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.

Test Driving SwiftStack

I’ve recently been doing some work with SwiftStack, and thought it might be handy to put together a how-to document for getting started with SwiftStack’s test drive functionality. There’s a bunch of reasonably simple steps, with pictures, so I’ve put them in a document that you can grab from here. But first, a few links that will come in handy:

  • Sign up for the SwiftStack trial here;
  • The SwiftStack Quick Start guide can be found here;
  • I left the Swift User creation process out of my document – but you can read about that here; and
  • An interesting guide to SwiftStack hardware considerations can be found here.

To do this trial I used my Ravello Systems provided vExpert account to provide compute and disk resources temporarily via Google’s cloud. Incidentally, if you need to use a private key with ssh on your Mac you need to be mindful of the permissions on your key file (this is no doubt old news for many of you).

Last login: Mon Jul 11 05:06:05 on ttys000
imac27:~ dan$ ssh -i /Users/dan/Downloads/Test1.pem [email protected]
The authenticity of host 'centos63vanilla.ravcloud.com (104.144.155.170)' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is SHA256:fAQIdjsC5X5d0c+J+Nj7dF9L3qqyzFYmPYkagKLWCCg.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
Warning: Permanently added 'centos63vanilla.ravcloud.com,104.144.155.170' (RSA) to the list of known hosts.
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
@         WARNING: UNPROTECTED PRIVATE KEY FILE!          @
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
Permissions 0644 for '/Users/dan/Downloads/Test1.pem' are too open.
It is required that your private key files are NOT accessible by others.
This private key will be ignored.
Load key "/Users/dan/Downloads/Test1.pem": bad permissions
Permission denied (publickey,gssapi-keyex,gssapi-with-mic).

Note that you’ll need to modify the permissions on your key file to 600 to ensure that it is accepted.

imac27:~ dan$ chmod 600 /Users/dan/Downloads/Test1.pem
imac27:~ dan$ ssh -i /Users/dan/Downloads/Test1.pem [email protected]
[[email protected] ~]$ top

And you’re good to go.

I’ve written about SwiftStack before and was intrigued by the relative ease with which you could deploy Swift capability inside your DC. If you’re looking to deliver this kind of capability internally, I recommend looking into SwiftStack. The test drive is a snap to sign up for you, and if you follow the bouncing ball you’ll be up and running in no time.

Ravello – Basics – Deploying an ESXi instance

I’ve been using Ravello a bit recently, thanks primarily to their kind offer of free time for vExperts. I thought it would be worth while doing a few posts on what you need to do to get started. While this information is available via a number of sources already, I thought I’d update it a little to reflect the steps required when using the latest version of the dashboard and ESXi 6. Documentation is also a good way for me to learn things, and it’s my blog so I can afford to be self-indulgent.

In any case, the original steps I followed are here. The article I did is available here. Justin Warren did a nice series on using Ravello, and his post on “How To Import OVA/OVF Into Ravello” was particularly useful. Emad Younis also has an excellent article on deploying the vCenter Server Appliance 6 on Ravello – you can read it here.

I like what Ravello does, so much so that I put a little badge on my blog. And I think there’s a crapload of cool use cases for this technology. If you’re a vExpert and not taking advantage of Ravello’s offer – what’s wrong with you? Get on there and check it out.