This blog comments on a variety of technology news, trends, and products and how they connect. I'm in Red Hat's cloud product strategy group in my day job although I cover a broader set of topics here. This is a personal blog; the opinions are mine alone.
The scale and dynamism of cloud computing is changing the way in which systems need to be managed. Red Hat Satellite product managers Todd Warner and David Caplan talk about how these changes are being manifested in both current and upcoming Red Hat products and associated open source communities, such as Puppet and Foreman.
Haff: Hi, everyone. This is Gordon Haff, Cloud Evangelist with Red
Hat, and I'm down here in Raleigh, in the shiny new Red Hat Tower, talking with
our two Red Hat Systems Management Product Managers, Todd Warner and David Caplan.
Welcome, Todd and David. Todd, briefly introduce yourself, and then I will have
David do the same thing.
Warner: Hello Gordon, my name's Todd Warner. I've been with Red Hat
for approximately 10, 11 years now, and I've been associated with the Red Hat
Satellite product for the majority of that time. Recently, I had the benefit of
sharing that duty with David Caplan, who's now my co‑captain on the product.
Caplan: My name's David Caplan, and I'm a Principal Product Manager
for the next generation Satellite. Todd has been working diligently on
Satellite 5, and I'm picking up the reins on Satellite 6.
We'll get into a little bit about the actual products and the road maps
later on in this conversation, but let's take things up a level to start with.
Maybe you could talk to our listeners about what some of the big trends that
you're seeing in systems management today, and how that's driving product
change. Maybe we can start with you, Todd.
Let me talk about where the industry has been for some time, and then I'm
going to turn it over to David to tell us where he sees it going in the future,
and how systems management needs to address that, and then also how Satellite
intends to address it directly for our customers. For the longest time now,
physical systems have been the primary platform for customers to build
workloads on top of, and often for small shops that's been a handful of
machines. For larger shops, it might be some BladeCenters or even a data center.
Satellite was built with that premise in mind, the concept of the data center.
was introduced in 2002 as a means to patch systems, provision systems, and
build standard operating environments associated to systems, but times are
changing. Virtualization used to be a very specialized world in the old days in
computing, which was just a decade ago. Now it's very prevalent, relatively
cheap, and taking over the industry.
has addressed that, but with recent trends in computing, Satellite has to be
more nimble, more adaptable. With that, we're talking about cloud, hyperscale,
things like that. Let me turn it over to David to talk a little bit more about
Thanks, Todd. The world of IT, in general, and systems management in
particular, has certainly grown increasingly complex. The challenges of
standing up servers on bare metal has now expanded to include problems like
virtualization, as Todd mentioned, but not just one flavor of virtualization.
There are competing standards, including RHEV/KVM on the Red Hat side. There's
VMware, of course. EC2. There's OpenStack, and then there's all the variations
on OpenStack that are beginning to emerge. Systems management has to evolve
alongside so that it can be nimble and basically handle these different
provisioning requirements, but still keep its eye on bare metal. Bare metal is
also going through some radical transformation, as we go to data center
densities of 10,000 servers to hundreds of thousands of servers, as we get into
the world of hyperscale. That is something that we are watching here at Red
source is another emerging trend that has captured the imaginations of
information technology [people]. It promises, with do‑it‑yourself techniques,
to take care of some of the more daunting problems of configuration, drift
management, and whatnot.
we're trying to do at Red Hat, in systems management, is to take all the
benefits of open source, all the innovation, and envelop it in workflows and
structure, and really allow customers to derive the full value of open source
innovation, but not be burdened by all the do‑it‑yourself vagaries and cul‑de‑sacs.
One of the interesting things I find talking about systems management and
open source is I think, arguably, systems management was a relatively late
field for open source. There have been some projects around for a while, mostly
in the monitoring area, but I think systems management has tended to be such a
large surface area type of application that it's been really hard for open
source to tackle. Today, there really are some open source technologies,
including some that we are using, that have really started to have a pretty
Absolutely, Gordon. For many decades, systems management was controlled
by a set of well‑recognized brands. The legacy providers who built very high‑quality
stuff, but the iteration and improvement tended to be very slow once these
things were deployed. On the other hand, open‑source moves at a very, very fast
cadence, tends to be less encumbered by what's been done before, and can take a
fresh look at solving problems. An example is Puppet, something that has in
many respects exceeded all expectations, and certainly capabilities beyond what
the legacy suppliers have been able to do, the proprietary shops.
I did want to add to what David was saying, is that systems management's
changed, not only technologically, but also in processes, workflow,
sophistication of how people model their end systems. Just 5, 10 years ago, it
was only common the big houses, the big IT firms, where you would model systems
and layers, develop well‑designed SOEs, and have teams that owned each little
piece of the layer of the application that went out the door. That's becoming
more common all the way down to even the smaller IT groups, because it's more
accessible, and the tooling is much better. Open‑source has really been a cost‑effective
way of getting that level of technology, that reach of technology, in the hands
of people that can't afford the million‑dollar systems management deployment.
open‑source community is really outmaneuvering the larger systems management
houses, because they can focus on the small tasks, doing very well. Then, folks
like Red Hat helped tie all this together and build a better, larger system.
Let's make things a little more concrete here, and let's talk about some
of the specific things that are going on at Red Hat. By way of context here,
what we're discussing in this podcast is, specifically, the systems management
area. It's certainly not the only thing Red Hat's doing in management. We
acquired a company called ManageIQ last December, which we're combining with
some of our in‑house developed open source technology into an overall open
hybrid cloud management product.
we're going to talk about here, what we're really going to dive down here,
rather than this CloudForms hybrid cloud management, is specifically the
systems management side of things.
thought maybe you could start out by describing what Red Hat means when it says
"systems management," and where we are and where we're going with our
systems management product that we're shipping today.
According to Red Hat, systems management really is building that flow of
defining the system, deploying that system, managing that system over time, and
then recycling that system. Managing many of those, many of those definitions,
many of those systems, and being able to manage that at scale. Being able to
build policies surrounding that, for example security, patching, configuration
management, and things like that. To Red Hat, that's really Red Hat's
definition of systems management. When we associate that to where we did the
ManageIQ acquisition, the driving technology behind CloudForms, Red Hat needs
to, as David was talking about, the future trends that we're adapting to are
systems management technologies, in this case Satellite, have to adapt to that,
so that we can leverage those technologies. Like, for example, the cloud
technologies that ManageIQ is bringing to bear.
Satellite, we have the systems management, that defining systems, managing
systems, recycling those systems over time, at scale, physical, virtual, and
David, talk about where we're going.
That was an excellent description, Todd, of Red Hat and systems management,
and we're building on that in our next generation Satellite, known as Satellite
6. If I could summarize in one sentence what we're attempting to achieve in
Satellite 6, it would be bare metal to cloud in a single workflow. It's the
recognition that most of the work today happens in the cloudy domain, whether
that's hybrid cloud, whether that's private cloud, or in the public cloud. But
getting there and automating the steps from new bare metal to the new world of
abstracted resource is not easy for most IT customers.
6 is designed to begin the process with bare metal discovery, in ways that
previous systems could not achieve. Primarily because Satellite 6 is
unaffiliated with any one supplier of hardware.
has to do this bare metal for all of our partners and even hardware we've never
seen before. Once we have things discovered, we need to register it, we need to
provision it, and we do that with end‑to‑end automation. The next step is
configuration, and we do configuration with recipe‑based solutions.
current system built today for this is Puppet. We are leveraging all the power
of Puppet, and building Satellite 6 around the Puppet ecosystem, by introducing
something called an "external node classifier." The combination of
Puppet, of Satellite 6, and the legacy that we have built on for managing
content and entitlements, should provide customers with a very, very capable
solution. Not just for now, but hopefully for another decade.
Todd, maybe you could tell our listeners specifically, whether they're
current Satellite customers or someone who's interested in doing Linux systems
management, what they can get from Red Hat today.
Thank you, Gordon. Red Hat Satellite, we just released. I shouldn't say
"just." At the end of 2012, we released Satellite 5.5, and 2012, that
was our 10‑year anniversary for Satellite. It's a very mature product. With
that release, we were really focused on modernization and compliance features.
For example, "modernization" meaning keeping up with the times, IPv6,
in particular, in this case. "Compliance" meaning I want to take a
policy that another group gives me, apply it to a system, and report back if
that system's compliant or not. Additionally, we had some content management
improvements in that release, and some generalized scalability and network
bridging technologies added within that release.
5.5 was an incremental release for us that was released in October 2012. Coming
this year, we have Red Hat Satellite 5.6 coming in this fall. We're really
excited about this release, in that one of the key things we're bringing to
bear in this release is that we're adding improved reporting. Our customers
want to be able to understand how they are consuming product from Red Hat, and
operating system resources better than they have in the past, and we hope to
bring that coming this fall in 5.6.
lots of improvements as far as manageability of the product. Hot backup
support, being able to split the product into two so you can scale it out
better when you install it. This is the server‑side piece of Satellite that you
can split into two. We want to improve the way it scales.
also are improving our ability to do client‑side introspection, as far as
troubleshooting. A core operating system service goes down, Red Hat Enterprise
Linux will send the details of that crash to Satellite so that, in one console,
the administrator can see why that system had issues.
also giving some options as far as the database that Satellite actually utilizes.
We're introducing PostgreSQL as an option in Satellite 5.6.
have some coming releases in the next couple years after that. We have
currently planned out two more releases after that, into 2015. I don't really
want to go into details surrounding those. They're still nebulous and in
motion, but we do have, currently, 5.6 planned for this fall, a 5.7, and a 5.8,
all the way out to 2015.
more exciting, in my opinion, Satellite 5 continues to grow and mature, and
it's going to be a supported platform for many years to come. In parallel to
that, we're developing our next technology Satellite, which we're calling
Satellite 6, and David will talk more about that and where we're going with
David, maybe you could share a little bit of detail about what people
should expect, when they should expect it, what the use cases are that
Satellite 6 might make the most sense for.
Certainly. Thanks, Gordon. Thanks, Todd. Satellite 6 is currently under
development now, and it's a system that was built from the ground up. A lot of
the capabilities of Satellite 6 are derived from Satellite 5, and would be
familiar to Satellite 5 customers, and familiar to Red Hat customers who are
new to systems management, because the problems that it solves are very
familiar. Satellite 6 is really broken up into two major components. There's a
content and entitlement piece, which takes its cue, to a large degree, from
Satellite 5. Some of the changes are the introduction of our customer portal as
the main access for Red Hat content. Our previous access point, Red Hat
Network, served Red Hat well for many, many years, but our own success has
basically caused bottlenecks in getting customer access to content when they
want it and where they are located.
6 uses a worldwide content distribution network, and it plumbs to the points of
presence of that network that are closest to where our customers are. It syncs
content very efficiently into a kind of a common content mirror.
there, there are exciting new capabilities, where customers are able to create
very special content containers, which are called "content views,"
that are similar in concept to the channels that Satellite 5 supported, but are
much more performant than what we are able to do with channels, so newer
technology there in delivering these things.
other part of Satellite 6 is entitlement management. Entitlement management is
very important to our customers, so a lot of effort has been put into really
superb and granular reporting of subscription consumption.
other half of Satellite 6 is concerned with provisioning and configuration.
Where Satellite 5 did managed kickstarts and then used configuration channels
for files and other configuration information, Satellite 6 is built on an
upstream project called The Foreman. It wraps itself around Puppet in a way
that simplifies the construction and manipulation of kickstart files, the
introduction of special, late‑binding override parameters, and a smooth and
seamless handoff to Puppet.
the two systems are integrated seamlessly is in the content delivery part. When
Puppet runs and extracts content, when it's doing its work of provisioning a
server, that content is coming from the content management system that I
described previously. It's a very tightly controlled set of processes. When
systems are up and running, they register for errata and can be repurposed or
re‑provisioned at any time. That's basically the 10,000‑foot view of Satellite
Great. Thanks, David. Can you maybe talk a little bit about the managed
Of course. The timetable for Satellite 6 is roughly a year from now, so
we're talking about June of 2014. It's a big program, and it has a lot of
button and knobs. What we are hoping to do is to deliver something at that time
that is ready to go, and is familiar, and useful to the largest number of Red
Hat customers. The way we're getting to that, or achieving that goal, is with a
special program called the "Managed Design Program." The idea of this
program is to pre‑release Satellite 6 at three different stages between now and
GA, and let our customers experiment with the software, exercise the workflows,
and then give us feedback about what could be better, what they love about the
product, we're hoping to have a lot of about what they love about it.
also allows us to have a much closer relationship with those customers who have
a real stake in open source systems management and Red Hat.
program is a big win for our effort to build the right product at the right
time, but it's also a win for our customers, because they will be able to see
many of their great ideas and innovations incorporated into something that they
can subscribe to when the product becomes generally available.
first MDP drop will happen this summer, and then the others in three‑month
Briefly, what would a typical customer getting involved in the managed
designed program look like?
The ideal MDP participant would have Satellite 5, be using Satellite 5,
and exercising many of its complex workflows. Whether it's patching,
provisioning, configuration, content management. Those types of flows will be
covered in the MDP version of Satellite 6, so that would be very important to
us. Equally important are customers that are already ahead of the curve, and
are using Foreman and Puppet today, and are looking for ways of tying it back
into their content and content versioning. That would be the second candidate.
for us, as we've gone out and talked to many of our customers, we find that
there are many, many Satellite 5 customers are already using Puppet today.
They're experimenting with Puppet, and they're using it the do‑it‑yourself way,
and looking to Red Hat for guidance, and looking to Red Hat for enterprise
expertise in tying these things together. That basically describes the ideal
I think one of the takeaways from here, and I think Todd, you may have
been the one that used the term, "hyperscale," is as we look to how
cloud computing is developing, one of the hallmarks is you're talking about
orders of magnitude difference in terms of the increase in the number of
running instances under management. Trying to handle that kind of thing
manually certainly hasn't been, necessarily, a very good idea for many years
now. When you're talking thousands of instances in even a moderate‑sized
organization, that simply can't be done manually or you're just asking for
runaway administration costs, and for that matter, runaway compliance problems.
Right, Gordon. In the past decade at Red Hat, we've seen our customers
expand from tens of machines to 100 machines, to thousands of machines, to tens
of thousands, to hundreds of thousands of machines being managed. They're able
to do this because A, the technology is getting cheaper at the client side, and
B, the workflow and processes in order to manage those systems has been
improving over time.
been right there with them the whole time, but we are seeing the challenge with
the boom in number of systems represented by virtualization and cloud, that
Satellite has to be able to adapt to extreme large numbers of systems. How does
a customer deal with this issue? The fact that they have workloads that are
spanning many, many systems.
way is to expand the number of actual human beings working on those problems,
but that's not realistic. Satellite exists today and it does expand to
thousands of systems, but we're working towards Satellite 6 being positioned to
better manage many, many, thousands of systems with a reasonably small team of
administrators. That's the challenge today. That many systems, and make sense
of it, to a reasonable number of people.
Fundamentally, this is just one facet of everything has to be automated
in a consistent way. Thank you David and Todd. Anything you'd like to add?
No, only that it's a pleasure doing this podcast, I hope our customers
find this interesting. Satellite is a tremendous product, it has tremendous
success with our customers, and I hope you're encouraged that we're not
standing still. Satellite is improving, and we're making investments in new
technologies in the open source world with existing product today, and where
we're going in the future.
We're very excited about what will be coming out through our MDP program
and then through our general availability of Satellite 6. Pay attention, check
out redhat.com and see what's going on with the latest systems management, and
thank you very much.
I'm in the cloud product strategy group at Red Hat. Prior to Red Hat, I wrote hundreds of research notes, was frequently quoted in publications like The New York Times on a wide range of IT topics, and advised clients on product and marketing strategies. Earlier in my career, I was responsible for bringing a wide range of computer systems, from minicomputers to large UNIX servers, to market while at Data General. Among other hobbies, I do a lot of photography and enjoy the outdoors.