Thursday, September 10, 2015

Cloud Foundry Setup on Nutanix

After 3 months at Nutanix, I’ve already seen customers realizing the value in consolidating their hardware stack. They want to focus on their platform of choice and spend less time chasing the exponential problem of aligning the perfect hardware and software matrices. Now, what the platform of choice is (or Platform-as-a-Service) can vary widely.

Consistent with other technical doctrines, there is still a lot of separation in how customers regard and evaluate what actually constitutes a PaaS. I would wholly agree with customers falling into two categories, i.e. a “Structured and Unstructured PaaS” dichotomy I first saw published by Brian Gracely.

Choosing either type, a structured or turnkey PaaS vs a build and customize PaaS, indicates a desire to spend more time on development than ops. I spoke about operationalizing containers at both the Hadoop Summit in San Jose this summer with Mesos and Myriad:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAxmal6ozLY
and at VMworld last month in #CNA4725 when I spoke about Mesos with Marathon(and Docker) as another potential platform. Replays available hopefully from vmworld.com but will require a login. In future articles I will walkthrough deploying Mesos, Kubernetes, and other potential developer platforms on a given Nutanix cluster.

The quickest way to get started from deploying a PaaS in your Nutanix environment is to download and setup Pivotal's Cloud Foundry which I will walkthrough below. PCF is arguably the best example of a turnkey PaaS today as it comes with the Ops Manager tool for very minimal, straightforward deployment and configuration of the Pivotal Elastic Runtime (the primary PaaS environment) as well as supplemental services for SQL and NoSQL, all available from: https://pivotal.io/platform.

Just like the storage and management layers are ubiquitous and IO accelerated across the cluster by Nutanix for simplicity and scalability, the communication, scheduling, load-balancing, and logging of app services is handled by the PaaS management layer.

For the quickest out-of-the-box experience today, setup of Pivotal Cloud Foundry is really easy:
·      Make sure your Nutanix cluster is imaged with vSphere 5.5 or 6.0.
·      Upload the vCenter Server Appliance (directions for 5.5 and 6.0) to one of the nodes and initialize it, or if you already have vCenter up and running, you can go straight to the next step.
·      Download the Pivotal Ops Manager ova and Elastic Runtime from http://network.pivotal.io. You may also download additional service components for later like Datastax Cassandra or MySQL. (Pivotal account required, but does not require purchase to evaluate.)

·      Upload the Pivotal Ops Manager ova to vCenter and give it a name, cluster to be deployed on, and network address settings.
·      Log into the Ops Manager IP in a web browser and give the admin user a name and password.
     Run the Ops Manager configuration. It will ask for a vSphere admin user credentials, the datacenter name and cluster name. You’ll also need a VM network port group name and range of IP addresses that you want to include or exclude for the individual VMs. More detailed requirements here: http://docs.pivotal.io/pivotalcf/customizing/requirements.html

·      You will need at least 1 wildcard domain (2 recommended) to assign to the environment for an apps and system domain so that these resolve to the HAproxy IP address(es). The method will depend on your DNS server of choice, but basically any *.apps.yourdomain.com or *.system.yourdomain.com subdomain should resolve to the load-balancer of choice (HAproxy by default) where it can then be resolved internally by Cloud Foundry. If this is not pre-created before trying to configure the Elastic Runtime piece, you will get an error and the installation will likely fail around the smoke tests run for validation.
·      Upload and configure the Pivotal Elastic Runtime. At a minimum, the Cloud Controller and Security line items will need additional configuration. You may configure the HAproxy or custom load-balancer piece for your environment if you prefer Nginx or something else.




·      After the installation and validation is complete, you should have all you need to start playing around with Pivotal Cloud Foundry on your Nutanix cluster. You may also upload additional services for your apps like Cassandra or MySQL:


·      In order to login interactively, you can copy the Admin credentials from within the Ops Manager UI, click on the Elastic Runtime component and the Credentials tab, then scroll to the UAA heading and Admin row for its current password.


·      From a command prompt, you can use the cf login command and push your first app. A helpful blog to using these commands is here:

From there, in Cloud Foundry, you can create more Orgs and Spaces, set quotas and focus on deploying apps that scale on your Nutanix infrastructure. Another interesting project to play with in your deployment is the Chaos Lemur, the Cloud Foundry version of the Chaos Monkey to simulate targeted failures and determine the resiliency and availability of the platform in your environment.

In the next part of this series, I will be working on how to deploy Cloud Foundry on the Nutanix Acropolis environment.


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