What’s new with Ravello Systems? RBD 2018 Edition

In my last post about Oracle Ravello Bloggers Day 2, I mentioned the distinction between OCI and the Ravello Systems product. I wanted to take some time to dive a bit into what Ravello has been up to because there is some cool stuff going on there. If you happen to not be familiar with Ravello Systems, it is a cloud service where you can run VMs. OK, doesn’t sound special in this day and age, right? The differences become apparent once you start using it. The interface and approach strike me as being quite different than most offerings on the market today.

Although not “new”, but still “recent”, Ravello has started offering regions where you can run your VMs on bare metal hardware. Previously it was all still running in nested hypervisors, which would invoke a performance impact. With the leaps and bounds that OCI is making, granting bare metal access to Ravello customers is a great move.

WHY RUN IN RAVELLO?

So with other public cloud options available, why would one choose Ravello Systems? There are a few reasons that come to mind. First is their import tool, which I can see as being more of a migration tool. When you launch the tool, you can select VMDK files to upload, or you can connect right to vCenter and yank VMs out of there. This will send your VM up to Oracle’s datacenters, where it can run without issue. But let’s take a step back for a second. We are now running a vSphere-created VM on a non-vSphere system. Ravello’s hypervisor is able to run native vSphere VMs. Not only that, you can run these VMs without needing to pay for vSphere licensing. Depending on your use case, this is where folks who deal with budgets might perk up.

WHO WOULD RUN IN RAVELLO?

The immediate ideal client that came to mind was anyone in education. Using Ravello’s blueprints, you can quickly build out multi-VM applications. A blueprint might contain something like 5 VMs, but then you can share it. If you are teaching any sort of class, giving the students the ability to quickly, and easily, setup their environments is very attractive. Additionally, there were talks about a training-specific tool, which we saw some demos of.

This tool allows for routines such as importing student information from CSV files; additionally, common tasks such as setting availability times or performing auditing are available. Once again, from an educators perspective, this seems like a great fit. If I can create my students’ accounts, define availability periods for when projects are due, and use an “over the shoulder” remote support tool if needed, then that sounds great. There is also an audit feature so you can see when users are actually logging on or off, or maybe you need to track down who is mining bitcoin on their lab machines.

One of the customer presentations, courtesy of Informatica, highlighted some of the ways they use the training portal. What did catch a lot of attention during presentation was that Informatica has saved %68 with Ravello when compared to previous service providers. A number like that is hard to overlook.

DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS

The other prime candidates that I could see for Ravello Systems is developers. The key reason for this lies once again in the blueprint. With most current solutions, development environments need to be built out (hopefully) with scripts or other tools such as Chef, puppet, etc. With Ravello’s blueprint feature, developers can quickly get the machines that they need, when they need them.

One thing that developers are great at, especially in QA situations, is breaking things. We did discuss backups, which currently exist in the form of snapshots. I am not a fan of snapshots as backups, particularly if you can’t perform granular restores. That being said, you could always use something like Veeam Agents within the guest VMs, and back them up to a repository somewhere. Not necessarily a show stopper, but something to be aware of.

WHERE DO I SEE RAVELLO IN 12 MONTHS?

That’s a good question. When Oracle announced that they acquired Ravello, a lot of folks assumed we wouldn’t see the Ravello name again. In the tech industry, so often companies are gobbled up for talent or intellectual property. Although things were quiet for a while, it was great to see Ravello resurface. With the second RBD in the bag, there seems to be a real sense of commitment and openness from the staff. This conveys that they are taking this very seriously, and it is definitely showing based on improvements that we’ve seen.

I can see Ravello making gains in the two areas I mentioned above, education and developers. Do I foresee everyday organizations moving to Ravello? Probably not. At the same time though, seeing how easily one can migrate VMs to Ravello, and given that there is no vSphere licensing to worry about, that might catch some attention.

Disclaimer: I was invited by TechReckoning to participate in Ravello Bloggers Day. Travel and lodging costs were covered as part of the invite. I was not requested to write the above – all words and opinions are my own.

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