Oracle Announces Ravello on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

It seems to be the season for tech company announcements. I was recently briefed by Oracle on their Ravello on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure announcement and thought I’d take the time to provide some coverage.

 

What’s a Ravello?

Ravello is an overlay cloud that enables enterprises to run their VMware and KVM workloads with DC-like (L2) networking ‘as-is’ on public cloud without any modifications”. It’s pretty cool stuff, and I’ve covered it briefly in the past. They’ve been around for a while and were acquired by Oracle last year. The held a briefing day for bloggers in early 2017, and Chris Wahl did a comprehensive write-up here.

 

HVX

The technology components are a:

  • High-performance nested virtualisation engine (or nested hypervisor);
  • Software-defined network; and
  • Storage overlay.

[image courtesy of Oracle]

The management layer manages the technology components, provides the user interface and API for all environment definitions and deployments and handles image management and monitoring. Ravello in its current iteration is software-based, nested virtualisation. This is what you may have used in the past to run ESXi on AWS or GCP.

[image courtesy of Oracle]

 

Ravello on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

Ravello on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) provides you with the option of leveraging either “hardware-assisted, nested virtualisation” or bare-metal.

[images courtesy of Oracle]

Oracle are excited about the potential performance gains from running Ravello on OCI, stating that there is up to a 14x performance improvement over running Ravello on other cloud services. The key here is that they’ve developed extensions that integrate directly with Oracle’s Cloud platform. Makes sense when you consider they purchased Ravello for reasons.

 

Why Would You?

So why would you use Ravello? It provides enterprises with the ability to “take any VMware based multi-VM application and run it on public cloud without making any changes”. You don’t have to worry about:

  • Re-platforming – You normally can’t run VMware VMs on public clouds.
  • P2V Conversions – Your physical hosts can’t go to the public cloud.
  • Re-networking – Layer 2? Nope.
  • Re-configuration – What about all of your networking and security appliances?

This is all hard to do and points to the need to re-write your applications and re-architect your platforms. Sounds expensive and time-consuming and there are other things people would rather be doing.

 

Conclusion and Further Reading

I am absolutely an advocate for architecting applications to run natively on cloud infrastructure. I don’t think that lift and shift is a sustainable approach to cloud adoption by any stretch. That said, I’ve worked in plenty of large enterprises running applications that are poorly understood and nonetheless critical to the business. Yes, it’s silly. But if you’ve spent any time in any enterprise you’ll start to realise that silly is quite a common modus operandi. Coupled with increasing pressure on CxOs to reduce their on-premises footprint and you’ll see that this technology is something of a life vest for enterprises struggling to make the leap from on-premises to public cloud with minimal modification to their existing applications.

I don’t know what this service will cost you, so I can’t tell you whether this service will provide you with value for money. That’s something you’re better off speaking to Oracle about. Sometimes return on investment is hard to judge unless you’re against the wall with no alternatives. I’ll always say you should re-write your apps rather than lift and shift, but sometimes you don’t have the choice. If you’re in that position, you should consider Ravello’s offering. You can sign up for a free trial here. You can read Oracle’s post on the news here, and Tim’s insights here.

EMC – VNX2, Unisphere and Java Support

In my current role, I don’t do a lot of array configuration from scratch anymore. I generally do the detailed design and hand it over to a colleague to go and make it so. Recently, however, I’ve had to step in and do some actual work myself because reasons. Anyway, I was deploying a new VNX5400 and having a heck of a time getting Unisphere to work. And by Unisphere I mean Java. I initially wanted to blame my work-issued Windows 8.1 laptop, but it was ultimately a Java issue. It turns out my Java version was high. Not Cypress Hill high, but still too high for Unisphere.

EMC’s snappily titled “EMC VNX Operating Environment for Block 05.33.006.5.096, EMC VNX Operating Environment for File 8.1.6.96, EMC Unisphere 1.3.6.1.0096 Release Notes” talks fairly explicitly about Java support on page 6, and I thought it was worth repeating here for schmucks like me who do this stuff part-time. You can find this document on the EMC support site.

“Java support

The following 32 bit Java Platforms are verified by EMC and compatible for use with Unisphere, the Unified Service Manager (USM), and the VNX Installation Assistant (VIA):

  • Oracle Standard Edition 1.7 up to Update 75
  • Oracle Standard Edition 1.8 up to Update 25

The 32-bit JRE is required – even on 64 bit systems. JRE Standard Edition 1.6 is not recommended because Oracle has stopped support for this edition”.

I think I was running 1.8 Update 31, and saw that, regardless of the browser, Unisphere just wouldn’t load. If you need to track down an older version of Java to work on stuff like this – Oracle has a site you can go to here. Incidentally, I can confirm that it is not necessary to install the Ask Toolbar in order for Unisphere to function correctly.

*Update (2016.05.20): Current link to 1.8 U25 is here.

*Update (2016.06.04): Jirah Cox (@vJirah) pointed out that http://filehippo.com keeps an extensive archive of versions too.