At VMworld in both 2012 and 2013, we had a very large banner over the Citrix booth with the phrase “Best Cloud Platform for vSphere”.
As you would imagine, our assertion that Citrix CloudPlatform was the best option garnered both interest and skepticism.
Now, of course, the term “best” is subjective, and in this post, I’m going to outline five of the reasons why you too might agree that we do, indeed, have the best option.
- Ease of installation. If you’re like me, the installation of new software isn’t the fun bit. It’s a necessary evil on the path to doing something cool with a new technology. The good news with CloudPlatform is that it installs in a single CentOS VM. That’s right; all the components you need to run a scalable cloud orchestration product can be installed in a matter of minutes in a single VM (or single server if you choose).
- Scalability. CloudPlatform was designed with service providers in mind, and service providers tend to have some rather large datacenters to manage. We have customers with tens of thousands of blades under management; all from within the same management plane. There are no hard limits in place, and with the new EC2 style Region container for Availability Zones introduced with our release of CloudPlatform 4.2, our scalability just grew again.
- Flexibility. It’s been well documented by analysts such as the Aberdeen Group, that today’s datacenters are no longer the homogeneous VMware bastion they once were. The concepts of cloud agility and flexibility have run straight into the cost of provisioning virtual infrastructure to create a trend where being able to abstract the hypervisor is a valuable attribute. Abstracting the hypervisor allows cloud operators to target workloads to the hypervisor best able to deliver the desired performance at the best possible price point. For vSphere, this means being able to leverage the core strengths of vSphere like support for complex applications and broad operating system support while leaving utility workloads to commodity hypervisors like XenServer and KVM. Since CloudPlatform supports multiple hypervisors out of the box, and allows multiple hypervisor clusters to be seamlessly managed from within the same management plane, cloud operators can achieve this level of abstraction without requiring end users to learn multiple user interfaces.
- Ease of configuration. Now regardless of whether you intend to leverage multiple hypervisors, if you’re reading this you probably want to leverage vSphere as your primary hypervisor. CloudPlatform performs its integration with vSphere using vCenter. Adding a vSphere cluster to CloudPlatform is accomplished with a simple wizard which requires your vCenter credentials, datacenter node and cluster name. Once the cluster has been added, all operations initiated by CloudPlatform can be seen in the vCenter logs.
- Feature support. vSphere is more than just a hypervisor; it’s a rich virtualization platform, and CloudPlatform natively leverages many of those features including:
- Dynamic scaling of resources
- CPU shares
- CPU rate caps
- Dynamic Resource Scheduling (DRS) and HA
- OVA templates
- VMFS data stores for primary storage
- Standard Switch
- Distributed Virtual Switch
- Nexus 1000v
So, if you’re interested in seeing for yourself how easy it can be to deliver cloud services on vSphere with CloudPlatform, the steps are simple.
- Provision some vSphere clusters with vCenter. This can be any version from 4.1 on up, but of course some of the available features will vary by version and vSphere edition.
- Download a trial of CloudPlatform, and install it in a VM
- Configure your network to support trunked communication between the vSphere clusters
- Configure shared storage for your vSphere clusters
- Configure CloudPlatform for your vSphere clusters
- Import some of your favorite VM templates (OVA format) into CloudPlatform, or download some from the VMware Virtual Appliances Marketplace
Depending upon how many nodes in your cluster, this entire process can take from under an hour to about half of a day. In the end, you too will likely come to the conclusion that Citrix CloudPlatform not only offers clear value for vSphere based clouds, but that it might just be the “best” option out there.