EMC is making big bets these days on the OpenStack project, as evidenced by the string of announcements and activities over the past month, beginning with the acquisition of Cloudscaling. We also announced our intent to build out an EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud OpenStack Edition, leveraging Cloudscaling’s OCS product and EMC’s Converged Infrastructure technologies. I am at the OpenStack Summit in Paris this week, along with 30+ other members of Team OpenStack @EMC, and we are sponsoring a booth for the first time ever at an OpenStack Summit.
Today, EMC and the OpenStack Cloud Solutions Team is proud to further cement our commitment to the OpenStack project by announcing the EMC OpenStack Reference Architecture Partner Program. The purpose of this program is for EMC to work with key distribution vendors in the ecosystem to deliver solutions that will help customers be successful with their OpenStack cloud deployments and to help accelerate the adoption of OpenStack in the market. As indicated in the announcement, our first set of foundation partners include Canonical Ubuntu, Mirantis, and Red Hat,with more to come and we expect to have our first set of solutions available for our joint customers in the first half of 2015. I want to talk here more about why we are doing this, how I think this will benefit our customers, and what will be delivered as part of this program.
Why Is EMC Creating An OpenStack Reference Architecture Partner Program?
Given that EMC just acquired Cloudscaling and announced our intent to go to market with a OpenStack-powered solution based on OCS, why are we also electing to partner with other OpenStack vendors like Canonical, Mirantis, and Red Hat? The simple answer is… customer choice. EMC has a variety of customers who’ve made different choices around how they want to deploy and consumer cloud technologies in general and OpenStack in particular. Some have decided on a “do-it-yourself” approach and may even go the pure commodity hardware route. Other customers take the approach of working with different software and hardware vendors in the OpenStack ecosystem and look for them to partner together to provide the best experience possible. Some have been trying to get OpenStack up and running and would prefer partnering with a single vendor who can provide a turnkey OpenStack solution that can ease their deployment, management, and support challenges. Given the variety of customer needs and preferences, EMC has chosen to offer our customers choice via both a turnkey as well as a Reference Architecture offering.
What Is The EMC OpenStack Reference Architecture Partner Program?
Since I already spent time describing our hybrid cloud solution in my previous post, I want to focus here on the Reference Architecture (RA) Program. The most important element of the RA program is the acknowledgment by EMC that many customers have chosen their OpenStack distribution vendor and would prefer to see EMC work with that vendor to help make deployments successful. For those customers, we believe the best way we can help is to partner with the leading OpenStack distribution vendors in the industry to build enterprise-grade cloud platforms. We believe that the three initial partners we’ve chosen, along with others who will be joining the program, have the best OpenStack products outside of the EMC Federation. Working with these specific vendors gives EMC the broadest reach possible in the OpenStack market and with the best alignment to our current customer base.
Now, reference architecture programs are often nothing more than an announcement, some marketecture, and a brochure disguised as a white paper or solutions guide. To make sure we are building a program that will offer genuine help to our customers, EMC will be working with each of our partners on four concrete deliverables.
Certified And Validated Architectures
While having our storage drivers as part the OpenStack code is foundational to EMC’s involvement the ecosystem, many enterprise customers desire an additional level of certification to ensure that our storage technologies work properly with a given vendor’s OpenStack distribution. As such, we will be working closely with our partners to make sure that level of certification is achieved. As one example, we’ll make sure that our VNX storage array is fully tested in the Ubuntu OpenStack integration Lab (OIL).
Another key deliverable in this area will be to work with our partners to engineer validated joint architectures. This is intended to help EMC customers who seek additional help on how to not only connect our storage into an OpenStack distribution using our plugins, but on how to best configure our technology with our partner’s distribution to ensure optimal performance and utilization. Here you will start to see clear guidance on how to configure the VMAX or XtremIO to work with Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform (RHELOSP), as an example. The goal is to produced substantial documentation that captures recommended practices so that customers can be assured that when they deploy a jointly-engineered RA, it will significantly increase the likelihood of successful outcome.
Partner Tools Integration
One of the primary value-adds provided by our OpenStack partners is the integration of tools, with their distribution, to ease customer deployment and operational challenges. Currently, customers deploying and managing one of theses distributions with EMC products have to use separate tools – one for the distribution and another for our products. One of the deliverables of the RA Program is to integrate EMC technologies with our partners tools to allow for integrated deployment and management. For example, we could integrate deployment and configuration of VNX or XtremIO with Red Hat’s Foreman tool to allow RHELOSP and the underlying EMC storage to be deployed from the same blueprint with recommended configurations included. Another example might be to integrate events and statistics from EMC’s ViPR controller into a monitoring tool such as Zabbix, to allow users to have a single dashboard for monitoring their entire Mirantis OpenStack environment end to end.
One of the primary reasons that customers choose EMC is the expectation that we and our partners will deliver world-class support for our products and solutions. To meet those expectations, the OpenStack Reference Architecture Program will include cooperative support with each of our released reference architectures. This will give our customer peace of mind knowing that when they deploy these validated designs, EMC and our RA partners will work together to resolve any issues, no matter were the issues may reside in the stack and to whom customers make the first call. We will jointly track the issue to resolution.
Professional Services Offerings
We recognize that some customers have the expertise to take these validated architectures and run with it to build out their OpenStack cloud. However, many customers will need assistance from EMC and our partners, often beyond just deployment of the platform. As such EMC and our RA partners will be offering services that range from deployment of our released reference architectures, to cloud readiness assessments, to application modernization. The goal here to provide services that enable customer throughout the life-cycle of their OpenStack Cloud, from conception to operations.
As I mentioned earlier, customer should expect to see the first of these validated reference architectures in the first half of 2015. EMC will be working with our partners to ensure that as new innovations occur in OpenStack and in our products, customers will see the benefits of those innovations in our joint architectures. Meanwhile, please stay tuned for more details from EMC and our first set of partners, Canonical Ubuntu, Mirantis, and Red Hat.