How to Program VMware DRS to Respect Software License Requirements

One area of huge potential cost savings in virtualized and private cloud infrastructure is software licensing. Many organizations don’t plan VM placements with an eye towards reducing licensing requirements. And when you are licensing by CPU or core, such as for Windows Server, Microsoft SQL Server or even Oracle licensing, it really does pay to both maximize VM density on licensed physical servers and ensure the VMs are contained to licensed servers. We have found an average savings of 55% of licensing requirements using CiRBA’s analytics to do the placements.

But what about when DRS is active? While programmable rules exist within DRS to contain a group of VMs to a group of hosts, DRS doesn’t know how to stack workloads in order to maximize density. DRS can’t tell you how many hosts you require, nor will it understand changes over time as VMs enter and leave the environment. So, key pieces of the puzzle are missing here in order to really enable you to control license requirements in these dynamic environments.

A better way is to leverage CiRBA’s software license control module to optimize VM placements. CiRBA maximizes VM density by playing “Tetris” with the workloads to safely fit them together, to make the best possible use of capacity without competing for resources. CiRBA’s placements respect license requirements, even when rebalancing. And CiRBA also ensures that as the environment changes over time (VMs coming and going), you can see the impact on the host requirements. In environments where DRS is active, CiRBA automatically pushes its software license placement “rules” to automatically program DRS. This enables you to use DRS as a load balancing safety net (which isn’t really required with CiRBA) without violating licensing requirements.

Check out this video in which Andrew Hillier gives an overview of CiRBA’s Software License Control module.

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How does CiRBA fit Gartner’s Vision for Capacity Management in Web-scale IT?

CiRBA is at the Gartner Infrastructure & Operations Management Summit this week in Berlin. Leading up to the event, Gartner analysts Ian Head and Milind Govekar published a report on the importance and role of Capacity and Performance Management in Web-scale IT.

The report describes how critical it is that infrastructure and operations managers responsible for these infrastructures must become “proficient in operational analytics and big data capabilities, rather than traditional capacity-planning tools” and makes a series of recommendations as to how they can get there.

In the short video below, Andrew Hillier, CiRBA CTO & co-founder discusses Gartner’s recommendations and how CiRBA’s analytics fit with Gartner’s vision of requirements for these types of operational environments.


What is Web-scale IT? Gartner research VP, Cameron Haight, explains in a blog
( read the full blog here).

“It’s our effort to describe all of the things happening at large cloud services firms such as Google, Amazon, Rackspace, Netflix, Facebook, etc., that enables them to achieve extreme levels of service delivery as compared to many of their enterprise counterparts.

… we identify six elements to the web-scale recipe: industrial data centers, web-oriented architectures, programmable management, agile processes, a collaborative organization style and a learning culture.”

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CiRBA and Dell Infrastructure Consulting Services enable customers to optimize virtual and cloud infrastructure with capacity control

Back in 2013 Dell Global Services decided that it needed to modernize its approach to advising customers on infrastructure modernization, transformation and management.    Virtualization had penetrated many customer environments significantly and they were struggling less with transformation and more with getting their arms around optimal management of virtual infrastructure.  Of course they were also increasingly asked to advise on cloud strategies and related matters.

The software that Dell had been relying on was dated and provided only a narrow set of analytics for mapping transformations.  They embarked on an evaluation of what was available in the market and could help modernize and broaden their approach.

We were proud when Dell decided to build CiRBA into their services methodologies for a new class of offerings.

Dell has gone through many changes over the past 12 months as it privatized and reshaped its business.  We believe Dell will be successful in becoming a complete infrastructure solutions company and we are happy to be on the journey with them.

I chatted with Ray Weinstein this week about Dell Services and where CiRBA fits in their offers. The video is below.

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CiRBA is Heading to Cisco Live to Showcase Joint Cisco Wave Solution

Next week we will be one of the 200+ vendors at Cisco Live showing off our software to some of the over 20,000! attendees.  Cisco is a valued customer and partner of CiRBA’s and we are excited to be heading to the show for the first time.

We are very pleased to be there with one of our great partners, Intel. In fact, we not only have a demonstration pod in the Intel booth, but we will be presenting the following topic in their theatre Tuesday May 20th at 11:30 am and 3:15 pm:

Rethinking Virtual and Cloud Infrastructure Management:
Gaining Control Over Capacity Supply & Demand

Virtual and cloud environments require proactive management of capacity supply and demand.  The challenges introduced by self-service portals, ad hoc provisioning, workload mobility and the need to constantly optimize capacity are significant.  Join CiRBA to learn how to increase control and drive Infrastructure efficiency while dealing with the complexity of new operating models.

Cisco Demo
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Cisco will feature its joint Cisco Wave/ CiRBA solution in the Cisco Technology Zone in the Cisco Campus and in presentation in the DevNET Cisco Theatre at 3:00 pm on Wednesday May 21st . CiRBA optimizes VM placement decisions to reduce risk and maximize efficiency of compute and storage resources. The joint solution enables organizations to optimize network aware VM placements to ensure the appropriate bandwidth and avoid bottlenecks.

Hope to see you there!

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Thinking of Going Open Source for Your Private Cloud?

Red Hat announced the formation of the ManageIQ community today with the aim to provide the industry’s leading open source cloud management platform with advanced governance and automation capabilities.

CiRBA has joined the community to integrate to the ManageIQ framework and bring enterprise grade capacity control to the table, enabling organizations to automatically and intelligently balance capacity supply with application demand.

From all accounts, OpenStack adoption is on the rise, but to truly become more than a pet project in large enterprises and evolve into a truly viable alternative, it requires the strong support of the vendor community. This is exactly what Red Hat is delivering, by providing and bringing together solutions that fill critical operational and management gaps. We have been tracking the interest of our own customer base in OpenStack and while we aren’t seeing rampant adoption yet, surely endeavours like the ManageIQ community will bring us one step closer.

We would love to hear about your organization’s plans around private cloud and whether open source will play a role!

Watch this short video by Andrew Hillier, CiRBA’s co-founder & CTO to learn about CiRBA’s contribution to the ManageIQ Community:

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CiRBA’s New Business and Application-centric Capacity Control for IT Infrastructure

Today we announced a new capability that enables IT to empower business groups and application owners to intelligently balance server and storage requirements with application demand.

CiRBA does this by providing IT, the app owners and line of business owners to see the true amount of server and storage resources required vs. the amount that is currently allocated by application, department or operating division in virtualized and cloud infrastructures. This enables application owners and business leaders to more actively manage the efficiency of their IT investments by having the information required to work with IT teams in order to make better allocation and infrastructure decisions, reducing risk and eliminating over-provisioning.

Over-provisioning infrastructure resources and over-sizing VMs is a universal issue for enterprise IT today. IT teams and application owners alike simply don’t have the visibility required to make the best possible infrastructure decisions. As a result, over-provisioning is the most common tactic employed to reduce operational risk.

Take a look at the screen below. By showing an application owner or rolling this type of visibility up to an entire business unit, IT can now have an informed conversation about efficiency and reclamation opportunities that previously wouldn’t have been possible.

CiRBA capacity views by application
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For most organizations the ability to have this visibility and these conversations would enable them to take a huge leap forward toward operating more efficiency and lower risk infrastructure.

How does your organization do it today?

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CiRBA Advances Partner Program with Addition of Outsourcers and Cloud Service Provider Categories

CiRBA's Partners

CiRBA’s software is regarded as the gold standard for integrators and consulting companies to advise their customers on server and data center transformations and capacity control. Our software has been deployed in hundreds of companies by leading integrators around the world to revolutionize how transformations are executed and infrastructure is managed.

CiRBA’s own Fortune 500 customers are well down the path on huge deployments of Automated Capacity Control because it enables infrastructure owners to better balance workload demand with capacity supply. These capabilities and presence in the market are bringing partnering requests from new kinds of organizations. CiRBA’s ability to significantly improve density of infrastructure, while at the same time improving stability, has caught the attention of companies that manage infrastructure for their large customers.

These companies, Cloud service providers and outsourcers specifically, are operating in an increasingly competitive environment where infrastructure efficiency and greater levels of automation can translate directly to competitive advantage, better pricing and greater customer satisfaction. To meet this demand, we’ve recently added two new categories to our partner program. CiRBA Powered Outsourcers and CiRBA Powered Cloud Providers.

These additions are not just by name, they include delivery, sales and pre-sales training tailored to the types of offerings these companies provide. We have also introduced licensing programs that match the needs of these businesses. For example, a new utility licensing model that allows cloud providers to flex up and down over time and to pay monthly depending on the volume of servers managed.

For a complete list of the CiRBA partner categories, visit www.cirba.com/partnerprogram

Watch a short Video of Chuck Tatham, CiRBA’s SVP of Business Development and Marketing share updates to the partner program.

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Shared compute, storage and network resources wreak havoc in your data center

InfographicSharing resources and constant change are hallmarks of modern virtualized and cloud-based environments. It has become intensely complicated for organizations with large-scale virtual and private cloud infrastructures to try to control operations, risk and efficiency as a result.

Download our new infographic which outlines 5 of the biggest misses IT operations teams are making when managing these new school environments.  (and how balancing capacity supply and demand can help!)

Download the infographic

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Cisco Presenting Joint Wave and CiRBA Solution at SDN World Congress in Paris

Cisco Demo
Cisco, a great partner and customer of CiRBA’s, is presenting at SDN World Congress this week in Paris. John Evans and Arash Afrakteh will take the stage March 21 to present:

SDN-based Traffic Management for IP/MPLS Networks: Reality, not Snake Oil
Demonstrating how a centralised network- and traffic-aware controller can be used in existing IP / MPLS networks to close the feedback loop between the network and applications and services that use the network, providing both dynamic SLA guarantees through admission control and providing real-time network- and traffic-aware service placement.

Anyone who knows CiRBA, knows we excel at placement decisions and part of this session will reflect how our solution combines with Cisco Wave to optimize network aware placements.

For more information, visit the site at:  http://bit.ly/1p8xSEE

Cisco Demo
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Cloud Computing Journal: Why Intelligent VM Routing Is Critical to Your Private Cloud’s Success

Any capacity-based business, whether it’s an airline, hotel or manufacturer thrives when they make the most efficient use of their expensive capacity.  Too much capacity and costs are too high. Too little capacity and customer needs aren’t met.

To be successful, these businesses need to be able to accurately quantify and manage demand and then match that to their supply of capacity.  IT is no different. The difference for IT today is that they are falling far behind other organizations in their level sophistication around managing both supply and demand in virtualized and cloud infrastructures.

In a recent article written for Cloud Computing Journal, CiRBA CTO & Co-Founder, Andrew Hillier, outlines some key considerations on managing the demand side of the equation and dives into why the workload routing decision is such an  important one.

Check out the article here. http://bit.ly/1hd4KsR

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Lessons That Managers of Virtual and Cloud Infrastructure Can Learn from the Ritz

A byline by CiRBA CTO & co-founder Andrew Hillier appeared on Wired’s Innovation Insights this week. In it, Andrew outlines what we can learn about managing private cloud and virtualization from hotel operations for optimizing operations, particularly those like the Ritz that pride themselves on efficient operations and their ability to meet the unique individual needs of their customers.

It’s an interesting read that identifies five reasons why the entire process of workload routing and capacity reservations must evolve to become a core, automated component of IT planning and management.

Check out the article at http://wrd.cm/1cabGJR

Also watch this short video of Andrew demonstrating CiRBA’s Reservation Console which automates workload routing and capacity reservations.

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Gerry Smith, CiRBA President & CEO to Discuss Balancing IT Infrastructure Supply and Demand at OASIS: The Montgomery Summit

This week our President and Chief Executive Officer, Gerry Smith, will present CiRBA’s vision for controlling IT supply and demand at OASIS: The Montgomery Summit. This is an invitation-only event featuring top entrepreneurs and investors, senior level technology executives, and leading industry visionaries. Prior Montgomery conferences have provided early looks at Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, Splunk, Marketo, Meraki, Exact Target, Rocket Fuel, and other breakout companies and we are proud to be represented there.

In Gerry’s own words, “CiRBA exists to provide an intelligent and automated way of balancing infrastructure supply and demand. Dynamically controlling capacity is the key to establishing and maintaining this balance, and this is especially true in virtualized and cloud environments.”

For a sneak peek at Gerry’s presentation, watch the video below.

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CiRBA’s Reservation Console Ships!

With the release of CiRBA Version 8 this week, customers can now leverage the new Reservation Console to automate the entire process of selecting the optimal hosting environment for new workloads and reserving compute and storage capacity. Not only does the console ensure that the requirements of each new workload are properly matched to the characteristics of the infrastructure, thereby eliminating compliance issues and reducing operational risk, but it also provides the ability to balance demand across all available infrastructure, including cloud environments, midrange systems, and even different physical data centers.

And as its name suggests, the new Reservation Console also provides users with a new avenue to reserve capacity in advance of its actual use, guaranteeing that resources will be available for application deployments and effectively acting as a “hotel reservation system” to application groups and lines of business.

There really is nothing else like this out there.

See it live for yourself! Join CiRBA CTO & co-founder Andrew Hillier for a live demonstration of the Reservation Console and a discussion of how to gain control over capacity supply and demand in private clouds and virtualized infrastructure.

When: Tuesday, January 21 at 12:00pm ET
Register Now

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Is Your Organization Ready to Support a Multi-Hypervisor Strategy?

VMware® may still dominate the hypervisor market, but one thing is certain: IT leaders are getting serious about adopting alternatives. According to research by Torsten Volk of EMA, 82% of organizations plan to adopt more than one hypervisor.

In response to this growing trend, CiRBA has announced support for Microsoft® Hyper-V® in CiRBA Version 8 which shipped today. The support extends through the product from our transformation analytics for planning migrations to the new Reservation Console and our award-winning Control Console, which enables organizations to maximize efficiency and minimize risk in virtual and cloud infrastructure. This new capability is a key addition to CiRBA’s already unmatched platform support, which includes VMware® ESX®, IBM® PowerVM®, and Red Hat® Enterprise Virtualization.

Concerns about vendor lock-in and hypervisor costs are driving the multi-hypervisor trend, but are organizations really ready to adopt multiple hypervisors? One critical hurdle in taking advantage of the flexibility and choice is determining which workloads should be hosted on or routed to each platform. Each hypervisor has its own strengths and those attributes determine how organizations want to leverage them. In large environments, the match making can be a huge challenge and necessitates a change in how workload placement decisions are made.

All the organizations we have talked to are relying on spreadsheets to determine which environments and clusters new workloads should be placed in. This is the case even within single hypervisor environments. This not only impedes agility and responsiveness, but most importantly it increases the risk of bad placement decisions – which often leads to compliance issues, performance problems, and inflated hardware and software licensing costs – all ills that virtualization and cloud are supposed to remove.

Our customers were clear when we spoke with them – they needed a way to make smarter placement decisions and automate the process. So we answered the call. Leveraging the same market leading analytics our customers use to transform and control infrastructure, we built a Reservation Console that automates the entire process of selecting the optimal hosting environment for new workloads and reserving compute and storage capacity. The Reservation Console combined with CiRBA’s cross-platform support enables CiRBA customers to automate “fit for purpose” placements for new workloads across multi-hypervisor, multi-SLA, multi-site virtual and cloud environments.

And in the words of our CTO and co-founder, Andrew Hillier: “The shift toward cloud is placing less emphasis on the specific hypervisor technology, and more on the capabilities it provides. Having a scientific way to make hosting decisions across all hypervisors and hosting platforms really opens up the playing field, and allows organizations to focus on the bigger picture of enterprise-level supply and demand.”

So we throw the question back to you. What is your company’s hyper-visor strategy? And how are you planning to leverage those technologies?

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CiRBA’s Product Advisory Conference: Highlights of CiRBA’s New Reservation Console

Last week some of CiRBA’s largest customers, including Cisco, FedEx, Lowes, McKesson, AIG, TD Bank Group, and others joined CiRBA executives and product managers in Boston for a focused Product Advisory Conference. We were thrilled to have seventeen attendees from some of the world’s largest organizations join us for two days of spirited discussion on how to address the challenge of balancing workload demand with infrastructure supply in today’s data center.

Today’s methods for determining which environment to route new workloads are largely manual, patchwork processes. Surveying our customers involved in this conference reveals that the vast majority need a better way to do this for three reasons:

  1. To increase responsiveness to workload placement requests
  2. To increase the accuracy of forecasting coming demand and capacity requirements
  3. To put an end to over-estimating future hardware requirements due to lack of connection to the demand pipeline.

We listened carefully to our customers and the highlight for us during the conference was seeing and hearing their reactions to a detailed review of the new Reservation Console, which is scheduled for release in January 2014. Customers surveyed indicated they will be able to leverage the new console to:

  • Make faster, better decisions on where to place new workloads increasing responsiveness and agility
  • Make those routing decisions based on highly extensible and organization specific details that ensure the right choices are made
  • Reduce performance risk with better workload placements
  • Increase the accuracy of demand forecasting to end over-provisioning hardware for future requirements
  • Finally have an auditable process of provisioning requests

Further, ninety-four percent had plans to automate more of these critical processes with seventy-five percent indicating the intent to automate the end to end process of workload request through environment selection to provisioning, which is something CiRBA uniquely enables them to do.

We thought we’d share a few photos from the event and provide a sneak peek at what they saw that got them so excited!

The Reservation Console provides a “Hotels.com” like capability for evaluating a workload’s requirements against the characteristics of available infrastructure. Organizations can strike the right balance between cost vs. fit for purpose criteria such as software requirements, security, storage, operational and business policies and provides a rating of fit called the Hosting Score. Users can manually choose a target environment based on the analysis or automate workload routing and associated capacity reservations.

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The Reservation Console will route workloads to the optimal hosting environment according to key criteria such as:

  • Cost
  • Occupancy levels
  • Technical and business considerations
  • Software licensing
  • Operational policies

The suitability of an environment is summarized using a Hosting Score (shown here) for environments that match the fit for purpose criteria and have available room. Some environments like the one at the bottom of this screenshot are eliminated from consideration because a lack of fit. In this case, the environment does not satisfy the workloads technical and resource requirements.

The Reservation Console
As the name suggests, The Reservation Console doesn’t just determine the optimal host environment for a workload, but it also reserves capacity for workloads in advance of its actual use, guaranteeing that resources will be available for application deployments. This view of the console shows a log of all the workloads that are scheduled to go into the selected environments, providing a complete picture of reservations made and inbound workloads.

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The Capacity Reservations made through the Reservation Console are reflected in the Control Console view for an environment so operations teams and capacity management alike get an accurate picture of upcoming demand and infrastructure requirements.

We would like to send a sincere thank you to everyone who attended the conference and made the success it was!

CiRBA CEO Gerry Smith kicking off the conference
CiRBA CEO Gerry Smith kicking off the conference.

CiRBA CEO Gerry Smith leading the discussion
CiRBA CEO Gerry Smith leading the discussion.

CiRBA SVP Product Strategy & c-Founder Riyaz Somani
CiRBA SVP Product Strategy & co-Founder Riyaz Somani.

Enjoying the discussion
Enjoying the discussion.

CiRBA CTO & co-Founder Andrew Hillier demonstrating.
CiRBA CTO & co-Founder Andrew Hillier demonstrating.

Customers in CiRBA gear!
Customers in CiRBA gear!

 

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