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ElasticStack 2.0 allows clouds to catapult SANs

Sheepdog herds server disks

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ElasticStack has just revved its eponymous infrastructure cloud software with a 2.0 release that lets it run more cheaply than the prior release and gives its more attention grabbing rivals a run for the money.

VMware, Eucalyptus Systems, Citrix Systems, Canonical, and the open source OpenStack project get most of the attention when it comes to supplying the software plumbing for infrastructure clouds.

Like the other vendors peddling tools to build infrastructure clouds, ElasticStack's 1.0 release, which came out last November, assumed that only the boot code for a server node in the cloud was located on local storage and that the files comprising VMs and their operating system, middleware, and application software would be placed centrally on storage area networks or clustered file systems that function more or less like one.

With the 2.0 release of Elastic Stack, the company has grabbed the Sheepdog distributed block-level storage system, which is an open source project created by NTT Labs in Japan, and woven it into its ElasticStack cloud controller. Now, customers can run compute and storage functions on the same nodes and forgo having to install a SAN or external clustered disk array to serve up storage for the VMs.

Sheepdog was created as distributed file storage specifically for the KVM hypervisor, and currently scales to several hundred nodes. It includes thin provisioning, cloning, and snapshotting features. As it turns out, the ElasticStack infrastructure cloud fabric is also based on the KVM hypervisor, so plugging the two together was not a big deal, says Richard Davies, CEO at the company.

In addition to the updated Sheepdog distributed storage, ElasticStack 2.0 includes a new Web control panel which was coded in Ajax. The chargeback features in the tool are also more customizable than in the past release and allow for integration into customer relationship systems such as Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics.

The ElasticStack infrastructure cloud was developed by British hosting company Elastic Hosting for its own internal use; it went live in 2008.

Late last year, the company decided its software was good enough that other hosting companies seeking to get into the infrastructure racket might want to buy its system, so it launched ElasticStack with for-fee support behind it. Serverlove, another hosting provider in the United Kingdom, is using ElasticStack for its infrastructure clouds, as is Skali Cloud, the first public cloud in Malaysia, and Open Hosting, which is based in the United States.

You can use ElasticStack to build your own private cloud on x64 servers, and if you do, you pay $550 per server per year to get the software and support for it. Hosting companies that use ElasticStack to create their public clouds don't have to buy the software, but they do have to give ElasticStack a 10 per cent cut of the action. ®

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