0 comments on “RackN and Digital Rebar Philosophy of Provisioning”

RackN and Digital Rebar Philosophy of Provisioning

Re-defining physical automation to make it highly repeatable and widely consumable while also meeting the necessarily complex and evolving heterogeneous data center environment is the challenge the RackN team is solving. To meet this challenge, we have developed a unique philosophy in how we build our technology; both open source Digital Rebar and the additional RackN packages.

  • Stand-alone Provisioning
  • Building Software from the API
  • Single Golang Executable
  • Modular Components – Composable Content
  • Operator Defined Workflows
  • Immutable Infrastructure
  • Distributed or Consolidated Architectures

Stand-alone Provisioning

It is critical that Digital Rebar Provision (DRP) provides operators the maximum flexibility in terms of where to run the service (Server, Top-of-Rack Switch, ARM, Intel, etc) as well as removal of any dependencies that might restrict its deployment.  Each environment has it’s own unique Infrastructure DNA; the hardware, operating systems, and application stacks that drive the Infrastructure underlay.

Building Software from the API

The Digital Rebar Provision solution is built with an API first mentality.  Features and enhancements are implemented as an API (making it a first-class citizen), and the CLI is dynamically generated from the API which insures 100% coverage of API implementations within the CLI.  

This methodology also allows for the CLI to directly follow the structure and syntax of the API, making it easy for an Operator or Developer to understand and flexibly interchange the API and CLI syntax.  

At RackN we believe in strongly in the 12-Factor App methodology for designing modern software.  DRP is a direct reflection of these principles.

Single Golang Executable

DRP is built with Golang which is a modern Procedural language that is easily cross-compiled for multiple operating systems and processor architectures.  As a benefit, the DRP service and CLI tool (dr-provision and drpcli respectively) can run on platforms that range from small Raspberry Pi embedded systems, network switches at the Top-of-Rack, huge Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) servers, to everything in between.  It is currently compiled and runs on Linux (arm, intel, 32 bit, and 64 bit), Mac OS X (64 bit), and Windows (64 bit).

The dr-provision binary is very small and lightweight, requiring almost zero external dependencies.  Current external dependencies are unzip, pk7zip, and bsdtar, and these dependencies should be removed in a future version.  At only 30 MByte in size, it requires fairly little resources to run.  

Modular Components ~ Composable Content

Modular architecture allows us to create complex solutions from a set of simple building blocks that offer functionality that is well tested. Breaking complex problems down in to small components, and then allowing strong templating capabilities creates a structure that allows for strong reuse patterns.   This approach permeates all of the “Content” components that create the foundational building blocks for composable provisioning activities.  

Operator Defined Workflows

Each environment has a unique set of services, applications, tooling, and practices for managing the Infrastructure.  Taking the concepts of Composable Content, we allow an operator or developer a flexible structure in which they have control in determining how loosely or tightly to integrate the DRP provisioning services in to their environment.  Every customer environment has a unique set of tools, and this methodology allows for smooth integration with those operational principles

Immutable Infrastructure    

Maintaining hardware and software in a massive data center or cloud is a significant challenge without the additional overhead of ensuring that patches are properly applied. Any changes to an active solution can introduce complications on a live system which is a major barrier to having security updates and other patches completed in a timely manner.

A better method is to only deploy a “golden image” to the live system and rather than patch each individual instance, simply tear down the instance and replace with a new copy of the “golden image.”  All patches can be applied and tested to create a new golden image which is easily rolled out in the create – destroy- re-create model of  immutability.

Distributed or Consolidated Architectures

Traditional data center and lab environments utilize centralized provisioning services.  While DRP has strong support for this scale-up or consolidated model, shifting patterns in application and service deployment topology dictates an evolving provisioning service solution.  Current Internet-of-Things (IoT), Edge, and Fog architectures distribute resources across disperse environments.

In the traditional model, a large scale operator might support a handful of datacenters with 10s of thousands of hosts in each facility.   These new trending architecture patterns can encompass 1000s of different locations, each hosting a few dozen to a few hundred hosts.  This shift creates significant burden on operational and infrastructure management tooling to support the complexities of these scale-out designs.

With strong multi-endpoint management tooling, the RackN portal can easily support both models for provisioning.  Long-lived scale-up environments with a service that is updated, upgraded, managed, loved, and cared for can exist seamlessly alongside environments with a create/destroy pattern that treats 1000s of provisioning endpoints as disposable assets.

0 comments on “Virtual Toilet Backing Up? Internet Plumbers get the dirty jobs”

Virtual Toilet Backing Up? Internet Plumbers get the dirty jobs

The latest mantra in IT is to cleanly abstract away everything including hardware, software, management, processes, etc. Take “serverless” for example – there are still servers involved but much more hidden than before.  This abstraction obsession is rapidly changing the way that applications and services are developed and delivered.

However, the underlying abstractions hide, not remove infrastructure; it is still there and, like plumbing, simply becomes someone else’s problem to deal with. At RackN, we are focused on solving these hidden plumbing problems at the physical infrastructure operations layer.

Working with physical hardware is viewed as messy and is not going to be a trending hashtag anytime soon. We are ok with that. In fact, we view ourselves as Internet Plumbers keeping the “pipes” open without any hesitancy of getting dirty.

Part of our mission is to standardize the processes in physical ops to provide site reliability engineers and DevOps teams with an automated, open, secure, scalable, and reliable solution. Our solution is built not only for today’s needs but also the coming Edge computing revolution whereby physical ops will move from hundreds of nodes to hundreds of thousands of endpoints.

We offer several methods to being immediately working with our technology:

  • Digital Rebar Provision– Our open source DHCP/PXE/IPXE service with community or corporate plug-ins for additional features
  • RackN Trial – Get access to our solution built on Digital Rebar Provision; contact RackN sales

Based on a prior Rob Hirschfeld Post Physical Ops = Plumbers of the Internet. Celebrating dirty IT jobs 8 bit style

0 comments on “Webinar: Immutable Kubernetes with RackN Provisioning”

Webinar: Immutable Kubernetes with RackN Provisioning

Watch this webinar to learn more about the RackN Kubernetes installation integration using community tools like Kubeadm demonstrated at this week’s KubeCon event (Slides) in Austin, TX. Co-Founders Rob Hirschfeld and Greg Althaus of RackN will discuss this fast and simple approach to operating Kubernetes. Of course, we’ll also demonstrate the technology installing Kubernetes following the immutable infrastructure model highlighting the automated provisioning technology built on the open source Digital Rebar project.

After this webinar, you’ll be prepared to attempt this install strategy on your own.

Why attend this webinar?
* Benefits of the Immutable Infrastructure provisioning model
* Solve installation issues with Kubernetes using community Kubeadm tooling
* Overview of the RackN + Digital Rebar automated provisioning solution

Speakers:
Rob Hirschfeld : CEO/Co-Founder, RackN
Greg Althaus : CTO/Co-Founder, RackN

Day & Time:

Dec 14, 2017 1:30 PM CST

Watch the Webinar on YouTube

0 comments on “December 1 – Weekly Recap of Digital Rebar, RackN, and Industry News”

December 1 – Weekly Recap of Digital Rebar, RackN, and Industry News

Welcome to the weekly post of the RackN blog recap of all things Digital Rebar, RackN, Edge Computing, and DevOps. If you have any ideas for this recap or would like to include content please contact us at info@rackn.com or tweet RackN (@rackngo)

Items of the Week

Industry News

Edge computing, in the context of IoT, is the idea that you can actually do some of the computational work required by a system close to the endpoints instead of in a cloud or a data center. The intent is to minimize latency, which, according to Renaud, means that it’s going to be a hot trend in certain kinds of industrial IoT application.

Solution providers that have been hit hard by a data center hardware retreat are finding sales and profit growth by living on the edge—the network edge, that is.

DevOps — a term used to refer to the integration of software developers and operations teams — continues to spread like wildfire throughout the open networking ecosystem. The main idea behind DevOps is that by breaking down barriers between these two departments, market applications can be delivered faster with lower costs and better quality. Nevertheless, for all the advantages attached to DevOps, it is still a budding concept since it is primarily concerned with re-aligning the workforce with a variety of tools. The following, therefore, is a list of DevOps trends to keep an eye out for.

Digital Rebar

Our architectural plans for Digital Rebar are beyond big – they are for massive distributed scale. Not up, but out. We are designing for the case where we have common automation content packages distributed over 100,000 stand-alone sites (think 5G cell towers) that are not synchronously managed. In that case, there will be version drift between the endpoints and content. For example, we may need to patch an installation script quickly over a whole fleet but want to upgrade the endpoints more slowly.

Prior Meetup on November 21st Notes

RackN

Yesterday, AWS confirmed that it actually uses physical servers to run its cloud infrastructure and, gasp, no one was surprised.  The actual news about the i3.metal instances by AWS Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr shows that bare metal is being treated as just another AMI managed instance type (see also GeekwireTechcrunchVenture Beat).  For AWS users, there’s no drama here because it’s an incremental add to processes they are already know well.

We are actively looking for feedback from customers and technologists before general availability of both RackN and the Terraform plug-in. It takes just a few minutes to get started and we offer direct engineering engagement on our community slack channel. Get started now by providing your email on our registration pagey so we can provide you all the necessary links.

L8ist Sh9y Podcast

Podcast Guest: Krishnan Subramanian, Rishidot Research

Founder and Chief Research Advisor, Infrastructure, Application Platforms and DevOps

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • KubeCon + CloudNativeCon : Dec 6 – 8 in Austin, TX

Event plans for the RackN and Digital Rebar team include 2 sessions and the RackN booth. We look forward to seeing you in Austin.

The RackN team is preparing for a series of upcoming events where they are speaking or just attending. If you are interested in meeting with them at these events please email info@rackn.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

0 comments on “Data Center’s Last Mile: Zero Touch Metal Automation”

Data Center’s Last Mile: Zero Touch Metal Automation

The embedded video is an excellent RackN and Digital Rebar overview created by Rob Hirschfeld and Greg Althaus, co-founders of RackN on the critical issue facing data center operations teams. Their open-source based offering completes the integration challenge existing between platforms/orchestration tools and control/provision technology.

By integrating with the platform and orchestration solutions, RackN is able to replace the control and provisioning tools without adding complexity or replacing established technology.

Watch the complete video below as Rob Hirschfeld provides the background of how RackN arrived at the current offering and the benefits for data center operators to support bare metal provisioning as well as immutable infrastructure. (Slides)

The demonstration video referenced in this overview:

The white paper referenced in this overview:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have more questions? Contact us at sales@rackn.com or via social media on Twitter at @rackngo to learn more.

0 comments on “RackN Automation Improves Speed and Agility by Reducing Cost and Risk”

RackN Automation Improves Speed and Agility by Reducing Cost and Risk

Today, we released our second white paper, The New Economics for Data Center Infrastructure: RackN Automation Improves Speed and Agility by Reducing Cost and Risk. This blog highlights that white paper and provides links for additional information.

Executive Summary

RackN’s mission is to fix the current lack of fast, simple and standard ways to manage fundamental data center infrastructure activities. These include updating server firmware, operating systems and integrating provisioning into application life-cycles. RackN on-premises software integrates easily with existing processes while providing a clear path from home-grown scripting to common best-practices. RackN customers achieve a 10x performance improvement by automating provisioning and orchestration. Like any building activity, a solid foundation makes the entire stack more robust and secure.

Introduction

We believe that scale commodity and edge infrastructure can be fully automated without creating a matching dedicated support staff.

At RackN, our mission is to redefine physical infrastructure automation to make it highly repeatable and widely consumable in the same way that cloud has changed infrastructure.

Simplicity of use, more than any other benefit, is the key operational requirement to achieve our mission. Data centers are necessarily complex, evolving and heterogeneous; consequently, the foundation of all efforts must be simple, fast and flexible. These benefits translate directly into open and reusable best practices because operators can easily understand and share automation. Finding this balance represents a significant engineering investment by the RackN team.

Read the Complete White Paper:  LINK

Get Started with Digital Rebar Provision and RackN today:

0 comments on “October 27 – Weekly Recap of All Things Digital Rebar and RackN”

October 27 – Weekly Recap of All Things Digital Rebar and RackN

Welcome to the weekly post of the RackN blog recap of all things Digital Rebar, RackN, SRE, and DevOps. If you have any ideas for this recap or would like to include content please contact us at info@rackn.com or tweet Rob (@zehicle) or RackN (@rackngo)

Items of the Week

Digital Rebar

Digital Rebar Online Community Meetup #3

Meetup Content:

  • Digital Rebar Provision 3.2 Update
  • Feature Tags
  • Endpoint + UX
  • Demo w/ Virtual Box
  • Community Roundtable

Stay in Touch with the Community:

RackN

This week’s Podcast with David Linthicum, SVP Cloud Technology Partners on a variety of cloud related topics including DevOps, Containers, Edge Computing, etc.

For those interested in Podcasts but prefer to listen via YouTube, we have a new Playlist of all the Podcasts available.

Rishidot Research recently published a profile of the new RackN Beta program, Briefing Notes: RackN Launches in Beta. This document contains a Market Overview, RackN Offering, SWOT Analysis, and Conclusions.

Rishidot provided several key messages in their briefing notes that are worth highlighting:

  • Bare Metal as a Service– offers a better fit for running containers in the enterprise without the overhead of virtualization.
  • Simplification and Choice– by decoupling provisioning, management, and orchestration into distinct layers, RackN allows customers flexibility in choosing orchestration tools already in use
  • Data Center vs Cloud – RackN automation to underlying infrastructure makes datacenter provisioning competitive in a cloud world

Read the Complete Briefing Notes

Disclosure: RackN has hired Rishidot in the past.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Rob Hirschfeld and Greg Althaus are preparing for a series of upcoming events where they are speaking or just attending. If you are interested in meeting with them at these events please email info@rackn.com

If you are attending any of these events please reach out to Rob Hirschfeld to setup time to learn more about our solutions or discuss the latest industry trends.

OTHER NEWSLETTERS

0 comments on “Five ways I’m Sad, Mad and Scared: the new critical security flaw in firmware no one will patch.”

Five ways I’m Sad, Mad and Scared: the new critical security flaw in firmware no one will patch.

There is new security vulnerability that should be triggering a massive server fleet wide upgrade and patch for data center operators everywhere.  This one undermines fundamental encryption features embedded into servers’ trusted platform module (TPM).   According to Sophos.com, “this one’s a biggie.”

Yet, it’s unlikely anyone will actually patch their firmware to fix this serious issue.

Why?  A lack of automation.  Even if you agree with the urgency of this issue,

  1. It’s unlikely that you can perform a system wide software patch or system re-image without significant manual effort or operational risk
  2. It’s unlikely that you are actually using TPM because they are tricky to setup and maintain
  3. It’s unlikely that you have any tooling that automates firmware updates across your fleet
  4. It’s unlikely that you have automation to gracefully roll out an update that can coordinate BIOS and operating system updates
  5. Even if you can do the above (IF YOU CAN, PLEASE CALL ME), it’s unlikely that you can coordinate updating both patching the BIOS and re-encrypting/rotating the data signed by the keys in the TPM

Being able to perform actions should be foundational; however, I know from talking to many operators that there are serious automation and process gaps at this layer.  These gaps weaken the whole system because we neither turn on security features embedded in our infrastructure nor automate ways to systematically maintain them.

This type of work is hard to do.  So we don’t do it, we don’t demand it and we don’t budget for it.

Our systems are way too complex to expect issues like this to be improved away by the next wave of technology.  In fact, we see the exact opposite.  The faster we move, the more flaws are injected into the system.  This is not security problem alone.  Bugs, patches and dependencies cause even more system churn and risk.

I have not given up hoping that our industry will prioritize infrastructure automation so that we can improve our posture.  I’ve seen that fixing the bottom layers of the stack makes a meaningful difference in the layers above.  If you’ve been following our work, then you already know that is the core of our mission at RackN.

It’s up to each of us individually to start fixing the problem.  It won’t be easy but you don’t have to do it alone.  We have to do this together.

0 comments on “Rishidot Research Briefing Notes on RackN”

Rishidot Research Briefing Notes on RackN

Rishidot Research recently published a profile of the new RackN Beta program, Briefing Notes: RackN Launches in Beta. This document contains a Market Overview, RackN Offering, SWOT Analysis, and Conclusions.

Rishidot provided several key messages in their briefing notes that are worth highlighting:

  • Bare Metal as a Service – offers a better fit for running containers in the enterprise without the overhead of virtualization.
  • Simplification and Choice – by decoupling provisioning, management, and orchestration into distinct layers, RackN allows customers flexibility in choosing orchestration tools already in use
  • Data Center vs Cloud – RackN automation to underlying infrastructure makes datacenter provisioning competitive in a cloud world

Read the Complete Briefing Notes

Disclosure: RackN has hired Rishidot in the past.

About Rishidot Research

In ancient Indian mythology, the Rishis were the embodiment of all-encompassing knowledge with the ability to foresee the future and help handle change. Named after the mythical Rishis, Rishidot Research LLC is an analyst firm dedicated to deep understanding of technology and the ability to foresee trends.

Unlike ever before, technological evolution is happening at an exponential rate. In order to maintain their competitive edge, organizations need to both keep up with emerging technologies and align the IT goals with their business objectives. Rishidot Research helps organizations transform to Modern Enterprise by offering strategic advise to leadership on their modernization strategy and help teams understand and navigate the technology landscape. Our focus is on helping enterprises decipher and adapt to the fast changing technological landscape dominated by cloud computing, Big Data, IoT and AI.

Contact: Krishnan Subramanian at @rishidot or +1-617-657-4744

0 comments on “October 20 – Weekly Recap of All Things Digital Rebar and RackN”

October 20 – Weekly Recap of All Things Digital Rebar and RackN

Welcome to the weekly post of the RackN blog recap of all things Digital Rebar, RackN, SRE, and DevOps. If you have any ideas for this recap or would like to include content please contact us at info@rackn.com or tweet Rob (@zehicle) or RackN (@rackngo)

Items of the Week

RackN

Have you registered to join our RackN Beta Program? Simply click over to our Beta Program page and learn more about this opportunity to engage directly with RackN engineering and the Digital Rebar Community to automate and provision your existing infrastructure just like the public cloud providers. In fact, for users of Terraform we have our bare metal plugin available in the Beta to enhance your existing Terraform solution. It’s simple to join the Beta Program via our website.

L8ist Sh9y Podcast

From Rob Hirschfeld’s post on this newly launched podcast:

We feel there’s still room for deep discussions specifically around automated IT Operations in cloud, data center and edge; consequently, we’re branching out to start including deep interviews in addition to our initial stable of IT Ops deep technical topics like TerraformEdge Computing, Gartner Symposium review, Kubernetes and, of course, our own Digital Rebar.

This past week our guest was Mark Thiele of Apcera where we covered Mark’s thought on why public cloud will be under 20% of IT and culture issues head on.

Soundcloud Subscription Information

Digital Rebar

Digital Rebar Online Community Meetup #3

  • Next Tuesday at 11am PST is our third Online Meetup – Join Us

Stay in Touch with the Community:

Coming Soon!

Next week we are releasing a new Podcast with David Linthicum, SVP,  Cloud Technology Partners

UPCOMING EVENTS

Rob Hirschfeld and Greg Althaus are preparing for a series of upcoming events where they are speaking or just attending. If you are interested in meeting with them at these events please email info@rackn.com

If you are attending any of these events please reach out to Rob Hirschfeld to setup time to learn more about our solutions or discuss the latest industry trends.

OTHER NEWSLETTERS

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