Canonical Founder Endorses Amazon Web Services APIs As Standard Cloud API

Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth’s ringing endorsement of Amazon Web Services APIs last week gave Amazon Web Services yet another boost as it consolidates its position in the enterprise space. Having launched its Amazon Direct Connect service in yet another region last week, Amazon Web Services continues to gain industry momentum that builds upon its deployment of GovCloud, the recently launched AWS region that enables government agencies to embrace cloud computing while complying with government level security regulations about the handling of sensitive data.

In a blog post last Thursday, Canonical’s founder Mark Shuttleworth advocated that OpenStack, the open source cloud computing platform backed by 110 companies, adopt Amazon APIs as their standard API for enabling transfers of data between OpenStack and other cloud environments. Shuttleworth referenced the HTTP standard for the World Wide Web as the protocol for data transfer and noted that Amazon’s API constitutes the analogue of HTTP for cloud computing:

Today, cloud infrastructure is looking for its HTTP. I think that standard already exists in de facto form today at AWS, with EC2, S3 and some of the credential mechanisms being essentially the core primitives of cloud infrastructure management.

Shuttleworth goes on to claim that, despite the existence of an effective standard for cloud computing APIs from Amazon, ample opportunities remain for advances in the area of cloud computing implementations:

There is enormous room for innovation in cloud infrastructure *implementations*, even within the constraints of that minimalist API. The hackers and funders and leaders and advocates of OpenStack, and any number of other cloud infrastructure projects both open source and proprietary, would be better off figuring out how to leverage that standardisation than trying to compete with it, simply because no other API is likely to gain the sort of ecosystem we see around AWS today.

Shuttleworth’s post was prompted by speculation that OpenStack should innovate at the level of an API in addition to its core IaaS infrastructure. Rather than innovating at the level of the API, the former Canonical CEO argues for adopting the AWS API as a standard and innovating around or with respect to that API. Shuttleworth believes OpenStack’s mission should be to serve as “the reference public cloud provider scale implementation of cloud infrastructure compatible with AWS core APIs.”

Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu Linux, joined the OpenStack community in February of 2011 and subsequently switched the core of its Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud to OpenStack instead of Eucalyptus in May. Shuttleworth’s endorsement of Amazon EC2 APIs comes as the battle for cloud inter-operability take shape, even though the relative immaturity of the industry means that a clear inter-operability standard analogous to healthcare’s HL7 protocol is months or even years away. AWS APIs compete with Apache’s Libcloud and Red Hat’s Deltacloud in a space that is gaining momentum as more and more companies consider switching from one cloud infrastructure to another.

OpenStack’s Fortunes Continue to Soar with Citrix System’s Project Olympus

Citrix System’s May 25 announcement that it intends to use OpenStack, the open source cloud computing infrastructure, as the basis for a new product called Project Olympus underscores how the open source tide is steadily shifting OpenStack’s way. Project Olympus allows customers to create IaaS clouds that leverage the OpenStack operating system code to create public or private clouds. The Project Olympus product contains two components: (1) a version of OpenStack certified by Citrix; and (2) a Citrix XenServer hypervisor optimized for the cloud. Although the product is designed for the XenServer hypervisor, Project Olympus supports the VMware vSphere and the Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors as well. Customers requiring deployment using other hypervisors will need to use OpenStack. According to Citrix’s press release, the product will begin shipping later this year at a date yet to be specified.

Project Olympus marks the first commercialization of OpenStack in a move that reveals how open source cloud computing is never really open source. Eucalyptus, for example, provides open source APIs for Amazon EC2 that enable customers to migrate data between AWS and Eucalyptus cloud environments. That said, Eucalyptus deploys commercial code for its Eucalyptus Enterprise Edition (E3) features for management, SAN integration and VMWare compatibility purposes. Because OpenStack has yet to deploy this management functionality, we expect Citrix will compensate for this gap in OpenStack’s functionality in its Project Olympus product offering.

Earlier this year, Canonical’s decision to change the cloud computing provider for its Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud offering from Eucalyptus to OpenStack marked a significant affirmation for OpenStack. Version 11.04 of Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud currently uses Eucalyptus but the upcoming version 11.10 will make use of the OpenStack cloud computing architecture created by Rackspace and NASA in the summer of 2010. Version 11.10 is expected to be released in October 2011. The bottom line is that OpenStack’s fortunes are soaring even though Red Hat, which has recently released an open source cloud computing product called CloudForms, announced its revenues intend to cross the $1 billion mark in the upcoming fiscal year.