IBM Addresses Virtual Image Lifecycle Management;
Adds Integration with Virtual Center Server
by Paul Quigley
IBM has enhanced the company’s Virtual Image Library (VIL) technology and included it as a component of IBM SmartCloud Provisioning (SCP) version 2.1 announced on August 10, 2012. Virtual Image Library is a software component designed to warehouse virtual images and ease image lifecycle management of those images.
According to sources within IBM Software Group, changes in the latest release of SCP include tighter integration among the various products that comprise it. SCP is a combination of products and technologies, including IBM Workload Deployer, High Scale Low Touch hypervisor, Image Construction and Composition Tools and, now, Virtual Image Library. These individual capabilities appear as web pages based on a multi-node, kernel-services environment designed to offer small- to medium-sized customers an entry point in the cloud space. IBM Service Delivery Manager (ISDM) is another of the company’s cloud products tailored to larger companies. ISDM integrates the functionality of Tivoli Provisioning Manager, Tivoli Service Request Manager, and Tivoli Process Automation Engine.
Virtual Image Library was originally designed to be used with SmartCloud Provisioning, exclusively, however, additional hypervisors, including VMware Virtual Center are now supported by the product and other hypervisors will be added over time. Through the use of a VMware plug-in module, IT shops that are traditionally VMware have an option to use VIL to manage an ever-increasing inventory of virtual images. Virtual Center users will now have the ability to store and retrieve images from VIL seamlessly.
The VIL component of IBM SmartCloud Provisioning is always installed as part of an SCP deployment, but it can also be installed on a separate machine. Once VIL is installed in a customer environment, the user configures the product with any available operational repositories (the available hypervisors). In VIL you can use a local image store called the reference repository to save copies of key images from any operational repository or to replicate copies of images from the reference repository to any operational repository.
As new operational repositories are added, VIL will discover the images, pull them in, and index them. All information about the images is then stored in the VIL database. Once the indexing operation is complete, users with access to VIL are able to search images for specific software products; compare two images and determine the differences in files and products; find similar images; and track image versions and provenance.
The Virtual Image Library solves several common issues encountered by cloud customers:
- As virtual servers are deployed, users typically install or uninstall software. This can cause issues when the user has a problem with the virtual server. The Virtual Image Library solves this problem with drift detection technology to detect deviations from the original, standardized state.
- In some shops, different organizations control different layers of an image. For example, one department might be responsible for the base operating system while another might be responsible for the database and database applications while another might be responsible for Web applications. The Virtual Image Library solves this problem with image versioning technology that enables the different groups to manage their areas of responsibility, while providing a central point for compliance management. In this case, each department can create a new version of the image.
- Another common problem is defining what a standardized state is. The Virtual Image Library solves this problem with image analytics technology to index the contents of the image. There are two types of indexing:
- Basic indexing is performed by the Virtual Image Library, gathering information about the operating system and the software (products, rpms, patches). The results are stored in the VIL database.
- Full indexing does everything basic indexing does, but in addition it crawls through every directory and file in the image to create a comprehensive set of facts about the image. The results of a full index are also stored in the VIL database
Images can be moved from one hypervisor, such as a VMware environment, to a high scale low touch (HSLT) environment. Since not all hypervisors are compatible, the Virtual Image Library also provides a new set of tools to check for image compatibility and remediate (fix) problems found with the image on the target hypervisor.
When the image compatibility check completes, the image will have one of the following Compatibility Status values:
- Fully Compatible, meaning that the virtual image satisfies all the defined compatibility conditions;
- Partially Compatible, meaning that the virtual image does not satisfy all the defined compatibility conditions and a remediation action exists for each condition that is not satisfied by the image;
- Not compatible, meaning one or more of the defined compatibility conditions are not satisfied and a remediation action does not exist to correct the problem;
- Unavailable, meaning that the compatibility conditions do not exist for the kind of image specified. The image compatibility cannot be checked.
For more information about Smart Cloud Provisioning and Virtual Image Library, visit http://www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/cgi-bin/ssialias?infotype=AN&subtype=CA&htmlfid=897/ENUS212-161&appname=USN/
Paul Quigley is Senior Enablement Specialist with IBM Software Services for Tivoli with expertise in Tivoli Service Automation Manager, Tivoli Provisioning Manager and SmartCloud Provisioning.