Over the last few months, we have identified a trend towards “diversity” in the PaaS provider marketplace. Platform as a Service has become Platforms as a Service, the providers are offering multiple choices at each layer of the platform infrastructure, and seeing their role as automating the provisioning of properly configured instances as required at each layer of the stack.
On Aug 2nd, there was another entrant to this “diverse” PaaS provider marketplace called Cumulogic, a startup with a PaaS cloud positioned alongside Red Hat OpenShift and VMware CloudFoundry that we identified earlier.
As mentioned in a couple of recent posts, I have been building a prototype application using Open Source technologies that I plan to install on a number of available PaaS cloud platforms. The application is written in Groovy (with some bits in Java) and built on the Grails framework. The choice to go with this set of technologies is documented in Why would a Developer choose VMware? and my experiences leveraging the Open Source ecosystem around Groovy/Grails is outlined in VMware’s SpringSource Ecosystem
As of its Cactus release (April 2011), the OpenStack Open Source Cloud infrastructure project had three main subprojects: OpenStack Compute (code-named Nova) for provisioning and managing large networks of virtual machines, OpenStack Object Storage (code-named Swift) for creating redundant, scalable object storage, and OpenStack Image Service (code-named Glance) for providing discovery, registration, and delivery services for virtual disk images. Over the last few months an additional sub-project codenamed Quantum has emerged which deals explicitly with networking and has participation from networking giants Intel and Cisco as well as from Citrix. It’s a mechanism for defining network topologies aimed at providing Layer-2 network connectivity for VM instances running in clouds based on the OpenStack cloud fabric. It is designed to be extensible to allow higher-level services (VPN, QoS, etc) to be built on top, and to cleanly handle the “edge of network” problem (i.e., the binding of the cloud into the internet).
We’ve touched on Red Hat’s Cloud strategy in a number of posts. To summarize they’re trying to play at all levels in the stack, from IAAS and PaaS through to hypervisor and of course operating system. All layers are open, and as you get further down the stack towards virtualization they are pushing KVM but they are clear that they have to co-exist with Microsoft and VMware. In the IaaS layer they have DeltaCloud, which is nominally open but is really a Red Hat product with an open veneer. In the PaaS layer they have a stack of really good middleware from JBoss, and an openness to a whole bunch of Java/JVM and non-JVM languages. They’re punting this out to the world as OpenShift.
So far, although there are nuances that differ from other vendors, the main conclusion is that each individual layer is comparable to offerings from competitors. However, there is one layer that sets Red Hat apart from competitive offerings, known as MRG – Messaging Realtime and Grid, pronounced “Merge”. If you’re wondering what this is, it seems also that some of are bits of Red Hat’s marketing department that haven’t got a clue either because the market positioning is a bit vague.
I like OpenStack (the Open Source IaaS Cloud Platform intiative), partly because of the model of open innovation and permissive licencing (which reminds me of my time at Eclipse) and partly because even within the existing governance model (which I have criticised) there is the opportunity for different agendas to surface and to drive the project in different directions and this diversity makes an analyst’s life more interesting.
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, something which I’m sure Citrix cares about, but perhaps wasn’t top of the list of requirements for the rest of the world. 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.
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.
So, although I’m more of an Architect than a Developer I’m knocking up a prototype application – this isn’t a thought experiment I really am building a real prototype with a view to showing to a real enterprise customer (in fact several), but it’s not being built for one specific customer so there aren’t any pre-defined corporate standards on the technology that I have to build it on.