Refreshing

The OpenStack ‘boomerang effect’: why people go back to Eucalyptus

Lucy Carey
Eucalyptus.11

Open source cloud platform provider’s VP of Product Andy Knosp holds forth on Eucalyptus 3.4, and pledges loyalty to Java.


Eucalyptus
is a tool born of curiosity. The founders
of
Eucalyptus
Systems
wanted to find out if it would
be 
possible to create an on-premise system that
would behave like AWS. What they ended up with was a software that
enabled pooling computing, storage, and network resources with
dynamic scaling
abilities; ideal for
building AWS-compatible private and hybrid
clouds.
 

Moreover, Eucalyptus is relatively simple to
deploy and configure – a key differentiator on the market. “If you
look at some of the other alternatives on the market, particularly
the open source cloud alternatives, there’s a lot of work in
getting them stood up”,
VP of Product Andy Knosp
commented to JAXenter.
He tells us that Eucalyptus
“definitely see an OpenStack ‘boomerang’ effect” from customers who
experiment with other providers, before coming running back to
Eucalyptus Systems.

The development process for
the software
has always been heavily rooted
in Java, and it’s thanks
to this that
there is a high level of affinity between the Eclipse and the
Eucalyptus communities
, in comparison to
other cloud platforms in other languages. Knosp says that the
initial logic for employing Java back in 2007 was the grounded in
its suitability for building a scalable distributed system – and
that’s something the Eucalyptus team stands by today.

Although Knosp admits that there have been some
challenges in employing the language, “there’s always challenges
with every language, specifically in terms of things like security,
and we have no plan to depart – we still see a strong community
around Java, and I think at this point, we’re going to continue to
focus on an architecture that’s based on Java for
Eucalyptus”.

Whilst the loyalty to Java remains strong, the
devs team have been hard at work updating the software to meet the
rapidly evolving demands of 2013 users. Version 3.4 of Eucalyptus
launched this month, complete with a host of new tools for the
burgeoning cloud market.

One of the key features of Eucalyptus 3.4 is an
ability to perform ‘warm’ upgrades – a functionality that gives
users the ability to move between versions of Eucalyptus. It also
allows them to reduce and minimise the downtime that’s associated
with performing an upgrade.

Knosp told JAXenter:
“It doesn’t sound like a very sexy or exciting feature, but
why it’s significant is that we now have customers which are
deployed at large scale, and if we think about some the challenges
that they face in terms of deploying in operating cloud
environments, their goal is to minimise application and instance
downtime as much as possible, regardless of the reason for
that”.

He added that, “a big focus for this release was
ensuring that the product just works for cloud administrators and
operators, and ultimately the end users that are consuming services
from Eucalyptus”.

What’s exciting about version 3.4?

Eucalyptus has been heading towards warm
releases for a while now – a
movement that first began with an earlier feature, called
maintenance mode.
This essentially gave
users the ability to perform zero downtime hardware maintenance on
nodes within the cloud so that they could evacuate instances off of
a particular node, perform their maintenance and bring it back up.
Though users were happy with
using the
tool for maintenance on a single node in the cloud, the general
response was that they were more interested in being able to
minimise the downtime and reduce maintenance windows for this type
of operation.

Other issues that Knosp’s team
tried to address with the release are closely
linked to the long term strategy of the Eucalyptus team.

The company’s focus is on being, as Knosp puts it, “really
the best on-premise compliment to leading public cloud providers
like AWS”. Given this, a key concern for them is the ability to
effectively manage resources between the on premise environment
with Eucalyptus, and the public cloud environment with
AWS
. With this release, Knosp believes that Eucalyptus
are really starting to address “some of the concerns and some of
the problems that exist in terms of managing resources between both
environments”.

Knosp tells JAXenter that one of ways in which
they have done this is with their user console, which is a
“self-service provisioning portal that we make available in
Eucalyptus
.
What we’ve done with the user console is that
we’ve now introduced what we would describe as hybrid capabilities.
We now have a single interface for the administrators and users to
be able to see resources that are running both in Eucalyptus and on
AWS”. He emphasises that this is a “step in a long running theme of
a number of improvements” that Eucalyptus is continuing to
implement to enhance the fluidity of the user experience between
the on-premise and the public cloud environment.

Awareness of ‘hybrid’ clouds, then, is very much part of
Eucalyptus’ strategy.

We can expect to see Eucalyptus 4.0 early on in
2014. Knosp tells us will come with new AWS compatible services as
part of the release, as well as a ‘scalable object storage
solution’, geared at helping to improve the robustness and
scalability of the different storage backends clustered behind the
Eucalyptus cloud.

The company also has its sights focused on the
software defined networking space, and though Knosp believes it’s
“too early to declare any winners”, Eucalyptus Systems will be
introducing a new networking architecture to their software that
will “allow folks to easily plug in different SDN
technologies”.

He’s keen to affirm that, fundamentally, the
focus is on providing
, “the folks that
are actually building Eucalyptus clouds a number of options in
terms of how they can deploy and define and configure and manage
the networks within their environment”. And from the look of
things, there’s
that’s plenty in the new
release to keep this loyal group of users content.
If
you’re interested in poking around in Eucalyptus 3.4, you can find
out more information on the latest version of Eucalyptus

here.


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