August 2014, Zenoss launched Control Center - an innovative open source project which serves as the new management application stack for orchestrating our next generation monitoring platform, Zenoss Service Dynamics 5. Powering Control Center is Docker, a leading open source platform for building, shipping, and running distributed applications in Linux containers.
What is Zenoss Control Center?
Control Center is an application service orchestrator that provides out-of-band management and monitoring services for Zenoss Service Dynamics 5. Control Center was developed on the premise that as a software architecture becomes more scalable, it inherently becomes more complex to manage. Enterprise IT organizations are challenged with scaling the operations team in a cost-effective and efficient manner commensurate with the growth in application and infrastructure complexity. We designed Control Center to not only scale our monitoring platform, but also the operations team by simplifying management of the Zenoss application stack.
Zenoss Service Dynamics 5 is designed for horizontal scale, where every service can be scaled out and monitored across many nodes in a linear fashion. This scale requirement helps optimize how Zenoss Service Dynamics 5 monitors web-scale infrastructure and on-demand application environments. By “web-scale infrastructure,” we mean hybrid IT infrastructures at very large enterprises and service providers with up to hundreds of thousands of geographically distributed managed resources deployed on-premise and across cloud platforms.
However, a scalable application can be challenging to operate and maintain. Take a Big Data application stack as an example: Hbase (part of the Hadoop stack) requires 3 nodes at a minimum to provide adequate high availability, which means you need to manage those 3 nodes including OS configuration, patches, application configuration and so on. In addition, there are other applications that sit on top of Hadoop such as OpenTSDB and Solr. As you continue to scale, the propensity for configuration drift becomes more challenging and dealing with non-uniform environments can be especially problematic.
The primary benefit of Control Center is the ability to manage one or more Zenoss deployments in a consistent manner and to allocate and segregate available resources based on service requirements such as memory demand vs. memory capacity. Control Center allows Zenoss itself to behave much like a cloud in terms of its ability to elastically scale up and down based on service demand. With Control Center, many of the functions are highly automated on the back-end making sure all of your critical services have the same configuration, startup / shutdown the same way and are stateless where possible.
The next part of the scale management dilemma is managing workloads across multiple hosts and distributed geographic locations. Control Center provides a simple but effective random service workload scheduler that takes into consideration memory demand vs. capacity. Using a round robin approach would improve utilization on a per host basis, but runs the risk of creating load hot-spots in application performance where one or more hosts may not have adequate headroom to deal with occasional workload spikes, resulting in performance degradation. A random scheduler works by reducing the probability of one or more hosts being overloaded, or not having enough head room, resulting in better service delivery and more consistent scalability.
Application capacity is managed simply by mapping services and hosts to a resource pool. A resource pool is a logical group that allows for capacity and geographic grouping of services. Using resource pools in conjunction with a capacity-aware random job scheduler, enables more predictable application performance and better infrastructure utilization. Both homogeneous and heterogeneous service workloads can be managed effectively in an automated fashion.
True to Zenoss’ monitoring DNA, every service managed by Control Center is actively monitored, which is critical for staying ahead of any potential service issues. The Control Center application health metrics are automatically fed into the Zenoss monitoring platform, so we know what is happening all the time and can be proactive in the advent there’s a problem with Zenoss Service Dynamics 5. Lastly, we’ve added native Service Impact integration with Control Center, which provides real time root cause analysis and a service-based topology view of how Zenoss is deployed and its current state.
Where does Docker fit?
Docker is a key enabling technology for Zenoss Control Center because it liberates the application from its software, hardware and configuration dependencies. This yields significantly reduced operational overhead enabling IT operations to scale efficiently with Zenoss Service Dynamics 5 - especially if you’re running a web-scale infrastructure environment.
Docker addresses the underlying configuration management challenge - the application itself - by enabling the application configuration to be declared at runtime with all of its required dependencies encapsulated. The result is an application that will run the same way every time, anywhere, without having to worry about patches, 3rd party libraries, network configuration conflicts and so on.
With Docker at the base of the Zenoss Control Center application, we have completely transformed and streamlined how Zenoss Service Dynamics is configured, managed, deployed and downloaded.
New to Zenoss Service Dynamics?
If you are new to Zenoss or would like a refresher, check out the following links which provide more information about Zenoss and Zenoss Service Dynamics:
- Read What’s New & Cool in Zenoss Service Dynamics 5 to learn more about the new capabilities in Zenoss 5!
- Read Redefining Monitoring for Today’s Modern Infrastructures to learn more about the technologies that are leveraged to enable software defined operations @ scale.
- Read Zenoss Service Dynamics Architecture Overview to get an overview of the Zenoss Unified Monitoring and Analytics platform architecture and how it can help you scale out monitoring and scale back costs, avoid service disruptions, and respond quickly to business needs
- Read Zenoss Service Dynamics: Technical Feature Overview to learn more about the technical features available in Zenoss Service Dynamics.