Reflections On OpenStack’s Second Birthday And The Way Forward

This past week, OpenStack turned two years old. A year ago, I examined OpenStack’s accomplishments upon the celebration of its first birthday. Since then, OpenStack’s technical and business development progress has been both meteoric and profound. A year ago, OpenStack claimed the backing of 80 companies. Today, OpenStack is supported by a whopping 183 companies and 3386 people. OpenStack’s second year featured the successful deployment of Essex, its fifth release after the Austin, Bexar, Cactus and Diablo releases. Essex is distinguished by the tight integration of OpenStack’s different components as well as the maturation of plug-in functionality that facilitates deployment of third party products. Jonathan Bryce, co-founder of Rackspace Cloud and chairman of the OpenStack Project Policy Board, commented on the milestone represented by the Essex release as follows:

When you put it all together, this is really getting to the point where we have a complete cloud OS that you can use to manage compute, storage and networking and manage it all through a Web-based interface and have all the components integrated.

The Essex release contains 150 new enhancements and features developed through contributions from 55 companies and 200 developers in what is widely regarded as the most stable OpenStack release to date. But OpenStack’s technical maturation aside and notwithstanding, the most compelling part of its success story over the last year features the vortex of business development energy that catapulted the initiative into a major player in the cloud computing landscape within the space of two years.

In year two, OpenStack garnered the official support of heavyweights such as IBM and Red Hat, for example, both of whom occupy Platinum member positions within its Foundation. In tandem with its growing base of supporting companies, PaaS and cloud automation vendors alike deployed and marketed products as OpenStack compatible. Puppet Labs, for example, released configuration modules specially designed for enterprise-grade OpenStack deployments. Similarly, Piston Cloud Computing partnered with Rightscale, Puppet and Opscode to allow customers to use these automation products with pentOS, its own OpenStack product. PaaS products such as ActiveState’s Stackato, Red Hat’s OpenShift Origin and CumuLogic marketed their ability to run atop the OpenStack infrastructure. And training vendors such as Mirantis partnered with CloudCamp to deliver OpenStack training.

In summary, highlights of OpenStack’s progress within the last year include the following:

• The release of Essex, marked by the integration of OpenStack Dashboard and OpenStack Identity into OpenStack for the first time.
• The creation of the OpenStack Foundation, featuring 19 companies that will serve as Gold and Platinum members in its Foundation.
• Enterprise grade installations by Rackspace, HP, Dell and Cloudscaling.
• Enthusiastic reception amongst the PaaS community as PaaS vendors increasingly marketed the ability to run on top of IaaS platforms such as OpenStack.

While concerns of fragmentation within the OpenStack community are legitimate, the key question for OpenStack in its third year will be its ability to accelerate the maturation of its product in order to keep pace with the staggering rate of innovation exemplified by Amazon Web Services. The cloud computing world has already given it a stunningly warm reception and declared its open-ness, no pun intended, to the idea of an open source, inter-operable, IaaS platform. The question now is whether OpenStack can deliver, maintain and consistently enhance a mature, stable product as a Foundation and community of vendors.

Amazon Web Services Experiences Another Outage Due To East Coast Storms

On Friday, Amazon Web Services experienced its second outage in less than a month due to power failures caused by thunderstorms in Virginia. Amazon Web Services products that were affected by the outage included the Elastic Cloud Compute, Relational Database Service and Elastic Beanstalk. The outage began around 840 PM PDT on Friday. Most services were recovered by Saturday afternoon. Companies affected by the outage included Instagram, Pinterest, Netflix and Heroku. Friday’s storms left millions of people across the Eastern United States without power.

HP Launches Public Beta Of IaaS Cloud Based On OpenStack

Today, HP launched a public beta of its public cloud as part of its HP Converged Cloud solution that features traditional IT, private clouds, managed clouds and public clouds. Designed on the OpenStack open source cloud operating system, HP’s public cloud avoids vendor lock-in by giving customers the option of transferring their deployments to another OpenStack vendor for any reason. The HP public cloud Beta currently features the following components:

Public Beta (pricing is based on a utility model analogous to Amazon Web Services)

HP Cloud Compute: scalable virtual servers on demand.
HP Cloud Object Storage: scalable, enterprise-grade storage.
HP Cloud Content Delivery Network: low latency and optimized content delivery by means of a CDN powered by Akamai.

Private Beta (you must be an existing HP Customer to sample these products)

HP Cloud Block Storage: high performance, persistent storage
HP Cloud Relational Database for MySQL: a web-based service that provides access to a MySQL database featuring “automated backups, database snapshots, automatic host replacement, and multiple availability zones.”

Out of the gate, almost 40 companies have already expressed intentions to partner with HP’s Cloud Services including a cluster of PaaS vendors such as ActiveState, CloudBees, Corent Technology, CumuLogic, Engine Yard and Gigaspaces. Bart Copeland, President and CEO of ActiveState, elaborated on ActiveState’s Stackato PaaS support for HP’s cloud services by noting:

Adding support for HP Cloud Services to Stackato reinforces our vision of providing the PaaS layer in the cloud that supports any underlying infrastructure, which will greatly benefit enterprise developers and IT/DevOps by giving them the options and flexibility they want. Those enterprise developers and IT/DevOps need good options for building secure yet flexible cloud infrastructure—HP Cloud Services allow enterprises access to world-class products and services, and is going to be a clear alternative to Amazon Web Services.

Here, Copeland envisions HP Cloud Services as having the potential to parallel Amazon Web Services even as it is built on open source cloud technology in the form of OpenStack. HP’s press release made the comparison between HP Cloud Services and Amazon Web Services stronger by hinting at an HP marketplace that would allow customers to tap into its rich partner ecosystem in order to build additional functionality into their own deployments on the HP Cloud platform. Such a platform would parallel the recently announced Amazon Web Services Marketplace and render the head to head comparison between HP Cloud Services and Amazon Web Services even more compelling.

For now, however, the important thing worth noting about HP’s launch of its Beta public cloud is that OpenStack has secured an important victory as the foundation for what promises to become one of the world’s largest, enterprise-grade public clouds. Moreover, the deep support that HP’s Cloud Services platform has secured at such an early stage underscores the possibility that HP’s Cloud Services may parallel Amazon Web Services not only in its inherent functionality but also in the richness of its partner ecosystem.

Linux Foundation Announces CloudOpen, Technical Conference On Open Source Cloud Computing And Big Data

The Linux Foundation recently announced CloudOpen, a technical conference dedicated to open source cloud computing and big data. The conference is intended to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas about the use of open source cloud and big data technologies. The inaugural CloudOpen technical conference will take place from August 29 to August 31, 2012 in San Diego, California. The conference expects to showcase content of a technical nature related to products such as, but not limited to “Chef, Gluster, Hadoop, KVM, Linux, oVirt, Puppet, and Xen.” The Linux Foundation is currently soliciting Calls For Proposals (CFPs) by June 1. Sponsors of CloudOpen include Dell, Citrix, Eucalyptus Systems, HP, Hitachi, IBM, Intel, NEC, Puppet Labs and SUSE.

CloudOpen is unique amongst cloud computing conferences because of its explicit focus on open-source technologies. The conference enables collaboration and conversation amongst open-source cloud professionals at a historical juncture where CIOs, development managers and software developers are increasingly used to navigating hybrid IT infrastructures featuring a combination of proprietary and open source solutions. Because many open source cloud and big data technologies are new or have only been recently deployed in combination with other solutions, technical resources are likely to benefit tremendously from the conference’s design of facilitating lateral conversations about topics such as best practices, regulatory requirements, deployment challenges, integration with 3rd party software, automation, inter-operability, APIs and ongoing operational challenges.

The Linux Foundation announced CloudOpen in the wake of weeks of recent conversation about open source cloud computing products Eucalytptus, OpenStack and CloudStack. First, Eucalyptus reached a deal with Amazon Web Services such that AWS officially endorsed its API for promoting inter-operability between the Eucalyptus private cloud and the Amazon Web Services platform. The deal means that Eucalyptus customers can migrate data between their data centers and the Amazon Web Services platform by using Eucalyptus APIs that are compatible with Amazon Web Services products such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).

Then, Citrix open-sourced CloudStack to the Apache Software Foundation despite having made a prior commitment to using OpenStack for CloudStack’s IaaS technological platform. Meanwhile, OpenStack has continued to make waves given the launch of its Foundation, Rackspace’s Beta launch of a commercialized OpenStack platform as well as an endorsement from Puppet Labs. Expect the open source cloud and big data juggernaut to gather steam this spring and summer. Red Hat, for example, will open-source the code for its Platform as a Service, OpenShift, at the Open Cloud Conference from April 30 through May 3.

Red Hat To Open-Source PaaS OpenShift At Open Cloud Conference

Two words describe the stakes of cloud computing today: open source. Despite the proliferation of vendors and the radical prolixity of cloud product offerings, open source remains the world on everyone’s lips in both IaaS and PaaS circles. As the web buzzed with news of Citrix’s defection from OpenStack, and the tech blogosphere took in Red Hat’s feat of surpassing the $1 billion mark in revenue, Red Hat’s decision to open-source its OpenShift PaaS platform escaped the attention of cloud pundits that had focused on the ascendancy of the Amazon Web Services API, CloudStack’s incubation by the Apache Software Foundation and OpenStack’s release of its latest version, Essex.

Red Hat announced plans to open-source OpenShift at the Open Cloud Conference from April 30 to May 3, 2012 in Sunnyvale, California. OpenShift, which supports Java, Ruby, PHP, Perl and Node.js, will be available under an Apache license on Github. The Raleigh, NC-based commercial Linux distributor acquired the foundation of OpenShift as a result of its acquisition of Makara in November 2010, although OpenShift additionally uses JBoss Application Server as well. Red Hat plans to run a number of workshops at the Open Cloud Conference to guide developers in the steps required to install its PaaS platform in addition to instructing users how to run OpenShift on OpenStack. OpenShift will join VMWare’s Cloud Foundry as another open source PaaS platform that can be commercialized by aspiring vendors into an enterprise-grade PaaS offering.

Appirio Announces $60 Million In Series D Funding

This week, cloud services provider Appirio announced the finalization of $60 million in Series D funding led by General Atlantic with additional participation from Sequoia Capital and GGV Capital. The funding allows for continued investment in Appirio’s cloud technology platform marked by its Cloud Enablement Suite, as well as mergers and acquisitions to support its global expansion. Appirio’s Cloud Enablement Suite contains “applications, assets, analytics and crowdsourcing community to power enterprise cloud development.” Appirio’s crowdsourcing platform CloudSpokes matches its customers with a community of more than 35,000 developers interested in working on cloud-related projects.

Appirio has managed installations of cloud applications featuring Salesforce.com, Google Apps and Workday for customers such as Facebook, Twitter, Japan Post and BMC Software. To date, the company has migrated more than 1.5 million users to the cloud. The capital raise follows upon a highly successful year for Appirio in 2011 in which it developed its Cloud Enablement Suite, increased revenue by 80% in comparison with the previous year and acquired SaaSpoint.

Appirio’s capital raise illustrates investor interest in the cloud service provider market. Roughly ten days ago, Cloud Sherpas, a cloud service provider that focuses on Google Apps and Salesforce.com, announced a $20 million funding raise from Columbia Capital as well as the merger with GlobalOne that enables the inclusion of Salesforce applications within its portfolio. Appirio differentiates itself from Cloud Sherpas by embracing a broader portfolio of cloud-based applications. Appirio currently has offices in the U.S., U.K., Singapore and Japan and offers its customers developers through its crowdsourcing platform that are located in more than 65 countries.

AT&T Joins OpenStack and Reveals Cloud Architect Platform For Developers

AT&T became the first U.S. telecom provider to join OpenStack on Monday. In a blog post, the company’s CTO, John Donovan, noted that AT&T had been participating in OpenStack for over a year and had “already contributed a blueprint for a potential new function within OpenStack, focused on transactional task management.” AT&T will host OpenStack on dedicated equipment in Dallas, San Diego and Secaucus and plans to double the number of OpenStack centers in 2012. Separate from the OpenStack announcement, Donovan announced plans to deploy a developer-focused cloud infrastructure called AT&T Cloud Architect. AT&T Cloud Architect differs from Synaptic Hosting, AT&T’s enterprise-based, infrastructure as a service offering because it caters to developer cloud needs focused around price and flexibility such as the ability to open accounts in seconds with a credit card. The target audience for Cloud Architect overlaps with the audience for the API platform that AT&T announced yesterday to “boost innovation and collaboration with mobile developers.” AT&T’s API platform for developers features software hooks that allow developers to easily reference AT&T services in their applications. Cloud Architect represents an ambitious play by AT&T given that it will compete squarely with the likes of Amazon Web Services and Rackspace for the attention of the developer community.

AT&T is the third major U.S. telecom company to make an aggressive push into cloud computing. In January 2011, Verizon agreed to acquire Terremark for $1.4 billion. In April, CenturyLink acquired Savvis for $2.5 billion.