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Bare Metal to Container in Minutes


By bloggers Desh Singh and Celia Lawren, HPE

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (and former company Hewlett-Packard) has always been one to ‘practice what it preaches’ or rather, implement what it designs, engineers and offers to customers to improve its own processes and add value to the business. Several years ago, HPE went through a major transformation of its IT infrastructure, which included the consolidation of 85 data centers into 6 next-generation data centers. As soon as this effort was complete, the IT organization began to migrate the vast majority of its enterprise applications that run the HPE business into the Cloud.  The company built a private cloud that enabled it to provision infrastructure for new initiatives in minutes vs. weeks. The HPE team continues the transformation journey using new technologies, including containers from our partners at Docker Inc. HPE recently improved software build times by more than 50% by deploying Docker containers on HPE BladeSystems.

Like many other enterprise companies, HPE needs to accelerate the delivery of applications and services to its lines of business. But also like these businesses, the IT organization must continue to run traditional IT applications to support existing business processes while adding cloud native applications created in a DevOps model that leverage Mobility, Big Data and Cloud technologies. As we know, these are the technologies driving revenue and new customer experiences. 

Fortunately, HPE has a simple solution to this problem: support both traditional and new IT with the same infrastructure we call Composable Infrastructure – fluid pools of compute, storage and fast flexible fabric that dynamically compose and recompose according to the needs of an application or workload. These resources are controlled programmatically through the unified Composable Infrastructure API. HPE Composable Infrastructure is the bridge to faster service delivery for traditional and cloud-like application delivery. It reduces friction for IT organizations and, no matter where they are on their journey, helps them onboard to faster, simpler and more efficient IT.

The on ramp to Composable Infrastructure is built on automation, convergence and workload optimization. For some time, HPE has been putting the right capabilities in place to get customers started. The HPE BladeSystem with HPE 3PAR Storage is designed for IT efficiency. It is easy to deploy, manage and grow. The HPE ConvergedSystem extends IT efficiency with blocks of agile architecture that can quickly deliver dynamic pools of resources workload optimized and scalable for today’s specific applications – big data, cloud and mobility.  HPE OneView unifies processes, user interfaces (UIs), and the application programming interfaces (APIs) across server, storage, and networking resources serving as an automation hub that allows administrators to plug in and utilize the tools they already know within a single console. It leverages template-based software automation to achieve error-free changes across infrastructure.

Partnering with Docker to optimize Dev/Ops Journey

To improve its application development efficiency, HPE partnered with Docker, a company offering an open platform for building, shipping and running applications. It gives programmers, development teams and operations engineers the common toolbox they need to take advantage of the distributed and networked nature of modern applications.

Docker is an open source project curated by Docker Inc., which creates the platform for running containerized applications.  Docker containers enable users to build and run their application anywhere. Docker containers guarantee that applications will always run the same, regardless of the environment they are running in.

Like in a virtualized environment, containers allow multiple applications to gracefully share the same underlying infrastructure.  Containers running on a single machine share the same operating system kernel, which allows them to start instantly and make very efficient use of system resources. Docker kernels are based on open standards allowing containers to run on all major Linux distributions and cloud platforms. Security is achieved through isolation; Docker containers are isolated from each other and from the underlying infrastructure. A Docker host is an environment configured to run containers.  Docker containers can run on any computer – from a laptop to the cloud.  To date, most large Docker environments have been deployed on the public cloud, or within virtual machines within enterprises.  However, Docker containers running on top of bare metal infrastructure can reduce process latency and provide better performance, security and data governance. Since developers don’t need to worry about setting up and maintaining environments, they can put their full focus on creating new features, fixing issues, and shipping software.

Provisioning bare metal with Docker Machine plugin for Composable Infrastructure

While HPE had greatly improved server provisioning time, it wanted to utilize composable technology to reduce the time even more.  Getting a new server provisioned involved complex work and overhead processes. Developers had to make requests, wait for approval, and then wait longer while the server was provisioned. Even after approval, IT operations needed to use multiple tools to get the server ready for deployment.

The project set out to enhance the DevOps experience by using containers running on bare metal, non-virtualized servers.  Prior to this, software developers performed hundreds of daily builds using virtual machines on HPE BL460c Gen8 blades. HPE transitioned the environment to Docker hosts running on HPE BL460c Gen9 blades.  To allow rapid provisioning of Docker hosts on bare metal HPE infrastructure, HPE integrated Docker Machine with HPE OneView using the unified Composable Infrastructure API, native in HPE OneView.  Average build time went from 74 minutes to just 34 – more than a 50% reduction in software build time.

The Docker Machine plugin for HPE OneView allows IT operations to automate physical provisioning of Docker infrastructure quickly and reliably. The plugin is a software integration that automates provisioning of a Docker environment onto hardware infrastructure that is managed by HPE OneView. It uses HPE OneView templates and OS build plans to configure and provision bare metal servers that host the Docker environment – in essence treating the infrastructure as code and allowing developers to use the one toolset to provision in cloud and non-cloud environments.

HPE-Docer schematic cropped.jpg

Developers now use Docker containers for their software builds.  They can take action directly with no manual handoffs and no complex change processes. Containers ensure that configurations are deployed consistently and always from the same starting point. They remove the variability in the deployed environment and allows developers to focus on app development and not infrastructure management. The environment provides an increased level of security and compliance by providing an on premise environment to develop, test and run applications within our own private cloud. 

Faster software build and compile times mean less idle downtime and increased productivity for developers. Using containers running on bare metal has increased performance and simplified management.  Removing manual hardware configuration steps and automating the provisioning of physical infrastructure on-demand from their private bare metal cloud using templates from HPE OneView also speeds deployment.

Read the Docker integration white paper.

View the Executive demo on YouTube or HPE.

The Docker Machine plugin for HPE OneView is an open source development project that integrates the bare metal deployment process with HPE OneView. You can get it for free at,

AsHPE learned, when you accelerate IT, everything goes faster.  Developers can now take advantage of a platform with open integration that optimizes workflow for application delivery.  This supports the DevOps need for infrastructure as code, letting developers and operations go from bare metal to container in minutes.

Desh and Celia

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