Keeping an eye on CloudStack

Zenoss backs Citrix’s CloudStack by extending ZenPack with monitoring solution

Chris Mayer

The cloud infrastructure battle is well underway and now IT-ops focused Zenoss puts its chips down on the Apache Foundation’s IaaS.

A month on from the groundbreaking announcement that Citrix were abandoning the open source OpenStack, in favour submitting their own offering, Citrix CloudStack to the Apache Foundation, we’ve seen numerous companies come out in support of each IaaS.

The Citrix decision wasn’t entirely surprising, considering their wishes to emulate the successes of Apache projects Cassandra and Hadoop, but also to maintain API compatibility with Amazon Web Services EC2. By moving to the Apache Foundation, Citrix will certainly broaden usage and give the company the community they desire. Not that it’s bad already, bringing an estimated 30,000 commmunity members across with the move.

It’s fair to say that OpenStack has talked the loudest so far, with some reputable partners pledging to OpenStack, such as Red Hat, the still in-beta Rackspace and HP, but Citrix has been plotting to make sure it gets it right first, before making loud noises.

Yesterday, IT-operations software leader Zenoss firmly committed to CloudStack, by announcing extension to their open source CloudStack ZenPack – promising to extend montoring capabilities to VMs using CloudStack

This move, announced at Citrix Synergy should theoretically give enterprises greater vision into the CloudStack infrastructure, especially helpful for newer converts looking to learn the ropes. The new and improved CloudStack ZenPack now monitors the underlying core VMs key to the system’s operation. This includes router VMs, secondary storage VMs and console proxy VMs, to ensure service performance on CloudStack.

Newcomers are often unsure of how these VMs interlink and how this affects performance. This solution should offer an unified view, rather than providing logistics of individual technical components 

Now CloudStack users have a deeper understanding of the performance of these systems and how they correlate to other devices within the infrastructure with a unified view of the service rather than individual technical components.

“Last month, CloudStack became the first cloud platform in the industry to be submitted to the Apache Software Foundation, with a mission of delivering a powerful, proven, hypervisor-agnostic platform that helps customers of all sizes build robust clouds,” said Chet Luther, Principal Engineer and Architect of the CloudStack ZenPack. “Zenoss aims to support this mission by working with our commercial and open source customers to continue enhancing our CloudStack ZenPack and providing a powerful unified monitoring solution for CloudStack deployments.”

We talked to Technical Evangelist at Zenoss, Floyd Strimling about this initiative, who was understandably excited at the potential for ZenPack, but first we talked about the entire landscape change:

Zenoss has always really been looking at the latest and greatest of the orchestration vendors, so we’ve worked with OpenStack since close to the beginning, and done a lot of work with CloudStack. Within the CloudStack realm as you know, there’s been exciting movement with Citrix going all-in the open source world with ASF, but also commercially with Citrix CloudPortal.

Subsequently we’ve been encountering that quite a lot of our customers are using CloudStack, asking for more and more functionality…We’ve worked in conjunction with the open source community and some of our vendors (names undisclosed). The key was go deeper into the CloudStack, to be able to discover the top-end information, but to go very much deeper into router VMs, storage VMs and console VMs to be able to see the system as a whole.

We’re very big on understanding that the way to solve these problems is to visually understand the interactions and dependencies between the underlying infrastructure and the software. We do that by using a real-time service model which is an object-oriented database. From that we can maintain all those moving dependencies so we added the correlation of CloudStack hosts and VM components to the underlying devices and that allows us to visually abstract across the entire infrastructure.

It’s a good gesture from Zenoss on many fronts – to understanding what the open source community (especially newer enterprises) want from CloudStack but also to become part of their wider ecosystem. 

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