This year’s been good to us at the College, and our RedHat rep’s got me and my boss on yo a panel at Summit. Talking about real-world cases where customer’s have switched to RHEV. So we got to go to RedHat Summit for free, in Boston, MA. I don’t travel much, so its always enjoyable to get out and see new things. I’ve never been to Boston, so that was an experience in itself, even though I didnt exactly have time to sight-see. Boston seems like a very nice place.

The conference was great! I’ve never been to a conference of this size, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I’ll say this. RedHat really knows how to treat it’s customers. Our swag-bag’s are high enough quality that I’m going to retire my trusty old (6+ year old) swiss laptop backpack for this new one. After registration a nice lady handed us beer, and the vendor area had open bar’s at every turn. Food was provided for us as well, We only had to seek out and pay for two meals while we were there. We could have likely never left the convention center for the entire 3 days.

There were several tracks of talks. So many good topics that I found myself having to choose between several talks that occupied the same time slot. Then there were labs! We could actually get our hands dirty and try out some of the cool new products from RedHat. We visited one on RedHat Storage, and another on OpenStack. Which are both very cool by the way.

So, there are three very interesting technologies coming out of RedHat at the moment. One is RedHat Storage based on Gluster, another is OpenShift, and the last is OpenStack. All of these are very… “cloudy”, and I dont mean that they’re unclear. They are all cloud oriented. Which is where things are going in this industry.

There was one subtle (sometimes not so subtle) underlying theme. Ditch the high price hardware, and build your insanely redundant systems on commodity hardware. Using software to make it as redundant as youd like. How? Use RedHat of course!

Theres a big push for RedHat storage. This is a pretty revolutionary product. Because you can use it in place of your high performance san (in a lot of cases, maybe not everywhere), and run it on just about anything with a bunch of disks in it. RHEL, and RHS run on top of a physical, or virtual machine. An XFS volume is created on each machine. You then create volumes on top of xfs, that are shared out via gluster. Each node you add, expands your througput, and resiliency, and storage (unless youre using it in mirror mode). You can add and remove nodes in order to expand or shrink your gluster volumes. All while the volume is online and in use. This is huge! This is almost identical to what our IBM XIV does with the IBM special sauce that it runs, but this is all open source software! You could, if you wanted to, replace your high dollar san with commodity servers, packed with disks, and save a ton of money!

OpenStack is a relatively new offering, that essentially lets you run your own private cloud. It is very similar to EC2 as far as user experience goes, it uses the same type of underlying layout. You have a controller node (or nodes?) and a number of compute nodes. The controller runs vm’s on the compute nodes, and can be scaled out as needed. They also just announced it’s compatibility with Gluster. In the end, what you have is a very scalable and user-friendly proivate cloud.

OpenShift (which runs on top of openStack, or RHEV nicely) is a similar idea, but more abstracted. Applications are created through a self-service portal, but instead of being VM’s, they’re selinux and cgroup contained gears, all running on top of one (or several) nodes. The idea being, that your developers, or uses, can provision themselves a space to work on a new idea or project, without having to pester your admin’s for new vm’s. Very intriguing.

In all, RedHat Summit was a great experience. I’d love to make it to these more regularly (even if its not yearly).