CloudForms 4.1 is here!

Today we are proud to announce that the latest version of CloudForms is available. This release takes several steps further down the road towards managing hybrid IT. We’ve added new cloud platform providers, software defined networking (SDN) management and made it all easier to automate IT processes by integrating Ansible Tower playbook execution. In short, you will find this release greatly expands the breadth of CloudForms while making it easier than ever to set up and automate your IT operations.

Google Cloud Platform

With each release, CloudForms continues to expand its platform providers, and this release is no different. Google has been working with the ManageIQ community to create a provider for the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). This release makes that provider officially available in CloudForms. With the GCP provider enabled, you can view the complete inventory of virtual machines across regions and availability zones. You can provision new virtual instances from a private GCP image and manage them via CloudForms. While the instances are running, CloudForms will receive events like start, stop or delete and you can operate power operations on the instance. Best of all, you can do all of this from a CloudForms appliance running in GCP, allowing you to your entire cloud infrastructure on Google’s massively scalable, global cloud infrastructure.

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Improved Azure Support

With the launch of CloudForms 4.0 in December 2015, we added support for Microsoft Azure. Over the intervening months, we’ve continued our collaboration with Microsoft to further enhance and extend CloudForms’ management capabilities for Azure. The result is that now you can provision Azure instance from private images, we’ve added full lifecycle management for those images, and you can receive and respond to events from compute, storage or networking. Most important, you can now perform Smart State Analysis on Azure instances, bringing the deep inspection capability in CloudForms to the cloud and allowing the same policy compliance and enforcement for cloud images as for on-premise images.

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Ansible Tower Integration

Anyone who has used CloudForms knows that much of its power comes from its ability to automate complex IT processes, making them faster and more repeatable. Until now, automation meant learning and then developing the automation steps in Ruby. While Ruby is a relatively accessible language, it still poses a hurdle, especially if you are not a developer. In CloudForms 4.1, we’ve taken a major step towards lowering that hurdle by allowing you to use Ansible playbooks as an alternative to Ruby to drive CloudForms automation. Ansible playbooks are written in an easily accessible language that most IT professionals can adopt. What is more, the Ansible Galaxy contains hundreds of playbooks that are ready to run or can provide a starting point for further customization.

Beyond using Ansible in automation routines, it can also be used to enhance service provisioning. Ansible playbooks can be called as a part of the provisioning process, allowing customization of general virtual instances. This allows organizations to start with a few general images and allow Ansible playbooks create the variety of services required. It also makes it easier to move applications from development into production. Developers can provide an Ansible playbook along with their application, ensuring that when that application is deployed, that the image that it is running on is provisioned appropriately.

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Software Defined Networking

As more of the datacenter functionality is absorbed into software, CloudForms is looking beyond virtual compute management to other datacenter resources. One of the most dynamic area today is Software Defined Networking (SDN). SDN promises to bring to networking the same dynamic and reconfigurability that virtualization brought to compute systems. With SDN, you can setup, teardown, configure and reconfigure virtual networks that allow applications and systems to operate in the same manner as if they were connected to a physical network. Given CloudForms’s role in the provisioning, configuration and management of virtual instances, it is natural for CloudForms to take on a similar role for the virtual networks that connect those virtual instances.

CloudForms 4.1 introduces management for SDN, including support for OpenStack Neutron and native networking built into Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. Developed in the ManageIQ community in conjunction with Nuage Networks, CloudForms provides the ability to maintain an inventory of virtual network routers, switches and ports, and view how each items relates to others and to the virtual compute instances to which they are attached. Using CloudForms you can visualize the entire network and navigate across objects, from a router to the network, to the subnet, to the network port, up to the virtual instance that it is connected to. Along that path, you can see summary information for the object, utilization statistics and its relationships to other objects.

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Cloud Friendly Subscriptions

For customers who have a hybrid environment of virtual instances both on-premise and in the public cloud, CloudForms 4.1 now offers them the ability to simplify their subscriptions. Available immediately, CloudForms subscriptions may be applied to either two-sockets on premise or 16 virtual instances in the public cloud. Customers may transfer subscriptions from either format as often as is needed without requiring notice to Red Hat. Moreover, public cloud instances may determined by the average cloud instances under management over the prior 12 months. Now customers considering hybrid environments can more easily use CloudForms to help their transition into the public cloud and be confident that they have the subscriptions required, without having to buy for peak demand.

Other Improvements

In addition to the big changes described above, CloudForms 4.1 also contains a number of smaller, but important changes:

  • An improved charge-back model with multiple rate-tiers and support for multiple currencies
  • Instance live-migration, re-configuration, capacity planning, and CPU and memory right-sizing on Red Hat OpenStack Platform
  • REST API enhancements that allow stop, start, pause, suspend, shelve, reset, and reboot actions on instances as well as the ability to approve or deny provisioning requests
  • Tenant developments that allow reporting on tenant consumption and tenant quotas as well as storage of rate tables on a per tenant basis
  • A fully internationalized self-service UI with shopping cart ability, allowing ordering of multiple items in one transaction
  • Usability and responsiveness improvements for extremely large environments that allow targeted refreshes of inventory instead of full refreshes

For a complete list of new features, you can review the Beta 2 blog post.

Conclusion

CloudForms 4.1 represents a major milestone in the development of Red Hat’s cloud management platform. It broadens its provider support with the addition of Google Cloud Platform, enabling greater choice for customers who are looking to move to the public cloud. Via new SDN management and the additional capabilities related to storage, it expands its scope in the datacenter, enabling customers greater agility and speed. It enhances the security and automated policy enforcement required to keep organizations safe and secure, allowing them greater freedom in IT organization. Though with all of these additions, CloudForms 4.1 manages to make it even simpler for organizations to automate their processes via its integration to Ansible Tower. We are extremely proud of the progress we have made over the last six months. Please celebrate the CloudForms 4.1 release with us at Red Hat Summit and join us as we start the journey on to the next release of CloudForms.

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