Friday Mar 27, 2009

Sun talks out Cloud: Open Cloud Platform

Sun's Open Cloud Vision unveilled: Open Cloud Platform, an open infrastructure powered by Java, MySQL, OpenSolaris, and Open Storage software technologies.  Open APIs, Open formats and Open source.

On March 18th, at CommunityONE aka CloudONE, Sun unveiled the open cloud platform for powering public and private clouds. We also  announced that we are building our own Public Cloud. This will include a Storage and Compute Cloud. Our Cloud will be compatible with Amazon S3 and EC2 at the API level. Meaning, we will provide S3 and EC2 compatibility APIs in addition to our own, hence enabling an easy migration from Amazon services to Sun Cloud. All clouds - public, private or hybrid, built on Sun's Open Cloud platform will be interoperable and there will be minimal vendor lockin given the cloud platform will be built on open standards and APIs.

Storage Cloud:  The Sun Cloud Storage Service is a set of web service APIs and WebDAV protocols that provide open standard based, on-demand, programmatic access to highly scalable storage infrastructure via the Internet, (" the cloud "). With the Sun Cloud Storage Service you will get:

  • Ability to store and retrieve data in multiple data formats
  • Programmatic web services API operations and administration control, using industry standard that don't lock you in
  • Ability to clone and snapshot volumes
  • Ability to mount cloud drives via multiple WebDAV clients including DavFS
  • AWS S3 compatibility

At the CommunityONE conference, Zmanda' CEO Chander Kant showcased Amanda Enterprise (AE) and Zmanda Cloud Backup (ZCB) integration with Sun Cloud APIs to provide customers with backup and recovery solutions for the Sun Cloud that combine fast installation, simplified management, enterprise-class functionality and the benefit of using open formats to ensure that customers are not locked into a vendor to recover archived data. Zmanda engaged with us to get a Storage Account and were able to complete the integration in less than one week for both S3 and WebDAV set of APIs.

Compute Cloud: The core of the Sun Compute Service is the Virtual Data Center (VDC), based on capabilities acquired when Sun bought Q-layer in January.  VDC is a self service UI for Orchestration and Provisioning of resources. It provides everything developers need to build and run a cloud-based data center, including an integrated interface to stage an application that runs on either the OpenSolaris, Linux or Windows operating systems. The VDC enables you to design applications from pre-built components using drag-and-drop, deploy to cloud, monitor, manage and reconfigure the system, and is compatibile with programmatic APIs. The data center  abstraction layer allows for seamless encapsulation of system architecture of an application, and ability to model, save and deploy entire system into a cloud.

At CommunityONE, Sun's Cloud Computing CTO, Lew Tucker demonstrated a functional virtual data center in the cloud, running the Wikipedia and Facebook design patterns. He showed how to build a VDC using the drag-and-drop GUI interface as well as the Sun Cloud RESTful APIs.

Ref. Fig. left: The tool's left pane lists the different sorts of gear/virtual machine images (VMIs) that you might put into your data center as drag-and-dropp'able objects. The objects can be Linux servers, Windows servers, Solaris servers, firewalls, Web servers, load balancers, caching servers, databases, networking switches and so on. Some are standard configurations that Sun will offer. Others will be built by the Sun Cloud community and published in a catalog that you can use. On the right is a blank pane representing an empty cloud that's waiting for you to drop your personalized virtual data center into.

What happens next could not be simpler. You start picking up servers, switches, firewalls, etc., and you just drop them into the cloud. Then, you connect them. Certain objects like servers can be configured. For example, you can describe a server's processor attributes (GHz rating, core count, memory, etc.) and the resulting pay-as-you-go cost depends on that configuration. More cores, more memory, more GHz... more cost. The VDC is automatically asigned one public IP and the servers in the vLAN get private IPs. The diagram on the left shows the typical Facebook design pattern built using the VDC.

A replay of the demo is available here.  We are blown away by the interest in our Cloud and everyone's eagerness to give us their Credit Cards to get access to the Services TODAY.  We can't wait to roll this out this summer! In the meantime, please keep the feedback coming.


Sunday Nov 09, 2008

EUCALYPTUS : Open Source Cloud Infrastructure, The Skies are Opening!

Last week I attended a fantastic talk on EUCALYPTUS at a cloud computing meetup.  The presentor Rich Wolski, is a a professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  He created EUCALYPTUS, an open source cloud computing implementation, that is interface compatible with Amazon EC2.  It was a great educational talk, very relevant to the budding cloud computing industry. Rich Wolski put in perspective the popularity of Cloud Computing when he mentioned that the term "Cloud Computing" was only coined about a year ago, by Google on Oct. 8 2007 in a press release.  Today after 1 year and 1 month, a google search on "cloud computing" gives ~9 million results! This explosive growth in cloud computing got Prof. Rich Wolski interested in the subject for research and gave birth to the project EUCALYPTUS.

EUCALYPTUS is an acronym and expands to: Elastic Utility Computing Architecture Linking Your Programs To Useful Systems. The infrastructure is designed to support multiple client-side interfaces besides EC2. It is implemented using commonly-available Linux tools and basic Web-service technologies making it easy to install and maintain.

The fig. below illustrates the EUCALYPTUS architecture.

 


The Cloud Controller implements all the gory details of the Cloud backend provisioning, whereas the Client side API Translator emulates a Cloud interface like EC2. This design makes EUCALYPTUS modular and extensible to emulate clouds other than EC2. Eg., EUCALYPTUS plans to emulate the Google Apps Engine in the near future by adding yet another API Translation layer. In its current version available today, EUCALYPTUS translator is built to EC2 WSDL published by Amazon and is 100% interface compatible with EC2. When RightScale management and monitoring tools connected with EUCALYPTUS, they were not able to identify any difference between EC2 and EUCALYPTUS.

Security and authentication mechanism is very similar to EC2 except for its without a credit card. User signup is web based and ssh key generation and installation is implemented just like EC2. Since there are no published administration and accounting tools published by EC2, EUCALYPTUS defines its own tools for user management and cloud management.

 When EUCALYPTUS project was launched, the objective was to keep it simple, extensible, easy to install and maintain, and build it on widely available and popular open source technologies. Another objective was to ensure that it is a cloud indeed, given there has been a lot of confusion about what a Cloud really is or not is. To ensure that, the team decided to emulate an existing cloud and made the following design decisions:

  • EUCALYPTUS would be interface compatible with Amazon EC2 and S3
  • It  would work with command line tools directly from Amazon without any modifications
  • It would leverage exisitng EC2 value added services like RightScale

Given EUCALYPTUS was an open source project and would need to run on any hardware without prior knowledge of the underlying infrastructure, it was also designed  to function as a software overlay such that existing installation is not violated too much and no assumptions are made about the hardware.

Some of the Goals of EUCALYPTUS were:

  • Foster research in elastic/cloud/utility computing
  • Experimental vehicle prior to buying commercial services from EC2 and other clouds
  • Providing a debugging and development platform for EC2 and other clouds
  • Provide a basic cloud platform for the open source community. Might evolve into a Linux experience..
  • Not designed as a replacement technology for EC2 or other commercial cloud services. In its current form, it can scale upto 1000 nodes.

Some of the biggest challenges addressed by Rich Wolski and his team of 5 research students around building EUCALYPTUS were:

  • Extensibility
  • Client side interface (modular design so that its compatible with EC2 and other clouds)
  • Networking
  • Security
  • Packaging and Installation (One click install)

EUCALYPTUS is hosted as a public cloud and its free for use. However, only installed images can be run and usage is limited to 6 hours. EPC (EUCALYPTUS Public Cloud) configuration consists of:

  • 8 Pentium Xeon processors (3.2 GHz)
  • 2.5 GB of memory per image
  • 3.6GB disk space
  • 1GB ethernet interconnect
  • Linux 2.6.18-xen-3.1
  • Xen 3.2

Yes, its as big as an electron in the EC2 cloud. So clearly, even though its not a replacement for a commercial cloud, cloud vendors could learn a lot from its implementation if they wish to build their own cloud. Developers and end users could use it for testing and debugging purposes before deploying it on a real cloud. Given the popularity of cloud Computing, it could be the next Linux experience! Who knows.

IMHO, its a fabulous piece of work done by a team of 7 engineers at UCSB, using open source technologies, working with a limited budget in a duration of about 6-8 months. Check it out!!

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Sunday Nov 02, 2008

Sun's Cloud Computing Portfolio

Update: Sun has expanded its Cloud Computing portfolio with the recent acquisition of Qlayer, a cloud computing company that automates the deployment and management of both public and private clouds.  The Q-layer organization, based in Belgium, is now part of Sun's Cloud Computing business unit which develops and integrates cloud computing technologies, architectures and services.

Cloud computing is about managing petascale data. Sun's server and storage systems can radically improve the data-intensive computing emerging in the cloud. Some clouds are closed platforms that lock you in. Sun's open source philosophy and Java principles form the core of a strategy that provides interoperability for large-scale computing resources. Sun's virtualization solutions for advanced high-performance computing deployments are integrated with Solaris and Web 2.0 technologies such as Java and MySQL.

Check out Sun's Cloud Computing Porfolio below:

  • MySQL is almost the defacto database of choice powering the web-scale next-generation of database driven web applications in the cloud. Cloud computing solutions for MySQL makes it easy to develop, deploy, and manage your new and existing MySQL-backed applications in a virtual computing environment. The MySQL Enterprise for Amazon EC2 subscription is a comprehensive offering of database software and production support to deliver applications on Amazon EC2 with optimal performance, reliability, security, and uptime. For the first time, organizations can now cost-effectively deliver database driven web-scale computing in the "cloud", fully backed by the MySQL database experts at Sun. You can learn more about it here


  • The Webstack from Sun is the optimized open source software stack and is bundled with latest release of OpenSolaris 2008.11. It is pre-configured to have the most popular applications (Apache, PHP, MySQL) to work seamlessly out of a Solaris box. By using Solaris with these binaries in a Cloud, you can enjoy the best levels of performance, while also reducing your time-to-service.
  • Performance is one of the key metrics that users are skeptical about in the cloud. White its not a critical criteria, they still want to be able to profile their applications running in the cloud. Netbeans  provides plugins to profile your application on Amazon EC2. Check out the steps here on how to use Netbeans for profiling your application in the Cloud. You can learn more on this at the Cloud Computing Bootcamp on Nov. 19 2008.  

  • Virtualization is key to enabling a Cloud Computing environment. The Sun xVM portfolio offers a simple and efficient way to leverage a heterogeneous, virtualized environment:
    • xVM Ops Center Discover, provision, update, and manage globally dispersed IT environments from one console
    • xVM VirtualBox Build, test, and run applications on one desktop or laptop for multiple OS platforms side by side
    • xVM Server Securely and reliably virtualize systems and services in a Windows, Solaris OS, or Linux environment
    • Sun VDI Software Securely access a virtual desktop from nearly any client on the network

Further, Solaris 10 includes the Containers technology which is an implementation of operating system level virtualization technology first made available in 2005 as part of Solaris 10. A Solaris Container is the combination of system resource controls and the boundary separation provided by zones. Zones act as completely isolated virtual servers within a single operating system instance. By consolidating multiple sets of application services onto one system and by placing each into isolated virtual server containers, system administrators can reduce cost and provide all the same protections of separate machines on a single machine, hence making it a perfect technology for the Clouds.

  • Besides the product portfolio, Sun is also offering services in the Cloud Computing space.
    • Zembly is a service from Sun hosted on Network.Com which is a place to create social applications, together.  At Zembly, you easily create and host social applications of all shapes and sizes, targeting the most popular social platforms on the web like Facebook, Meebo, iPhone, Google Gadgets etc. And, you do it along with other people, using just your browser and your creativity, and working collaboratively with others.
    • Project Kenai is the foundation for the connected developer of tomorrow. It allows you to freely host your open source projects and code. Find and collaborate with developers of like mind and passion from around the globe.
    • Project SocialSite, is an open source ( CDDL/GPL2) project for building Widgets and Web Services that make it easy for you to add social networking features to your existing web sites, including the ability to run OpenSocial Gadgets and have them backed by the same social graph.
    • Project Caroline is an advanced R&D project at Sun Microsystems. It is a hosting platform for development and delivery of dynamically scalable Internet-based services. It is designed to serve an emerging market of small and medium sized software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers.


  • Sun is offering Open Solaris on Amazon EC2 OpenSolaris, which comes with tools such as ZFS and Dynamic Tracing (D-Trace), are offered for free, in contrast to some Linux offerings that cost money. ZFS allows instant rollback and continual check-summing capabilities, something developers have found lacking in the EC2 platform.  In addition, Sun is offering several popular EC2 images like Drupal, Roby on Rails, Apache, Tomcat etc. For the entire list, click here.


  • Sun is running several promotions for  hosting Facebook and OpenSocial applications on OpenSolaris free for 1 year with some of our cloud computing partners like Joyent. For more details, check out our Startup Essentials program.

Stay tuned for more to come from Sun in this space.

Wednesday Oct 29, 2008

My 2 cents on Microsoft Azure

Microsoft recently announded their Cloud offering called Azure. Azure is more of a PaaS Windows cloud, offering their proprietary closed Winows products  as a service. Seems to me like that traditional Software as a Service (Saas) model. Does not REALLY excite me! Marketing dollars well spent though in picking up the name Azure, meaning "clear cloudless sky". In addition, they have not yet announced anything around SLAs and price for the service, key for successful adoption of cloud based computing.

Yahoo announced yesterday their own PaaS Y!Open platform based on OpenSocial APIs that is geared more towards targeting Social networking audience unlike Azure. This is more interesting to me as they will immediately be able to capture new developers and expand on their current echosystem.

But yes, Azure is offering more than what Google Apps Engine offers today. To me, it would be interesting to see what M$ offers around industry standard APIs like OpenSocial which is how they can attract more of the Next-gen developers building mashup services around their PaaS. They seem to have endorsed OpenSocial anyways.

Facebook has gone up from 27 million users to 140 million users after opening up their Facebook API to developers in the last one year with 40 thousand third party applications hosted on facebook. Now thats revolution. Its all about expanding the echosystem of your developers in this era of internet computing and thus monopolising the market/making yourself indispensible. Its all about the open APIs, rather than spinning your own proprietary API clouds like Azure. 

Web-scale and Cloud Computing open APIs is almost like the Open Source model which we have all come to love and thrive on. Stay tuned on my next blog on Open Web Identity leading to Identity platforms and Open Social Networks.

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alkagupta

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