Vapor IO Challenges Top Of Rack Management With Open MistOS

Vapor IO tuned the data center aisle concept on its head, and now with Open MistOS, its tackling Top-Of-Rack (TOR) management.

Jason Verge

May 12, 2015

3 Min Read
Vapor IO Vapor Chambers
Visualization of a warehouse filled with Vapor Chambers (Image: Vapor IO)

One of the biggest challenges in the data center industry is how to manage data center infrastructure. This is especially true at the rack. Each server vendor has a different approach, down to the way you handle server out-of-band management. Vapor IO hopes to eliminate what founder Cole Crawford calls “gratuitous differentiation” with Open MistOS (OMOS), a new Linux distribution that provides top-of-rack (TOR) management capabilities for data centers.

Vapor challenged the data center aisle concept and is now challenging antiquated TOR management approaches with Open MistOS. OMOS works in conjunction with OpenDCRE (Data Center Runtime Environment), for a completely out of band management suite.

Vapor IO is tackling the rack itself. OMOS allows talking to the rack infrastructure over an API. Components can be mapped into MistOS for easier development of management, monitoring and orchestration.

The rack is the most important piece of the data center, but it’s also the bifurcation line between those than run the facility and those that run the servers, said Cole Crawford, founder of Vapor IO, co-founder of OpenStack, and executive director of the Open Compute Project Foundation.

In the data center, you have facilities people and operations people. Both groups stop at the rack. Vendor IT equipment also stops at the rack.“Out-of-band management has been dominated by gratuitous differentiation,” said Crawford. “Now, the rack is no longer a no man’s land.”

By connecting the hardware and Open Mist OS operating system, it’s essentially the data center's answer to DevOps. “Through this, we will create a unified fabric for a disaggregated data center,” said Crawford.

MistOS sits alongside OpenDCRE (Data Center Runtime Environment) for a completely out-of-band solution written on a standard linux kernel. DCRE is Vapor IO's own data center infrastructure management and analytics system that includes hardware sensors and software. OpenDCRE is the foundational element of that system, which was contributed to the Open Compute Project. OpenDCRE is a combination of sensors, firmware, and a controller board.

Vapor CORE extends Open DCRE functionality by introducing an intelligence layer on top of Open DCRE. With Open MistOS, Vapor can now act as a gateway within the data center management network, mapping inbound connections to server serial consoles, enabling further development of the data center.

“When it comes to orchestrating the workload, you need to look south then provide that information real-time northbound to the operating system itself," said Crawford. "Now that you have a robust API for out of band, you have the ability to go north and integrate workloads."

Key features of Open MistOS include:

  • Vapor CORE API access: Open MistOS includes Vapor CORE API components for rapid deployment and integration with management, monitoring and provisioning services.

  • Bare metal support: Open MistOS includes support for bare metal provisioning and firmware updates through the device tree.

  • Automatic discovery of other Open MistOS TOR OOB management devices: Open MistOS includes a built-in discovery service that automatically detects other Open MistOS instances, allowing for quick and easy deployment, discovery and integration into the data center management fabric.

  • Docker and Open vSwitch support: Open MistOS brings Docker and Open vSwitch support on Raspberry Pi, allowing for TOR containerized deployment and management of applications.

In addition to Open MistOS, Vapor IO will sell a commercial version that will be available as an on-site service and as a hosted solution.

The company will showoff its hardware in a demo in two partner booths at OpenStack Summit next week. The first is StackVelocity, an OCP solution provider, and the second is StackStorm. The demo will simulate a data center failure and recovery at both booths.

"Companies are tired of investing in proprietary technologies that ultimately lock them into a platform for years,” said Crawford. “The industry has time and again shown its fervent appetite for open standards and interfaces that guarantee freedoms not offered by legacy vendors. With Open MistOS, we are guaranteeing that freedom.”

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