Red Hat Virtualization: Bridging the Gap with the Cloud and Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Red Hat Virtualization offers a flexible technology for high-intensive performance and secure workloads. Red Hat Virtualization 4.0 introduced new features that enable customers to further extend the use case of traditional virtualization in hybrid cloud environments. The platform now easily incorporates third party network providers into the existing environment along with other technologies found in next generation cloud platforms such as Red Hat OpenStack Platform and Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host. Additionally, new infrastructure models are now supported including selected support for hyperconverged infrastructure; the native integration of compute and storage across a cluster of hosts in a Red Hat Virtualization environment.

The deep integrations allow flexibility when deploying diverse workloads and scheduling them to run on the right platforms. Traditional applications can be scheduled to run in Red Hat Virtualization while cloud-native applications can be executed in Red Hat OpenStack Platform, which is purpose-built for cloud workloads. Since the same KVM hypervisor is used in both environments, as well as the same virtual machine image format; a set of common templates or images can be provided to both environments. This structure reduces complexity and increases efficiency in a hybrid cloud environment by decreasing the number of templates that have to be maintained.

In cloud environments, images will most likely utilize cloud-init, a service that provides boot time customization for cloud and virtualization instances. This deployment allows different aspects of the virtual machines, such as hostname, network settings, and authentication methods to be configured while the VM is being deployed. Red Hat Virtualization supports the cloud-init service, so that cloud images can be deployed and customized in Red Hat Virtualization the same way they are supported in an OpenStack cloud. Users gain flexibility by being able to use the same cloud-init scripts in a Red Hat Virtualization environment as they would in an OpenStack-based cloud environment to complete the initial configuration of their virtual machine workloads.

IT organizations can further gain flexibility through the integration of Red Hat Virtualization and third party network providers such as the Red Hat OpenStack Platform Open vSwitch Neutron provider. The ability to “stretch” networks from a cloud environment into a traditional virtualization environment creates transparency and removes silos between the two environments. For example, if there is an application that consists of multiple tiers such as a scale-out web tier, a middleware tier and a backend service that does not need to scale-out, each of the tiers can be deployed on the infrastructure that is best suited for that workload. In this case, the backend system and potentially the middleware components would be hosted on Red Hat Virtualization since they have no requirement to scale out, and the web tier could be executed on the OpenStack-based cloud infrastructure. It is optimal for network traffic among the three tiers to not traverse a network. Therefore, a Neutron network from the OpenStack environment can be registered in Red Hat Virtualization and provided to the middleware and backend systems that communicate with the web tier components.

While all of these features are beneficial in hybrid environments, they don’t address one of the main issues facing data centers today – physical space. As virtual and cloud environments continue to grow, the need arises for the hardware footprint to be decreased. Enter hyperconverged infrastructure, or HCI, where the hypervisor and its scale-out storage are local to each physical host, creating a unified compute and distributed storage cluster.

For remote office or branch office (ROBO) operations, HCI is a great fit. Featuring a greatly reduced footprint and consuming a fraction of the power and cooling of a typical virtualization deployment, HCI reduces the complexity of maintaining a virtualization environment. A Red Hat Virtualization HCI takes advantage of Red Hat Gluster, an industry-proven, scale-out distributed filesystem, as the storage subsystem. The need for separate hardware for storage environment is eliminated, cost savings are realized and simplicity and efficiency of the infrastructure are both increased.

Previously, for many ROBO users, a virtual infrastructure deployment consisted of 3 hypervisors with an embedded management system and a SAN or NAS storage appliance to provide storage for virtual machines and the associated images and templates that were used in that infrastructure. The diversity in the hardware platforms, management of the entire system was often complex and required dedicated staff. With HCI, the number of servers that are deployed in support of a Red Hat Virtualization based infrastructure can be further reduced to create commonality between the hardware components. This setup simplifies the infrastructure with less physical resources and requires fewer skilled IT staff dedicated to maintain it.

As this technology matures and performance increases, new use cases will emerge and HCI will begin to be a major part of data center deployments. With Red Hat Gluster’s ability to replicate data across geographically dispersed sites, challenges that are faced in today’s environments will become easier to solve. These challenges include items such as scaling out storage volumes and compute capabilities, providing disaster recovery and continuity of operations, deploying scale-out workloads, and further increasing efficiency in the virtual infrastructure.

Advances in traditional virtualization must be looked at to address the above complexity and others that are present in the data center. Red Hat Virtualization provides the highly flexible traditional virtualization environment that is needed to tackle these challenges head on. Options include tightly integrating networking and storage capabilities with cloud environments like Red Hat OpenStack Platform or increasing efficiency and simplicity of hardware platforms with Red Hat Virtualization based HCI.

Red Hat Virtualization is better suited than ever to help solve present and future data center challenges. I invite you to download a fully supported trial versions of Red Hat Virtualization to try out the above features in your data center.

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