One of the big differences between PowerVC and other management solutions is the use of OpenStack as a foundation. Like many of you, I wondered why IBM chose OpenStack, so I asked someone who was intimately involved in that decision–Mike Williams, distinguished engineer for IBM Cloud Systems Software.
The overall goal for PowerVC was to provide robust management for clouds built on IBM Power Systems. Managing a cloud-computing infrastructure requires a different approach than managing a traditional IT infrastructure. IBM identified several key architectural requirements for this product:
- The management software had to encompass servers, storage, and networking. The management silos of the past simply did not meet the needs of a cloud environment.
- The management architecture needed to be flexible, reliable, and scalable. A management architecture based on a loosely coupled service-oriented architecture with well-defined interfaces fulfills this requirement well. The general concept was a kernel of core services surrounded by plug-in modules to provide management of specific resources. The management application also needed to scale both vertically and horizontally.
- The architecture had to be adaptable to allow expansion to new resource types and new management operations without requiring changes to the underlying architecture.
OpenStack fits these requirements well. OpenStack has the concept of drivers to support different resources (plug-ability), a built in foundation of middleware (service-oriented architecture) and well defined APIs tying everything together. There is an extensive open source community around OpenStack and it has a well-established governance model, and design tenets based on a loosely coupled, resilient architecture that scales horizontally.
There was another pragmatic reason for IBM to use OpenStack as the base for PowerVC: by building on OpenStack, IBM was able to get PowerVC to the market much more quickly and spent more energy working on capabilities with higher client value rather than building infrastructure “plumbing”.
It is important to note that PowerVC is a solution based on OpenStack, it is not OpenStack.
IBM built PowerVC based on the OpenStack architecture using OpenStack components, but IBM also provides enhancements and components that are not part of OpenStack, such as the management user interface and the Platform Enterprise Grid Optimizer (Platform EGO).
These extensions are designed to provide additional capability for our clients compared to the base capabilities provided by OpenStack. IBM contributes to the OpenStack community, but some of our enhancements will remain proprietary to IBM.
PowerVC is more than just OpenStack for Power. While other companies have delivered OpenStack offerings that are just big bags of technology, IBM built PowerVC on OpenStack technology to deliver a virtualization management solution for Power Systems.
As they say, “the proof is in the pudding” By building PowerVC on OpenStack, IBM has been able to deliver two releases in one year. This would have been impossible building it from scratch.