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How To Build Your Virtualized Datacenter Using Open Source, Linux, KVM and Xen, Part 1

Posted September 30, 2013

This is part one in a two part series on how to use open source ConVirt to manage virtual machines written by guest contributor Jaydeep Marfatia, executive vice president of engineering and founder of Convirture. 

Jaydeep Marfatia - ConvirtureJaydeep Marfatia is executive vice president of engineering and founder of Convirture.

When server virtualization first took the IT industry by storm, there was only one real solution on the market – VMWare. A lot has changed since then. Many companies are looking at open source virtualization like Xen and KVM to see if they can use it for production workloads. We believe, from a performance and scalability perspective, both are ready for prime time, but from an infrastructure management perspective, there seems to be a lot of holes, particularly when you compare the management tools against VMware’s vCenter. There are several products looking to fill this “management gap” in open source virtualization, including virt-manager, oVirt, openQRM, and ConVirt. 

In order to use open source (or any source) virtualization, you need to have robust management of your infrastructure (e.g. your host servers, virtual machines, network and storage). This means that, across this infrastructure, you need to be able to address the following areas:

  • Provisioning (e.g. how to create and place new hosts and VMs, how to manage the end-of-life cycle, how to deliver newly provisioned infrastructure…)
  • Configuration (e.g. how to manage what’s inside the VMs…)
  • Administration (e.g. day to day VM start, stop, pause, maintenance, migration, etc.)
  • Monitoring (e.g. tracking the utilization, performance, and capacity of your virt farm across VMs and server pools, so you can proactively identify problems and anticipate growing needs)
  • Automation (e.g. how to orchestrate and hook together your infrastructure to provide needed enterprise class capabilities that are currently not found in open source platforms, so you can do things like high availability, workload management and migration, and backup and restore).

Part two of this post will give specific guidance on using Convirt Open Source, which offers an open source, agent-less lifecycle management solution that works for both KVM and Xen. In addition, I’ll touch on some of the advanced automation capabilities which are available in ConVirt’s commercial (e.g. paid for) version as well.

Today, I’ll give you an overview of ConVirt Open Source, who’s using it and why.

ConVirt Overview

ConVirt Open Source enables businesses using KVM and/or Xen to standardize and proactively manage virtualized environments in a centralized fashion. Businesses can create and provision “gold” images, diagnose performance problems, and balance load across the data center, all from an interactive Web-based interface and with a consistent feature set across open source virtualization platforms. As an open source product, ConVirt Open Source is licensed under GPL and is free to download and use.

Who Uses ConVirt?

You should consider using ConVirt if you fall into one of the use cases below:

  • Open Source Linux shops – if your data center primarily runs open source Linux (KVM or Xen), then you should take a look at ConVirt – which ships with many Linux distros, and allows you to leverage your existing Linux skills and resources.
  • VMware Second Source – many data centers are looking to bring in second (or third) virtualization platforms to “optimize” their virtualization costs and avoid vendor lock-in. In this situation, ConVirt provides a “single pane of glass” cross-platform KVM and Xen management solution that future-proofs your virtualization platform choices.
  • Multi-Virt, Multi-Cloud, Software-Defined Infrastructure (SDI) – if your organization is moving towards a “software-defined” future, you should look at ConVirt as a platform that will help you evolve to SDI in your existing heterogeneous data centers, without having to “rip and replace” huge stacks of compute, network, and storage resources.


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