The Virtualization Practice

Author Archive for Mike Norman

Mike Norman
Mike NormanDr Mike Norman, is the Analyst at The Virtualization Practice for Open Source Cloud Computing. He covers PaaS, IaaS and associated services such as Database as a Service from an open source development and DevOps perspective. He has hands-on experience in many open source cloud technologies, and an extensive background in application lifecycle tooling; automated testing - functional, non-functional and security; digital business and latterly DevOps.

One of the most intriguing names that has hitherto been at the periphery of the OpenStack initiative is Citrix. Up until last week, Citrix’s contribution was to ensure OpenStack ran on XenServer. However, this week at it’s Synergy event, Citrix made some more sigificant announcements about Project Olympus, through which it aims to provide (in collaboration with Dell and Rackspace) a route to commercial exploitation of the OpenStack codebase. For some time I have been perplexed as to what Citrix is doing. Are they genuinely intending to enter this space? Is this the real play or is it a spoiler?

It is interesting to see Edward’s comment that according to EMC/VMware, widespread production deployment of Cloud Apps is 3-5 years off. If that is the case the VMware CloudFoundry initiative should be focused on cutting-edge development rather than porting existing apps, and in much the same way that Microsoft has always courted developers, CloudFoundry should be the latest cool thing for developer productivity. It’s interesting to talk about this stuff in the abstract, and at the strategic level, but sometimes it’s worth understanding what happens when you need to make the decisions for yourself.

Amazon failed because of simultaneous failure of its EBS in two Availability zones. If you were dependent on one of these (or mirrored across the two) you lost access to the filesystem from your Instances. It may be sensible to move to the use of the S3 mechanism (or some portable abstraction over it) for new applications, but if you have an existing application that expects to see a filesystem in the traditional way, Gluster can provide a distributed cloud-agnostic shared filesystem with multi-way replication (including asynchronous replication).

VMware’s CloudFoundry and Red Hat’s OpenShift – Compare and Contrast

Over the last few weeks, VMware (as we indicated in an earlier post) and Red Hat have initiated two very similar initiatives known respectively as CloudFoundry and OpenShift. These are Platform as a Service (PaaS) plays, being developed for the longer term, primarily looking to encourage the development of (and thereafter to provide infrastructure for) applications specificallysuited to the the cloud. In this article we compare and contrast the two offerings and discuss their significance for the PaaS market as a whole.

Amazon’s Service Level Agreement (SLA) is so narrowly-drawn that it could easily be argued that the recent Elastic Block Store (EBS) outage wasn’t a failure of Amazon Web Services at all. Anyone using EBS in a production environment was, arguably, reaping the fruits of their own folly. Of course they don’t tell you when you read the hype that architecting for resilience in the Cloud is actually very complicated, particularly if you want to take the sensible step of not relying on a single provider like Amazon, no-matter how dominant their hype may be.

EMC, the majority owner of VMware, has agreed with the Department of Justice not to acquire 33 Virtualization Patents from Novell as part of a side-transaction in the acquisition of Novell by Attachmate. The Statement from the Department of Justice sheds significant light on the deal that had been struck between Novell and a newly-created company formed by Microsoft, EMC, Apple, Oracle to acquire a portfolio of patents for $450M, and the anti-trust threat that the Department of Justice saw to the Open Source community. And whilst the spotlight has been on Microsoft’s role, it seems that the role of EMC in seeking to acquire Virtualization patents was at least as concerning to the Department of Justice.

Facebook (which had previously bought commodity servers and rented data center space) has opened up a whole new area of Open Source technology by publishing the full specification of both its new custom server and its new data center as “Open Source” at OpenCompute.org. Overall, Facebook claims that its new data centers are 38 per cent more efficient than its existing leased data centers, but the cost is about 20 per cent less. Published data (such as it exists) indicates that Facebook is at or ahead of rivals or peers such as Microsoft and Google. OpenCompute designs are released under new set of Open Source agreements. The intent seems to be to allow innovation within the published specification, but to ensure multiple providers of the technology. Facebook is clearly seeking to get multiple tier-1 third-party providers for both servers and data centers according to these designs, turning these Open Source specifications into a form of de-facto Standard, which could have broad impact by driving the marketplace away from shared storage models (such as Red Hat’s IAAS reference architecture) to local-storage-friendly IAAS architectures such as OpenStack or Eucalyptus.

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