Cloud // Infrastructure as a Service
11:06 AM
Connect Directly
Repost This

IBM Builds A Better OpenStack Scheduler

IBM's Platform scheduler uses more efficient resource management to improve on OpenStack's own scheduler operations.

IBM has launched a proprietary product to work with OpenStack's resource scheduler, the part of the cloud software stack that assigns workloads to virtual machine hosts in the cloud.

IBM has a history of mapping out resource schedulers, thanks to its experience in mainframes and with Tivoli Workload Scheduler LoadLeveler. In addition, the company acquired 20-year-old Platform Computing two years ago, adding its Load Sharing Facility to IBM's scheduler product line.

In making that acquisition, IBM, a supporter of the OpenStack open source code product, is saying unequivocally that OpenStack's scheduler remains a rudimentary model of the breed and users will need to buy into IBM's expertise to get the most out of their OpenStack clouds.

OpenStack's scheduler is static, looking at information in the Nova SQL database before assigning a workload to a server host. (Nova is the provisioning and scheduling component of OpenStack.) But it looks only once, when in fact the amount of work that applications are doing on the host is constantly changing. That leads to what Gord Sissons, senior manager of technical marketing manager and a Platform veteran, calls OpenStack's "Goldilocks problem." Some hosts running highly active applications become "too hot," while others with a similar number are doing much less work and are "too cold."

[Want to learn more about why OpenStack might be chosen for private clouds? See VMware, Mirantis Put OpenStack On vSphere.]

IBM's Platform Resource Scheduler works on top of OpenStack's to manage workloads in a more dynamic fashion, Sissons explains. "Platform has more of a real-time view. It knows about a whole set of scheduling metrics that Nova [doesn't know about and] ignores."

Platform can use parallel assignment techniques to distribute workloads over a cluster. When it detects an application is resident on a host with too few resources, it moves the virtual machine to another, less utilized host. It uses VMware's vMotion, KVM's Live Motion, or Hyper-V's Live Migration function to move the running virtual machine.

Once the OpenStack scheduler makes a workload assignment, its view of the job is static -- it isn't looking for feedback on how hard the server is working. "It doesn't think about rescheduling," Sissons explains.

Platform Resource Scheduler became available in technical preview in November as part of IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator, IBM's cloud provisioning software. It's now available as a separate product that serves as an optional add-on to Orchestrator or IBM SmartCloud Entry, both of which are used in managing OpenStack clouds. IBM charges for the scheduler based on how many cores it's running on, but the company declined to offer a per-core price with the announcement. Pricing details depend in part on the customer's implementation, according to Sissons.

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek, having joined the publication in 2003. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week.

Private clouds are moving rapidly from concept to production. But some fears about expertise and integration still linger. Also in the Private Clouds Step Up issue of InformationWeek: The public cloud and the steam engine have more in common than you might think. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
1/8/2014 | 9:46:04 PM
Platform Resource Scheduler works with Power too
Hi Charles,

It should be noted that the Resource Scheduler can also manage migration of workloads with the PowerVM hypervisor on IBM Power Systems. 

User Rank: Author
1/8/2014 | 3:12:26 PM
IBM: Self-serving or forthright?
Part of IBM's forthrightness here is in saying the OpenStack scheduler is pretty basic. Are they right or wrong on that? Platform Resource Scheduler is a proprietary product designed to work with open source code. It doesn't break the OpenStack APIs.
2014 Private Cloud Survey
2014 Private Cloud Survey
Respondents are on a roll: 53% brought their private clouds from concept to production in less than one year, and 60% ­extend their clouds across multiple datacenters. But expertise is scarce, with 51% saying acquiring skilled employees is a roadblock.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Elite 100 - 2014
Our InformationWeek Elite 100 issue -- our 26th ranking of technology innovators -- shines a spotlight on businesses that are succeeding because of their digital strategies. We take a close at look at the top five companies in this year's ranking and the eight winners of our Business Innovation awards, and offer 20 great ideas that you can use in your company. We also provide a ranked list of our Elite 100 innovators.
Twitter Feed
Audio Interviews
Archived Audio Interviews
GE is a leader in combining connected devices and advanced analytics in pursuit of practical goals like less downtime, lower operating costs, and higher throughput. At GIO Power & Water, CIO Jim Fowler is part of the team exploring how to apply these techniques to some of the world's essential infrastructure, from power plants to water treatment systems. Join us, and bring your questions, as we talk about what's ahead.