Package Includes Powerful Virtual Data Center Tool

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2012-07-23

ConVirt Enterprise Streamlines Virtual Data Center Creation, Migration

The latest version of ConVirt Enterprise Cloud adds cloud provisioning to its array of management options, thereby enabling IT managers with Linux-based servers to move workloads to private or public cloud platforms.

ConVirt Enterprise Cloud is an amalgamation of open-source and proprietary technologies that manage how data center resources are allocated between applications, private clouds and public cloud resources such as Amazon EC2, Eucalyptus and OpenStack.

Click here to see ConVirt in action.

ConVirt Enterprise Cloud is available to run with a few different Linux Distributions, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux/CentOS6, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11, Ubuntu 12.04 and Ubuntu 10.04. I tested the product using CentOS6. I tested ConVirt Enterprise Cloud version 3.1, which ConVirt started shipping May 2 and costs $1,495 per host.

During the installation process, I configured which virtual servers and virtual machines ConVirt should manage. There are a few options available here, depending on how you want to define your cloud infrastructure. I used Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) to set up my virtual platform. I could have used ConVirt Enterprise Cloud to manage systems running on Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) or XEN platforms or a combination of the different platforms.

The heart of the ConVirt Enterprise Cloud is the CMS, or ConVirt Management Server, which is accessed using Firefox. The management console uses a dashboard that allowed me to drill down into the different aspects of the CMS. I liked the console layout and large number of virtual machine templates, as well as the fact that I could work with Xen, KVM and EC2 from a single management interface.

Several tabs/pull-down menus are available for monitoring, managing and provisioning. One of the more interesting features of the product is its ability to transform virtual infrastructures into a private cloud, with just a few mouse clicks. The process involves using the infrastructure as a service menu and selecting to add a new IaaS element.

Here I chose between the infrastructure options, such as selecting a local infrastructure to use, and then giving it a €œcloud€ name. After naming the new private cloud, I then chose what virtual infrastructure elements were available for that private cloud. Those elements include servers, networks and so on, all of which were readily available via a drill-down screen.

Of course, those elements need to be previously defined, and incorporated into the CMS, which is a straightforward process that occurs during primary installation and configuration. With this said, I had the flexibility to add elements before venturing into the IaaS screen to define private clouds.

Package Includes Powerful Virtual Data Center Tool


To create the private cloud, I defined and chose the VLAN pools, the public IP that is addressed and the corporate network elements that will be used by the private cloud. Behind the scenes, ConVirt handled all the networking elements, automating the assignment of public IPs to virtual machines and isolating virtual networks from each other (if needed) and all of the other IP-related chores that normally must be done by hand.

I found one of the most powerful components of the CMS to be the virtual data center tool, which allowed me to quickly create virtual data centers that also offered self-provisioning capabilities to users. This meant I could build a virtual data center, allocate the available resources and then deliver that element as a €œprivate cloud virtual data center€ to others, such as customers or departmental network administrators.

Each virtual data center can be set up with its own users, administrators and VLANs, allowing full separation between virtual data centers, yet still provide centralized monitoring and management. I was able to create multiple virtual data centers under private clouds with ease. I found that very useful for creating a working virtual data center for cloud-based use as a line-of-business solution, while creating another virtual data center for prototyping and testing.

Simply put, I was able to beta-test applications on my second virtual data center, and then quickly transfer them over to my line-of-business virtual data center. The only obvious downside I came across during testing was that the product could use more comprehensive reporting, a critical capability that is a must for those using ConVirt as a provisioning platform for their customers€™ virtual data centers. Also, the installation process can be somewhat complex, requiring knowledge of several open-source technologies, as well as a keen understanding of how various virtualization platforms work.

Of course, there are many other ways to build virtual data centers. Many public cloud service providers offer tool sets that enable administrators to build custom offerings, create virtual data centers and deploy virtual infrastructures.

Also, a vast number of IaaS vendors exist, each with their own take on how to manage and deploy virtual offerings and cloud services. However, ConVirt brings everything one needs together into a single, simple-to-use package that leverages both open-source technologies and works with cloud services providers, such as Amazon€™s EC2, Eucalyptus and OpenStack platforms. That is what helps make ConVirt unique among a plethora of cloud-enablement tools.

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