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DevOps: How can cloud workloads automatically take advantage of advanced hardware capabilities?

BY 01 Staff (not verified) ON May 13, 2014


With contributions from Intel and others in the open source community, the OpenStack* cloud operating environment is transforming datacenters around the world.  It automates virtual machine (VM) provisioning by fulfilling a user’s request to install a VM onto server hardware.  

With today’s advanced technologies embedded in processors and chipsets, integrated on server boards, and installed in PCIe* slots, hardware platforms offer many more capabilities now than in the recent past. OpenStack, however, could not take advantage of these enhancements. It was unaware of more than the basic set of server features and functions.  

But thanks to Enhanced Platform Awareness (EPA) contributions from Intel and others, the OpenStack* cloud operating environment now can enable fine-grained matching of workload requirements to platform capabilities, prior to launching a VM.  For example, EPA can automatically launch a cryptographic workload on a platform with a hardware-based crypto-accelerator.

EPA will help to scale up performance of virtualized networking functions, adding momentum to the growing movement in the telecommunication industry to transform the network using Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV).  SDN and NFV enable powerful, flexible network functionality using standards-based, commercial off-the-shelf servers rather than proprietary networking appliances.

EPA also will enable Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) to market the use of enhanced technologies, which likely have been in their servers all along.  For example, CSPs using OpenStack to deploy SSL-enabled web sites can use EPA to launch those sites on VMs with encryption acceleration, if the server hardware has the appropriate capability.  By offering premium services such as that, CSPs can generate new revenues. 

EPA implementation merely requires simple additions to VM flavors to enable launch of specific VMs with enhanced hardware capabilities. While EPA currently addresses enhancements only in the processor, the OpenStack community is considering adding awareness for PCIe-based devices, such as GPUs and coprocessors (see

or more information, visit the Open Stack Project Page.

For more information about EPA, visit the OpenStack website.