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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