451 Research perspectives on OpenStack and Amazon APIs

There’s been an interesting debate on the OpenStack cloud computing project and its API compatibility with Amazon. The discussion and debate over the open source cloud software’s compatibility with cloud leader Amazon’s proprietary APIs was just beginning when the 451 Group released The OpenStack Tipping Point in April. With the advancement of the OpenStack software and community — along with lingering questions about the desired level of compatibility with Amazon’s cloud — the matter is heating up. However, the issue of Amazon cloud compatibility is largely a non-issue.

Enterprise customers are focused on solving their computing and business challenges. They typically center on promptly providing their customers and internal users and divisions with adequate resources and infrastructure; speeding application development and deployment; and avoiding so-called “Shadow IT,” which normally involves use of Amazon’s cloud. Read the full article at LinuxInsider.

I’m not the only one with an opinion around here. My 451 Research colleagues have also weighed in on the matter and 451 Research subscribers can view their argument that Amazon API compatibility may be a fool’s errand.

Open source evolving with the cloud

We’ve covered the significance of open source software in cloud computing, both with the emergence of cloud models and more recently from the perspective of customers. In the first weeks of 2010, we see open source is maintaining, if not growing, its role in cloud computing. There are also indications open source and its use are evolving in the cloud.

While we’ve seen open source software used both to build cloud computing infrastructure and offered among cloud computing services, we had thought that the building of clouds with open source may be the greater opportunity given typical and historical adoption and use patterns. However, we are seeing continued examples of additional open source offerings in the cloud.

One such example is MuleSoft’s new offer of Tomcat application server via the GoGrid cloud. The product, MuleSoft Cloudcat, consists of cloud-based Apache Tomcat on GoGrid with commercial support from MuleSoft.

We’re also seeing examples of new open source software for the cloud. We’ve covered the use of unpaid, community Linux in the cloud, but a new cloud-specific distribution, CloudLinux, may also have some interesting implications, particularly for hosters and other service providers. CloudLinux, compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux clone CentOS, is commercially backed and supported by a company of the same name.

Cloud services and software are not the only sign of open source’s continued prominence in cloud computing. Also showing us that open source is maturing along with cloud computing: a new partnership between Terracotta and Eucalyptus. These two open source cloud players obviously see the benefits of working together and they’ll be integrating technology and teaming on sales and marketing.

We’ve also seen recently that the community aspects of open source continue to hold importance in cloud computing. In response to a perceived movement away from open source, a project dubbed OpenECP has forked from Enomaly’s Elastic Computing Platform. Citing ‘abrupt commercialization in November 2009,’ OpenECP backers indicate they will maintain free availability and provide community support. Interestingly, the OpenECP project chose to license it under the Affero GPLv3, and we’re watching licensing moves to see if cloud computing prompts more use of AGPL.

All of this shows how open source continues to play a vital role in cloud computing, enabling a wide range of vendors and providers to both build cloud computing infrastructure and applications using open source, and to offer open source via cloud computing to enterprise and other customers.

2010 kicks off era of hidden Linux

For something as open as Linux — the open source operating system developed by thousands of individuals and dozens of companies — you wouldn’t think it would be so hidden, but that’s exactly what Linux will be in 2010 and beyond. We’ve already discussed progress for non-desktop Linux and the layered pervasiveness of Linux. Now let’s consider what might happen as Linux quietly finds its way into even more consumer and enterprise use.

The most prominent yet most hidden place this is happening is in embedded devices — which range from consumer electronics such as media players, set-top boxes and televisions to automotive infotainment to industrial control technology to aerospace and military technology. We’ve seen some consolidation and M&A around embedded Linux, particularly the Android OS backed by Google and the Open Handset Alliance, with deals such as Intel-Wind River, Mentor Graphics-Embedded Alley and most recently, Cavium Networks-MontaVista. In addition, processor players including ARM Holdings and MIPS Technologies are supporting Android and embedded Linux. Soon behind the current cavalcade of Android-based smartphones hitting the market, we can expect even more various devices running Android and other forms of embedded Linux. What we shouldn’t expect is to see or hear the word ‘Linux’ in any advertising, packaging or campaigning.

Of course, there’s a whole lot more Linux and other open source software in mobile devices today — Android, Nexus One, WebOS, LiMO, Moblin, Ubuntu Netbook Remix and more — but we’re not really hearing or seeing it as ‘mobile Linux.’ Obviously there continues to be some degree of fragmentation, but given Google and the many Android-based devices that continue to come to market, there is also consolidation here, too. Linux may be stronger than it ever has in mobile devices in 2010, but don’t look for Linux by name. It’s unlikely you’ll see it from the handset manufacturers, software vendors, wireless carriers and others who are pushing it.

Next up, there will be much more virtual Linux, particularly in Microsoft and Windows shops that are enjoying greater integration and support of Linux from Redmond. This — along with the growing base of enterprise Linux users leveraging virtualization and additional commercial support from Red Hat, Novell, Canonical and others — will help fuel more virtual Linux traction and growth. However, don’t expect Microsoft to talk too loudly about virtual Linux options and keep in mind we are still, even now in 2010, relatively early on in the enterprise adoption of server virtualization.

Moving on, what better place for Linux to hide inconspicuously than in cloud computing? We’ve covered the significance of community Linux in the enterprise and also community Linux in the clouds. With more support for community software and growing desire to build private and hybrid clouds, Linux (both commercial and community) figures prominently into the equation as a basic, flexible yet scalable building block. The end result is both use of Linux to build cloud infrastructure and availability of Linux in the clouds, even though it is likely to be labeled or branded something other than ‘Linux.’

So while we can expect major market gains and new inroads for Linux, the further the open source OS spreads, the less likely we are to really see how far.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2009.03.20

Topics for this podcast:

*IBM-Sun rumors swirl with implications for open source
*Linux and open source rising up in the clouds
*Acquia adds to Drupal-based commercial offerings
*West Coast CAOS Tour

iTunes or direct download (28:21, 6.8 MB)

Linux and open source no puff in the clouds

UPDATED – I had to update this post after a conversation with RightScale founder and CTO Thorsten von Eicken and for Sun’s Open Cloud announcement, which are both now included below.

There has been some substantial technology and news regarding open source software in cloud computing lately. More proof that open source is reaching into nearly all aspects of enterprise and broader IT, and also reinforcement of the idea that open source software will continue to have a pervasive and disruptive impact on the way organizations of all shapes and sizes do their computing and deal with their data.

First up is RightScale, which as detailed by 451 colleague and Principal Analyst William Fellows, is up and running across the pond on Amazon’s EU EC2. As WiF reports, RightScale started with Red Hat Linux clone CentOS, but is seeing demand and traction among its users with Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux, which it recently began supporting in full. Our report also highlights Ubuntu packaging and integrated AWS-compatible Eucalyptus APIs. For its part, RightScale says its cloud infrastructure now includes cloud-ready ServerTemplates for Ubuntu — pre-built templates for common cloud configurations.

In my recent conversation with RightScale founder and CTO Thorsten von Eicken, he indicated as ISVs and others contemplate how to publish, sell, support and monetize applications in the cloud, they can benefit from the lessons and advantages of open source software. von Eicken and I agree that open source represents a different usage and payment model that is more conducive to cloud computing than traditional software licensing and payment models.

Next up is my own coverage of Cittio and its initiation of Project Zeppelin to create a standard, open agent and open source instrumentation for cloud monitoring. One of the most interesting aspects of Zeppelin is its intent to provide a standard way to compare clouds — both public ones from Amazon and others and internal deployments — and match applications to infrastructure by looking at discovery, monitoring, evaluation and auditing data. Monitoring of the clouds is also a place we see Hyperic, the most cloud-centric of the systems management and monitoring vendors centered on open source.

We’re also hearing a lot about the Apache Hadoop Project, most notably the new commercial play around it – Cloudera (covered recently in Matt’s latest CAOS Links and late last year in a blog). With Hadoop in use at places such as Facebook, Google and Yahoo! and recent $5m in funding from Accel Partners and others, the company certainly has some opportunity that is not pie in the sky. Indeed, Hadoop, which is also a focus for Cittio, and Cloudera are all further evidence of how real open source software is for cloud computing.

Although it may be getting lost in the noise around the potential IBM-Sun acquisition rumors, Sun Microsystems made a significant cloud announcement involving open source, as well. With its release of the Sun Cloud aimed at ‘developers, students and startups,’ Sun is relying on several open source components such as Java, MySQL, OpenSolaris and Open Storage.

So while many Linux and open source fans and followers have, unfortunately, grown used to hearing about Linux in this or open source in that when it turns out to be just for the buzz and attention created by those key words, Linux and open source in the clouds is more than mere mist.