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Gyrocom Blog

Alistair Slocombe

A “Grand Designs” Openstack Infrastructure in Minutes

by Alistair Slocombe

on Nov 5, 2014 9:50:00 AM

I love Grand Designs, and am a big fan of Kevin Mc”Cloud”, but so often we watch the same challenges to any build on that show: slow construction (at least a year) and over-spend… but then it probably wouldn’t make a great television programme if the process always came in under budget and in a sixteenth of the time!

The challenges in Grand Designs aren’t any different to those in the IT world.

Openstack Servers

Photo credit: Intel Free Press

If a business wants to deploy a new service, wheel in Channel 4 and a well dressed Kevin, because it’s going to take a year to build the infrastructure!

Essentially all new builds, from the most basic to the grandest, need the same components: plumbing, wires, walls, windows and a roof. The same could be said for data centres: power, compute, storage and network. Much like new builds it takes so much time to provision and the business agility is lost. I use the example of Sky with Bugatti datacentres competing with agile upstarts like Netflix. The big boys need to get their edge back.

Openstack and software defined solutions offer an intriguing solution to that very problem. On the face of it, they offer the ability to construct clusters in moments rather than months. However, is it too good to be true...

I’ve had a number of conversations recently, which tend to take the following trend:

Me: Have you looked into how Openstack could benefit your business? (or something slightly less salesy)

Customer: Well, we can definitely see how it would work for us, but we are way off being able to deliver anything.

And this is where most organisations are today. Openstack and associated technologies are embryonic. Indeed, about a year ago, we tried to hire skills with infrastructure automation capability to which we found… there weren't any! We’ve had to build them ourselves. It’s been a long and difficult year to which we are finally seeing some fruits from our labour. Unfortunately, most enterprises (again, thinking of agility) don’t have the inclination to go through this process quite yet.

But have no fear! Because, at the risk of sounding a bit salesy (again)... Gyrocom not only has the capability to deliver an openstack infrastructure automation platform today, but can also teach your teams the dark art for them to exercise themselves!

Stretching the analogy further, Kevin Mc“Cloud” has a very distinct role on Grand Designs: he bridges the gap. Kevin provides the audience with enough insight into the hell the poor couple are going through, but not so much that we are all wallowing in debt and project delays (well we might be, but I watch television to escape all that!). I read an article where Kevin explains how on-screen he tries to appear as just an observer and narrator, but for the couples he admires, he gets more involved in the architectural design. He gives advice to help guide those couples to achieve their dream home.

Much like Kevin McCloud, Gyrocom have built infrastructure for years, and we’ve now seen first-hand how infrastructure automation has changed the game. We are helping guide customers to spend less on building datacentres, and more on things that help differentiate themselves from their competition. We help bridge the gap between where businesses are today, and what they want to achieve.                    

As part of this strategy, we recognised that Canonical were putting together a comprehensive solution to re-invent the provisioning of infrastructure, and are now proud to be partnered with them. Like us, they recognised that very few have the skills to deploy Openstack, Juju, Neutron, NSX, Puppet, Chef, Landscape… and the list goes on!

Canonical have built an entire solution. You define what you want to achieve: the characteristics of the infrastructure; the applications and services you want to run, and they will build it for you (in as little as 5 days) on IBM’s Softlayer (or for longer lead times, on your own infrastructure). So that latest project you want to be provisioned next week, but that you know is going to take 3 – 6 months to design, test, rack and stack and accept into service, well all this can now be done today!

Canonical & Gyrocom support the solution in full, meaning you can experiment throwing architectures up and tearing them down without the mass investment in both infrastructure and project costs. You will have full support from our experts as we provide knowledge transfer and training to your team, showing them how the technologies work together and how this can be leveraged to reach the business’ objectives.

You can benefit from the agility that infrastructure automation offers today with full support from the Canonical & Gyrocom brain-trust, whilst at the same time learning on the job, enabling you to seamlessly transition the responsibility back to your architects.

I’m not sure how much Kevin McCloud knows about Data Centres, but for one episode at least, he’d be blimming impressed!

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Topics: SoftLayer, ubuntu, canonical, infrastructure automation, openstack