Eight reasons cloud administrators should use Bright OpenStack’s Cluster Management GUI (CMGUI) rather than the Horizon dashboard


By Piotr Wachowicz | September 25, 2015 |



OpenStack Horizon dashboard is a good tool for end-users to access OpenStack. However, it’s far from perfect for cloud administrators. Bright OpenStack’s Cluster Management GUI (CMGUI) is a better alternative for performing daily OpenStack Management operations. Here are 8 reasons why.



#1 - Single pane of glass

First of all, CMGUI is a single pane of glass solution. It gives the cloud admin full management and monitoring access to OpenStack resources as well as all of the components around OpenStack that are not accessible from within the Horizon dashboard. That includes hypervisor services, physical hardware-like servers, switches and PDUs, auxiliary software (HAProxy, RabbitMQ, etc.), and so on. All from within the single window.

Single pane of glass

CMGUI gives users access to OpenStack Resources and Surrounding Components in a single window.

Horizon, in stark contrast, gives access only to core OpenStack resources; everything else has to be managed by hand and/or from the command line.


#2 - OpenStack lifecycle management

With CMGUI, you can easily modify the underlying OpenStack deployment as your requirements change. This can be done using the concept of roles. Need more nova-api nodes? Simply assign the “OpenStack Compute API” role to a node or a group of nodes, maybe change some defaults if needed, and you’re done. The Bright cluster management daemon will take care of writing out the nova.conf configuration file, starting (and monitoring) the openstack-nova-compute service, and registering the new endpoint with HAProxy. Need more Ceph OSD nodes?  Follow the same steps. Simply pick a disk, journal location, and the daemon will reconfigure ceph.conf and bring the ceph-osd service up and running.

Again, that’s something simply not possible using only Horizon.

Roles allow for quick and easy modification.

 Roles allow for quick and easy modification.

#3 - OpenStack object management

Managing OpenStack objects (networks, subnets, routers, VMs, users etc), is much more natural with CMGUI.

To give an example, if you want to learn the MAC address of an instance (VMs) using the Horizon dashboard, you have to know that one should not use the “Instances” tab (as one might expect), but rather using the Networks > network > ports > port. That’s a lot of footwork, and it’s typical of the top-down user experience approach offered by Horizon.

By contrast, CMGUI’s unique approach is much easier. Admins always have direct access to all of the OpenStack objects associated in one way or the other with the currently selected object. This makes for very intuitive navigation.

To give an example, click on a Project (top part of the screenshot), to immediately see servers, domain, IPs, networks, routers, and other items associated with that project (bottom part of the screenshot). Or, click on a network, to immediately see all the ports, IPs, routers, subnets and project associated with it. Then simply select one of those related objects, and immediately see all the objects associated with the selected server. Once you’ve found what you want, just double click to open a window to edit the properties.

Admins always have direct access

 Admins always have direct access to all OpenStack objects.

#4 - Global search across all of the objects.

Have you ever needed to find all the OpenStack objects (regardless of type) that have been disabled? Or objects, for example, VMs, that were created 2 weeks ago between 1pm and 4pm? This type of search is simply not possible with the dashboard, but is a snap with CMGUI’s built-in search function.

Search effortlessly in CMGUI.

 Search effortlessly in CMGUI.

#5 - Managing complexity - filtering on per-property basis

In production, cloud admins often have to deal with thousands of objects. Did you ever try to find that one specific network in the long networks listing in the Horizon dashboard? Again, that’s a lot of footwork. In CMGUI you can easily filter out objects of interest by applying filters to their individual fields. It’s easy to show, for example, all volumes of a specific size, owned by specific tenant, and created on specific date.


#6 - Batch edit of objects

So an API endpoint server has changed and you have to change the URLs of all the endpoints in your Keystone endpoint listing. Now what? Normally you would have to perform 20-30 property updates, one for each single endpoint entry. Traditionally that takes time and is very error-prone. Not with CMGUI, which offers a batch-edit functionality. Simply select the endpoints you want to edit, and change only the host. All the other properties (port, URL path) will remain as they were.

Utilize the batch-edit functionality to avoid arduous property updates.

 Utilize the batch-edit functionality to avoid arduous property updates.

#7 - Monitor the entire stack, literally

Bright’s unique CMGUI monitoring view gives admins full monitoring access to the entire stack. Starting with monitoring physical hardware, physical switches, operating system, OS services, the hypervisor service, all the way through virtualized hardware, virtualized operating system and services, all the way up to virtualized userspace programs running inside of those VMs. All from within the same window.

This makes it very easy to correlate events taking place in the virtual layer (for example, slow virtual disk I/O) with the events taking place in physical hardware (like provider network bottlenecks).

Monitor both the physical and virtual layers of your stack.

 Monitor both the physical and virtual layers of your stack.

#8 - Easily customize config files

Need to customize nova.conf across several hundred compute nodes? Easy. Just configure which parts of which file you want to edit, and on which nodes you want apply those changes.

Easily customize and edit across potentially hundreds of nodes.

 Easily customize and edit across potentially hundreds of nodes.

Hope we’ve set the scene for making cloud administrators’ lives easier every day!

The 8 areas we’ve discussed are only a small subset of the CMGUI functionality that makes a cloud administrator’s daily life easier. We will cover more in future blog posts. In the meantime, contact us for a full demo of Bright OpenStack at http://info.brightcomputing.com/Bright-demo-request


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