ShapeBlue SA are pleased to announce the extension of their distribution partner agreement for NetApp in South Africa, building out a successful relationship that started in 2014.

‘ShapeBlue has built a strong partnership with NetApp in this region. Expanding our capabilities to represent the full NetApp portfolio presents a strategic opportunity for us and our partners.’ Says Dan Crowe, Managing Director, ShapeBlue SA.

‘NetApp’s vision, depth of solutions and cloud-centric approach continues to differentiate them. We are seeing a fantastic response, in particular to the Cloud Infrastructure portfolio with HCI and the Cloud Data Services portfolio.’

ShapeBlue, as expert builders of clouds bring a unique insight to both service provider and integrator partners as they develop services, and work with customers on transformation projects.

ShapeBlue believe a new generation of NetApp partners can accelerate strategic initiatives across sectors and harness the true value of data insights.

ShapeBlue will offer SA based partners access to the full NetApp range of solutions, professional services and sales and marketing collaborations.

ShapeBlue have recently expanded office premises in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, with worldwide software engineering now based here in SA. “We’re excited about our newly expanded partnership with NetApp and looking forward to the next step in our evolution.” Concludes Crowe.

About ShapeBlue

ShapeBlue are the leading worldwide independent CloudStack integrator, with offices in London, Bangalore, Rio De Janerio, Mountain View CA, Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Services include consulting, integration, training and infrastructure support


ShapeBlue have been working on a new feature for Apache Cloudstack 4.11.1 that will allow users to bypass secondary storage with KVM. The feature introduces a new way to use templates and ISOs, allowing administrators to use them without being cached on secondary storage. Using this approach Cloudstack administrators will not have to worry about massive secondary storage, since it will be simple bypassed, there won’t be any template sitting there waiting. As well it’s bypassing the SSVM since the download task will not be carried on by the SSVM, but the KVM agent itself. This will enable administrators not to spare resources for SSVM, but to use them for commercial purposes. The usual process of virtual machine deployment will stay as before.


This feature adds a new field in the vm_template table which is called ‘direct_download’. The field will determine if template needs to be downloaded by SSVM (in case of ‘0’), or directly on the host when deploying the VM (in case of ‘1’). CloudStack administrators will have the option to set this field through the UI or API call as described in the following examples:

From the UI:

From Cloudmonkey:

register template zoneid=3e80c1e6-0710-4018-9062-194d6b3bab97 ostypeid=6f232c75-5370-11e8-afb9-06354a01076f hypervisor=KVM url= format=QCOW2 displaytext=TestMachina name=TestMachina directdownload=true

The same feature applies to ISOs as well – they don’t need to be cached on secondary storage but can be directly downloaded by the host. CloudStack admins have this option available on the API call when registering ISOs and through the UI form as well.

Whenever a VM deployment is started the template will be downloaded on primary storage. The feature actually checks if the template/ISO has been already downloaded on the pool, checking template_spool_ref table. If there’s an entry on the table matching its pool ID and the template ID, then it won’t be downloaded again. The same action applies if the running VM requires the template again (eg. when reinstalling ). Please note that due to the direct download nature of this feature, the uniqueness of the templates across primary storage pools is the responsibility of the CloudStack operator. CloudStack itself can’t detect if the files in a template download URL have changed or not.

Metalinks are also supported for this feature, and administrators can be more flexible in terms of managing their templates as they can set priorities and location preferences in the metalink file. Metalinks are effectively xml that provides URLs for downloading files. The duplicate download locations provide reliability in case one method fails. Some clients also achieve faster download speeds by allowing different chunks/segments of each file to be downloaded from multiple resources at the same time. Please see the following example:

As the example shows, CloudStack administrators can set location preference and priority, which will be considered upon VM deployment. The deployment logic itself introduces a retry mechanism in 2 cases of failures: VM deployment failure and template download failure.

VM deployment retry logic: this will initiate the deployment on a suitable host and will try to deploy it (which includes the template download itself). If the deployment fails for some reason it will retry the deployment on another suitable host.

Template download retry logic: this is part of the VM deployment and will try to download the template/iso directly by the host. If it fails for some reason (e.g. URL not available) it will iterate through the provided list of priority and location. Once download is completed it will execute the checksum validation (if provided), if that one fails it will download it again, until it has made three attempts. If all three attempts unsuccessful it will return a deployment failure and go back to VM Deployment logic.

Please see the following simplified picture of the deployment logic:

Since the download task has been delegated to the KVM agent instead of SSVM, this feature will be available only for KVM templates.

About the author

Boris Stoyanov is Software Engineer in testing at ShapeBlue, The Cloud Specialists. Bobby spends his time testing features for the Apache CloudStack Community and for our ShapeBlue clients.

Last year we had a project which required us to build out a KVM environment which used shared storage. Most often that would be NFS all the way and very occasionally Ceph.   This time however the client already had a Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) SAN which had to be used, and the hosts were HP blades using shared converged adaptors in the chassis- just add a bit more fun.

A small crowbar and a large hammer later, the LUNs from the SAN were being presented to the hosts. So far so good.  But…

Clustered File Systems

If you need to have a volume shared between two or more  hosts, you can provision the disk to all the machines, and everything might appear to work, but each host will be maintaining its own inode table and so will be unaware of changes other hosts are making to the file system, and in the event that writes ever happened to the same areas of the disk at the same time you will end up with data corruption. The key is that you need a way to track locks from multiple nodes.  This is called a Distributed Locking Manager or DLM and for this you need a Clustered File System.


There are dozens of clustered file systems out there, proprietary and open source.
For this project we needed a file system which;

  • Supported on CentOS6.7
  • Open source
  • Supports multi-path
  • Easy to configure not a complex group of Distributed Parallel Filesystems
  • Need to support concurrent file access and deliver the utmost performance
  • No management node over head, so more cluster drive space.

So we opted for OCFS2 (Oracle Clustered File System 2)

Once you have the ‘knack’, installation isn’t that arduous, and it goes like this…

These steps should be repeated on each node.

1. Installing the OCFS file system binaries

In order to use OCFS2, we need to install the kernel modules and OCFS2-tools.

First we need to download and install the OCFS2 kernel modules for CentOS 6.  Oracle now bundles the OCFS2 kernel modules in its Unbreakable Kernel, but they also used to be shipped with CloudStack 3.x so we used those.

rpm -i ocfs2-kmod-1.5.0-1.el6.x86_64.rpm 

Next we copy the OCFS2 kernel modules into the current running kernel directory for CentOS 6.7

cp -Rpv /lib/modules/2.6.32-71.el6.x86_64/extra/ocfs2/ /lib/modules/2.6.32-573.3.1.el6.x86_64/extra/ocfs2

Next we update the running kernel with the newly installed modules.

depmod –a

Add the Oracle yum repo for el6 (CentOS 6.7) for the OCFS2-tools

cd /etc/yum.repos.d

And add the PKI keys for the Oracle el6 YUM repo

cd /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/
rpm --import /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-oracle-ol6 

Now we can install the OCFS2 tools to be used to administrate the OCFS2 Cluster.

yum install -y ocfs2-tools

Finally we add the OCFS2 modules into the init script to load OCFS2 at boot.

sed -i "/online \"\$1\"/a\/sbin\/modprobe \-f ocfs2\nmount\-a" /etc/init.d/o2cb

2. Configure the OCFS2 Cluster.

OCFS2 cluster nodes are configured through a file (/etc/ocfs2/cluster.conf). This file has all the settings for the OCFS2 cluster. An example configuration file might look like this:

cd /etc/ocfs2/
vim cluster.conf

ip_port = 7777
ip_address =
number = 0
name =
cluster = ocfs2

ip_port = 7777
ip_address =
number = 1
name =
cluster = ocfs2

ip_port = 7777
ip_address =
number = 2
name =
cluster = ocfs2

node_count = 3
name = ocfs2

We will need to run the o2cb service from the /etc/init.d/ directory to configure the OCFS2 cluster.

/etc/init.d/o2cb configure
Load O2CB driver on boot (y/n) [y]: y

Cluster stack backing O2CB [o2cb]: ENTER
Cluster to start on boot (Enter "none" to clear) [ocfs2]: ENTER
Specify heartbeat dead threshold (=7) [31]: ENTER
Specify network idle timeout in ms (=5000) [30000]: ENTER
Specify network keepalive delay in ms (=1000) [2000]: ENTER
Specify network reconnect delay in ms (=2000) [2000]: ENTER

Update the iptables rules to allow the OCFS2 Cluster port 7777 on all the nodes that we have installed:

iptables -I INPUT -p udp -m udp --dport 7777 -j ACCEPT
iptables -I INPUT -p udp -m udp --dport 7777 -j ACCEPT
iptables -I INPUT -p tcp -m state --state NEW -m tcp --dport 7777 -j ACCEPT
iptables-save >> /etc/sysconfig/iptables
Restart the iptables service
service iptables restart 

3. Setting up Linux file system

First we create a directory where the OCFS2 system will be mounted.

mkdir –p /san/primary/ 

We need to format the mounted volume as OCFS2. This only needs to be run on ONE of the nodes in the cluster.

mkfs.ocfs2 -L OCFS2_label -T vmstore --fs-feature-level=max-compat /dev/sdd -N (number of nodes +1) 

The options work like this:
-L Is the Label of the OCFS2 cluster
-T What will the cluster be used for, type of Data
-fs-feature-level making OCFS2 compatible with older versions

4. Update the Linux FSTAB with the OCFS2 drive settings.

Next we had the following line to /etc/fstab to mount the volume at every boot.

 /dev/sdd /san/primary _netdev,nointr 0 0

5. Mount the OCFS2 cluster.

Once the fstab has been updated we’ll need to mount the volume

mount -a

This will give us a mount point on each node in this cluster of /san/primary. This mount point is backed by the same LUN in the SAN, but most importantly the filesystem is aware that there are multiple hosts connected to it and will lock files accordingly.

Each cluster of hosts would have a specific LUN (or LUNs) which is would connect to.  It makes life a lot simpler if you are able to mask the LUNs from SAN such that only the hosts which will connect to a specific LUN can see that LUN, as this helps to avoid any mix ups.

Adding this storage into CloudStack

In order for the KVM hosts to utilise this storage in a CloudStack context, we must add the shared LUNs as primary storage in CloudStack. This is done by setting the storage type to ‘presetup – SharedMountPoint’ when adding the primary storage pools for these clusters.  The mountpoint path should be specified in the way that they will be seen locally by the KVM hosts; in this case – /san/primary.


In this article we looked at the requirement for a Clustered File System when connecting KVM hosts to a SAN and how to configure OCFS2 on CentOS6.7


About The Authors

Glenn Wagner is  a Senior Consultant / Cloud Architect at ShapeBlue, The Cloud Specialists. Glenn spends most of his time designing and implementing IaaS solutions based on on Apache CloudStack.

Paul Angus is VP Technology & Cloud Architect at ShapeBlue. He has designed and implemented numerous CloudStack environments for customers across 4 continents, based on Apache CloudStack.
Some say; that when not building Clouds, Paul likes to create Ansible playbooks that build clouds. And that he’s actually read A Brief History of Time.

Paul Angus, Cloud Architect at ShapeBlue takes an interesting look at how to separate Cloudstack’s management traffic from its primary storage traffic.

I recently  looked at physical networking in a CloudStack environment and alluded to the fact that you cannot separate primary storage traffic from management traffic from CloudStack, but that it is still possible. In this article I will discuss why this is and how to do it.

 In the beginning, there was primary storage

The first thing to understand is the process of provisioning primary storage. When you create a primary storage pool for any given cluster, the CloudStack management server tells each hosts’ hypervisor to mount the NFS share or (iSCSI LUN). The storage pool will be presented within the hypervisor as a datastore (VMware), storage repository (XenServer/XCP) or a mount point (KVM), the important point is that it is the hypervisor itself that communicates with the primary storage, the CloudStack management server only communicates with the host hypervisor.

Now, all hypervisors communicate with the outside world via some kind of management interface – think VMKernel port on ESXi or ‘Management Interface’ on XenServer. As the CloudStack management server needs to communicate with the hypervisor in the host, this management interface must be on the CloudStack ‘management’ or ‘private’ network. There may be other interfaces configured on your host carrying guest and public traffic to/from VMs within the hosts but the hypervisor itself doesn’t/can’t communicate over these interfaces.

Figure 1: Hypervisor communications

Separating Primary Storage traffic

For those from a pure virtualisation background, the concept of creating a specific interface for storage traffic will not be new; it has long been best practice for iSCSI traffic to have a dedicated switch fabric to avoid any latency or contention issues.

Sometimes in the cloud(Stack) world we forget that we are simply orchestrating processes that the hypervisors already carry out and that many ‘normal’ hypervisor configurations still apply.

The logical reasoning which explains how this splitting of traffic works is as follows:

1. If you want an additional interface over which the hypervisor can communicate (excluding teamed or bonded interfaces) you need to give it an IP address

2. The mechanism to create an additional interface that the hypervisor can use is to create an additional management interface

3. So that the hypervisor can differentiate between the management interfaces they have to be in different (non-overlapping) subnets

4. In order for the ‘primary storage’ management interface to communicate with the primary storage, the interfaces on the primary storage must be in the same CIDR as the ‘primary storage’ management interface.

5. Therefore the primary storage must be in a different subnet to the management network

subnetting storage

Figure 2: Subnetting of Storage Traffic


Figure 3: Hypervisor Communications with Separated Storage Traffic

Other Primary Storage Types

If you are using PreSetup or SharedMountPoints to connect to IP based storage then the same principles apply; if the primary storage and ‘primary storage interface’ are in a different subnet to the ‘management subnet’ then the hypervisor will use the ‘primary storage interface’ to communicate with the primary storage.


This article has explained the how primary storage traffic can be routed over separate network interfaces from all other traffic on the hosts by adding a management interface on the host for storage and allocating it and the primary storage IP addresses in a different subnet to the CloudStack management subnet.

About the Author

Paul Angus is a Cloud Architect at ShapeBlue, The Cloud Specialists. He has designed numerous CloudStack environments for customers across 4 continents, based on Apache Cloudstack ,Citrix Cloudplatform and Citrix Cloudportal.


When not building Clouds, Paul likes to create scripts that build clouds

..and he very occasionally can be seen trying to hit a golf ball.