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Some interesting firsts for cloud OSJay Lyman, April 23, 2009 @ 7:15 pm ET
One thing that seems clear in cloud computing right now — the combination of operating system, hypervisor, clustering, applications and other cloud infrastructure components in the mix is creating some interesting competition. We’ve written before about the fight over the OS role and its relevancy as hypervisor vendors race to cover the OS parts, OS vendors race to cover the hypervisor parts and so on. We’re now seeing a similar battle in cloud computing, where open source looms large, as other vendors step up to the opportunities.
VMware’s announcement of vSphere, billed as ‘the industry’s first cloud operating system,’ is a good example of how this fight continues. More specifically, VMware says vSphere 4 is ‘the first operating system for building the internal cloud, enabling the delivery of efficient, flexible and reliable IT as a service.’ In her report on vSphere, our own 451 Group Research Director Rachel Chalmers highlights the automation and self-service tools of vSphere, but also points out much of this doesn’t really arrive until VMware’s vCenter Suite later this year. In addition, while vSphere offers a good virtualized abstraction layer and tools to build internal clouds on commodity hardware, Xen is free and open source and is broadly used for cloud infrastructure.
In terms of the ‘first cloud OS,’ I think Ubuntu Linux vendor Canonical may beg to differ. The company’s Ubuntu Linux is already a popular choice for cloud deployment thanks to its free availability and lack of licensing royalties that can quickly cancel out cloud cost advantages. With its latest release this week, Ubuntu 9.04, Canonical is doing more to back this cloud deployment of Ubuntu. Its new server version is tuned for the cloud, primarily thanks to incorporation of the Eucalyptus open source clustering and cloud infrastructure software. Similar to VMware, which is offering bits and pieces of full functionality that is yet to come, Canonical offers a ‘preview’ of Ubuntu Eneterprise Cloud in 9.04. For its part, Canonical bills UEC and Ubuntu as ‘the first commercially-supported distribution to enable businesses to build cloud environments inside their firewalls.’ It is also worth noting Ubuntu Server Edition 9.04 will itself be available on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).
These are certainly a couple of interesting ‘firsts.’ It is also perhaps the first time these two vendors are competing so directly. We should probably expect to see more of this as a variety of vendors large and small from different software areas push into the clouds.
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