Citrix Continues To Invest In OpenStack, For XenServer

A Citrix blog post by senior software engineer John Garbutt points out that Citrix has far from walked away from OpenStack. According to Garbutt’s post, Citrix still has two dedicated resources working on OpenStack and is looking for a third. Predictably, Citrix’s main OpenStack focus consists of optimizing its XenServer virtualization platform for OpenStack deployments. At present, Citrix can claim two flagship deployments of OpenStack with XenServer in the form of Internap and Rackspace. Internap deployed a production-grade, OpenStack cloud using XenServer and Rackspace recently launched a Beta version of its OpenStack-based cloud using XenServer instead of the KVM hypervisor traditionally used for OpenStack deployments.

Despite the backing of illustrious customers like Internap and Rackspace, Citrix is continuing to tweak the use of XenServer with OpenStack by announcing additional functionality for OpenStack’s Folsome release such as live migration and boot from volume. In addition, Citrix plans to improve the supporting documentation for OpenStack and XenServer as well as create a compatibility test suite for the Amazon EC2 platform. Cross pool live migration constitutes the main feature that Citrix promises to release in its bid to improve XenServer’s cloud optimization although the company is making no promises of its completion by the OpenStack Folsome release.

The bottom line here is that Citrix still has its fingers in the OpenStack pie and is likely to continue doing so given the relative immaturity of the market for OpenStack clouds. That said, the post indirectly confirms that Citrix has given up any idea of building a cloud infrastructure based on OpenStack in parallel with CloudStack, which it recently incubated with the Apache Software Foundation. When the web buzzed with overly-simplified news of Sony’s “defection” to OpenStack from Amazon Web Services, for example, the tech blogosphere needed an extra couple of days to fully comprehend that Sony was continuing to use Amazon Web Services in parallel with OpenStack. In the case of Citrix, however, the abandonment of OpenStack is complete save for its use as a distribution channel for the XenServer virtualization platform, even though OpenStack may well end up cannibalizing Citrix-commercialized deployments of CloudStack at some point in the future.

Amazon Web Services Launches Online Marketplace For Cloud Software

Just when OpenStack appeared to be grabbing the tech blogosphere’s attention with vendor endorsements revealed in conjunction with its Design Summit in San Francisco, Amazon Web Services reminded the cloud computing world of its market share dominance and technological leadership by releasing yet another component to its cloud computing platform. On Thursday, Amazon Web Services announced an online marketplace that allows customers to speedily deploy software from a range of other cloud vendors. Vendors in the AWS Marketplace include 10gen, CA, Canonical, Couchbase, Check Point Software, IBM, Microsoft, SAP AG, and Zend, as well as Drupal, MediaWiki, and WordPress. The AWS Marketplace simplifies access to cloud-based software for customers and thereby promises to offer vendors increased customer awareness of their products. Moreover, customers can benefit from the marketplace’s 1-click technology that simplifies deployment and allows users to try out software for customized trial periods without being confined to 30 or 60 day trial periods that expire and subsequently require expensive subscriptions. Prices vary based on the software vendor although, in the case of open-source software such as WordPress, customers pay only for the additional amount of storage and computing power required of the application.

Key features of the Amazon Web Services marketplace include:

• A centralized collection of software that can be deployed on the Amazon Web Services infrastructure.
• Billing managed by Amazon Web Services for participating software vendors.
• Simplified billing for customers who will now receive one invoice for both hardware and software usage.

The marketplace aptly illustrates Amazon Web Services’s intention to morph into a one stop shopping ground for cloud computing. The AWS Marketplace promises to vault the Seattle-based cloud startup turned behemoth into the de facto initial point of contact for customers seeking to deploy or develop cloud-based software because of its streamlined access to an ecosystem of software products. One critical metric of the marketplace’s success will be how many other cloud and big data vendors make their software available within the AWS Marketplace. PaaS vendors, in particular, may elect to offer their products within the AWS marketplace in an effort to solicit the attention of customers with a combination of IaaS and PaaS cloud computing needs. If this week’s Splunk IPO was any indication, Big data may also become a notable category of vendors for the AWS Marketplace as Big Data appears to have finally arrived in the eyes of investors and tech journalists at large.

ActiveState Produces Video On Migration To Cloud And Private PaaS Stackato

ActiveState recently released a short video highlighting some of the challenges organizations encounter while migrating applications to the cloud, with a corresponding emphasis on the “efficiency, control and security” of private PaaS Stackato. The clip is highly recommended for its astute use of animation to elaborate some of the stakes of deploying a cloud.

Puppet Labs Releases Configuration Modules For Enterprise OpenStack Installations

IT automation leader Puppet Labs today announced the release of configuration modules for OpenStack built specifically for enterprise-grade OpenStack implementations. Through partnerships with Cisco, Red Hat, Morphlabs and eNovance, Puppet Labs developed modules that streamline IT automation for enterprise OpenStack deployments. The configuration modules are designed to facilitate OpenStack management for enterprise CIOs and IT personnel by providing tools that typically result in a “10x boost in productivity, a 75 percent reduction in applications’ time-to-production, and a significant reduction in service outages,” according to the press release. The modules promise to simplify enterprise-level OpenStack installations by automating the deployment and ongoing management of complex, heterogeneous cloud IT infrastructures.

The decision by Puppet Labs to develop configuration modules for OpenStack signals its confidence in the appeal of the open-source cloud operating system for the enterprise. Moreover, Puppet Labs CEO Luke Kanies told Cloud Computing Today that the configuration modules are likely to drive OpenStack development in certain ways as opposed to others, leading to greater standardization in OpenStack deployments across the industry. Given the leadership that Puppet Labs has demonstrated in the IT automation space, the modules should predispose IT executives to experiment with OpenStack and decide whether to build an OpenStack deployment with the aid of automation from Puppet Labs and its partners, or buy an off the shelf commercialized OpenStack variant from the likes of Rackspace, HP, Dell, Nebula and Piston Cloud. Right now, however, the OpenStack market is too young to determine whether enterprises will tend to opt for deployments done by their own staff or by a commercial vendor that provides soup to nuts installation, training, maintenance and support.

Rackspace Launches OpenStack-based Cloud

Today, Rackspace announced the launch of an OpenStack-based cloud that draws a “line in the sand against proprietary cloud providers,” according to Rackspace CEO Lanham Napier. Rackspace’s OpenStack-based cloud will come loaded with the company’s famed “fanatical support” and venerable history of delivering enterprise-grade IaaS cloud solutions. Rackspace’s OpenStack-based cloud features the following components in varying modes of readiness for production release to customers:

Limited Availability

• Cloud Servers: the OpenStack-based cloud that leverages OpenStack Compute.
• Cloud Control Panel: An intuitive control panel designed especially for Rackspace’s OpenStack cloud.

Early Access (Production ready products with limited support)

• Cloud Databases: A high availability MySQL database.
• Cloud Monitoring: A platform that enables customers to keep track of the performance of their cloud ecosystems.

Preview (Products still in the testing phase)

• Cloud Block Storage: Elastic storage capability.
• Cloud Networks: A solution for managing virtual networks.

Cloud Servers is available to a limited pool of customers at present but will be generally available starting May 1. The Cloud Servers, Cloud Databases, Cloud Block Storage and Cloud Networks products are all powered by OpenStack. Rackspace’s launch of its OpenStack-based cloud makes it the first vendor to come to market with a public cloud solution based on Essex, the latest OpenStack release. HP is scheduled to unroll a public Beta of its OpenStack public cloud based on Essex in May.

OpenStack Foundation Sets Sail With IBM And Red Hat On Board

After months of planning, the OpenStack Foundation is starting to take shape. This week, OpenStack announced 19 companies that will serve as Gold and Platinum members in its Foundation. Platinum members will provide OpenStack with financial support on the order of $500,000/year, for three years. Gold members will contribute .025% of their company revenue per year, assuming an expected minimum contribution of $50,000 and a maximum of $200,000. Platinum members will also provide “operational resources” to the Foundation such as two full time equivalent employees.

The nineteen Gold and Platinum members are:

• Platinum: AT&T, Canonical, HP, IBM, Nebula, Rackspace, Red Hat, SUSE
• Gold: Cisco, ClearPath, Cloudscaling, Dell, DreamHost, ITRI, Mirantis, Morphlabs, NetApp, Piston Cloud Computing, Yahoo!

This is clearly an impressive roster, featuring one of the world’s leading telcos in the form of AT&T, founder Rackspace, provider of one of the world’s largest public clouds, IBM, Red Hat, HP and Canonical that need no introduction, and exciting startups such as Nebula and Piston Cloud Computing. The foundation’s mission is to “make OpenStack the ubiquitous cloud operating system” and “ensure interoperability among OpenStack clouds” given the larger goal of “protecting, empowering, and promoting OpenStack software and the community around it.”

Making OpenStack into the “ubiquitous cloud operating system” may sound like a lofty goal indeed, but this means the Foundation and its constituent members have set their sights high and placed their bets squarely on OpenStack’s success. Moreover, despite the oligarchic structure of a foundation that requires a significant capital investment to earn the Platinum or Gold designation, development activities will be structured by “an open development process that is driven by technical meritocracy.” Importantly, the Foundation now has the official support of IBM and Red Hat, the latter of which represents a crucial addition because of its wealth of experience building and commercializing open-source software solutions.

OpenStack is now supported by a whopping 166 companies. Undergirded by an impressively transparent governance structure and financed by 19 of the world’s leading technology companies, OpenStack’s ship has more than set sail. The key question now is how OpenStack as a cloud operating system will perform over a sustained period of time across enterprise deployments. Other questions about cloud APIs, versions and inter-operability will surely crop up soon, too, but the fundamental question around OpenStack today concerns its ability to demonstrate its readiness for enterprise-grade cloud computing and prove it is commensurate with, if not superior to Amazon Web Services and CloudStack. Expect to hear tons more OpenStack news at this week’s 2012 OpenStack Design Summit in San Francisco.