Open Source and Cloud

This week I attended the Open Cloud Conference at Silicon Valley Cloud Center in Sunnyvale. There were a lot of interesting sessions, and one was on the role of open source for cloud. As there was a debate during the conference on the relationship between open source cloud and open cloud, they are not exactly the same thing. Open cloud can be implemented using proprietary implementations with some standards. Cisco and Juniper do not use open source or the open source type of hardware entirely, but we can build an open system so that we can (most of the time) form a network with heterogeneous equipment from different vendors.

Mark Hinkle, senior director of the Citrix cloud computing community, gave a very good presentation on open source’s role in cloud computing. As I’ve mentioned before, I was involved in open source by assisting with MySQL and JBoss, and I’ve always wondered whether open source and cloud ever got closer together. I knew of some movement in this direction, like Xen, but recently open source has played a much bigger role in cloud computing. And Mark’s talk was very timely. I will touch upon software efficiency, and thus its energy efficiency, in a future blog. It’s interesting to think about software efficiency from the standpoint of open source.

In any event, Mark’s talk was interesting because he surveyed the solutions that are available for cloud computing at this time. As you can appreciate, some open source solutions come and others go. One of Mark’s slides indicated that Red Hat’s OpenShift was almost released as open source. But he acknowledged that Red Hat officially made it open source only a few days ago, after he made the slides. It is very useful to know what is currently available. It is not an easy task to keep the list up to date. For that reason, Mark’s work is very useful. I summarized his talk below by using some of his slides. His entire presentation is available here.

For those who are not very familiar with open source, its merits are these:

I mentioned that an open system can be established as long as a standard exists. Also, even if an open source solution exists, like Xen, the current clouds are not open, as Mark pointed out here:

Nonstandard virtual machine (VM) file formats prevent VMs from being moved around from one cloud to another. Amazon, which dominates the public cloud, uses its own file format, which is not compatible with the original Xen file format. Having multiple file formats is not very efficient from many points of view. One organization may need to maintain multiple file formats and may waste human, equipment, and time resources. That might be translated into cost and energy use.

In the next few slides, Mark surveyed the solutions that exist for each category of cloud computing, starting with tools to create VM appliances. There are many more solutions, but only those with high traction are listed. Also, each package keeps changing, and you can click on each in his original slides for the latest information.

Then hypervisors are listed. Hypervisors were the beginning of cloud computing and provided virtualization. As Gordon Haff, another speaker, mentioned, virtualization is an important piece for cloud computing, but by itself does not constitute cloud.

The next slide lists infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions:

Of these, I am not sure how much traction OpenNebula is getting. CloudStack was recently released from Citrix as open source. Citrix is also supporting OpenStack, and I should have asked Mark how Citrix plays both cards at the same time.

Next comes storage:

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is gaining popularity:

Infrastructure is important, but we need tools to manage such infrastructures. These are the categories:

Tools for each category will be presented next. Open source provisioning tools are here:

Configuration tools:

Monitoring tools:

I once talked to GroundWork, which is based on Nagios. They provide an open source and a commercial version of their monitoring tools.

Automation and orchestration tools are here:

The next, very helpful slide shows how these tools interact.

Finally, I want to thank Mark for his useful presentation. The open source cloud scene changes again.

Zen Kishimoto

About Zen Kishimoto

Seasoned research and technology executive with various functional expertise, including roles in analyst, writer, CTO, VP Engineering, general management, sales, and marketing in diverse high-tech and cleantech industry segments, including software, mobile embedded systems, Web technologies, and networking. Current focus and expertise are in the area of the IT application to energy, such as smart grid, green IT, building/data center energy efficiency, and cloud computing.

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