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Zimory Enterprise Cloud Overview

Delivering greater agility and better quality while still increasing efficiency

Introduction
Zimory Enterprise Cloud addresses the fundamental dilemma of the IT manager: Delivering greater agility and better quality while still increasing efficiency.

Zimory Enterprise Cloud enables a higher utilization of even provisionally unused, available resources.

Zimory Enterprise Cloud enables users to create a homogeneous computing cloud from various virtual servers -- from one or several data centers. With Zimory management tools, users determine exactly what resources, when and under what circumstances, are available for other uses. Using Zimory cloud management tools -- connected to an existing heterogeneous virtualized infrastructure - avoids resource conflicts and creates a "breathing Cloud."

Zimory Enterprise Cloud not only enables a higher utilization of existing virtualized infrastructures, it provides dynamic access to external resources -making those capacities available in cases of peak load.

These resources are available through Zimory Public Cloud - enabling the purchase and access of additional resources. Through Zimory Cloud Manager, users get flexible on-demand access to cloud resources with defined quality and Service Level Agreements (SLA).

Zimory Enterprise Cloud improves utilization of existing virtualized infrastructure - enabling greater management of short-term peak loads -- cost effectively using external resources. And, the CFO will appreciate reduced investments of new hardware resources.

Technical Overview
Zimory Enterprise Cloud consists of three core components "Zimory Cloud Manager", "Zimory Cloud Connector" and "Zimory Host Connector". In addition, there is a Zimory billing and a Zimory monitoring client. Zimory Cloud Connector enables administrators to manage any vendor independent virtual server. Zimory Host Connector is the central unit of the infrastructure: each server becomes part of your Zimory Enterprise Cloud. Servers with Zimory Host Connector and Zimory Cloud Connector installed can remain behind a local firewall. The core technology of Zimory Enterprise Cloud provides the following functions:

  • Supported virtualization solutions

Zimory Enterprise Cloud currently supports Xen 3.2, VMware ESX(i) Server and VMware Server 1.x. All configurations are automatically adjusted when a physical host with one of these virtualization solutions is added to the corporate cloud.

  • Rapid Migration Technology

Zimory technology enables quick migration of virtual images to different platforms - making setting up large of large implementations fast and easy. This technology works with Xen as well as VMware.

  • Transparent Storage Management

Automated image management enables a transparent management of virtual machines -- unused virtual machines are automatically stored and, in case of a reboot, automatically shifted to another host.

Zimory Cloud Manager
With Zimory Cloud Manager users get a web-based interface to manage their virtual servers. This allows users to manage all functions of the virtual guests. Within the manager, the virtual servers are administrated through remote access. The Zimory Cloud Manager supports the user in the administration of the virtual guest with the following functions:

  • Filtering appropriate resources

The Zimory Cloud Manager provides various technical and non-technical filtering mechanisms -- allowing resources that technically do not fit to an application to be filtered out in advance. Additionally, resources can be selected according to different preferences and non-technical criteria.

  • Automated Administration - controlled by using time-based or load-based triggers

The user can define rules that trigger automated management operations in the virtual machines. For example, in the case of a continuously high CPU load, additional server instances in a cluster will be added. Another example is that after a certain period an instance can automatically be stopped.

  • Interfaces for monitoring and billing

The system provides an administration client -- for monitoring and billing. This allows admins to transfer user-related data directly into the billing system. Zimory Cloud Manager offers flexible billing models, which for example can rely on the current resource utilization.

  • Add virtual machines

Using Zimory Cloud Manager additional virtual machines can be added to Zimory Enterprise Cloud -- automatically checked and adjusted for the selected resource Cloud.

  • Planning mechanisms

Zimory Cloud Manager includes a planning module which distributes virtual machines optimized to Cloud resources. Since Cloud resources can be dynamically added and switched off within Zimory Enterprise Cloud, this planning module is required - to select, based on usage profiles and heuristics -- the best resources for each application.

  • Backup and recovery of virtual machines

Zimory Cloud Manager provides the end user with complete VM backup management, enabling them to save their machines with little effort and restore them later - or create as new clone instances from backup.

API to manage virtual machines
All functions are controllable by a SOAP and REST-based API. Users can generate automated workflows with simple implementations (e.g. using Ruby).

Zimory Cloud Connector
Zimory Cloud Connector offers users a web-based management interface to manage the resources. Single hosts can be monitored, categorized and their availability controlled.

  • Integration of VMware Infrastructure and libvirt

The Zimory Enterprise Cloud can not only directly interact with the hypervisor, but with the overlying management infrastructures such as VMware Infrastructure Manager. You can also address resources via libvirt virtualization API.

  • Time-controlled management of available resources

Zimory Cloud Connector enables the scheduled (time-controlled) deployment of resources. This allows users to make unused hosts available for only the time needed.

  • Hierarchical arrangement of hosts and users

Hosts can be organized hierarchically, for example, they can be sorted into different clusters. Zimory Central also offers the ability to perform complex searches.

  • Monitoring Dashboard for quick system overview

Using the dashboard, you can see at a glance the utilization of the entire infrastructure of a data center - enabling the resources to be rapidly adapted. The accessible hosts can be sorted according to their CPU and RAM utilization. Admins can also display load situations and network infrastructure.

  • Evacuation function for rapid use

This feature allows admins to remove virtual machines with very little lead time - and make them available for other uses.

Zimory Cloud Connector must be installed once per data center. Minimum requirements for installation are:

  • a virtual machine with SLES 10 or RHEL 5
  • a NFS Storage Share
  • a pool of VLANs
  • possibly a pool of company-wide routed IP addresses

Scalability of Zimory Cloud Connector is enabled through the allocation of single components in different physical or virtual machines. The central messaging component, the storage component, and the network component can be separated from each other.

Zimory Host Connector
The installation of Zimory Host Connector is a prerequisite to attach a virtual server to Zimory Enterprise Cloud. Zimory Host provides basic management functionality to data centers that do not have other virtualization management tools installed.

Zimory Host Connector enables simple Linux servers with a default Xen kernel to connect to Zimory Cloud Connector - without additional software. Zimory Host Connector supports Xen 3.2 and VMware Server 1.x.

If there is already a complete management environment, e.g. VMware ESX Server with VMware Infrastructure, it is not necessary to install Zimory Host Connector. All required functions will be provided by the management layer.

Additionally, Zimory will support in the near future all virtualization layers that can be accessed with libvirt (see http://libvirt.org/) such as KVM or OpenVZ. This enables the usage of a slim version of Zimory Host Connector.

The installation of a Zimory Host Connector can be done manually or script-based. Zimory Host Connector is available in two versions: a Java and a Python version -- depending on the underlying virtualization layer used. The following table shows which version of each must be used:

Virtualization Framework:           Zimory Host Connector:
VMware Server 1.x                       Java Host
Xen 3.2 (plain)                             Java Host
KVM (libvirt)                                 Python Host
XEN (libvirt)                                 Python Host

Supported virtualization layer and applications
Zimory currently supports VMware Server 1.x, VMware ESX(i) 3.5 and Xen 3.2 -- which must be used to generate boot images. Zimory will support other virtualization layers such as KVM, VMware Server 2 and Hyper-V.

To operate an application with a highly fluctuating load successfully within Zimory Enterprise Cloud, the application must be scalable within itself. Given that, Zimory Enterprise Cloud works well for multi-tier software architectures. Multi-tier architectures are scalable, since the individual layers are logically separated. For example, in distributed system architectures, the data layer runs on a central database server, the logic layer runs on a remote application server, and the delivery is handled by a web server. In such an architecture, the individual components can be adopted to increasing load by replication. For example, if many users use the application, a clone of the application server can be created, which shares the requests with the first server. This clone operation can be triggered through the API of the Enterprise Cloud with a rule-based trigger. This means that the clone operation will be started if the virtual machine already has a significant CPU load for a defined time period.

Zimory Enterprise Cloud was developed to make unused resources available for other purposes with minimal overhead. Depending on the existing infrastructure, one of the following variants can be installed.

Zimory Enterprise Cloud with VMware Solution Stack
In this variant, the Zimory components are installed together with already existing VMware components.

For reasons of scalability, the Zimory solution stack might be installed in different versions. A minimal installation requires a virtual machine, including the components "Cloud Manager", "Central" and "Storage" and „Runtime Storage". Another physical machine serves as a firewall. If the firewall only shields to a corporate network it is possible to install the firewall also in a virtual machine.

Optional is the component "Runtime Storage". It accelerates backup and migration processes between data centers. If this component does not exist, the existing mechanisms of the ESX infrastructure are used.

This results in the following minimum requirements for the configuration of virtual machines. Requirements are smaller than the individual requirements, as some components can be shared:

VMware Central:
OS: SLES 10 (SP2) or RHEL 5.2
RAM: 2048 MB
CPU: 2.4 GHz
Disk: 1 TB

VMware Firewall:
OS: SLES 10 (SP2) or RHEL 5.2,
RAM: 1024 MB
CPU: no special requirements
Disk: 500 MB

In particular, the requirement for minimum storage varies greatly -- depending on the number of VMware images per user and their size. The system components "Central" and "Firewall" in this interpretation work for approximately 250 virtual machines.

Use of Zimory Enterprise Cloud with VMware Solution Stack without Runtime Storage
If there is no "Runtime Storage" in the Zimory Solution stack, the virtual machines are deployed to run in a normal VMware Storage Pool. This is the case particularly if the machines have their own local storage. In this case, the machines have to be connected in the VMware management interface with the storage pool. Since the virtual machines will be removed completely once their job is done, this storage pool can be used by the instances that are not deployed by the Zimory Solution Stack.

Zimory Enterprise Cloud without VMware Solution Stack
If there is no complete VMware solution installed, the Zimory solution can connect with different hypervisors directly: VMware Server 1.x, Xen 3.2, and all other hypervisors that can be addressed by a libvirt installation (e.g. KVM).

For the operation of such a Zimory solution, Zimory Host has to be installed in addition to the installation described in 3.1. Zimory Host has to be installed on every host that is connected to the Zimory framework.

The connected physical hosts can use local or network-attached storage for their virtual machines. Depending on the configuration of virtual machines, they are automatically adjusted and deployed accordingly. The installation of the Zimory Hosts can be done manually or script-base.

In this variant, the Zimory Host partially does the optimization, which could be also provided by the Runtime Storage. Therefore, systems with local storage can be operated with optimized performance using Zimory Host in the Zimory framework.

Security
Zimory uses exclusively standardized, proven hypervisor technologies, which do not cause any negative effects on the operation of other virtual machines when a single virtual machine malfunctions. Individual users of the Zimory Cloud are separated by different

VLANs. This allows the individual virtual machines of different users to interact with each other only via a firewall. Using VLANs also ensures that other systems of a data center are protected from the virtual machines of the Zimory Cloud. Furthermore, the Zimory Cloud supports the use of different physical networks -- which allows a further separation.

All components of the system are designed to be stateless and are loosely coupled, allowing the user to reboot individual components easily after a breakdown, without losing the virtual machines or their management information. This guarantees a high level of operational reliability without costly redundancies.

Nevertheless, all components can be redundant, if needed.

Communication between components is done via standardized communication protocols (http or https). This simplifies integration into existing network-level security concepts.

In case of the breakdown of a single physical machine or even an entire data center, the virtual hosts can be restarted very quickly in a remote data center. However, the data from the RAM will be lost as well as the data that were generated after the last backup. The Zimory technology allows users to create online backups very simply and with low overhead. This can even be automated as well.

Use Cases for Zimory Enterprise Cloud
Zimory Enterprise Cloud helps users allocate and invoice temporarily available resources allocated to other processes on short notice. With Enterprise Cloud, users can increase your infrastructure utilization by connecting geographically separated data centers into one homogeneous cloud. Zimory helps reduce the cost for hardware, which is often used only during peak loads

You can implement various use cases using Zimory Enterprise Cloud. Here are a few examples:

Sharing resources between different departments

Daily, weekly, or monthly accounting runs require hardware resources only temporarily in its entirety. These periods are well known and well defined. With Zimory Enterprise Cloud you can use hardware resources during unused periods for other departments - and charge them for it.

Testing and development server
Whether for the introduction of a new content management system or ERP system: Companies rewrite testing and development capacities for a few days or weeks. With Zimory Enterprise Cloud admins can see at a glance where to get the needed capacities.

Distribution to multiple locations
Large enterprises often run multiple data centers, which are located on different continents. Their IT capabilities are most often required only during office hours. With Zimory Enterprise Cloud you can distribute load peaks to several data centers - for example during their night time.

Sudden peak loads and additional external resources
You company's marketing campaign is a complete success. From one day to the next, the number of visitors on your website increases tenfold. With Zimory Enterprise Cloud your web server easily handles this increase in load. In case you don't have enough internal resources available, you can get additional resources from Zimory Public Cloud. If the number of visitors on your website goes down again after the end of the campaign, you can reduce the hardware for your website as well and you just pay what you have used.

For More Informaton
Please contact Zimory to get your personal offering for Zimory Enterprise Cloud. Should you require further information, whether a specific application for the Zimory Enterprise Cloud is suitable, we look forward to your request to sales@zimory.com.

More Stories By Glenn Rossman

Glenn Rossman has more than 25 years communications experience working at IBM and Hewlett-Packard, along with startup StorageApps, plus agencies Hill & Knowlton and G&A Communications. His experience includes media relations, industry and financial analyst relations, executive communications, intranet and employee communications, as well as producing sales collateral. In technology, his career includes work in channel partner communications, data storage technologies, server computers, software, PC and UNIX computers, along with specific industry initiatives such as manufacturing, medical, and finance. Before his latest stint in technology, Glenn did business-to-business public relations on behalf of the DuPont Company for its specialty polymers products and with the largest steel companies in North America in an initiative focused on automakers.