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Customizing BladeSystem Matrix Allocation Rules Engine for Multi-tenancy Solutions

Early this week I was in a couple of halo meeting sessions with folks in our Bangalore India location, taking about "the next big thing". It reminded me that the last thing we worked on - exposing an extensible rules engine into the allocation and placement - was part of the BladeSystem Matrix 6.0 release. I wanted to talk a little about that capability today and give an example of how it can be used in deployments involving multi-tenancy.


BladeSystem Matrix Allocation and Placement Rules











Allocation and placement has always been a key function of BladeSystem Matrix.


When multi-tier service designs (represented my templates) are submitted for instantiation, it is the allocation and placement function that looks at the requirements for the service in terms of individual element specifications, desired service topology and lease period and them binds these to the available resources in the environment based on their characteristics and capacity, availability calendar, and physical topology.


In BladeSystem Matrtix 6.0, this allocation process can be customized by an extensible rules engine. Overall there are 18 different allocation rule sets that can be extended as shown in figure 1. The policy.xml file specifies which of the rule sets should be used. These are further explained the in the Insight Orchestration User Guide on page 48.


 



 
Figure 1 Extensible Rules sets




 


Mutl-tenancy Example











A very common use case I hear from customers is the desire to have a common design for a service but to have some aspects of the resource binding to be determined by the identity of the service owner.


In this scenario, we consider a provider who is servicing two competitors like Marriott and Hilton hotels but wants to put offer a common service template in the catalog. The desire is that when Marriott deploy a new instance of the service, that service instance would connect to Marriott-Corporate network segment. However, if Hilton deploy the service, then their service instance would connect to the Hilton Corporate network segment.




Figure 2. Pre-configured networks for the two competing  corporations




Setting up your Service Template











Here we show a portion of a simple single server template as an illustrative example. This is a multi-homed server with



  • 1. a connection to the corporate network. The network is named "@corporate". Later on in the rule engine we will look for the "@" sign in the name to trigger special rules processing

  • 2. a connection to an internal network private to the service "net1".



 


Figure 3 Sample Multi-tenancy configuration




 Adding the processing Rule


The rules engine is based on Drools. The rules are written expressed in Java with a Drools rule semantic wrapper. I'll give you a boiler plate wrapper to get you started below. This rule and the Java function are appended to the SubnetCheck.drl file. I'm going to show a very simple example, but can imagine that the creative community will quickly come up with some more sophisticated implementations. In figure 4, I show a simple rule. The rules processing is invoked to refine the candidate networks for allocation to the new service instance. The rule runs for each network (LogicalNetwork) specified in the template, and for each candidate network in the environment. The purpose of the rule processing is to discard candidates that "don't fit".


This snippet basically extracts the information about the subnet specification in the template (the $logicalSubnet), the candidate list of networks ($subnet) from the context ($pVO). It invokes a function customerSpecificSubnetCriteriaCheck to perform the actual processing. 


rule "CustomerSpecificSubnetCriteria"
       when
               $pVO : PolicyExecutionVO( );
               $resLst : List();
               $logicalSubnet : LogicalSubnet();
               $subnet : Subnet() from $resLst;
              eval(customerSpecificSubnetCriteriaCheck($logicalSubnet, $subnet, $pVO)); 
       then
             
              // match processing is embedded in customerSpecificSubnetCriteriaCheck
              // $pVO.match($subnet, HPIOMessage.get(HPIOBundleKey.ALLOCATION_CRITERIA_CUSTOM, "CustomerSpecificSubnetCriteriaCheck succeeded"));
end


Figure 4. Boiler plate rule example


The function code is placed in the drl file after the rule statement. Here is the snippet


function boolean customerSpecificSubnetCriteriaCheck(
                                         LogicalSubnet logicalSubnet,
                                         Subnet subnet,
                                         PolicyExecutionVO pVO) {

       AllocationEntry ae = pVO.getAllocationEntry();
      
       InfrastructureService service = ae.getInfrastructureService();

       String serviceName = service.getName();
       String owner = service.getOwner().substring(owner.lastIndexOf("\\")+1); // strip domain
       String lsName = logicalSubnet.getName();
       String psName = subnet.getName();

       System.out.println("Service: " + serviceName + " Owner: " + owner);
       System.out.println("LogicalSubnet: " + lsName + "Physical Net: " + psName);
      
       boolean match;
      
       if (lsName.beginsWith("@")) {
              String key = lsName.substring(1); // strip off @
              // March @key to networks with Id "owner-key"
              match = psName.equalsIgnoreCase(owner+"-"+key);
       } else {
              // regular network. Could include additional security checks here.
              match = true;
       }
       if (match) {
              pVO.match(subnet, HPIOMessage.get(HPIOBundleKey.ALLOCATION_CRITERIA_CUSTOM,
                                                                                  "CustomerSpecificSubnetCriteriaCheck succeeded"));
       } else {
              pVO.doesNotMatch(subnet, HPIOMessage.get(HPIOBundleKey.ALLOCATION_CRITERIA_CUSTOM,
                                                                                                      "Could not find customer specific subnet"));
       }
       System.out.println("MATCH="+match);
       return match;
}


Figure 5. Rule processing example


The function starts by getting the information on the InfrastructureService being provisioned.  This contains details of the entire template being provisioned and can be used for additional context aware processing. From this object we extract the service owner name (stripping off the windows domain), as well as the name of the service. It is also possible to extract information such as the "notes" that are specified for the service where additional information may also be encoded by the requestor.  From the LogicalNetwork object we extract the name (ie "@Corporate" or "net1") in lsName. Similarly we extract the physical network name into psName.


I've included some debug lines using System.out.println . These show up in C:\Program Files\HP\Insight Orchestration\logs\hpio.log.


The purpose of this code is to return "FALSE" if the physical network is not a match candidate for the LogicalNetwork specified in the template, otherwise return "TRUE". The rules processing logic requires that if the rule allows an element to be a selection candidate, then the function pVO.match must be invoked for that element. If the element is to be eliminated from consideration, then pVO.doesNotMatch() needs to be invoked listing a reason for the exclusion. As a matter of coding style, you can either include the calls to both these routines in your custom function, OR you can just include the pVO.doesNotMatch() code in the function, and put the pVO.match() innocation in the body of the rule.


For logical networks not beginning with a "@" we just want to return TRUE and let the normal selection rules apply. For networks beginning with "@" we will be more selective, excluding candidates unless they match a specific pattern. For a logical network specified in the template with name of the form "@key" we want it to match against physical networks named "owner-key", where owner is the id of the requesting user. The logic looks for a lsName beginning with "@" and then strips off the "@" to create the key. We then test the physical server name to see if it matches the owner-key pattern.


Configuring the Code


To configure the use of the rules processing, edit C:\Program Files\HP\Insight Orchestration\conf\policy\policy.xml As shown in Figure 6. Once you have updated the policy.xml file you will need to restart the Insight Orchestration service.


<policy enabled="true" name="SubnetPolicyCheck.applyFitting">
    <policy-rule-file>SubnetCheck.drl</policy-rule-file>
    <policy-class-name>policy-class-name</policy-class-name>
</policy>


 Figure 6. Configuring rules processing


Provisioning the Service











Now we are ready to deploy the service. Logging on as user Marriott, I create the service using the template shown earlier in Figure 2. Once the provisioning completes, I can look at the service details page for more information about the service. Select the network named "@Corporate" and then click on the resource details tab. From there I see that the network has indeed been mapped to the Marriott-Corporate network by the customer allocation rules processing.



 


Figure 3 Provisioned Service details




Conclusion


The rules based processing capabilities in BladeSystem Matrix enables simple realization of customized resource allocation processing that can be used to simplify and extend Matrix template deployment. I hope this example helps others to quickly understand the capabilities enabled through this powerful engine and gives a "Quick Start" to writing your own custom rules. If you have cool examples of rule extensions you have implemented, I'd be interested in hearing about them.


Thanks to Manjunatha Chinnaswamynaika for helping me to create this example.


Happy coding :smileyhappy:


 

Virtual Connect now helps converge infrastructure (and lower costs) even more!

On Monday, April 20th, we announced a new Virtual Connect family member and expanded capabilities for all Virtual Connect products.  We’ve see a great deal of momentum building behind virtualization and infrastructure convergence - and these enhancements will help our customers better meet their goals.


When customers put applications onto fewer servers with virtualization, they increase the needed density of both data and storage networking.  So, customers not only need server virtualization, but they also need to virtualize and converge server I/O.   Last November, we introduced the HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 technology that divides a dual-port network interface controller into 8 FlexNIC ports.  This technology reduces the cost associated with data networking in a virtualization environment by greatly reducing the number of cables, switches and additional NICs needed. 


Now we just announced a new Virtual Connect 8 Gb Fibre Channel module to support the heavy SAN needs of virtual servers.   The HP Virtual Connect 8 Gb 24-port Fibre Channel Module has twice the bandwidth of our 4 Gb Fibre Channel module running at up to 8 Gb on all downlinks and uplinks. Second, it has a total of 8 uplink connections, which is double our current module. Third, it features support for increased server side NPIV support with 255 World Wide Names available per server.  So all together more Virtual Machines can be hosted per server and per set of Virtual Connect Ethernet and Fibre Channel modules.  The result is needing fewer servers AND fewer interconnect modules. Fewer servers and interconnect modules mean a lower purchase cost, simpler set-up and ongoing management, and fewer cables, all able to host more application workloads..  More for less works well for everyone.


We added a new Virtual Connect multi-enclosure stacking feature. Multi-enclosure stacking allows up to 4 BladeSystem enclosures to be connected together into one Virtual Connect Domain.  This provides two big benefits. One, it creates a single simple server connection management domain for up to four enclosures, or up to 64 servers. Second, it also means fewer uplink cables to top of rack or core network ports, further reducing cable and expensive core port costs.


We’ve also enhanced Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager.   The new 1.30 release supports our new Virtual Connect 8Gb Fibre Channel Module, our latest G6 server blades announced last month, and extends the number of supported Virtual Connect domains to 200.  When combined with multi-enclosure stacking, this means that Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager can simplify the set-up and ongoing management of server I/O for up to 800 BladeSystem enclosures or put another way, up to 12,800 servers!  Enabling system administrators the ability to manage the connectivity of up to 12,800 servers will go a long way to making life simpler and less expensive for many of our customers.


So for customers looking to converge infrastructure or increase benefits from virtualization, we hope you let HP and our resellers help you save money, reduce your network complexity, and simplify your IT environment with Virtual Connect Ethernet and Virtual Connect Fibre Channel.


 “Connect More - Spend Less!”


Michael Kendall


ESS Virtual Connect

Did we miss something?

Every time a competitor introduces a new product, we can't help but notice they suddenly get very interested in what HP is blogging during the weeks prior to their announcement.  Then when the competitor announces, the story is very self-congratulatory "we've figured out what the problem is with existing server and blade architectures".  The implication being that blades volume adoption is somehow being constrained by the very thing they have and everyone else is really stupid. 


HP BladeSystem growth has hardly been constrained; with quarterly growth rates of 60% or 80% and over a million BladeSystem servers sold.  So I have to wonder if maybe we already have figured out what many customers want - save time, power, and money in an integrated infrastructure that is easy to use, simple to implement changes, and can run nearly any workload.


Someone asked me today "will your strategy change?"  I guess given the success we've had, we'll keep focusing on the big problems of customers - time, cost, change and energy. It sounds boring, it doesn't get a lot of buzz and twitter traffic, but it's why customers are moving to blade architectures. 


Our platform was built and proven in a step-by-step approach: BladeSystem c-Class, Thermal Logic, Virtual Connect, Insight Dynamics, etc.  Rather than proclaim at each step that we've solved all the industry's problems or have sparked a social movement in computing; we'll continue to focus on doing our job to provide solutions that simply work for customers and tackle their biggest business and data center issues.

Aaron Delp Busts Blade Power Myths

We recently learned that Aaron Delp closed down his BladeVault blog and is focusing on creating more useful infomation to share with the greater community by contributing to Scott Lowe's blog.  For those of you that don't know Aaron, he's a senior engineer who is literally on the front lines of the blade and virtualization revolution. No, he doesn't work for HP or IBM.  But he does know just about everything there is to know about us both.  The good, the bad and the ugly.

power_meters

We not only like Aaron because he's a smart guy who shoots it straight, but also because he likes to share what he knows with the community.  Like I said, he knows a lot.


Well, here's what he's up to now.  In a series titled "Blades and Virtualization Aren't Mutually Exclusive", Aaron is sharing a ton of personal research and experience with blades.  In his first two articles in the series, he takes an insider look at the power advantages of blade versus rack servers - looking at both HP and IBM.  I know we told you blades use a lot less power before, but you still think we're full of crap.  Fine.  Take it from Aaron.


 



In his next article, Aaron promised to focus on the expansion abilities of both the IBM and HP blade servers. We'll be reading and linking his thoughts here.

How would you build a cloud starter kit?

Sometimes our blade ambassadors pass questions and ideas around our virtual watercooler.  Today's most interesting one was:



"If you were asked to give a basic spec with a BladeSystem for a large cloud-type, general-purpose computing platform using VMware (up to 100 chassis) for a large corporation, how would you build it and why?"


The question was pretty broad and for a real cloud implementation, we'd defer to the really cool work going on in HP labs on cloud computing.  But but here were some of initial thoughts that came back.


1. Multiple workloads such as VMs are often host memory bound.  Therefore, the bigger the memory the better.  The ProLiant BL495c is especially well suited to this task with multi-core procs and huge memory capacity.   2. What about the network connections? When used in combination with Virtual Connect Flex-10, throughput is extremely high (10Gb per LOM), very configurable, flexible without a bunch of coordination, and you’ll realize 4 to 1 consolidation of the network equipment.  Add Virtual Connect-FC and some shared HP SAN storage and you'd add more flexiblity and cut about half of the fibre channel equipment costs. 3.  Bring it all together with Insight Dynamics and you get a smart capacity planner and orchestrator layer for both the vm's and the apps on physical servers. 

These three alone would be a great start cloud-starter kit that any business would envy. 

 

Tell us how you'd do it.


 

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  • More than 25 years in the IT industry developing and managing marketing programs. Focused in emerging technologies like Virtualization, cloud and big data.
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