Flexiant and IBM Softlayer

Here at Flexiant we are happy to accept challenges. Recently we were challenged to perform a live install and configuration of Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator in an IBM SoftLayer datacenter. As you will read and see in the short video, this task was accomplished in around 40 minutes. Why is this important?

Quite simply we know that to achieve the same level of functionality many service providers have spent months, sometimes years and often millions of dollars on an army of consultants. Even after all of this, projects still fail. This is not an exaggeration. Many of Flexiant’s recent customers have arrived as a result of travelling on this journey.

The Flexiant ‘out of the box’ experience, shown in this blog, is only one of the reasons why Flexiant is being selected by an ever increasing list of cloud service providers operating at scale.

So before we get into the detail you should know that we love our solution (of course), but others do too – Info-Tech Research Group named us the most innovative cloud management solution for the last two years running. When challenged to combine Flexiant, live, with IBM SoftLayer’s visionary platform (Gartner placed them as visionaries in the latest Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service released in May), we thought that this was a challenge that we were keen to digest – with relish!

This blog and associated video shows how we went from zero to IaaS ready in 40 minutes. It would have been a little faster but we also encountered a couple of minor configuration road bumps that needed to be resolved. The general reaction from the participants was “Wow! Impressive!”

The SoftLayer Environment

SoftLayer is IBM’s core commercial infrastructure capability. Flexiant already has existing customers using SoftLayer datacenters to launch commercial cloud services using our technology.

The environment that was created for the install is shown in the following diagram. There are three bare metal physical machines:

  • Two compute nodes (to run the workload, including the VM you can see running at the end of the video)
  • One compute node to run a number of service VMs and an NFS server.

One such VM runs the Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator Control Plane, and two other run virtualized compute nodes – you wouldn’t virtualize compute nodes in a production environment, but we did this to show how easy it was to add more modes. These are all networked together via a public network, for control panel access over the Internet, and a private one for internal management traffic.


FCO Demo Configuration

The Install and Configuration

The full install took around 40 minutes, about 35 of which is waiting for Ubuntu to install and requires no operator intervention. Even though 40 minutes is a short period of time, it would not make for an interesting video, so we’ve sped up these parts of the installation so you won’t need to watch them and the whole demo completes in 4 minutes (i.e. on average 10 times faster). What you will see in the video is the following.

Here are the 10 steps we took to getting Flexiant live on SoftLayer:

  1. [0:00] Boot Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator off the install DVD. Install Ubuntu 14.04, plus the Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator packages, onto the server.
  2. [2:11] Configure the IP address (provided by SoftLayer) for the Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator manager, and therefore for the control panel. Specify the gateway, name server address and domain name, and we’re ready to go to the next step.
  3. [2:57] Verify there is enough disk space, let the installer continue through the standard Ubuntu install process.
  4. [13:12] Once the last of the packages is installed, specify the login credentials obtained when we registered for an account on the Flexiant website. These are then used to fetch the license information from the Flexiant licensing server, which will register this system.
  5. [14:44] Select the hypervisor type, in this case KVM.
  6. [15:30] Install and configure the Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator packages, all of which is done automatically. This just takes about 6 minutes in total. Once the OS install is complete, the VM reboots.
  7. [21:39] Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator begins building its configuration for the first time and installing databases, Apache and all the other services that it relies on. Upon completion, the Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator control panel is ready for us to log into.
  8. [25:39] Switching over to the browser window, log in and proceed to add an NFS storage unit. This is what the VM disks will reside on.
  9. [29:16] Add an IP subnet for the VM IP allocation and then add the compute nodes themselves. The compute node has booted for the first time, and has gone into the configuration complete state.
  10. [38:23] Set the nodes into a usable state and download the Ubuntu cloud image from Ubuntu’s repositories.

[43:01] Now you are ready to create and launch the first IaaS VM!

We created the first VM from the Ubuntu image. The video shows how we started the VM and watched it boot up via the console feature. The VM has booted, displaying the login prompt.

So instead of worrying about install, configuration and months of effort developing functionality the service provider can, after less than 50 minutes, quickly brand their solution, link to their preferred payment gateways, create and customize their product offers and launch their first commercial cloud services.

Focus Resources Where It Makes the Biggest Impact

If you are serious about seizing the opportunity to launch commercial cloud services, then you should not be investing resources to wrestle with technology. Instead Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator, market validated since 2007, will give you ‘out of the box’ the most innovative and complete solution you need. This means that you can devote resources into building differentiated solutions and implementing an effective strategy to capture market share.

Flexiant prides itself in providing proof points for all of the statements that we make so this is a great example of being put to the test and excelling. Ask your teams why they do not have the full capability of Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator ready to support your business. And if you don’t, get in touch.


From Zero to IaaS Ready in Just 40 Minutes on IBM SoftLayer

Flexiant Cloud Orchestration














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