VMTurbo joins the OpenStack Community

How to do open source the right way, and make money doing it

VMTurbo, maker of cloud management software, has announced that they are joining the OpenStack Community. Talking to the VMTurbo people yesterday, it looks like they are trying to do the right thing.

If you are not familiar with VMTurbo, they are a startup with basically one product, Operations Manager. The idea is simple, if you have a data center with a reasonable sized cloud, or worse yet, sell cloud services, you need to manage the resources at your disposal. This is not an easy job if you have hundreds of servers, much less hundreds of racks across multiple sites.

If you are thinking about paying someone slightly above minimum wage to take the night shift watching a dashboard, you don’t really understand the problem. With tens of VMs per server, 20+ servers per rack, and theoretically thousands of disparate workloads per customer, each one can change resource needs multiple times a second. A human can’t manage this.

Worse yet, a human can’t make enough decisions to do the basics like giving VMs the resources they need, maximizing utilization of hardware, and minimizing energy use, and other things that have become necessary of late. In short, you need to automate this mess. That is great, there are tons of tools to do this, some being better than others.

VMTurbo’s Operations Manager (OM) is one of these tools, it collects data from a VMWare installation and manages things like what goes where, when, and why. Actually, OM works with just about any hypervisor out there other than RedHat, collects usage data, and adjusts various aspects of the environment to maximize efficiency. Once again, nothing unique, lots of companies will sell you software that does this.

What VMTurbo brings to the table is analytics based on market principles, that would be supply and demand. Each resource is allocated a cost and when there is a condition that warrants attention, say high utilization, it makes decisions based on the best value at the current time. Although it may sound like a customer pricing and billing application, it has nothing to do with that.

Imagine you have a piece of management software that says, “If a server hits 75% utilization, move high load VMs off of it to another server.” There is no problem with those type of rules, they are necessary to make a cloud work, humans can’t react fast enough to do it. The result is just fine, and will accomplish the job, but it is simplistic. That is beancounter wording for costs too much.

Why? Servers cost money to run. Servers cost money to cool. A powered down server is the cheapest kind to have in your data center, assuming they can be automatically powered up and put to use when needed. A powered down box that can’t be automatically spun up is dead weight. The idea is to keep as many boxes as possible at the highest utilization possible, and the rest powered down or asleep. The catch is to be able to react to the changes in demand.

Back to VMTurbo, they try to intelligently decide how to move things to the most efficient place possible, and do so intelligently. The market principles idea assigns costs to each operation, and manages your cloud or data center to minimize cost and maximize efficiency. This is all done in real time, and based on current conditions, not simple preset rules. That said, you can tweak the underlying weights as you want, but the idea is the same, analyze the utilization and demand in real time, and put things in the best place automatically. Supply and demand with compute resources and loads, not dollars and cents.

Back to the actual announcement today VMTurbo is joining the OpenStack Community. The idea is to be involved and help the whole OpenStack ecosystem grow, hopefully making a bigger market for their products. By being involved, VMTurbo keeps tabs on what is happening, can to a degree influence direction, and keep their product compatible with an every evolving ecosystem.

Talking to the VMTurbo people, they say that this is more than a donation or press release, they are committing engineering resources to the OpenStack Community that will presumably donate code that benefits the wider community, not just them. This is of course how open source works, and how working with it can be both beneficial and profitable to a for profit company. So now, VMTurbo is part of OpenStack. If you want to try it, there is a free version and trials available here.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate