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Open Source Solutions for Managing Private and Public Clouds

There has been little infrastructure software that makes it easy and cost-effective to manage private and public clouds -- until recently.


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More and more companies want to deliver IT services as a cloud. Problem is, there has been precious little infrastructure software that makes it easy and cost-effective to manage private and public clouds -- until recently.

Enter Eucalyptus Systems and Cloud.com (formerly VMOps), companies with virtually the same goal: to create an open source framework for managing clouds based on various server hypervisors, emerging standards, and APIs relating to virtual machines and clouds.

Both vendors lean heavily on Amazon Web Services (AWS), the first widely available infrastructure as a service (IaaS) system that provides the basic building-block infrastructure services that meet the needs of most systems.



The main offerings from AWS are the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for managing and running virtual instances, and the Simple Storage Service (S3) for storing data. These services are accessed with an API using SOAP or REST. This API has become the de-facto standard for interfacing with a cloud services environment.

Eucalyptus Systems and Cloud.com are focusing on a space that is likely to be a big deal for companies over the next few years, according to predictions made by researcher Garter last October.

“Private cloud computing will not just be a viable term, it will be a significant strategic investment for most large organisations,” said Phil Dawson, Garter VP of research. “We predict that through 2012, more than 75 percent of an organisation’s use of cloud computing will be devoted to very large data queries, short-term massively parallel workloads, or IT use by start-ups with little to no IT infrastructure.”

Cloud technologies are fast evolving, bringing with them opportunities to run IT more efficiently, says Michael Cote, industry analyst, RedMonk. To cope with that landscape, Cote think the best strategy now is to adopt an open and heterogeneous a cloud infrastructure that can span private and public clouds.

Eucalyptus Systems was probably the first open-source vendor to target this space.

Last year, it began supporting Amazon's APIs for its EC2 public cloud on private clouds running VMware ESX hypervisors. Since then, the company has partnered with Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu) to add support for KVM (kernel-based virtual machine).

Cloud.com's new CloudStack software seeks to do more – cover more clouds, and provide more hooks and services, says Sheng Liang, Cloud.com’s founder and CEO. The CloudStack supportsVMware's ESX Server 4.0, Citrix XenServer 5.5, the latest KVM hypervisor, and Microsoft's Hyper-V.

“Our goal is to enable developers, enterprises and service providers to quickly architect, configure and deploy highly-reliable, highly-scalable and cost-effective cloud environments,” says Liang.

Today, enterprises and service providers trying to build their own IaaS clouds face a daunting challenge, Liang adds. First, companies must integrate a patchwork of software including hypervisor, management software, user interface, network virtualization and storage management.

“Once they create the software stack, they need to make it work with storage and networking equipment supporting proprietary extensions required by the hypervisor vendors,” says Liang. “Our CloudStack software accelerates and simplifies the process of creating and managing clouds.”

The Cloud.com approach to cloud computing is new, says Paul Burns, president, Neovise, a research firm.

“The CloudStack provides an integrated solution for delivering virtual datacenters as a service -- providing all of the essential components used to build, deploy, and manage multi-tier and multi-tenant cloud applications in a simple-to-install software package,” says Burns.


   
Herman Mehling has written about IT for 25 years. He has written hundreds of articles for leading computer publications and websites.
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