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.

Cloud Computing 2011: The Year in Review

Whereas Time magazine selected “The Protester” as the Person of the Year, the award for Technology of the Year surely goes to Cloud Computing. 2011 marked the year that cloud computing emerged with force and gravitas onto the enterprise landscape. In the case of enterprise CIOs and IT leaders pondering the use of cloud computing infrastructures, the question of the day suddenly morphed from whether to engage the services of a cloud provider to when and how. Over the course of the year, cloud providers grew, emerged, acquired companies or were acquired, raised venture capital and announced products at a dizzying pace.

Within months, the cloud computing landscape transformed from the Amazon, Rackspace, Joyent, Terremark, Savvis show to something radically heterogeneous and complex. As more and more cloud technologies proliferated, analysts and technologists alike began to feel that the term “cloud computing” itself was losing its meaning. Meanwhile, news agencies and blogs struggled to keep up with the pace of innovation and deployment as startups and enterprises alike announced new, exciting and powerful cloud technologies day after day, week after week.

Below are some of the highlights of cloud computing in 2011, the year of the cloud:

• In January and February, Amazon Web Services busted out of the gate in 2011 with the launch of Elastic Beanstalk and CloudFormation. Elastic Beanstalk automates the process of deploying an application on Amazon’s virtual servers. CloudFormation automates the provisioning of virtual resources using templates that streamline the setup of an infrastructure for deployments of new instances.

• In May, Citrix announced plans to launch Project Olympus, an IaaS platform that allows customers to leverage the OpenStack operating system code to create public or private clouds. Project Olympus marked the first commercialization of OpenStack and thereby inaugurated a series of commercial OpenStack deployments throughout the remainder of 2011.

• In May, Red Hat launched IaaS platform CloudForms and PaaS platform OpenShift. CloudForms signaled genuine innovation in the IaaS space because of its Application Lifecycle Management capabilities and hybrid infrastructure flexibility. OpenShift, meanwhile, presented direct competition to Google Apps, Windows Azure and Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk because of the breadth of its deployment platform and claims about increased portability.

• In June, Apple announced details of iCloud, a software framework that synchronizes files across multiple devices such as iPads, iPhones and personal computers, and pushes software updates to a constellation of devices in unison. In a keynote address at the Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC), Steve Jobs famously remarked that iCloud would “demote the PC and Mac to being a device,” because “we’re going to move the digital hub into the cloud.”

• In August, Amazon Web Services announced the launch of GovCloud, a private cloud for government agencies that complies with regulatory and compliance rules for the Federal government such as FISMA, FIPS 140-2 compliant end points, SAS-70, ISO 27001, and PCI DSS Level 1.

• In September, OpenStack, the open source cloud computing infrastructure that gained the backing of 144 companies including AMD, Canonical, Cisco, Dell, Intel and Citrix, released Diablo, its latest software version since the Cactus release in April 2011. Diablo, the first upgrade to OpenStack released on a 6 month schedule, upgrades its existing Nova, Object Storage and Glance components.

• Also in September, Joshua McKenty’s startup Piston Cloud Computing launched pentOS, one of the first enterprise grade versions of OpenStack for private clouds. With the launch of pentOS, Piston joined HP, Citrix Systems, Nebula and Dell in an elite group of vendors that commercialized the OpenStack platform in the latter half of 2011.

• In October, Rackspace revealed plans to turn over the leadership of OpenStack to an independent foundation. After founding OpenStack with the collaboration of NASA in the summer of 2010, Rackspace decided to hand over trademarks and copyrights to an independent foundation to ensure that OpenStack remains vendor neutral.

The meteoric rise of OpenStack constituted the cloud computing story of the year, by far. Commercial deployments of OpenStack by Piston Cloud Computing and other vendors underscored the emerging power of OpenStack as an increasingly competitive option to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) vendors such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace. Moreover, OpenStack promised global cloud inter-operability and standards resulting from an open source organizational framework for which respect snowballed within the developer and enterprise community alike. Much of the story of cloud computing in 2012 will hinge on the ability of the OpenStack foundation to continue to promote the software framework’s adoption in the private sector and establish itself as a credible counterweight to first mover Amazon Web Services and other proprietary cloud vendors.

Rackspace Launches OpenStack For Private Clouds

Rackspace announced the The Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition on Monday. The Private Edition makes available OpenStack software to enterprises seeking to deploy a private cloud. The offering contains three components: (1) OpenStack operating system software; (2) reference architecture specified by Rackspace and (3) managed services for setup and support in collaboration with ‘Certified Deployment Partners’ such as CloudTP, MomentumSI and TeamSun. Rackspace’s announcement of The Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition represents yet another step in the evolution of OpenStack and open source cloud computing. Rackspace, one of the founders of OpenStack, will now provide support for OpenStack deployments outside of its own data centers by leveraging a managed services model.

Internap Launches OpenStack-Based Open Public Cloud

On Thursday, Internap launched its Open Public Cloud compute product and subsequently claimed stake to the hotly contested title of “first commercial deployment of the OpenStack cloud computing platform.” In its press release, Internap noted that its Open Public Cloud delivers “high-performance, on-demand provisioning and scaling of enterprise computing capacity to meet changing web and application demands.” Additional features of the Open Public Cloud include an easy to use management interface, APIs and use of the Xen Cloud Platform. Internap’s Open Public Cloud platform is built upon the Cactus release of OpenStack and hence has yet to incorporate the latest enhancements to OpenStack specified in its Diablo release. Internap joins Dell, Citrix, Piston Cloud Computing and Nebula in laying claim to the first commercial grade deployment of OpenStack cloud computing software. In late September, Piston Cloud Computing launched an enterprise grade deployment of OpenStack with its pentOS offering for private clouds.

HP Selects Ubuntu As Lead Host and Guest OS For OpenStack

One of the major announcements at this week’s OpenStack Conference in Boston was HP’s decision to use Ubuntu as the “lead host and guest operating system” for its OpenStack-based Public cloud. HP’s selection of Ubuntu marked a huge affirmation for Canonical, Ubuntu Linux’s parent company. As commercial grade OpenStack deployments proliferate, HP’s decision to choose Ubuntu positions Canonical strongly to gain traction in the emerging market for commercial grade, host and guest operating systems for OpenStack.

In a blog post, Canonical commented on HP’s selection of Ubuntu by noting: “Both companies share a common commitment to open source and both embrace the OpenStack community. With over 117 member companies the momentum behind OpenStack is truly game changing and promises to position it at the center of the next wave of computing.” Canonical joined the OpenStack project in February and in May, announced that that the 11.10 version of its Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud would be based on OpenStack instead of Eucalyptus.

Piston Cloud Computing Launches pentOS, Enterprise Grade OpenStack Based Cloud Offering

Open source cloud computing took another giant leap forward with Piston Cloud Computing’s September 27 announcement of the launch of pentOS™. pentOS marks one of the first enterprise grade versions of OpenStack, the open source cloud computing infrastructure that has gained the backing of 110 companies including AMD, Canonical, Cisco, Dell, Intel and Citrix. The deployment of pentOS underscores the emerging power of OpenStack as an increasingly competitive option to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) vendors such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace. With pentOS, Piston joins Citrix Systems, Nebula and Dell in an elite group of vendors that commercialize the OpenStack platform. Piston marks one of the first live deployments of an enterprise grade level of OpenStack because Nebula’s OpenStack-based appliance and Citrix’s Project Olympus anticipate shipping in Q4 of this year.

With pentOS, Piston Cloud Computing leverages OpenStack’s IaaS software and additionally provides enterprise-level security, scaling and customer support. Some of the key features of pentOS involve the following:

• Ease of scalability: patent pending Null-tier architecture allows enterprises to scale their cloud architecture by replicating individual servers, one at a time, instead of upgrading an entire ecosystem of different machines.

• An enterprise installation of CloudAudit, a tool that enables cloud providers such as Piston to provide details of security and performance to potential customers.

• Enterprise customers can use pentOS to build private clouds and inter-operate with public clouds built upon an OpenStack infrastructure.

Piston’s announcement comes head on the heels of OpenStack’s launch of Diablo, its latest software release since the Cactus release in April 2011. Diablo, the first upgrade to OpenStack released on a 6 month schedule, upgrades its existing Nova, Object Storage and Glance components. The Diablo release additionally features OpenStack Dashboard and KeyStone. OpenStack Dashboard gives users access to an interface to understand performance within their cloud deployments. OpenStack Keystone provides enhanced authentication and identity management functionality.

Founded by CEO Joshua McKenty, chief technical architect of the NASA Nebula Cloud Computing Platform, and Christopher MacGown in early 2011, San Francisco based Piston Cloud Computing is funded by Hummer Winblad and True Ventures. The company’s deployment of an enterprise version of OpenStack significantly alters the horizon of cloud computing options available to enterprises that have particular concerns about vendor lock-in. Once deployed in General Availability mode, pentOS, Nebula and Project Olympus collectively promise to reconfigure the balance of cloud computing market share away from Amazon Web Services, Rackspace and Joyent, toward commercialized offerings of OpenStack that can deliver the portability increasingly demanded by enterprise CIOs.