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By Gavin Lu

Project FlowgateToday, we’re pleased to announce a new open source project, Project Flowgate, which will help enterprises integrate facility systems data and IT data to form a holistic view of their operations. By combining these two disparate data sets into one view, data center managers will be better equipped to optimize operations and make smarter choices about workload placement.

With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), you can now instrument and measure just about anything. Data can be collected from things both near and far, small and large, enabling greater insight and faster and better decision making. This data generally flows from edge locations (the “things”) to enterprise data centers, where hundreds or even thousands of servers process the data.

In a bigger picture, we could treat enterprise data centers as big server farms or “information factories.” It’s interesting (and kind of ironic) that they are not generally managed as a whole entity, but rather independently by IT, real estate/facilities, security, finance teams, etc. No one has a complete, integrated view – from power source and consumption to workload placement. This leads to siloed systems and operations in data center management with significant information gaps between facility systems, which manage power supplies, cooling, security and environments (temperature, humidity, etc.) and IT stacks, which supervise IT assets on racks (e.g. computing, networking, storage, etc.).

To resolve these information gaps and create a holistic view, data center managers often create glue software between facility systems information and their IT stack to achieve and automate integration in an ad hoc fashion.

Project Flowgate addresses these challenges by providing a data integration hub of facility systems and IT stacks in enterprise data centers and edge locations. Project Flowgate integrates data from facility systems and IT stacks together, providing an easy to use and extensible platform for enterprises to stitch their current siloed systems in data centers and edge locations.

Project Flowgate also collects static and dynamic data from various facility systems and correlates them with IT inventories, building a holistic perspective of these IT assets from their physical location to how they are running, including power consumption (electricity and cooling) and other environmental aspects. Using this data, it then creates potential IT operational scenarios which would be impossible without data mapped from the facility side.

Project Flowgate

Project Flowgate currently supports:

  • VMware IT stack in data centers (e.g. VMware vSphere and vROps, and is extensible to others)
  • Leading DCIM, CMDB & IPAM systems (e.g. Nlyte, Sunbird PowerIQ, Infoblox and extensible to much more)
  • Restful APIs for unified facility information querying services and administrative operations while being easy to integrate with other systems
  • Extensible adapters of data ingestion and consumption
  • Micro-service architecture to deploy and scale out easily

As an open source project, we hope to encourage widespread adoption and contributions from users, partners and the developer community at large. Project Flowgate is available today on GitHub for forking and experimentation; the container images and installation guide are available at the release page, while the OVA is available on VMware Flings.

Benefits of Project Flowgate

With Project Flowgate, you’ll be able to see data from all aspects of facility systems, adding to the IT infrastructure data you have today. Users will benefit from end-to-end transparency, interoperability and compatibility in the entirety of data centers and edge locations. Through the integration between Project Flowgate and intelligent operation management tools, aka “AIOps,” users can enforce smart governance on sensitive workloads and data by ensuring only specific workloads sit on specific hosts in specific locations. Data center managers can make smarter, more “green” operational choices by shifting workloads away from peak power consumption zones to data centers in off-peak zones, reducing the need to draw upon expensive, fossil fuel-based power sources; Project Flowgate makes these location-aware choices possible.

For facility developers and site reliability engineers, we welcome your comments and contributions via VMware Flings and GitHub to help shape the direction of the project. We look forward to collaborating with users, partners and developers to optimize operations in enterprise data centers and edge locations. Take a look at Project Flowgate today and share your thoughts with us, and be sure to check out a brief video of Project Flowgate overview.

Stay tuned to the Open Source Blog and follow us on Twitter (@vmwopensource) for information on all the latest open source project coming out of VMware.