Feeds

'Special' Red Hat project joins search for The Meta Cloud

You call it 'special.' I call it 'not that interesting'

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Following in the slipstream of the open-source lidcloud project, Red Hat has unveiled its own effort to create a single programming interface for a wide range of so-called infrastructure clouds, including Amazon's EC2 and the Rackspace Cloud.

Yesterday, the commercial Linux outfit unveiled a new open-source project dubbed deltacloud, which it describes as an effort "to enable an ecosystem of developers, tools, scripts, and applications which can interoperate across the public and private clouds."

A public cloud would be an infrastructure-as-a-service thingy like Amazon EC2, whereas a private cloud is a similar set of dynamically scalable compute resources set up in your own data center. Red Hat hopes to achieves its dream ecosystem by way of a common application programming interface (API) for all clouds - or a least some of them.

"Today each infrastructure-as-a-service cloud presents a unique API that developers and ISVs need to write to in order to consume the cloud service. The deltacloud effort is creating a common, REST-based API, such that developers can write once and manage anywhere," the company says.

"A cloud broker if you will, with drivers that map the API to both public clouds like EC2, and private virtualized clouds based on VMWare and Red Hat Enterprise Linux with integrated KVM."

Founded by Cloudkick - an outfit offering management tools for overseeing the use of Amazon EC2 and similar services - the lidcloud project is building its own cloud-agnostic API. Currently, it does a few tricks with Amazon EC2 and EC2 Europe, Rackspace Cloud Servers, Slicehost, VPS.net, and GoGrid. But the ultimate goal is to create a common API across these disparate clouds and others, including Flexiscale and the open source private cloud platform Eucalyptus.

Like Cloudkick, Red Hat has taken great pride in its new metcloud API. "The initiation of a new open source project within Red Hat is certainly not news," the company says. "It’s an established expectation within our engineering ranks. It’s how we advance and develop software. Every once in a while, though, a new project breaks through the norm of business as usual. Something special. Creating a buzz. Today that project is http://deltacloud.org."

But for Thorsten von Eicken, CTO of RightScale, another cloud management outfit that works closely with Amazon, a metacloud API is "not that interesting really." It's not just the APIs that differ between clouds. Its the way virtual infrastructure is defined within the cloud. And this, he says, is the biggest hurdle between here and a world where you can easily move apps from cloud to cloud.

"The problem isn't having pieces of code that know how to generate a 'list servers' call and parse the response for several different clouds. The problem is being able to construct multi-server architectures and deployments that can make use of Amazon's load balancing service, IP address allocation scheme, and block storage service, and that can then be moved to RackSpace, which uses quite different ways of accomplishing the same high level goals," von Eicken wrote in response to our story on lidcloud.

"These are differences in semantics of the resources being allocated and used in the cloud, not just in the syntax of the API calls. *That's* the fun part from our experience at RightScale." von Eicken worked alongside Amazon Web Services father figure Werner Vogels while doing distributed-systems research at Cornell University in the mid-1990s.

In the end, a common API may not do the trick. "If you think about it, dealing with different APIs is just a programming exercise," von Eicken has told The Reg. "But if...you move to another cloud where the API is the same, but there's a little footnote that says that the semantics of IP addresses are such that they are contained in the data center and your app doesn't run that way, then, well, everything falls apart. That's much harder than a programing exercise. That's a 're-architecting your web site' exercise."

Nonetheless, Red Hat's deltacloud is underway here. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
FLAPE – the next BIG THING in storage
Find cold data with flash, transmit it from tape
Seagate chances ARM with NAS boxes for the SOHO crowd
There's an Atom-powered offering, too
Intel teaches Oracle how to become the latest and greatest Xeon Whisperer
E7-8895 v2 chips are best of the bunch, and with firmware-unlocked speed control
Gartner: To the right, to the right – biz sync firms who've won in a box to the right...
Magic quadrant: Top marks for, er, completeness of vision, EMC
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.