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.
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.
Red Hat today announced the acquisition of startup PaaS vendor, Makara, which provides a deployment platform for most of the Open Source application stacks onto most of the IaaS cloud infrastructures. Red Hat intends to use the purchased technology rather than the product itelf. It gains additional application-level management, monitoring and configuration functionality for an emerging stand-alone PaaS offering to drive its customers towards a fully RHEL-cloud.
VMworld is clearly the largest dedicated virtualization conference, and yet from an Open Source perspective it is slightly disappointing because the VMware ecosystem naturally attracts proprietary software vendors, and also some of the more interesting activities in Open Source are through multi-vendor foundations which do not have the same marketing budgets as vendors themselves.
Nevertheless, there are a number of key Open Source players, and some interesting smaller players, represented at VMworld.
As of Service Pack 1, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 (SLES) supports KVM for SUSE guests. This post follows on from our previous post regarding the demise of Xen in Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and perhaps suggests the beginning of the end for Xen-based virtualization in Linux, but the story is far from clear. A complex set of agreements with Microsoft mean that Novell is bound to preferentially support Windows guests, and it may be a while before KVM support is adequate, although Novell has a project called Alacrity to help get it there. In the meanwhile Novell may get split up into pieces by a private equity house and SLES find itself a new owner.
The Red Hat 6 Beta is out, and there is no Xen in it, only KVM. It can operate as a guest in an existing Xen environment, but it cannot act as a Xen host. A few minority interests still cling to Xen, but ultimately it makes no sense for most Linux distributions to ship with Xen. Novell will stick with Xen for a while, and also Oracle, because they are no friend of Red Hat, but when the hypervisor wars become old news, they will quietly move to KVM. It’s easier. In future we fully expect to be talking about Xen/Linux in the past tense.