Oct. 23, 2010
Microsoft says it is embracing the OpenStack Project but the software giant was quick to point out that it
won't contribute code to it.
The OpenStack Project is a much-publicized open source platform for building your "idealized" infrastructure
clouds. The project's mission is to provide code that allows for example Amazon EC2-like clouds to run on top
of Microsoft's own Hyper-V hypervisor available in Windows Server 2008.
OpenStack was founded by the NASA and Rackspace, after both companies were struggling to scale their own
infrastructure clouds. OpenStack
is based on Nova, a cloud fabric controller deigned by NASA, and Cloud Files, a storage controller built by Rackspace.
According to NASA chief technology officer Chris Kemp, the Open Stack Project is an effort to create a Linux-like
ecosystem for infrastructure clouds.
At first, NASA built its "Nebula Cloud" using Eucalyptus, another open-source platform. But Eucalyptus didn't
scale as well as NASA would have wanted and it wasn't as flexible as it expected. Things had to change, and change
The OpenStack Project applies to the Linux kernel for driving infrastructure clouds: online services that
provide on-demand access to efficient server capabilities and data storage capable of scaling as needed.
Microsoft's new thinking on the idea of cloud computing calls it
a way to make customers happy. But less than six short months ago, that wasn't the case at all, as Microsoft
initially shunned the basic idea of hosting data in clouds.
As stated earlier, the software behemoth actually won't contribute code at all to the OpenStack Project. It
has instead partnered with startup company Cloud.com on that effort.
In a manner similar to Sun Hosting's Cloud Solutions, Cloud.com
offers a platform for transforming an existing data center setup into an infrastructure cloud that will handle the
bulk of the work.
Ted MacLean, general manager for Microsoft’s open solutions group says "Microsoft will be providing system
architectural and technical guidance to Cloud.com."
Cloud.com's Cloud Stack Solution is an open source software system that enables the deployment, management
and configuration of multi-tier and multi-tenant infrastructure cloud services by enterprises and service providers
Cloud.com claims that its solution empowers its users to become more agile and efficient in how they consume IT
The company will develop code that connects into Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V, and once the code is finished,
it will be checked into the OpenStack public code repository.
The inaugural OpenStack release -– codenamed Austin –- arrived Tuesday. It works with the Xen and KVM open source
hypervisor, the Citrix XenServer hypervisor, and, to a lesser extent, Oracle's type 2 or hosted hypervisor.
The company that oversees the whole project, Marten Mickos' Eucalyptus System, has adopted an open core model.
There's an open-source version of the platform, but there's also an enterprise version that incorporates proprietary
According to Kemp, NASA tried to make security patches to the open source project to improve scaling, but
these were rejected because they conflicted with the enterprise product.
Therefore, OpenStack is meant to provide an entirely open framework for cloud builders. And Microsoft is
Microsoft's director of cloud solutions Hamed Mohammed said "We are actively involved in open-source applications
and support for the open source community. If you look at our support for PHP, the LAMP stack and SugarCRM, it's all
in -well almost- perfect harmony. So this was a natural progression for Microsoft."
According to Mohammed and MacLean, Microsoft's strong adoption of the OpenStack Project was driven at least
in part by its own customers and industry partners.
"They want to use our hypervisor technology as part of their own cloud environments," MacLean says. "As the
OpenStack Project moved along, we've taken the opportunity to provide our own customers with the same freedom of
However, Cloud.com is careful to say that the sort of infrastructure promised by the OpenStack Project are
very different from the "platform cloud" known as Windows Azure.
Whereas an infrastructure cloud offers up raw processing power, storage and networking as is needed to run
mission-critical applications, a cloud infrastructure development platform offers tools for building, hosting
and scaling apps, while effectively hiding the real resources of multiple server farms in the data centers.
Sun Hosting defines the term cloud hosting
or cloud computing as Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information technology
resources are provided to computers and Internet servers on demand, a bit similar to the power grid that we use
everyday and that we tend to take for granted.
Cloud hosting and cloud computing is a paradigm shift following the major transition from large and costly
mainframe computers to smaller and lower cost client–server technology in the early 1980s. Details are abstracted
from the users, who no longer have need or expertise in, or control over, the technology infrastructure "in the
cloud" that supports them.
The term cloud hosting can be summarized in two short sentences: You host a Web-based application or resource
somewhere on a server in a data center. You don't need to know where that server is located or how it works, as
long as it works correctly and efficiently.
Cloud hosting describes a new information delivery model for IT services based on the Internet, and it
typically involves over-the-Web provisioning of dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources.