First it was OpenStack, then Hadoop, and now Dell’s Crowbar installation-and-configuration tool also works VMware’s Cloud Foundry. With servers fast becoming low-margin commodities thanks to the push toward micro servers, Dell is doing its best to make deploying the software that inspired the new generation of servers a breeze.
Crowbar is open source software that was first developed to help users install and configure the open source OpenStack cloud computing software. Barton George, a marketing director within Dell’s public sector and large enterprise group, describes Crowbar thusly: “The software is modular in design so while the basic functionality is in Crowbar itself, ‘barclamps’ sit on top of it to allow it work with a variety of projects.”
A couple weeks ago, Dell turned Crowbar toward another open source product in Cloudera’s Hadoop distribution. That partnership involves an entire package that includes a Dell hardware architecture and services, as well as the Cloudera Enterprise management software.
Cloud Foundry, Dell’s latest target for Crowbar, is VMware’s open source Platform as a Service project. Launched in April, the open source Cloud Foundry code can be deployed upon a user’s infrastructure of choice, and it supports a wide range of development languages, frameworks, databases and other components.
Once Crowbar has been used to deploy software to servers, George notes that it “can be used to maintain, expand, and architect the instance, including BIOS configuration, network discovery, status monitoring, performance data gathering, and alerting.”
Crowbar is an interesting area of focus for Dell as it attempts to keep its scale-out server business going strong. Its Data Center Solutions group and mainstream-focused PowerEdge C servers are inspired by the stripped-down boxes that run many popular web sites and computing clouds, but they also mean less profit margin because they’re not packed with unnecessary features.
However, deploying distributed systems using open source software isn’t always easy. As Dell’s customers buy more of these scale-out boxes to power their cloud computing and big data deployments, tools like Crowbar makes Dell more valuable than just being a server maker.
Dell is one of a handful of new Cloud Foundry partners announced today, a list that also includes RightScale, Canonical, Opscode and EnStratus.
Image courtesy of Flickr user faxepl.