Author Archive: Guest Contributor

October 18, 2016

IBM Cloud Object Storage Open Trial Now Available

We're pleased to announce that our new Public Cloud Object Storage Standard Cross-Regional service is now available. Get started today with our Open Trial program and we’ll waive fees through December 31, 2016.

What you need to know about the IBM Cloud Object Storage S3 API (Open Trial)

Store and access your data with our resilient Standard Cross-Region Service for the U.S. geographic region. Get started today with our trial program, with fees waived through December 31, 2016. The service is open to all worldwide customers.

  • Order, access and manage via the SoftLayer customer portal
  • Create and manage buckets
  • Get credentials and endpoints for use with tools, applications, and gateways
  • Cross-region U.S. resiliency
  • S3 API support
  • Built-in security for data at rest

Today’s announcement of the Open Trial service gives customers the opportunity to harness the power of our new object storage technology without incurring any fees between the time of signup through December 31, 2016.

Learn more about our Standard Cross-Region Service



Take a look at our S3 API Open Trial documentation. The service is ideal for storing active data that requires frequent access and geographic resiliency with data durability across three regional data centers.

Your data is available through multiple endpoints across three geographic regions, helping ensure business continuity for use cases such as active content repositories, analytics, big data, and mission-critical data applications. Data can be accessed via our public and private network to meet your application needs.

Your data is safe, with built-in security for data at rest with our innovative SecureSlice technology that combines encryption, erasure coding, and data dispersal.

Cross region object storage

The service offers simplified capacity pricing with no separate fees for regional data centers within the cross-region zone. There are no separate charges for data replication across regions within a cross-region zone. Start with our Open Trial service and we will waive fees through December 31, 2016.

Standard Pricing for IBM Cloud Object Storage – S3 API with Standard Cross-Region



Get started today!

If you’re new to IBM Cloud, start here. If you’re a current SoftLayer customer, visit your Customer Control Panel, click on Order Storage, and select "Cloud Object Storage - S3 API (Open Trial)."

-Riz Amanuddin

IBM Cloud Object Storage Public Services-Offering Manager

ramanudd@us.ibm.com

Categories: 
August 29, 2016

Setting Up OpenVPN on a SoftLayer Vyatta Device

The following is a step-by-step guide on how to utilize your SoftLayer Vyatta gateway device as your own personal VPN to access any server behind the Vyatta device with even more freedom than the SoftLayer VPN. In the following example, we will be using the built-in OpenVPN daemon that comes installed with Vyatta. This means you can upload large files to your servers that are behind the Vyatta device using the speed of your public interface, rather than trying to depend on the SoftLayer VPN’s speeds—which are throttled for management, not file transfer. You will also have more control over how your VPN behaves, which subnets your users can access, how you manage your VMware environment, and more.

What we will review in the following guide, however, are just the basics. This will give you a basic level VPN working in client/server mode and using SSL keys as authentication rather than passwords.

What you will need for this guide

  • 1 Vyatta gateway device
  • 1 Windows 7/8/10 computer or 1 Apple device running OS X 10.10+
  • 1 portable private/28 subnet that is on a VLAN already associated and routed to your Vyatta (the smallest you can order is 16 portable private IPs from the portal)
  • A little patience

OpenVPN Client/Server Implementation

The first thing you’ll need to do is to copy the easy-rsa folder to your /config/.

cp -r /usr/share/easy-rsa/ /config/easy-rsa

Then you’ll need to edit the vars file to personalize your certificates.

nano –w /config/easy-rsa/vars

...

# Increase this to 2048 if you

# are paranoid.  This will slow

# down TLS negotiation performance

# as well as the one-time DH parms

# generation process.

export KEY_SIZE=2048

 

# In how many days should the root CA key expire?

export CA_EXPIRE=3650

 

# In how many days should certificates expire?

export KEY_EXPIRE=3650

export KEY_COUNTRY="US"

export KEY_PROVINCE="TX"

export KEY_CITY="Houston"

export KEY_ORG="IBMCloud "

export KEY_EMAIL="me@us.ibm.com"

Now you’ll need to load your variables from the vars file you just modified.

cd /config/easy-rsa

source ./vars

You’ll want to run the ./clean-all to start fresh in case there is something old lingering around in the directory.

./clean-all

Now build the certificate authority files. (Just press Enter to everything.)

./build-ca

Now build the Diffie-Hellman key exchange.

./build-dh

Now build the key file for the server. (Enter to everything again, enter password if asked, and Y to both questions.)

./build-key-server my-server

Next, you’ll need to copy the certificates and keys into the /config/auth/ folder.

sudo cp /config/easy-rsa/keys/ca.crt /config/auth/

sudo cp /config/easy-rsa/keys/dh2048.pem /config/auth/

sudo cp /config/easy-rsa/keys/my-server.key /config/auth/

sudo cp /config/easy-rsa/keys/my-server.crt /config/auth/

Now you can build the key for the client and distribute it to them. Use the ./build-key to generate a certificate that will connect to the VPN without a password, using an SSL key instead.

./build-key myname

Answer all questions accordingly and be sure to answer YES to sign the certificate and when it asks you to commit.

Now copy the keys and certificates and create a configuration for the client. First, you’ll need to make the directory for the client, though, for easier tracking.

cd /config/easy-rsa/keys

mkdir myname

cp myname* myname/

cp ca.crt myname/

Next, you’ll need to create a client config that you will be using on your local machine later.

nano –w myname/myvpnserver.ovpn

client

proto tcp

remote-cert-tls server

nobind

verb 2

dev tun0

cert myname.crt

key myname.key

ca ca.crt

remote 123.45.67.89 11994

float

From your local computer, you can download the config directory directly from your Vyatta.

scp –r vyatta@123.45.67.89:/config/easy-rsa/keys/myname .

This copies the client directory to the current directory on your local machine, so make sure you are in the directory you want to store the keys in.

Setting up the OpenVPN Server

The server subnet needs to be a different subnet from your LAN; for this example, we are using a portable private/28 (16 IPs on the 10.x.x. network), because it will assign an IP from that subnet to your clients as they login, giving them access to everything behind your Vyatta. You will also notice we are setting the resolvers to the SoftLayer DNS resolvers, as well as a Google DNS resolver. This ensures that your VPN-connected users still have full Internet access, as well as internal access.

You will also see that there is a push-route added for the other private subnets behind the Vyatta device. For this example, we wanted to give the users logged-in access to more than just the subnet from which it is assigning IPs. You will need to adjust the push-route lines to fit your environment, though. 

We will also be assigning a non-standard port of 11994, due to many ISPs blocking port 1194, and changing the protocol to TCP because UDP is also blocked in many places.

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 mode server

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 server subnet 10.134.247.0/28

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 server name-server 8.8.8.8

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 server push-route 10.135.8.0/26

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 server push-route 10.134.198.80/28

set service dns forwarding listen-on vtun0

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 tls cert-file /config/auth/my-server.crt

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 tls key-file /config/auth/my-server.key

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 tls ca-cert-file /config/auth/ca.crt

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 tls dh-file /config/auth/dh2048.pem

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 local-port 11994

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 protocol tcp-passive

Now that the interface is set, we just need to open the firewall for it (note: you will need to adjust for the firewall name that you use so that it applies correctly).

set firewall name wan-local rule 40 action accept

set firewall name wan-local rule 40 destination port openvpn

set firewall name wan-local rule 40 protocol tcp

commit

save

That’s it! Your OpenVPN is set up on the Vyatta device. Now it’s time to install OpenVPN GUI on Windows or Tunnellblick on OS X.

Install either program as directed by the installer, then simply open the .ovpn file you downloaded earlier via scp with that program and it will connect. If you are on OS X, the default firewall will block ping requests from your Vyatta and a few other things. For my personal use, I used Murus Lite and loaded the Murus Predefined Configuration to make it work correctly.  Windows may need the Windows firewall adjusted to allow traffic to pass on TCP 11994 as well.

Congratulations! You now have a working OpenVPN setup connecting you to your SoftLayer environment. You can test it by pinging one of the servers behind your Vyatta on the private network.

If you need to create more than one client key, simply follow these steps.

source ./vars

./build-key newclient

cd /config/easy-rsa/keys

mkdir newclient

cp newclient* newclient/

cp ca.crt newclient/

Then run the same scp command from earlier (but fix the path to the newclient) and you're set!

-Shawn

August 18, 2016

Apache Hadoop and Big Data on IBM Cloud

Companies are producing massive amounts of data—otherwise known as big data. There are many options available to manage big data and the analytics associated with it. One of the more popular options is Apache Hadoop, an open source software designed to scale up and down quickly with a high degree of fault tolerance. Hadoop lets organizations gather and examine large amounts of structured and unstructured data.

In the past, large CAPEX and deployment costs made large big data or Hadoop clusters cost prohibitive. Cloud providers, like IBM Cloud, have made it possible to break through the cost barriers. The cloud model, with its utility-type billing and usage charges, makes it possible to build big data clusters, use them for a specific project, then tear them down. IBM Cloud is a great solution for this type of scenario and makes sense for those that require short term or project-based Hadoop clusters. Hadoop on IBM Cloud allows organizations to respond faster to changing business needs and requirements without the upfront CAPEX.

What makes Hadoop on IBM Cloud so compelling are the components that are available in the IBM Cloud offering. Customers have the ability to choose and use the same type of components and standards that they would use in their own data centers. These components include bare metal servers, private and unmetered private networks, and enterprise-grade block and object storage. IBM Cloud also offers GPUs for the most processor-intense big data workloads. Customers don’t have to settle for less when deploying their Hadoop clusters in IBM Cloud.

Hadoop on IBM Cloud supports multiple data centers in different regions across the globe. The diagram below provides the graphical layout of Hadoop clusters across multiple IBM Cloud data centers.

Hadoop clusters across multiple IBM Cloud data centers

For more information, contact your SoftLayer sales representative.

-Kevin McDade

Categories: 
August 12, 2016

How to Get More Than 8TB of Storage on SoftLayer VMs

“How do I get more than 8TB of storage on my virtual server?” This is a common question I'm asked when talking to potential SoftLayer customers and partners. There are two storage options from which you can choose when ordering a SoftLayer virtual server:

Local storage, which has a smaller maximum capacity of 25GB or 100GB as the first disk, and up to 300GB on the second disk. The maximum space limits are due to the storage being located on the host for the virtual server, which has limited space.

SAN storage, which comes in the same sizes for the first disk as local storage (25GB or 100GB). You can, however, have up to four additional disk drives at 2TB each, totaling up to 8TB.

So far, I’ve only laid out what you already know, but there is a way to get up to 12TB LUNs for your SoftLayer virtual servers by using one of our file or block storage classes: performance and endurance.

Performance

Performance is a class of SoftLayer block and file storage that is designed to support high I/O applications requiring predictable levels of performance. This predictable performance is achieved through the allocation of protocol-level IOPS to individual volumes. IOPS ranging from 100 through 6,000 can be provisioned with storage sizes that range from 20GB to 12TB. You select the appropriate storage size and IOPS required during provisioning.

Endurance

Endurance is available in three IOPS performance tiers to support varying application needs. Note: Once provisioned, you cannot migrate between tiers.

  • 00.25 IOPS per GB: Designed for workloads with low I/O intensity. These workloads are typically characterized by having a large percentage of data inactive at a given time. Example applications include storing mailboxes or departmental level file shares.
  • 2 IOPS per GB: Designed for most general purpose usage. Example applications include hosting small databases backing web applications or virtual machine disk images for a hypervisor.
  • 4 IOPS per GB: Designed for higher-intensity workloads. These workloads are typically characterized by having a high percentage of data active at a given time. Example applications include transactional and other performance-sensitive databases.

The figure below illustrates how the virtual server will utilize the storage. You connect to the machine via the public network and pass through the firewall, which is provisioned separately. The storage is attached to the virtual server via the SoftLayer private network, meaning that storage can only be accessed through the virtual server that has been authorized to use it.

Endurance and performance storage classes on SoftLayer

You can find the provisioning guide for block and file storage here. Once your hosts are authorized, you can now connect the virtual server to your block or file storage class. Click here to connect block storage for Windows, here for block storage for Linux, and here for file storage on Linux.

-Kevin O’Shea

Categories: 
August 1, 2016

“Lift and Shift” Existing VMware Workloads to the Public Cloud

Whatever your opinion is of IBM Cloud, the company has made tangible strides to provide a compelling hybrid cloud strategy for the enterprise. Several analysts even recently acknowledged IBM leadership in this area. Based on the recent announcement with VMware, you’ll understand why existing VMware clients are pretty excited about IBM Cloud’s hybrid strategy.

The announcement notes that SoftLayer provides the capability to create secure and flexible VMware environments on top of IBM’s public cloud—now with expanded (and cost-effective) capabilities. These capabilities allow existing VMware customers to:

  • “Lift and shift” (read: extend) existing VMware workloads to the public cloud with the associated benefits (secure, compliant, global, OPEX, and so on)
  • Take advantage of existing VMware skills, assets, and processes (scripts, VMware admins, virtual machine templates, and so on)
  • Transition to the public cloud and flexible hybrid environments with minimal disruption

High-level architectural components

Figure 1: High-level architectural components (new components are in orange)

IBM Cloud encompasses a much larger scope that includes native SoftLayer and open source options, Bluemix/PaaS, as well as extensive cloud solutions and services.

The following are VMware-related FAQs, in addition to the ones you can find on KnowledgeLayer:

Why can’t I do “lift and shift” on other cloud platforms, e.g., AWS or Microsoft Azure?

In simple terms, you’ll need access to the virtualization host in order to “fully” operate your VMware environment (as you’d be used to it from your own data center). Neither AWS nor Azure allows you this level of control; they also run different hypervisors. SoftLayer allows you to deploy and manage physical hosts in addition to standard virtual servers.

Why would I do “lift and shift” on SoftLayer and not on VMware’s own public cloud?

Performing the extension on SoftLayer lets you:

  • Choose from 28 data centers in 14 countries
  • Take advantage of SoftLayer’s unmetered private network
  • Have “full control” beyond what is specifically exposed as a “service” in vCloud (there is no access to the physical ESX hosts).

So what’s new with SoftLayer and VMware?

SoftLayer customers have deployed vSphere and vCenter on the SoftLayer cloud for some time. From personal experience, the most frequently requested additional capabilities are:

  • Ability to deploy “other” VMware components (like SRM for disaster recovery or NSX to take advantage of software-defined networking)
  • Make it cheaper and easier to deploy

VMware products available to order in the SoftLayer customer portal

Figure 2: VMware products available to order in the SoftLayer customer portal

IBM and VMware responded by introducing the following on SoftLayer:

  • New, socket-based licensing for $85 per socket per month for Enterprise Plus (includes subscription and service)
  • Selection from the “full SDDC” portfolio, including:
    • Virtual SAN Standard and Advanced
    • NSX Enterprise (software-defined networking)
    • Site Recovery Manager (DR)
    • vRealize Automation Enterprise (cloud automation)
    • VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO)
    • vSphere E+ and vCenter Server (standard & appliance)
    • Coming soon: Horizon Suite (VDI), which was recently announced

How do I get started?

With the latest portfolio enhancements, several new assets were published (in conjunction with plans to provide automated deployments and additional services going forward). Here’s my top list:

Top Tips:

  • Get familiar with and use the certified reference design (sounds logical, but I can’t stress it enough)
  • Make sure you pick from the documented building blocks (ensures the use of certified components like the appropriate RAID controller for VSAN, and so on)
  • Keep in mind that SoftLayer is a “self-service” IaaS platform—make sure you involve a partner with good VMware skills or secure appropriate services for such a project, especially if it’s complex
  • Evaluate all SoftLayer options, e.g., “standard” virtual servers might be a better option for new, cloud-enabled workloads

     

-Andreas Groth

July 29, 2016

Use DSR to Take a Load Off Your Load Balancer

Direct server return (DSR) is a load balancing scheme that allows service requests to come in via the load balancer virtual IP (VIP). The responses are communicated by the back-end servers directly to the client. The load is taken off the load balancer as the return traffic is sent directly to the client from the back-end server, bypassing it entirely. You may want to do this if you have larger files to be served or traffic that doesn’t need to be transformed at all on its way back to the client.

Here’s how it works: Incoming requests are assigned a VIP address on the load balancer itself. Then the load balancer passes the request to the appropriate server while only modifying the destination MAC address to one of the back-end servers.

DSR workflow

You need to be aware of the following when using DSR:

  • Address resolution protocol (ARP) requests for the VIP must be ignored by the back-end servers if the load balancer and back-end servers are on the same subnet. If not, the VIP traffic routing will be bypassed as the back-end server establishes a direct connection with the client.
  • The servers handling the DSR requests must respond to heartbeat requests with their own IP and must respond to requests for content with the load balancer VIP.
  • Application acceleration is not a possibility because the load balancer does not handle the responses from the backend servers.

Here are the configuration steps for Linux and Microsoft Windows OS, as well as the NetScaler setup:

Linux configuration

  1. Create an additional loopback interface with an IP alias (the load balancer VIP is represented by x.x.x.x), use the ifconfig command:

$ ifconfig lo:1 <VirtualServiceIPAddress> broadcast x.x.x.x netmask 255.255.255.255

  1. Enter the following command to verify configuration:

            $ ifconfig lo:1

lo:1 Link encap:Local Loopback inet addr:195.30.70.200 Mask:255.255.255.255 UP LOOPBACK RUNNING MTU:3924 Metric:1

Note that if the machine reboots, this configuration will not be persistent. To set this permanently, some Linux configuration files need to be edited. Steps on how to do this vary from distribution to distribution.

  1. Disable invalid ARP replies by adding the following to the /etc/sysctl.conf file:

    net.ipv4.conf.all.arp_ignore=1

    net.ipv4.conf.eth0.arp_ignore=1

    net.ipv4.conf.eth1.arp_ignore=1

    net.ipv4.conf.all.arp_announce=2

    net.ipv4.conf.eth0.arp_announce=2

    net.ipv4.conf.eth1.arp_announce=2

Microsoft Windows configuration

Use the following steps to create the loopback interface for a Microsoft Windows OS:

  1. Click the Windows Start menu> Control Panel > Add Hardware.
  2. Click Next.
  3. Select Yes, I have already connected the hardware and click Next.
  4. Select Add a new hardware device from the installed hardware list, then click Next.
  5. Select Install the hardware that I manually select from a list and click Next.
  6. Select Network adapters and click Next.
  7. Select Microsoft from the Manufacturer list.
  8. Choose Microsoft Loopback Adapter from the Network Adapter list and click Next.
  9. Click Next two more times and then click Finish.

Configure the Virtual IP for both OS

The VIP address on the loopback interface needs to be set up with a netmask value of 255.255.255.255(/32). It should be set up without the default gateway setting.

The interface metric needs to be set to 254 in order to prevent the loopback network adapter from answering ARP requests. When setting up the IP address, do the following: Click on Advanced, uncheck Automatic metric, and set the Interface Metric to 254. (These steps are different for certain versions of Microsoft Windows; for example, in Windows Server 2012, the loopback interface is renamed to Microsoft KM-TEST Loopback Adapter.)

NetScaler configuration

There are several features that need to be enabled within NetScaler in order for DSR to work. Note that all the steps can be performed through CLI. The CLI commands are included as well.

MAC-based forwarding

DSR uses MAC-based forwarding, which needs to be enabled because it’s disabled by default. To enable MAC-based forwarding in NetScaler:

  1. Click the Configuration tab > System > Settings > Configure modes.
  2. Select the MAC-based forwarding mode and click OK.

These steps can be done through CLI as well; use the enable ns mode mbf command.

Load balancing

Next, the load balancing feature needs to be enabled because it’s disabled by default, too.

  1. Navigate to System > Settings. In Configure Basic Features, select Load Balancing.

The CLI command is enable ns feature lb.

Server object

A server-object needs to be created for each load-balanced server.

  1. Click the Configuration tab > Traffic Management > Load Balancing Servers > Add.
  2. You will need the server name and the IP address of the server.

The CLI command is add server Serverx y.y.y.y.

Services

Each service offers one or more services (such as HTTP, DNS, MySQL, and so on). NetScaler load balances traffic across services, not across servers. A service with the protocol ANY needs to be created, as well as a basic monitor, and Use Source IP (USIP) needs to be enabled. The service has to be tied to a server on a specific port (in the example, port 80).

  1.  Click the Configuration tab > Traffic Management > Load Balancing> > Services > Add.
  2. Select the appropriate services and click OK.

The CLI command is add service ANY_serverx_service serverx ANY 80 -usip Yes.

Virtual Server

A virtual server that balances traffic to one or more of the virtual services is required. The protocol chosen should be ANY (just like the service), the load balancing method is Source IP Hash and the redirection mode is MAC based (aka, MAC-based forwarding). It is recommended to make the virtual server Sessionless, as no return traffic passes the NetScaler.

  1. From the Configuration Utility, navigate to Traffic Management > Load Balancing > Virtual Servers and fill in the required fields

From the CLI, run the following commands to create the load balancing virtual server:

add lb vserver <VServer_Name> ANY <IP_Address> * -m MAC <-connfailover STATELESS>

add lb vserver DSR ANY -M MAC -connfailover stateless

add lb vserver vserver_DSR ANY 10.0.0.11 80 -lbmethod SOURCEIPHASH -m MAC -sessionless ENABLED

Be aware that for certain services (such as FTP), you need to enable connection failover, stateless.

Lastly, bind the service to the virtual server by running the following command via CLI (may not need to be done if you previously bound the services via GUI on service creation):

CLI command is bind lb vserver vserver_DSR service_Server1_ANY.

-Neb Bosworth

Categories: 
June 23, 2016

Meet the Integrated IBM Cloud Platform: SoftLayer and Bluemix

Did you know that you can complement your SoftLayer infrastructure with IBM Bluemix platform-as-a-service? (Read on—then put these ideas into practice with a special offer at the end.)

When you pair Bluemix with SoftLayer, you can buy, build, access, and manage the production of scalable environments and applications by using the infrastructure and application services together. 

Whether you need insight on the effectiveness of a multimedia campaign, need to process vast amounts of data in real-time, or want to deploy websites and web content for millions of users, you can create a better experience for your customers by combining the power of your SoftLayer infrastructure with Bluemix.

Bluemix solutions and services allow you to:

  • Optimize campaigns in real-time based on customer reaction using Watson Personality Insights and Insights for Twitter.
  • Run scalable analytics using Streaming Analytics to retrieve results in seconds.
  • Improve outcomes with Watson Alchemy API and Retrieve and Rank paired with high performance bare metal servers.
  • Automate hundreds of daily web deployments using SoftLayer and Bluemix APIs.
  • Securely store, analyze, and process big data using Cloudant database service with Apache Spark.

You can see the value of an integrated SoftLayer/Bluemix experience by looking at insights and cognitive, big data and analytics, and web applications.

Insights and Cognitive

Forty-four percent of organizations say customer experience will be the primary way they seek to differentiate from competitors.

The scenario: Marketing organizations and advertising agencies want to release a large, worldwide marketing campaign, complete with embedded ads. With the explosive growth of mobile, social, and video, those ads are often image- and video-intensive. Not only are these enterprises worried about how to run such a high-performing workload where customer data needs to stay in-country, but they have no idea how effective their campaign will be—and whether those receiving it are the users they’re trying to target—until it’s too late.

The solution: A media-rich campaign workload can run on high-performing bare metal servers in SoftLayer data centers. Cognitive services are added to understand in real-time the impact of campaign and target customers, whose personal data is stored in proximity to the user.

  • SoftLayer bare metal servers run media-rich (video, image) campaign workloads.
  • Bluemix’s Insights for Twitter service is used to understand in real-time the impact of the campaign.
  • Watson’s Personality Insights allows you to see, based on 40 calculated attributes, if users viewing ads match the target customers.
  • Globally diverse block storage enables data storage across the world.

Personality portrait

Big Data and Analytics

The value of data decreases over time. On average, it takes two weeks to analyze social data.

The scenario: Customers need to harness vast amounts of data in real-time. The problem is many data streams come too fast to store in a database for later analysis. Further, the analysis needs to be done NOW. From social media, consumer video, and audio, to security cameras, businesses could win or lose by being the first to discover essential patterns from these real-time feeds and act upon them.

The solution:  Customers can use Streaming Analytics and get results in seconds, not hours. Alchemy API and Retrieve and Rank services can improve decisions and outcomes all from bare metal servers with scalable IBM Containers.

•       Streaming Analytics can run scalable analytics solutions and get results in seconds, not hours.

•       Patterns that are found can be stored with the associated stream content in object storage and transferred around the world using CDN to be co-located with their customers.

•       Watson’s Retrieve and Rank service can improve decisions and outcomes.

•       Run services from high-performing, low-latency bare metal servers that can scale as activity swells using IBM Containers.

Hadoop, data warehouse, NOSQL diagram

Web Application

It can take several weeks for a DBMS instance to be provisioned for a new development project, which limits innovation and agility.

The scenario: Customers deploying websites and web content for millions of users need fast infrastructure and services so they can focus on their users, not spend their time managing servers and infrastructure. This is especially true for commerce sites that need to be constantly available for orders. These also need a reliable database to securely store the data. The problem is these customers do not want to manage their database, and need an infrastructure provider that is worldwide, reliable, and screaming fast.

The solution: Customers can host web applications on VMs and bare metal with a broad range of needs, including sites that require deep data analysis. Apache Spark can be used to spin up in-memory computing to analyze Cloudant data and return results 100x faster to the user.

  • Automate hundreds of web deployments using SoftLayer APIs.
  • Cloudant DB offloads DB management, reallocates budget from admins to application developers.
  • Apache Spark analyzes Cloudant data 100 times faster using in-memory computing cluster.
  • Bare metal servers provide a high-performing environment for the most stringent requirements.
  • Load balancers manage traffic, helping to ensure uptime.
  • Virtual servers with the Auto Scale service grow and shrink environment to consistently meet needs of application without unnecessary expenditures.
  • Object storage open APIs speed worldwide delivery via CDN.

Cloudant diagram

Exciting Offer

Put these ideas into practice by trying Bluemix today. To get you started, we are offering you a $200 Bluemix spending credit for 30 days when you link your SoftLayer account with a Bluemix account. When you link your Bluemix and SoftLayer billing accounts, you receive a $200 credit toward Bluemix usage. The credit must be used within 30 days of linking the accounts.

Follow these easy instructions to get started:  

  • Visit the SoftLayer customer portal and log into your account.
  • Open a ticket to request the ability to enable the ability to link your Bluemix account.
  • Once activated, the “Link a Bluemix Account” button will appear at the top of the SoftLayer customer portal page.
  • Click on the “Link a Bluemix Account” button. 
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to link your SoftLayer account to a Bluemix account.

This offer expires on November 30, 2016.

Learn More

Bluemix Intro Demo

Watson Personality Insights

Real Time Streaming Analysis

Hybrid Data Warehouse



 

-Thomas Recchia

June 20, 2016

VMware on SoftLayer Just Got Even Easier

SoftLayer customers have been bringing VMware workloads and VMware add-ons to the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platform for years. With the roll-out of per-processor monthly licensing and the automation of vSphere and vCenter deployment, the provisioning process has never been easier. 

Now SoftLayer has taken the next step by allowing customers to order and manage VMware add-ons with the same per-processor monthly pricing model. To celebrate, the sales engineering team has updated KnowledgeLayer and added a new section focused on VMware 6, including step-by-step guides for getting started on the platform. VMware vSphere 6 Getting Started, for example, details how to get vSphere servers up and running. It gives a detailed instructions on how to create from scratch, what VLAN and IP addresses customer should use, and the recommended network structure.  

Let’s review what else is new.

SoftLayer has added the vCenter Server Appliance to the catalog to allow customers to fully scale their environments up on their own. We’ve also added instructions on how you can deploy vCenter as an appliance. For smaller environments, customers can still deploy vCenter as a Windows add-on and get up and running in under an hour.

To make the vCenter appliance and other add-ons possible, SoftLayer has enhanced the customer portal to allow customers to order and manage all VMware licensing add-ons in a simple panel. Customers use this system to order and manage licenses for vCenter Server Appliance, Virtual SAN, NSX-V, Site Recovery Manager, and vRealize Operations/Automation/Log Insight. Combined with speedy SoftLayer bare metal server provisioning times, customers can stand up or extend their VMware footprint across the globe in no time.

VMware NSX on SoftLayer is nothing new, but the capabilities of the latest version and the month-to-month pricing make it an option worth considering. Between the edge gateways and distributed networking enhancements, customers can build security and standardization into the platform that follows their workloads from server to server and site to site. Customers can span a private layer 2 domain across completely different locations by using a VXLAN overlay across a layer 3 routed network. This is particularly useful for disaster recovery and for bursting on-premises workloads out to SoftLayer. Customers also leverage NSX to isolate workloads in a multi-tenant environment without the need for additional VLANs from SoftLayer. VMware 6 NSX Getting Started is your first stop to learn about micro-segmentation and best practices with NSX at SoftLayer.

VMware Virtual SAN is our latest addition to the platform and provides customers with a great option for hosting mission-critical workloads on single-tenant infrastructure with software-defined storage (SDS). Customers can leverage common x86 compute available on SoftLayer to build reliable, high performance, and scalable dedicated storage pools. It was designed for performance (caching and local disk access), affordability (mixing solid state and capacity SATA drives), and supportability without the need for a storage architect. It is tightly integrated with vSphere administration and brings features like snapshots, linked clones, vSphere Replication, and vSphere APIs for data protection. 

If you have questions about VMware on the SoftLayer cloud, get in touch with our sales representatives on live chat or phone. They’ll be happy to help and can also coordinate a consultation with the SoftLayer sales engineering team if you need one. You may find some of your initial questions have already been answered in our VMware FAQ.

I’m also delighted to share some video tutorials our sales engineering team created, entitled, “Getting Started With VMware 6.0 (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4).” This series will give you examples of deploying VMware and get some of your initial questions answered.

With that said, why not start deploying your VMware solution—or expanding your current VMware workloads with feature rich add-ons? Now is the best time for you to take advantage of our promotion to spin up your VMware solution at SoftLayer. Ask a SoftLayer sales representative on live chat to get more details.

-Rick Ji

June 16, 2016

Larger Virtual Servers Now Available

You asked. We listened. We’re excited to announce that our clients can now provision virtual servers with more cores and more RAM.

Starting today, you’re now empowered to run high compute and in-memory intensive workloads on a public and private cloud with the same quick deployment and flexibility you’ve come to enjoy from SoftLayer. After all, you shouldn’t have to choose between flexibility and power.

Oh, and did we mention it’s all on demand? Deploy these new, larger sizes rapidly and start innovating—right now.

Whether you require a real-time analytics platform for healthcare, financial, or retail, these larger virtual servers provide the capabilities you need to harness and maximize analytics-driven solutions.

Popular use cases for larger virtual servers include real-time big data analytics solutions requiring millisecond execution as needed by organizations processing massive amounts of data, like weather companies. Given the immense amount of meteorological inputs required for any location, at any time, at millisecond speed, larger virtual server sizes power weather forecast responses in real-time.

With SoftLayer virtual servers, you can segment your data across public, private, and management networks for better reliability and speed. You get unmetered bandwidth across our private and management networks at no additional charge, and unmetered inbound bandwidth on our public network. As real-time data-intensive workloads are developed, SoftLayer ensures that our best-in-class network infrastructure can retrieve and move data with speed.

New Sizes

Drum roll, please! Our newest offerings include:

Public virtual servers

Private virtual servers

Public virtual servers will be customizable, but will have limitations on various core/RAM ratios. Private nodes will provide complete customization.

With the introduction of larger virtual servers, SoftLayer will also reconfigure socket/core ratios. The number of cores per socket is reflected below for newly deployed virtual servers:

Core:Socket Ratios

For clients using third-party software on virtual servers, it is recommended that you work with your software vendor to ensure socket-based licensing is properly licensed. 

Data Center Availability

Currently, larger public and private virtual servers will only be available in select data centers, with more coming online in the near future. The following locations will offer public and private virtual server combinations configured with more than 16 cores or more than 64 GB RAM:

Locations of larger public and private virtual servers

For more information on virtual servers and for pricing, read here.

We are always interested to see how you are flying in the cloud and how these larger virtual servers help drive value for your business. Please connect with us on Twitter: @milan3patel and @conradjjohnson.

-Milan Patel

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June 3, 2016

Mount SoftLayer Object Storage in a Docker Container

The popularity of Docker containers has many organizations wanting to host containers in their cloud environments. They’re looking for ways to “marry” their existing cloud storage options with Docker containers, which offers application portability. SoftLayer offers persistent data (structured or unstructured) with its object, file, and block storage.

Of the three storage options, object storage is usually more popular in the cloud world as a pay-as-you-go option. It provides persistent storage for numerous workloads with image, video, and audio files, such as mobile and web applications. Combine persistence with the power of Docker containers, and the result is a highly portable and flexible application platform on the cloud. I’d like to showcase mounting SoftLayer object storage inside a Docker container using Cloudfuse. This example can, of course, be extended for further automation of the mount process as needed.

The following are steps for mounting object storage to a Docker container:

  1. Know your SoftLayer object storage credentials, which can be retrieved from your SoftLayer account.
username (Your SoftLayer Object Store Username or password string)
api_key (Your SoftLayer API Key
authurl (Authorization URL of the data center where your object store is hosted)
  1. Install Docker on your host machine. Click here for installation instructions.

     
  2. Create a new folder named SLObjectStoreTest and make it your current directory.

     
  3. Copy the following into a file named Dockerfile and store it in the SLObjectStoreTest folder. You can also clone it from GitHub.
# Dockerfile : Mount SoftLayer Object Store inside a container
# Version 1.1
 
# Pull base images
FROM ubuntu
 
# Set working directory
WORKDIR /root
 
# Install Python
RUN apt-get update &amp;&amp; \
apt-get -y upgrade
 
# Install pip
RUN apt-get install -y python-pip &amp;&amp; \
pip install softlayer-object-storage
 
# Install cloudfuse
RUN apt-get install -y build-essential libcurl4-openssl-dev libxml2-dev libssl-dev libfuse-dev &amp;&amp; \
apt-get install -y curl &amp;&amp; \
curl -L https://github.com/redbo/cloudfuse/tarball/master &gt; cloudfuse.tar &amp;&amp; \
tar -xzvf cloudfuse.tar &amp;&amp; \
apt-get install -y libjson0 libjson0-dev &amp;&amp; \
cd redb* &amp;&amp; \
./configure &amp;&amp; \
make &amp;&amp; \
make install
ENTRYPOINT [/bin/bash"]
 
# Build the Docker image from the Dockerfile
$docker build

You should see the Docker image being built. It will take a couple of minutes.

  1. Check that the image exists once it’s built by typing $docker images.

     
  2. Use the following command to spin up a Docker container from this image:

docker run –cap-add SYS_ADMIN –privileged –device /dev/fuse:/dev/fuse:mrw -i -t <imageid></imageid>

You should see the bash command of the Docker container.

  1. Create a new folder where the SoftLayer Object Storage should be mounted, e.g.,

mkdir /storage

  1. Create a new file in /root directory named .cloudfuse.
  2. Enter your SoftLayer object storage credentials (from Step 1) in the .cloudfuse file like below :
username (Your SoftLayer Object Store Username)
api_key (Your SoftLayer API Key or password string)
authurl (Authorization URL of the data center where your object store is hosted)
  1. Mount the SoftLayer object storage at /storage by running

cloudfuse /storage

You should see your SoftLayer object store mounted at /storage in your Docker container!

You can now configure this image to run your application, which can leverage this container—or use the container as a Docker volume container, composed with other containers running your application.

In case you want to experiment with an already built Docker image, you can pull it from the softlayerobjectstore_mount repository.

-Sravan K Yallapragada

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