Builds Cloud Computing Bridge

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted May 5, 2010

Can the cloud itself be open source? (formerly VMOps), which came out of stealth mode with the name not only believes so, it is also basing its business around it.

Virtually Speaking: Will enterprises cross's bridge to a cloud computing infrastructure? It's betting the bank they will. And it's not the only one looking to make money by simplifying the path to the cloud.

On Wednesday, the company unveiled a new release of its cloud computing infrastructure management software CloudStack in two commercial and one open source editions. The open source and commercial versions are functionally the same, CMO Peder Ulander told ServerWatch. However the CloudStack Community Edition cannot be used used for anything involving monetization because the the billing system and other components necessary to make money with it come from third parties, Ulander explained. A whopping 98 percent of CloudStack is from software licensed under the GPL. Ulander said that although a cloud can be run off of the Community Edition, making it ideal for putting the software through the paces before taking it into a production environment.

So what is CloudStacks? Ulander described its function as "bridging the private cloud to the public cloud." He is quick to note that "we build software; we're not hosting a service," despite the company's description of it as infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

The software seeks to combine computing, networking and storage infrastructure in a data center into a single shared resource pool deployable to multiple users as a service. Unlike other cloud offerings, CloudStack integrates with a data center's current infrastructure, thus not requiring any investment in new hardware.

The CloudStack technology, available in enterprise and service provider editions in addition to the open source version, sits on top of the Xen or KVM hypervisor to offer service management, user management, an image repository, a developer API and more. It then integrates its user interface and approach with existing management tools and common cloud frameworks like the Amazon Web Services API, Citrix Cloud Center (C3) and VMware’s vCloud initiative.

Among the many other benefits CloudStack claims to offer is a secure environment; more comprehensive service management with regard to defining, metering, deploying and managing services to be consumed within a cloud; automated resource distribution; real-time visibility and reporting capabilities; and simplified management.

While aims for simplicity, it is not the only vendor looking to bridge to the cloud.

Red Hat, for example, last week unveiled a program it is calling Red Hat Cloud Access. The program enables current Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscribers to leverage their existing support subscriptions for cloud deployments. While Red Hat's goal is also to simplify, its approach is is different and both clunkier and more limiting than CloudStack's. Its also only for Red Hat customers. After all, the Linux, and now virtualization vendor, now has a horse in this race.

As reports, "With Red Hat Cloud Access, enterprises that have Red Hat Enterprise Linux premium subscriptions can move them to Amazon's EC2 cloud. As a result, Red Hat is enabling its customers to migrate to the cloud with their existing subscriptions. Red Hat is also now set to ensure that the Amazon images of its Red Hat Enterprise Linux are consistent with the version updates that enterprises deploy on-premises."

The buzz around cloud computing is growing ever louder. Despite its inherent complexities, it is being made out to be technology suitable for every organization of every size and level of tech-saviness. That is not the case. With some products that facilitate its usage being added to the mix, it is possible, however. The vendors are clearly starting to scope out this untapped pool of potential customers. It will be interesting to watch how fast organizations bite, as well as whether this develops into the next cloud vendor hotspot.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch and Enterprise IT Planet. She has been covering virtualization since 2001, and is the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, published by Pearson in October 2009.

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