Nimbula puffs up 'cloud operating system'

Amazon EC2 techies do their own thing

Instead of mucking about in various possible VM image formats, Nimbula creates a standard ISO image of a virtual software stack and then spins an AMI format to cloudburst it out to EC2 if necessary. If need be, the tool will be able to spit out a VM in OVF format, but on the private cloud, it thinks in terms of plain-old ISOs.

The Director tool can span thousands of server nodes in a single control domain, and can stand up a rack of virtualized servers in about 15 minutes using policies established by system administrators and requiring no intervention on their part. (Sorry, lads, but you're getting the sack.) The management of the cloudy infrastructure is "largely automated," but not completely, as workloads run and change. Nimbula Director has dynamic resource discovery, which allows it to sniff out new iron as it is added to the Nimbula collective.

Nimbula Director, like Amazon EC2, is designed for multi-tenant clouds and presumes you want isolation between workloads. It therefore has a hierarchical namespace but also allows for resource sharing. Director integrates with Active Directory and LDAP authentication systems and can map onto public clouds such as Amazon's EC2 (of course) using their authentication mechanisms.

The authorization protocols in Director go one step further than this, and delegate authority to people who can manage the underlying infrastructure, either manually or by tweaking policies, and also controls what applications can consume which resources. The Director program is also designed to access and control networks and storage affiliated with the virtualized servers, regardless of topology, geographical location, or whether they are in the private cloud or in a public cloud.

Because the whole point of utility computing (which is the proper name for cloudy infrastructure) is to be able to charge people for what they use - and only what they use - Nimbula Director measures usage of server, network, and storage resources by application; it also has an audit trail for all the changes made in the systems so the accountants are happy.

Nimbula Director is in pre-beta evaluation now at a half-dozen customer sites managing thousands and thousands of servers, says Pinkham. The tool will go into a wider beta in the third quarter, with general availability towards the end of the year. ®

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