The article, Visibility in the cloud, provides a general discussion of how to monitor cloud infrastructure.
There are a number of APIs and tools available for managing large cloud server deployments in the Rackspace cloud.
By default, Rackspace creates Linux cloud servers with a restrictive firewall configuration.
An advantage of using the sFlow standard for server monitoring is that it provides a multi-vendor solution. In addition, the top servers page, shown below, provides a real-time view comparing the performance of the busiest servers in the cluster. In addition to monitoring server and network performance, sFlow can also be used to monitor performance of the scale-out applications that are typically deployed in the cloud, including: web farms, memcached and membase clusters.
The sFlow push model is much more efficient than typical monitoring architectures that require the management system to periodically poll servers for statistics. Finally, sFlow provides the detailed, real-time, visibility into network, server and application performance needed to manage performance and control costs. Cluster performance metrics describes how to use sFlow-RT to calculate metrics and post them to Graphite . The sflowtool command line utility is used to convert standard sFlow records into a variety of different formats. The Graphite realtime charting software provides a flexible way to store and plot time series data. Rackspace Hosting, one of the contenders in the fight to take on Amazon's eponymous Web Services division as the dominant public cloud, is finally confident enough in the OpenStack wares to start its internal rollout of the software underpinning its Cloud Servers, Cloud Files, and other services.
By doing so, Rackspace is beating Hewlett-Packard to market with the first big public cloud based on the "Essex" release of OpenStack which was released a week-and-a-half ago. HP is planning to put the Essex code out as the underpinnings of its HP Cloud Services as a public beta beginning May 10, and has had compute and storage clouds in a private beta test since last September.
Interrante says that Rackspace has been testing the Essex release in beta for the past six months, and that the shift to OpenStack will not be particularly noticeable to customers when it happens, except that it can spin up servers anywhere from two to four times faster, is more reliable, and has a much more capable set of APIs from which to monitor and manage servers. Customers will not be forced to take OpenStack if they sign up for Cloud Servers in May, but by July or so OpenStack will be the default compute cloud at Rackspace and customers will be moved over from the homegrown code to Nova in the ensuing months.
In addition to moving to OpenStack for its cloud, Rackspace is also rolling out a new web-based, self-service management portal for its cloudy customers, called Rackspace Cloud Control Panel. Interrante says the plan is to add other Rackspace services, such as managed hosting, to the control freakery tool so that all Rackspace customers can monitor and manage any service from the same portal.

In addition to the basic infrastructure clouds and the stuff to monitor it, which is coming along at Rackspace, the company is also putting out a database service, a block storage service, and a virtual networking service into beta testing. The database service is based on an extension of the Nova cloud controller and the MySQL relational database that has been developed under Project Red Dwarf. The Cloud Block Storage service that also goes into beta testing today is based on the Lunr, a block storage service created by Rackspace that was merged into the Nova controller's volume manager last summer. The software-based virtual network service, which will eventually become an option on the Cloud Server service, is based on the extensions to Open vSwitch virtual switch that have been created by Nicira.
No word on when the database, block storage, and virtual network services will be ready for primetime. An on-demand identity management service enables that protects your data through centralized access control. Deliver information and expertise to keep people informed, aligned and productive on any device, securely. This guide is designed to assist prospective All Flash Array buyers evaluate the different options. This article uses the Rackspace cloudservers™ hosting service to provide a concrete example of implementing sFlow monitoring in a public cloud. The private network is intended for inter-server communication and there are no usage charges. The firewall configurations were modified (changes shown in red) to implement packet sampling and allow sFlow datagrams to be received from the private network interface (eth1). Windows and Linux servers export standard metrics that link network and system performance and allow a wide variety of analysis applications to be used. With sFlow, data is continuously sent from the cloud servers to the sFlow analyzer, providing a real-time view of performance across the cloud.
Polling breaks down in highly dynamic cloud environments where servers can appear and disappear. Rackspace is one of the two founders of the OpenStack cloud fabric project along with NASA. HP has not made any commitments as to when its OpenStack-based public cloud will go into production. Cloud Services is analogous to Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), and Cloud Files is analogous to Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) – although the two are not compatible with each other.
The move to OpenStack for the Cloud Servers offering – which is based on the Nova code contributed by NASA – is a much bigger deal because it really is different.

Interrante was not sure at press time how many customers would need to move from Cloud Servers to OpenStack, but the Cloud Server and Cloud File customer bases together have a total of 170,000 customers. The tool is written in Python and dynamic JavaScript, and is free to customers who use either Cloud Servers or Cloud Files. This software is still in early access, and the ability to span multiple data center regions and so server tagging is on the way. At the moment, the database service can run atop Cloud Servers with the old Rackspace code or the new Nova controller. It also draws from various OpenStack components, including the Glance image service, the Melange IP address management service, and the Quantum network-as-a-service, er, service. With sFlow, cloud servers are automatically discovered and continuously monitored as soon as they are created. It's best to compile sflowtool from sources since the older pre-compiled version are missing decodes for newer sFlow structures.
Red Dwarf wraps MySQL database instances in OpenVZ containers, which are virtual private servers running atop the Linux kernel and which have a shared kernel and file system. The sFlow messages act as a server heartbeat, providing rapid notification when a server is deleted and stops sending sFlow. Rackspace has also put out Cloud Monitoring into early access, which is based on the code it got from its acquisition of Cloudkick. This is a much lighter way to virtualize and then cluster MySQL databases instances than using a Xen or KVM hypverisor – according to the Rackers who run the Red Dwarf project – but if you want Xen or KVM, Red Dwarf is open source and you can tweak it to your heart's content. The Cloudkick cloudy management service was originally designed to reach into Amazon and Slicehost cloud services, and eventually it supported Rackspace Cloud. You can also switch out MySQL for another Linux-compatible database in the service if you want, and Rackspace is welcoming such efforts in the Red Dwarf project – although it may not commercialise them in the Cloud Databases service.
Rackspace bought Slicehost in October 2008 and that is one of the underpinnings of its more modern Cloud Server offering today.

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