Assembling Private Cloud as a Service with Red Hat OpenStack

I am a huge comic book movie fan, loving the resurgence in popularity of superhero movies over the past decade. I particularly enjoy superhero team movies such the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Avengers.” There is something spectacular about watching individual heroes, powerful in their own right, accomplish even more by working together towards a common goal.

On a less heroic scale, truly innovative things can be done when IT industry experts come together to solve user problems. Building and running private clouds is one of those problems.

So what happens when the #1 open source software vendor and the #1 operator of OpenStack clouds comes together? You get Rackspace Private Cloud powered by Red Hat — a Red Hat OpenStack platform and Rackspace Fanatical Support.

Rackspace Private Cloud powered by Red Hat, or RPC-R for short, is a prescriptive Rackspace and Red Hat solution that makes OpenStack private cloud easy to consume by delivering it as a managed service.

RPC-R relieves customers from having to shoulder the burden for day one deployments and day two operations of their cloud infrastructure. Our two companies work jointly to engineer, to architect, to deploy and to operate this solution, leveraging our combined expertise in packaging open source software and operating clouds at scale.

We start with an enterprise grade OpenStack distribution, architected according to enterprise best practices and backed by Fanatical Support.

Enterprise grade OpenStack

Saying that Red Hat knows how to package open source software into enterprise grade products is akin to saying the Avengers know how to fight bad guys. By taking the principles and practices they’ve learned packaging Red Hat Enterprise Linux and applying them to OpenStack, Red Hat has created the best OpenStack distribution in the industry. Benefits for customers include:

  • Curated product cycle: OpenStack is a fast moving project with two new releases every year. While that’s great for innovation, it can be cause of concern for enterprises that value stability. By curating OpenStack and packaging the upstream code, Red Hat (and by extension RPC-R) delivers an innovative product to customers that doesn’t sacrifice stability.
  • Robust partner ecosystem: Because of the large number of partners that Red Hat works with, users of Red Hat OpenStack platform are able to integrate with a number of software and hardware technologies to extend the capabilities of their private cloud. This includes using PLUMgrid as the SDN layer for Neutron networking and a number of enterprise storage arrays, in addition to Ceph, as the block storage for Cinder storage.
  • Integrated stack: Operating a production cloud requires more than the upstream OpenStack code. That’s something we’ve always known at Rackspace, as we’ve had to build and integrate third party tools to operate our OpenStack public and private clouds. Red Hat is doing the same by integrating value-added technologies into Red Hat OpenStack Platform such as Ceph, Satellite and CloudForms.

Enterprise grade reference architecture

One of the strengths of OpenStack is the flexibility to customize it to meet very specific needs. One of OpenStack’s weaknesses is the ability to customize it to build unsupportable snowflake clouds. That’s why RPC-R is based on a prescriptive reference architecture that is flexible enough to meet most use cases but is also designed to be supportable as a managed services offering.

RPC-R architecture

I will be diving into the technical details of the reference architecture and why we made the choices we made in a future blog post. For now, it’s helpful to know the best practice pillars that inform the RPC-R reference architecture:

  • High availability: Cloud operators are responsible for ensuring that cloud services are always available, even in the face of component-level failures. To meet that requirement, RPC-R is architected so that all OpenStack services are highly available. This includes not only the OpenStack software but the underlying hardware infrastructure.
  • Scalability: Rackspace has one billion hours’ worth of experience when it comes to scaling OpenStack clouds. We understand that the chokepoints limiting scale can be found throughout a system and those chokepoints change as your system scales. That’s why RPC-R is architected to scale quickly and efficiently at multiple layers of the stack.
  • Automation: Running a cloud at scale necessitates that important and repeated tasks be automated to minimize the possibility of errors that occur with manual operations. So we’ve built automation into RPC-R to automate tasks such patching and upgrades.

Fanatical Support

As I mentioned, Red Hat OpenStack platform is the best distribution in the industry. And Rackspace Private Cloud is the best managed private cloud service in the industry. Combining the two to create Rackspace Private Cloud powered by Red Hat enable us to apply Rackspace Fanatical Support and provide customers with the best way to consume cloud services without having to worry about operating their private cloud. But what does it mean to apply Fanatical Support to RPC-R? Some benefits for customers include:

Dedicated support team: Besides the technology and tools that underpin RPC-R, we’ve got a team of dedicated OpenStack specialists who support customer RPC-R clouds 24x7x365. These specialists are part of the overall Rackspace team with more operational experience and expertise than anyone in the world.

Private Cloud as a Service: As a managed service and not a standalone software distribution, each customer’s RPC-R is managed by our support team on behalf of the customer. We leverage not only our experience but our tooling to perform tasks like proactive monitoring, patching and upgrades. For example, all RPC-R deployments are tied into the Monitoring as a Service system that Rackspace also uses to monitor our public cloud. This means customers gain the benefits from a monitoring system that they know can scale since it is already in use to monitor the world’s largest OpenStack public cloud.

account team

Fanatical testing: Rackspace believes continual testing is the only way to ensure an enterprise-grade service. So while Red Hat does a better job of testing their software than anyone in the industry, we supplement that with additional testing to ensure it’s the most stable Private Cloud as a Service solution available. This includes a suite of tests described in a previous blog post as well as additional scale testing performed at the OpenStack Innovation Center.

We have high hopes for Rackspace Private Cloud Powered by Red Hat, and our two companies are working quickly to bring even more innovation to the OpenStack cloud.

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