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OpenStack, OpenSmack. Eucalyptus 3.4 soldiers on with AWS integration

'If Amazon does a private cloud for the CIA, it's an anomaly'

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Eucalyptus was created to clone the Amazon cloud for on-premises deployments, but recent advances by Bezos & Co in private software, aggressive development by Microsoft of Azure, and momentum in OpenStack raise a pitchfork of challenges for the open-source infrastructure management system.

The 3.4 version of Eucalyptus was released on Wednesday and brought with it further integration with Amazon Web Services. Eucalyptus System's veep of product Andy Knosp claimed that though Bezos & Co is trying to build a massive private cloud for the CIA, that doesn't mean Amazon has any kind of ambitions to build more private clouds.

"Should they win this [spy cloud] deal and move forward with it that particular contract and customer is of such a size and a scale that it's an anomaly," he told us. "We've seen no indication through our partnership with Amazon or from speaking with Amazon customers or users that Amazon wants to get into being a private cloud vendor."

Amazon has a history of mimicking partner products then rolling out its own similar cut-priced or feature-rich versions, though Eucalyptus thinks its software will be safe from any cloning by Bezos & Co. "Any message that comes out of Amazon is there is only one cloud," he said.

New features in Eucalyptus 3.4 include greater Amazon AMI and VMware VMDK conversion to Eucalyptus EMI capabilities, paired with an "Image Validation Service" that can test virtual machine images before spinning them up to spot issues.

The company has also made its "hybrid cloud user console" work with AWS, letting admins wrangle both on and off-premises clouds side by side, and giving them another reason not to use Amazon's kludgy and finicky control user interface.

The company has also added in an identical feature to Amazon's recently upgraded Identity and Access Management role-based access tech. As per typical releases, the company has made its Eucalyptus "Walrus" storage service more compatible with Amazon's mainstay S3 API, and closed gaps with AWS in some areas, notably in the Identity and Access Management component which has received an upgrade.

To deal with fail overs, the release comes with a "high availability" feature so that if Eucalyptus clusters brown out, the sysadmin can fail over to another. It achieves this by sticking a Eucalyptus cloud controller plus a Walrus storage pool outside of its zones in a separate system away from the brown-out-hit clusters.

Admins won't need to spin-down their Eucalyptus clouds when upgrading to future versions, Knosp said, thanks to a "warm upgrade" feature that patches the cloud while running live.

"That's addressing problems at scale," Knosp says. "We now have customers running at a scale beyond what we are testing own infrastructure for. In our own environment we can test up to 1000 hosts [our] customers are deployed beyond 10,000 cores and now customers on path to 100,000 cores."

One wonders how Eucalyptus can sustain itself in a cloud market increasingly defined by either mega hybrid clouds, such as Windows Azure, or the massive community hellbent on making OpenStack the best open-source private cloud system, rather than Eucalyptus.

"Our view on it is no doubt there is tremendous momentum within the OpenStack ecosystem in terms of vendor support," he said. "There is a smaller number of contributors to eucalyptus but if you go out and look at the stats and look at the efficiency of the folks who are working on these we're much higher than OpenStack or CloudStack."

For the latest release of Eucalyptus, the system had some 81 contributors submitting 80,105 commits modifying 1,260,532 lines of code. This compares with OpenStack which had a whopping 1,655 contributors making 90,238 commits touching 1,710,135 lines of code.

This means OpenStack has a more diverse community with many separate companies pouring source into the system, versus a dramatically smaller Eucalyptus community where each contributor has responsibility for many, many more commits.

Logically, this means the development in OpenStack draws on more disparate individuals with a wider spread of expertise, posing the question of how Eucalyptus can continue keeping pace with OpenStack.

"It starts to paint the story of David and Goliath - how can David keep up with this growing juggernaut of OpenStack that now appears to be Goliath?" Knosp asked. How indeed. ®

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