We’re getting really good at deploying images. The new SmartCloud Provisioning product makes image deployment faster and easier then ever. While the speed and simplicity is cool, left unchecked, image sprawl issues may catch up with you faster than ever.
Virtual image sprawl is a reasonably new phenomena derived from the ease of capturing and creating new virtual images. Virtualization and cloud computing make it very easy to create new virtual images. As image catalogs grow, finding and locating the right images gets harder. Existing images quickly become out of date. Creating a new image is often easier than figuring out what existing image might be reusable. This all leads to a sprawl of images, and corresponding management issues.
To control, and proactively prevent image sprawl, we just added two new capabilities, the Virtual Image Library and the Image Construction and Composition Tool, into the SmartCloud Provisioning 1.2 beta program. The Virtual Image Library provides a central view of all your images and instances – across any SmartCloud Provisioning deployment as well as your existing VMware environments. With Virtual Image Library you can quickly understand the content of your images, search, and run comparison reports for both differences and similarities. This will help you find images to reuse (instead of creating yet another image), and begins to proactively identify consolidation candidates. In addition, Virtual Image Library supports a central repository for your master images, allowing you to perform version control, check-in and check-out operations across your different environments.
While image library helps you control and manage your images, the Image Construction and Composition Tool is a proactive step to prevent image sprawl. With the tool, you can construct images to share and reuse across your cloud. The tool makes it easy to create an image that is reconfigurable during the deployment process. You can choose to expose configuration parameters such as user names and ports, and even different configuration choices. The SmartCloud Provisioning 1.2 instance creation dialog automatically displays these parameters and passes them through to run your customization scripts. For example, we use this technique to have one WebSphere Application Server image that at deploy time is configured as a stand-alone node, or a custom node, or a deployment manager node, or even an IBM HTTP Server node - all from the same image. In addition to building images for Smart Cloud Provisioning 1.2, the tool builds images on the SmartCloud Enterprise public cloud, and builds image for combination in virtual system patterns using IBM Workload Deployer.
I hope you’ll take a look at these new beta capabilities and provide feedback on the SmartCloud Provisioning Open Beta Forum. Let's tame the image sprawl monster.