OpenStack Icehouse Supports Rolling Upgrades and Tighter Overall Integration

On April 17, the OpenStack Foundation announced the availability of the ninth release of OpenStack, the open source, Infrastructure as a Service collaboration. Codenamed Icehouse, the release boasts 350 new features, 2,902 bug fixes and contributions from over 1200 contributors. Icehouse focuses on maturity and stability as illustrated by its attention to continuous integration (CI) systems, which featured the testing of 53 third party hardware and software systems on OpenStack Icehouse. The hallmark of the Icehouse release consists of its support for rolling upgrades in OpenStack Compute Nova. With Icehouse’s support for rolling upgrades, VMs need not be shut down in order to install upgrades. Icehouse “enables deployers to upgrade controller infrastructure first, and subsequently upgrade individual compute nodes without requiring downtime of the entire cloud to complete.” As a result, upgrades can be completed with decreased system downtime, thereby rendering OpenStack significantly more appealing to enterprise customers that can afford little to no downtime for mission-critical applications and services. Icehouse also features a “discoverability” enhancement to OpenStack Swift that allows admins to obtain data about which features are supported in a specific cluster by means of an API call. On the networking front, OpenStack now contains new drivers and support for the IBM SDN-VE, Nuage, OneConvergence and OpenDaylight software defined networking protocols. Meanwhile, OpenStack Keystone identity management allows users to leverage federated authentication for “multiple identity providers” such that customers can now use the same authentication credentials for public and private OpenStack clouds.

In total, Icehouse constitutes an impressive release that focuses on improving existing functionality as opposed to deploying a slew of Beta-level functionalities. OpenStack’s press release claims “the voice of the user” is reflected in Icehouse but the real defining feature of this release is a tighter integration of OpenStack’s computing, storage, networking, identity and orchestration functionality. Just when Google Compute Engine, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure looked set to turn the battle for IaaS market share into a three horse race with some impressive functionality announcements and price cuts, the release of OpenStack Icehouse serves as a staunch reminder that OpenStack continues to innovate aggressively and systematically in its bid to assert feature parity with respect to proprietary IaaS platforms. This release, for example, announced three incubator projects in the form of OpenStack Sahara, OpenStack Ironic and OpenStack Marconi. OpenStack Sahara enables the provisioning of Hadoop clusters within an OpenStack environment, OpenStack Ironic provisions bare metal physical servers as opposed to virtual machines and OpenStack Marconi aims to deliver “highly-available messaging to web applications that run on OpenStack” in ways analogous to the Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS). The bottom line here is that OpenStack is rapidly catching up to its competitors while making a compelling case for inter-operability given the volume of contributions from Red Hat, IBM, HP, Rackspace, Mirantis, SUSE, OpenStack Foundation, eNovance, VMware and Intel in the Icehouse release. The key thing OpenStack needs now is more production-grade deployments and case studies of customer success that compel even more innovation and credibility within the IaaS space.

Categories: IaaS, OpenStack | Tags: , , , , , , ,

DigitalOcean Finalizes $37.2M In Series A Funding For Its IaaS, Virtual Private Server Offering

New York-based IaaS vendor DigitalOcean recently announced the finalization of $37.2M in Series A funding in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz with additional participation from IA Ventures and CrunchFund. As a result of the investment, Andreessen Horowitz’s General Partner Peter Levine will join DigitalOcean’s board of directors. Digital Ocean provides virtual server offerings on solid state drives at a price that begins at $5/month for 20 GB of SSD storage, 512 MB of RAM and 1 TB of bandwidth. Customers can sign up for “droplets” of server capacity of varying sizes, or decide to opt for several droplets to fulfill their infrastructure hosting needs. The funding will be used to support the company’s explosive growth and accelerate product development. According to The New York Times, DigitalOcean now boasts more than 100,000 customers in comparison to the 2,000 customers it had at the beginning of 2013. DigitalOcean’s customers are predominantly developers and start-ups that account for a vibrant online user community that impressed Peter Levine as recounted to TechCrunch:

I met DigitalOcean last fall. I was blown away by the growth and excitement around the developer community. I’m on the board of GitHub as well, and the power of the community became really evident to me at GitHub. Users sense the empowerment. DigitalOcean has this very large community of users so they get a lot of feedback. It’s very uncommon for a startup.

The DigitalOcean community platform features the opportunity for developers to ask and respond to questions, review vetted tutorials and view and contribute to open source projects. DigitalOcean’s large online user community positions it to accelerate product lifecycles by drawing upon the experiences of its users. Potential product enhancements include the addition of Platform as a Service functionality as elaborated by Mitch Wainer, DigitalOcean cofounder and chief marketing officer:

We’re focused on building right now internally a PaaS model where we’re going to provide one-click provisioning for different images. So for example, a Rails image. These will be provided to make it easier for developers to instantly create new servers with preconfigured setups.

Other product development plans include additions to its application programming interface (API) that customers can use to manage their virtual private servers. In addition to supporting product development, the funding raise will also be used to maintain and expand DigitalOcean’s infrastructure footprint as evinced by data centers in New York, San Francisco, Amsterdam and Singapore.

The striking thing about DigitalOcean is its explosive growth and profitability in the developer and startup IaaS niche space that Amazon Web Services had dominated for years. Current high profile customers include Beyonce.com, Nike, TaskRabbit and Flywheel. The main challenge for DigitalOcean now will be to sign up more enterprise customers while continuing to innovate on what is currently a relatively simplistic platform that could be easily be replicated by a competitor unless the platform undergoes a healthy dose of enrichment that maintains, in the words of CEO Ben Uretsky, the “relentless focus on simplicity” that drew customers to its offering in the first place. That Andreessen Horowitz invested so heavily in this Series A financing, for a company not based in Silicon Valley, speaks volumes about the company’s growth. “The numbers speak for themselves,” Peter Levine noted, in what represents a notable reminder that the IaaS space is far from crowded out by Amazon Web Services, Windows Azure IaaS, Rackspace, HP, IBM, Piston Cloud Computing and Red Hat. The question now is whether DigitalOcean can manage its growth and scale to support its expanding international footprint and the increasingly complex needs of its customers as it gains more traction. The $37.2M Series A funding raise brings the total capital raised by DigitalOcean to $40.4M given that it raised $3.2M last year.

Categories: DigitalOcean, IaaS, Venture Capital | Tags: , , , ,

What The CloudBees And Verizon Partnership Means For PaaS and IaaS

What should the cloud computing industry make of the recent partnership between CloudBees and Verizon to render the CloudBees PaaS available on the Verizon Cloud? The obvious point worth noting is that the partnership enables CloudBees to take advantage of Verizon’s brand, partner relationships and global IT infrastructure to more effectively position its PaaS within the larger cloud landscape. More specifically, the CloudBees-Verizon partnership allows the Java-based PaaS to position itself alongside a brand-name IaaS vendor that is rapidly developing partnerships with other technology partners to enhance the Verizon IaaS platform that was revealed in October and remains in public Beta. Note that this is not the first time CloudBees has partnered with an IaaS vendor. In 2012, for example, CloudBees announced the availability of a PaaS platform branded AnyCloud on IaaS platforms such as Amazon Web Services and HP Cloud Services. The larger point here is that the CloudBees partnership with Verizon is illustrative less of the impending demise of PaaS, and more of the consolidation of IaaS as a respected sales channel for PaaS, with the attendant consequence that completely standalone PaaS vendors with no IaaS-related partnerships are becoming increasingly rare in the industry. The bottom line, however, is that the coupling of IaaS and PaaS means that PaaS has finally, irrevocably arrived, albeit not in the standalone form in which it originally emerged, but as a critical extension and offering amongst its dominant IaaS cousin in parallel with separate, dedicated PaaS sales operations teams and infrastructures.

Categories: CloudBees, IaaS, Platform as a Service, Verizon Terremark | Tags: , , ,

Verizon’s New IaaS Cloud To Offer Greater Provisioning Flexibility Than Amazon And Windows Azure

Starting in Q4 of this year, the IaaS space will feature another platform geared toward the needs of enterprise customers in the form of Verizon’s new Infrastructure as a Service offering. Verizon’s new cloud platform features compute and storage capabilities that are analogous to the Amazon Web Services EC2 compute and S3 storage products. Unlike Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, however, customers will be able to provision and configure virtual machines that satisfy the parameters specific to their computing needs in contrast to selecting VMs from a list of preconfigured, out of the box options. Verizon’s press release elaborated on the Verizon Cloud’s provisioning and configuration flexibility as follows:

With Verizon Cloud Compute, users can determine and set virtual machine and network performance, providing predictable performance for mission critical applications, even during peak times. Additionally, users can configure storage performance and attach storage to multiple virtual machines. Previously, services had pre-set configurations for size (e.g. small, medium, large) and performance, with little flexibility regarding virtual machine and network performance and storage configuration. No other cloud offering provides this level of control.

Verizon already appears to have established some strong partnerships that include The Weather Channel and platform as a service vendor Engine Yard. Bryson Koehler, chief information officer at The Weather Company, remarked on its interest in using the Verizon Cloud for big data analytics as follows:

This is a breakthrough approach to how cloud computing is done. Weather is the most dynamic dataset in the world, and we also use big data to help consumers better plan their day and help businesses make intelligent decisions as it relates to weather. As a big data leader, a major part of The Weather Company’s go-forward strategy is based on the cloud, and we are linking a large part of our technical future to these services from Verizon.

Customers using the Verizon Cloud will be able to take advantage of its global network of data centers, managed hosting solutions and colocation offerings. The bottom line, here, is that the IaaS space suddenly has another exciting offering that is backed by Verizon’s famously robust communications infrastructure and customer service platform. Moreover, the solution boasts greater flexibility with respect to provisioning than its competitors, and will be supported by Verizon’s deep familiarity with the needs of enterprise customers. Verizon’s cloud offering will be available by way of data centers in Culpeper (VA), Englewood (CO), Miami (FL), Santa Clara (CA), Amsterdam, London, and Sao Paolo. The initial offering will be based out of the Culpeper data center while other data centers will go live with the Verizon Cloud platform in 2014.

Categories: IaaS, Verizon Terremark | Tags: | Leave a comment

Oracle Integrates Nimbula’s OpenStack-based IaaS Platform Into Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud

Oracle today announced the integration of its March 2013 acquisition Nimbula into its Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud platform. The integration of Nimbula into Oracle’s public cloud offering means that customers can build IaaS infrastructures based on Oracle’s Exalogic Elastic Cloud in conjunction with Nimbula’s OpenStack-based IaaS technology. Today’s news marks the first time that OpenStack and Oracle’s high performance Exalogic Elastic Cloud are available on the same platform. Customers now have access to a highly scalable, high performing infrastructure that additionally boasts all of the attributes of the open standards-based OpenStack platform. Moreover, Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud customers can leverage a suite of other products such as Oracle Applications, Oracle Fusion middleware, Database as a Service, Java as a Service and Middleware as a Service. The successful of integration of Nimbula’s OpenStack-based IaaS platform with Exalogic marks yet another small victory for OpenStack, which recently faces stiff competition from increasingly rich and variegated product offerings from VMware and Citrix, not to mention Amazon Web Services.

Categories: IaaS, Nimbula, Oracle | Leave a comment

Tasmanian Government Selects Annitel To Deliver IaaS GovCloud Platform

The Tasmanian government has selected Australian IT & Telecommunications company Annitel to provide an Infrastructure as a Service solution for an initial period of two years. The size of the contract will be determined by uptake from Tasmanian government agencies, although “several” agencies reportedly have plans to use Annitel’s IaaS offering as soon as it becomes available. The Tasmanian government’s decision to select Annitel illustrates the global quality of government interest in cloud platforms. In the U.S., for example, Oracle recently launched an Oracle Government Cloud platform in an effort to compete with Amazon Web Services, IBM and Google in the government cloud computing space. Annitel’s IaaS platform for the government of Tasmania is expected to become available sometime in October.

Categories: IaaS, Miscellaneous | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

CloudSigma Cuts Prices As IaaS Price Wars Continue

Zurich-based IaaS vendor CloudSigma recently announced price cuts to its IaaS platform in conjunction with the performance and efficiency enhancements resulting from its recent upgrade to CloudSigma 2.0. CloudSigma 2.0 boasts reduced latency and a solid-state drive (SSD) platform that has resulted in performance increases for customers in the range of 30-40%. Key features of the CloudSigma 2.0 platform include the following:

•Advanced CPU functionality including CPU emulation and non-uniform access (NUMA) visibility
•Hypervisor timer settings
•Ability to control the size of virtual cores
•Support for software defined networking
•SSD storage

In addition to the enhanced functionality specific to its 2.0 platorm, CloudSigma claims that its price cuts derive from decreasing costs for hardware as traditional OEM server providers such as IBM and HP encounter competition from vendors such as Quanta and Supermicro. CloudSigma’s RAM pricing decreased by 20% whereas its CPU pricing decreased by 15%. CloudSigma joins ProfitBricks in slashing its IaaS prices although the latter has recently become the subject of a number of security breaches discovered after its announcement to reduce prices to compete with Amazon Web Services.

Categories: CloudSigma, IaaS | Tags: | Leave a comment

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