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Cloud.com goes open source

Citrix sets cloud builder free

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VMworld After taking control of the CloudStack cloud management framework through its acquisition of Cloud.com back in July, Citrix Systems is now open sourcing the code behind the tool. At the same time, it's adding support for the provisioning of workloads on additional hypervisors and, for the first time, on bare-metal machines.

Cloud.com was founded in 2008 at about the same time as rival Eucalyptus Systems. It was known as VMOps before it came out of stealth mode in May 2010.

The company founders include CEO Sheng Liang, who was the lead developer for Sun's Java Virtual Machine; chief marketing officer Peder Ulander, who managed the Solaris development team and who took Java open source at Sun; and VP of engineering Kevin Kluge, who had that job at email service provider Zimbra (now part of VMware after a brief stay at Yahoo!). Cloud.com's goal is to create a cloud framework for internal clouds that adheres to APIs used in public clouds and allows companies to mix and match hypervisors (which have different feature sets and pricing) as they see fit.

At the VMworld 2011 virtualization extravaganza in Las Vegas today, Citrix is trotting out CloudStack 2.2.10, which has been certified to support rival VMware's ESXi 5.0 hypervisor, part of the vSphere 5.0 server virtualization stack that was announced in July and which started shipping last week. Citrix, you will recall, was responsible for weaving in ESXi support for the rival OpenStack cloud fabric back in April.

Microsoft love imminent

Cloud.com has been supporting prior VMware hypervisors for a while and already has support for various implementations of the KVM and Xen hypervisors, too. Ulander, who is now VP of product marketing at the Cloud Platforms Group at Citrix, tells El Reg that the company will be rolling out support for Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor sometime in the fourth quarter.

The CloudStack 2.2.10 release announced today will also be able to take control of and provision the current Oracle VM 2.X variants of the Xen hypervisor onto x64-based servers and will support the Oracle VM 3.0 hypervisor, announced last week ahead of VMworld to try to steal some thunder. The initial Oracle VM support in CloudStack for the 2.X releases will come out in October, with 3.0 support expected later.

Perhaps equally significantly because not all workloads can be or should be virtualized, CloudStack 2.2.10 can also do some provisioning of bare-metal servers and then deploy and manage applications on them. The bare-metal support will work on any x86-based machine with an Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI).

Software images are started and stopped on the bare metal using PXE, and they are managed in the same interface as the virtual machines and hypervisors inside of the CloudStack console. Ulander says that Citrix has tested it on various x64 servers from Dell and Super Micro, but that it should work on any x64 box with IPMI.

Open wide

Now with all of these goodies added to CloudStack, Citrix is putting its faith in the open source model and letting go of all of the code in its cloud tool, unlike rival Eucalyptus Systems (which does not open source all of its code, just a subset of it) and like all of the people working for the OpenStack (who started the project largely because of their frustration with the technical limits and quasi-closed nature of the Eucalyptus cloud framework).

While Cloud.com has opened sourced 98 per cent of the code from the moment it came out of stealth mode in May 2010, Ulander says that the enterprise converters it has written to plug into VMware hypervisors and management tools, Cisco Systems servers and their Unified Computing System management tools, and NetApp storage appliances and their various features, were closed source and intentionally so to help Cloud.com make some money. With CloudStack 2.2.10, the whole enchilada is open source under a GPU GPL v3 license and can be downloaded from cloudstack.org.

VMware: partner and competitor

Citrix Systems might be a nemesis for VMware, and they might have to work together for ESXi support, but there is plenty of competition on the cloud fabric front between the two. And increasingly so as Citrix did its own Xen-based cloud manager, put its weight behind OpenStack with its own forthcoming Project Olympus variant (due sometime this year), and now owns CloudStack, too.

CloudStack costs $995 per physical two-socket machine, regardless of the number of cores or the amount of memory that the hypervisors and virtual machines that ride on top of them consume. At one customer that was looking at the new ESXi 5.0 hypervisor, the vSphere 5.0 management tools, and the vCloud Director cloud fabric, the CloudStack alternative was one-sixth the price supporting a bare-bones ESXi hypervisor. "We rarely get push-back on pricing," says Ulander with a laugh.

The typical CloudStack customer has a few hundred servers under management, and the largest shop Citrix has spans around 10,000 nodes. The company has one customer that spans three data centers several thousand nodes across all three that are managed from a single CloudStack console. ®

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