% automation?

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OpenShift on OpenStack 1-2-3: Bringing IaaS and PaaS Together

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Overview

In this article we will explore why you should consider tackling IaaS and PaaS together. Many organizations gave up on OpenStack during it’s hype phase, but in my view it is time to reconsider the IaaS strategy. Two main factors are really pushing a re-emergence of interest in OpenStack and that is containers and cloud.

Containers require very flexible, software-defined infrastructure and are changing the application landscape fast. Remember when we had the discussions about pets vs cattle? The issue with OpenStack during it’s hype phase was that the workloads simply didn’t exist within most organizations, but now containers are changing that, from a platform perspective. Containers need to be orchestrated and the industry has settled in on Kubernetes for that purpose. In order to run Kubernetes you need quite a lot of flexibility at scale on the infrastructure level. You must be able to provide solid Software Defined Networking, Compute, Storage, Load Balancing, DNS, Authentication, Orchestration, basically everything and do so at a click of the button. Yeah we can all do that, right.

If we think about IT, there are two types of personas. Those that feel IT is generic, 80% is good enough and for them, it is a light switch: on or off. This persona has no reason whatsoever to deal with IaaS and should just go to the public cloud, if not already there. In other words, OpenStack makes no sense. The other persona feel IT adds compelling value to their business and going beyond 80% provides them with distinct business advantages. Anyone can go to public cloud but if you can turn IT into a competitive advantage then there may actually be a purpose for it. Unfortunately with the way many organizations go about IT today, it is not really viable, unless something dramatic happens. This brings me back to OpenStack. It is the only way an organization can provide the capabilities a public cloud offers while also matching price, performance and providing a competitive advantage. If we cannot achieve the flexibility of public cloud, the consumption model, the cost effectiveness and provide compelling business advantage then we ought to just give up right?

I also find it interesting that some organizations, even those that started in the public cloud are starting to see value in build-your-own. Dropbox for example, originally started using AWS and S3. Over last few years they built their own object storage solution, one that provided more value and saved 75 million over two years. They also did so with a fairly small team. I certainly am not advocating for doing everything yourself, I am just saying that we need to make a decision, does IT provide compelling business value? Can you do it for your business, better than the generic level playing field known as public cloud? If so, you really ought to be looking into OpenStack and using momentum behind containers to bring about real change.

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OpenStack 12 (Pike) Lab Installation and Configuration Guide with Hetzner Root Servers

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Overview

In this article we will focus on installing and configuring OpenStack Pike using RDO and the packstack installer. RDO is a community platform around Red Hat’s Enterprise OpenStack Distribution. It allows you to test the latest OpenStack capabilities on a stable platform such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) or CentOS. This guide will take you through setting up Hetzner root server, preparing environment for OpenStack, installing the OpenStack Pike release, adding a floating ip subnet through OVS, configuring networking, security groups, flavors, images and are other OpenStack related services. The outcome is a working OpenStack environment based on the Pike release that you can use as a baseline for testing your applications using OpenStack capabilities. The installation will create an all-in-one deployment however you can use this guide to create a multi-node deployment as well.
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OpenStack 11 (Ocata) Lab Installation and Configuration Guide

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Overview

In this article we will focus on installing and configuring OpenStack Ocata using RDO and the packstack installer. RDO is a community platform around Red Hat’s OpenStack Platform. It allows you to test the latest OpenStack capabilities on a stable platform such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) or CentOS. This guide will take you through installing the OpenStack Liberty release, configuring networking, security groups, flavors, images and are other OpenStack related services. The outcome is a working OpenStack environment based on the Ocata release that you can use as a baseline for testing your applications with OpenStack capabilities.

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Explaining OpenStack Cinder Types and Scheduler

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Overview

OpenStack Cinder is responsible for handling block storage in the context of OpenStack. Cinder provides a standard API and interface that allows storage companies to create their own drivers in order to integrate storage capabilities into OpenStack in a consistent way. Each storage pool exposed to OpenStack Cinder is a backend and you can have many storage backends. You can also have many of the same kind of storage backends. In this article we will look at two advanced features Cinder provides: types and the scheduler.

Cinder types essentially allow us to label Cinder storage backends. This allows for building out storage services that have expected characteristics and capabilities. The Cinder driver exposes those storage capabilities to Cinder.

The Cinder scheduler is responsible for deciding where to create Cinder volumes when we have more than one of the same kind of storage backend. This is done by looking at the filter rules in order to identify the most appropriate storage backend. More about filter rules can be found here.

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Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10 (Newton) Installation and Configuration Guide

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Overview

In this article we will setup an OpenStack environment based off Newton using the Red Hat OpenStack Platform. OpenStack is OpenStack but every distribution differs in what capabilities or technologies are supported and how OpenStack is installed, configured as well as upgraded.

The Red Hat OpenStack Platform uses OpenStack director based on the TripleO (OpenStack on OpenStack) project to install, configure and update OpenStack. Director is a lifecycle management tool for OpenStack. Red Hat’s approach is to make OpenStack easy to manage, without compromising on the “Open” part of OpenStack. If management of OpenStack can be simpler and the learning curve brought down then it has a real chance to be the next-gen virtualization platform. What company wouldn’t want to be able to consume their internal IT resources like using AWS, GCE or Azure if they didn’t give up anything to do so? We aren’t there yet but Red Hat is making bold strides and as you will see in this article, is on a journey to make OpenStack consumable for everyone!

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OpenStack Swift Integration with Ceph

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Overview

In this article we will configure OpenStack Swift to use Ceph as a storage backend. Object of cloud storage is one of the main services provided by OpenStack. Swift is an object storage protocol and implementation. It has been around for quite a while but is fairly limited (it uses rsync to replicate data, scaling rings can be problematic and it only supports object storage to just mention a few things). OpenStack needs to provide storage for many use cases such as block (Cinder), block (Glance), file (Manila), block (Nova) and object (Swift). Ceph is a distributed software-defined storage system that scales with OpenStack and provides all these use cases. As such it is the defacto standard for OpenStack and is why you see in OpenStack user survey that Ceph is 60% of all OpenStack storage.

OpenStack uses Keystone to store service endpoints for all services. Swift has a Keystone endpoint that authenticates OpenStack tenants to Swift providing object or cloud storage on a per-tenant basis. As mentioned, Ceph provides block, file and object access. In the case of object Ceph provides S3, Swift and NFS interfaces. The RADOS Gateway (RGW) provides object interfaces for Ceph. S3 and Swift users are stored in the RGW. Usually you would want several RADOS GWs in an active/active configuration using a load balancer. OpenStack tenants can be given automatic access and their Keystone tenant ids are automatically configured in the RADOS GW when Swift object storage is accessed from given tenant.

Using Ceph with OpenStack for object storage provides tenants access to cloud storage, integrated with OpenStack using swift and automatically handles authentication of OpenStack tenants. It also provides advantage that external users or tenants (outside of OpenStack) such as application developers can access object storage directly with  protocol of choice: S3, Swift or NFS.

Integrating Ceph with OpenStack Series:

In order to integrate OpenStack Swift with Ceph you need to first follow below prerequisites:

  • Configure OpenStack environment here
  • Configure Ceph cluster here

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