HP Helion Rack – An OpenStack Cloud in a Rack

It has been a crazy year. Last April, I went to OpenStack Summit for the first time. Some of my observations included: There is a lot of interest in OpenStack; There weren’t a lot of companies talking about the OpenStack cloud that they had deployed; and there were a lot of companies hiring just about anyone with OpenStack credentials. Heck, I saw a lot of companies conducting interviews…in the vendor booths. Just crazy.

Anyway, that is where the idea of making a product to make it easier to stand up an OpenStack cloud began to form.

It’s been a year and on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 we announced HP Helion Rack. As the title of this blog says, Helion Rack is an OpenStack cloud in a rack. More specifically, it is an OpenStack private cloud in a single 42u rack.

As I don’t have a lot of followers yet, I’ll keep the description of Helion Rack to a minimum. Comments or questions. are welcome

What problem does Helion Rack solve? Helion Rack is targeted towards enterprise customers wanting to stand up their first OpenStack private cloud. As such, we have tried to address some of the key barriers to adoption. Mainly, OpenStack is complex and internal expertise is limited or non-existent. So…what did we do to mitigate these barriers? Basically, we combined the most popular server platforms with solid, robust, and secure o OpenStack and HP professional  services to create a something that no other single vendor can deliver. Namely, a hardware to virtual machine solution with best in class components and services.

The hardware. We used 14 Industry Standard ProLiant DL360 and DL380 Gen9 platforms for management, compute, and storage nodes. Each node in the rack is specifically configured for the role it plays in the cloud. The components within each node are standard sku’d components. It’s the design, testing, and tuning of the hardware as a whole that brings value to the solution. We used DL360/DL380 platforms because they are the most popular servers in the world, robust, easily managed, and easily re-deployable for when situations/workloads change.

OpenStack. HP Helion OpenStack. HP operates one of the largest OpenStack public clouds in the world and is a leader in the OpenStack community (huge code contributor, board members, many reviewers, and project technical leads).

The solution. Helion Rack is pre-configured, pre-tested, and pre-tuned. It is built in the factory and delivered as a rack to the customer’s data center. Helion OpenStack and Helion Development Platform is then installed on-site. Consulting or training is also available.

Scale up / Scale out. Add more memory, drives, processors, or complete compute or storage nodes.

Okay, I’ll stop now…and wait…

Houston to Yellowstone: Day 1

The day of departure has arrived. Yesterday, I went to Whole Paycheck and picked up some good road snacks…oatmeal raisin cookies! Getting cookies for the road is the best. At that point, you know the trip is on. The bike is ready to go. Will spend this morning finishing up work stuff.

I love how months of planning comes down to the final day and then….Murphy’s Law. It’s not a theory. It’s not random. It is like gravity. Always there.

The plan was to take a half day off of work today and leave at noon. Wouldn’t you know it, a conference call is scheduled at 11:30am this morning. It’s important and I have be on it. The call is only for 30 minutes but it will start late (don’t they all) and finish late.

The weather forecast is that it will be like yesterday. Yesterday, it rained cats and dogs at noon. Great. We were going to meet at the Whataburger in Cypress on the north side of town at 12:30pm. I planned to leave at noon to get there. This won’t happen now. The con call and rain will require some scheduling changes.

The good news is that it will be a single call to Ric. Ric is retired and whether we leave at noon or 8pm makes no difference to him.

Perry, the Piddler, will not start out with us. The logistics of selling stuff to have enough money for the trip is going to cause him to leave on Saturday. He has had months to do this but waited until Monday to put stuff up for sale. He says he’ll meet us in Lake City on Sunday. We’ll be forced to hear the whole sad story of how he left Houston on Saturday and rode hard for a day and a half to catch up. In any case, the logistics just got easier.

Sometime today, the trip will begin and after we get out of the Houston rain, it will be a hot ride.

And so it goes…   Cheers.

What is OpenStack?

I’d like to keep this pretty simple as we go through the basics. I’m not trying to write the definitive book on OpenStack so this is pretty free-form.

OpenStack is a collection of open source tools to manage a cloud. Oh, oh, two new words: Open source and Cloud. What’s a cloud you ask? Well, we need to back up just a bit.

A common analogy is to think of computing resources like electricity.

In the old days, if you wanted electricity, you had to make your own. Now there are companies that provide/provision electricity for you. If you need some, just flip a switch and a light comes on. Every month, you’ll get a bill for the amount of electricity you use. This is way cheaper than creating your own electricity from a generator you bought from the nearby hardware store. It is also a lot less hassle. You don’t have to know how the electricity got to your light bulb…you just knew you wanted light, so you flipped a switch

Traditional Information Technology (IT) is like the old days of electricity. If you have a company that needs computer resources (e.g., email, web-site, accounting, etc.), you figure out what you need…and buy it. And support it. And maintain it. And grow it when needed.

Cloud computing allows you to think of computer resources like electricity. If you need a bunch of email addresses, you just request them. No need to worry about how you got ’em. And just like a electric utility company needs to manage power generation, transmission of the right amount of power to the right place, billing, and all sorts of other things; a cloud provider needs to manage and/or provision computer resources (e.g., storage, memory, compute power, etc.), billing, and transmission of these resources (networking).

So a cloud provider is similar to an electric utility…the difference is in the resources delivered.

What is OpenStack and open source?

So really, OpenStack is a collection of tools used to manage a cloud, allowing users to easily provision computer resources…when they want them.

There is so much more to this….

The question for next time…what are the tools of OpenStack?



OpenStack: First Blog, Disclaimer, and the first question

I started this Blog literally days ago. I’m new at it. As such, I thought I’d start out my OpenStack blogging adventure from a high level. There are many excellent OpenStack bloggers out there. If you’re looking for deeper stuff, skip this blog for a few months.

As I get more comfortable using the blogging tools and following other blogs, I’ll dive deeper into OpenStack.

Disclaimer: I’m a Product Manager for Hewlett-Packard. One of my responsibilities is to help make sure that OpenStack runs well on our hardware…especially our ProLiant servers.

I’d like to use this blog to ask and answer questions. Am thinking the format will be to ask a question in one post. In the next post, I’ll attempt to answer the question and then ask another question. Not sure how this will work but what the heck…

The First Question:
What is OpenStack?

I told you this would start out at a high level.


Yellowstone 2014

Five days away. My home office is a complete mess. Motorcycle gear is everywhere. My tent, sleeping bag, and camping gear is all over the floor. Can barely see my desk.

I have a spreadsheet with a checklist and everything on the list is at home. There should be no need for last minute gear shopping.

The checklist is an amazing tool. Once everything is packed on the bike, and checked off the list, I can forget about it. On my first motorcycle trip, years and years ago, I didn’t make a list. For the first hour or two of riding, I remember wondering if I’d forgotten anything. No more wasting 2 hours of vacation worrying about that.

My riding buddies, Ric and Perry saw my list and laughed. Then they asked for the Excel file.

Speaking of riding buddies, Perry is now claiming he doesn’t have the money to  go on the trip. Typical. Waits to the last second to get his finances in order. He told me months ago that he needed to sell some stuff to pay for the trip. Didn’t even get around to putting stuff up for sale until yesterday. The “Piddler” nickname is not for nothing. He’ll probably miss our departure time and ride hard to catch us somewhere in Colorado…it’s happened before.

More later.