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OpenStacker stuffs free Moxie on USB

Piston Cloud repackages OpenStack for devs

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The people who stuffed an enterprise-ready version of the OpenStack cloud onto a USB stick have devised a cut-down freebie edition to get you started.

Piston Cloud has released Airframe, a scaled-down version of its Enterprise OpenStack product, allowing users a taste of the OpenStack installation and management process that it claims allows users to move from OpenStack pilots to live cloud at the push of a button.

The thinking is you don't need to throw away the pilot code used to build OpenStack clouds once it comes to run time.

Piston Cloud co-founder and chief executive Joshua McKenty, who led the technical work on NASA Nebula cloud, which was open-sourced in 2010 to become OpenStack, told The Reg: "The challenge is when you get your business users excited about a pilot and it's over, you have to throw out everything and the users get angry. They want you to magically turn that pilot system into a production system and you to not turn off those services."

Airframe gives you the basis for building an OpenStack pilot using the Piston Cloud architecture, but without the paid-for enterprise features.

Airframe includes the OpenStack APIs plus Piston Cloud's Moxie, the high-availability framework it developed to make OpenStack clouds more reliable. Moxie is based on the Paxos algorithm that's also been implemented by Google in BigTable, Yahoo! with Zookeeper and by Facebook in the Cassandra NoSQL database.

Paxos provides a system of master-election that establishes a consensus among machines in a cluster, so they agree on the results of a process. Moxie provides three-phase commit (3PC) master election, which ensures all the services work together and that a single copy of a data or a service is agreed on.

Moxie was the first thing Piston Cloud added to OpenStack, McKenty said. "What would have been lovely [at NASA] is if we had Moxie high availability... That was the first thing we built at Piston, because we knew people would need it to run at scale."

Missing from Airframe is Piston's security update process, the ability to add servers without taking your cloud offline, and the ability to clone and launch new copies of the KVM hypervisor. All these become available if you press an update button and agree to upgrade to the full code, the price of which starts at $3,500 per server per year.

Piston Cloud clearly wants to help drive uptake of its OpenStack cloud code in a busy market of OpenStack players that is sure to face consolidation in time. The company claims to have packaged its bits to get OpenStack running in 10 minutes. Since launching in September last year, Piston Cloud claims "a number" of customers and pilots in large enterprises - including banking, government and bio tech, which tend to be slow and rather conservative in their evaluation, testing and purchase cycles.

McKenty claimed "thousands" of requests for evaluation since launch. "That's the gap Airframe is filling: anybody interested in using OpenStack," he said. ®

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