What are the minimum hardware requirements to stand up a public cloud with Flexiant?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator supports a wide variety of architectures and hardware platforms. To give an example, when using KVM hypervisor we need a minimum of one management server equipped with dual Quad-Core CPUs, 16GB of RAM, 500GB of local disk space and 2x1Gbps NICs with PXE capability. In addition to that, we recommend at least 3 Compute Nodes with a minimum of 96GB of RAM, dual Six-Core CPUs and 2x1Gbps NICs with PXE capability. If we choose the NAS storage option, we also need an NFSv4 share with an average of 3TB available space per Compute Node. All hardware should be Ubuntu 14.04 compatible. A more extensive set of hardware and network requirements can be found here.

Does Flexiant support multiple data centers?

Yes. Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator supports multiple clusters, i.e. separate sets of Compute Nodes that can be in a different geographical location, have a different hypervisor and a set of storage units. Each cluster would be managed by a separate Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator node, but it would remain accessible to end users through a single-pane-of-glass interface.

What guest operating systems do you support?

Guest operating system support depends on the hypervisor and not on Flexiant’s specific capabilities. Flexiant provides support for five different hypervisors (KVM, Xen4, VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and Odin Virtuozzo) for satisfying almost any requirement in terms of guest OS support.

Can customers import their own OS images? Can I provide them with an image library?

You can both provide your customers with an image library or let them import their own images. You can build images and share them with all customers or selected ones as an added value that you can charge for. Alternatively you can simply let end users create new images from existing VMs or importing external files, fetching them from a URL. Supported image formats include qcow2, raw, ova, img, iso and vmdk. More information on creating images can be found here.

Can I import existing VMs into Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator? Do you have built-in V2V capabilities?

Yes. Disks can be imported into Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator by fetching them from external URLs. The fetching process detects the source and destination format according to the hypervisor type and performs the proper conversion using built-in V2V capabilities. Supported formats include qcow2, raw, ova, vmdk and iso.

Can I build an application template?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator provides complex yet easy to use templates for application environments through our unique infrastructure blueprint feature. A graphical designer tool is available to build multi-tier application templates that can include servers, clusters, disks, NICs, networks and firewalls. Templates can then be deployed many times with one click and specific “deployment questions” can tie parameters to servers, which can be used to execute automatic setup operations. Blueprints can be created by end users or by service providers as a catalogue of applications they can charge for.



Which hypervisors does Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator support?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator supports five hypervisors: KVM, Xen4, VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and Odin Virtuozzo. While KVM and Xen4 are supported out of the box, with Flexiant also providing the OS running on the Compute Nodes, vSphere, Hyper-V and Virtuozzo must be provided externally by the service provider. All functionalities with minor exceptions are supported across all five hypervisors. Virtuozzo has the addition of the unique container-based virtual servers for delivering extra performance and density.


What hypervisor do you suggest?

We don’t tend to suggest any hypervisor as we believe each of them can have a specific use case. End users may want to have their Windows VMs running on Hyper-V and their legacy enterprise applications on vSphere. Developers and web companies may prefer lightweight KVM as they make extensive use of open-source software which require no hypervisor vendor support. On the other hand, if you have no specific requirement on the type of hypervisor, we would recommend KVM because it’s provided out of the box with Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator and because its technology is solid, mature and proven. But the best option remains the one to provide multiple hypervisors and let end users choose the one they want based on their specific use case. You can also download our white paper “Common Considerations when Selecting your Hypervisor”.

If we choose KVM, do you provide high availability for VMs?

Yes. Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator provides a “live recovery” algorithm based on the Flexiant Quorum Protocol. Provided that you’re using a shared storage solution, if a Compute Node is detected as down, Flexiant attempts to start the affected VMs on top of another node that is available and has sufficient capacity to take on the required workload.

How do you integrate with VMware? Do I need vCloud Director in place?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator talks directly to vCenter, thus the only requirement is a working installation of VMware vSphere. No vCloud Director is required to work with Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator.

Do I need to configure a Hyper-V cluster to provide high availability?

No. Every Windows 2012 Compute Node is considered as stand-alone, having a shared storage option (SMB3 file share) in the backend. Our “live recovery” feature will take care of providing VM high availability. If a Compute Node is detected as down, Flexiant attempts to start the affected VMs on top of another node that is available and has sufficient capacity to take on the required workload.

What version of VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V are supported?

We currently support and VMware vSphere 5.0, 5.1 and 5.5 and Windows Server 2012 R2.



Do you support storage tiers for end users?

Yes. Multi-tiered storage is fully supported and delivered in multiple formats. Service providers can create disk products (block devices) to attach to virtual servers that have a maximum number of IOPS allowed and different prices. This will allow end users to pay for extra capacity and not to overpay when this is not needed. Service providers will also optimize their storage unit, serving workload when it’s really required. The throttling is done by the hypervisor, so it is applied before the IOPS reach the storage units and it works across all storage types.

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator also supports multiple storage units per clusters, when service providers wants to differentiate storage tiers based on media (e.g. SSD versus SATA disks).

What types of storage does Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator support?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator supports a wide variety of storage types, highly dependent on the chosen hypervisor. Also, we are not tied to any specific storage vendor. For vSphere, we support any storage supported by VMware as we orchestrate it through vCenter. For Hyper-V, we are following Microsoft recommendations to create the volumes on top of an SMB3 share. For KVM and Xen, we support NAS (NFSv4), SAN (iSCSI), local storage and, just for KVM, distributed storage based on Ceph.

Is SAN supported?

In a VMware cluster, we support any SAN that is supported by vSphere. In a Hyper-V cluster, we do not support SAN. In a KVM or Xen4 cluster, we support SAN exclusively via iSCSI, by building a shared disk file system (OCFS2) on top a single LUN.

When do you recommend local storage versus network-attached storage?

Local storage is the most scalable solution due to its great data locality. The VM disks will be hosted within the same Compute Node that requests access to them, with no network involved. However, with local storage there is limited flexibility in migrating VMs to optimise Compute Node usage or for providing resiliency in case of Compute Node failure. Despite that, many popular public clouds are still built with local storage, mostly because new generation applications are fault tolerant, i.e. they’re able to handle faults at the application level by sharing workloads and replicating data stores. It is great when on-boarding web 2.0, mobile, gaming, real-time and BigData analytics workload.

Centralised network-attached storage gives the ability to decouple compute from storage. It provides resiliency and flexibility to migrate VMs, a usual requirement of enterprise applications that can’t accept any hardware downtime. However, it can be a SPOF with a large impact on the entire cloud, a bottleneck and it has usually scalability issues. It’s the preferred route when on-boarding enterprise legacy applications.

Distributed storage with Ceph mixes the best of both worlds by providing a resilient distributed and highly scalable block store that is completely de-coupled from compute, and that can be built on top of commodity hardware. It is a good fit in almost every use case.

In your Ceph implementation, do you leverage local disks inside the Compute Nodes?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator comes with integrated Ceph support that can be easily enabled and configured. We can leverage the disks inside the Compute Nodes so that you won’t need to dedicate extra Storage Nodes. However, all the disks inside Compute Nodes are bundled together into a large distributed replicated block store that is addressed by the hypervisor via network. If you do not want to use our internal Ceph implementation, we also support external Ceph clusters. Ceph is available only for KVM hypervisor. More information on our Ceph support can be found here.



Does Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator also provide network orchestration?

Yes. Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator orchestrates the network for all types of hypervisors. Either via virtual routers which are embedded within Compute Nodes or with specific Router Nodes, Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator automatically manages the VLAN tagging (private, public and interworking), IP address assignment with embedded DHCP servers, IP address routing and firewalling. All features are IPv6 ready. We simply make use of standard protocols (Ethernet, IP) and we do not integrate with any specific network device vendor.

How do you manage public IP addresses?

Public IP addresses are managed by service providers. Service providers will reserve a couple of pools that will be used by FCO to assign single IPs or subnets to customers on-demand. Subnets are automatically extracted from the pool by FCO and routed to customer VLANs, while single IPs are assigned to individual NICs and isolated making use of a bespoke Flexiant service called PVIP.

Private IP addresses are managed directly by end users. They have the ability to choose the subnet prefix and leverage FCO DHCP service to automatically assign those to their servers, along with the default gateway of choice.

Which routing protocols are supported to integrate with my existing network devices?

The recommended protocol is ARC (Automated Router Configuration), a bespoke Flexiant technology that leverages gratuitous ARP for announcing IP addresses to the upstream router. Alternatively, Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator also supports OSPF and BGP4.

What is the Operating System of your Router Nodes?

Router Nodes are based on Linux Ubuntu 14.04.

Does Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator provide any kind of firewall API for end users?

Yes. Firewall capabilities are directly available to end users via control panel and API. They will have the possibility to define firewall templates, which specify default in- and out-bound policies as well as all the rules for permitting or blocking specific traffic. Firewall templates can be assigned to servers and infrastructure blueprints or automatically using triggers.

Is Flexiant providing any kind of SDN functionality?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator includes software-defined controls for network components, including a bespoke Flexiant SDN feature called PVIP (Private Virtual IP), that manages single IP addresses for virtual servers within a completely isolated TCP/IP stack. With PVIP, service providers will be able to offer layer-2 isolation (similar to what VLANs provide) but making a more efficient and scalable use of IPv4 addresses. PVIP addresses scalability by decentralising the network controls to each compute node but it does not make use of any overlay networking technology.


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