One of the differentiating features of an IaaS cloud implementation, is that you do not get access to a consolidated scalable storage infrastructure. At least not in the same way that you might expect if you were just scaling out compute nodes attached to the same SAN. You get remote block storage (Elastic Block Storage, EBS, in the case of Amazon) connected to a specific machine image, and you get REST-style object storage (Simple Storage Service, S3, in the case of Amazon) which is shared amongst images but does n0t speak the traditional APIs.
A lot of people have become dependent on EBS as it seems closest to what they are used to. 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 is also worth noting that EBS images are not like CIFS or NFS filesystems in that they can only be attached from a single instance, so you are still left with a bunch of headaches if you have a replicated mid-tier that expects to see a filesystem (for example to retrieve unstructured data). 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, this will require you to rewrite your code, so you are left looking for a distributed cloud-agnostic shared filesystem with multi-way replication (including asynchronous replication), and this is where Gluster fits in.
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.
As the dust settles on the Amazon Cloud Outage (or the mist lifts, or whatever cloud-related metaphorical cliché you prefer) I’d like to make a number of conclusions related to scalability performance, reliability and openness.
For those of you who haven’t followed the minutiae of the story, it appears that Amazon failed because a network event caused Elastic Block Storage (EBS) to start re-mirroring itself, which in turn saturated the network and caused more mirroring events in a cascade that made EBS unavailable.
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.
Under the terms of the original deal, at the same time as Attachmate acquired Novell, a newly-formed company called CPTN Holdings would acquire a portfolio of 882 patents from Novell, and then Microsoft, EMC, Apple and Oracle would each acquire some of these patents from CPTN Holdings.
Traditionally, internet companies like Google consider their custom server and data center designs as proprietary knowledge that creates significant value, but last week 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.
Facebook’s designs aim to reduce capital costs by removing unnecessary components from the server and the data center, and by simplifying manufacture and construction. They also seek to reduce running costs by increasing the efficiency of power usage. Although the initiative has been “Greenwashed”, reductions in power consumption seems primarily motivated by saving cost, not saving the planet.
Last Fall we all got quite excited here at the Virtualization Practice about the fate of SUSE, the commercial Linux Distribution, second in market share by value to Red Hat. SuSE is owned by Novell and the acquisition of Novell by Attachmate was announced on November 22nd for around $2.2bn. We noted that SUSE might end up as a standalone entity for subsequent sale to a third party, possibly VMware.
It’s now April, and since these things usually take 3 months and the deal hasn’t closed, clearly something has got in the way. Last week we started to see the way the deal could be unlocked.