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9/22/2011
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OpenStack Adds Private Cloud-Building Features

Diablo upgrade of cloud open source project adds a service monitoring dashboard, like Amazon's CloudWatch, as well as Active Directory user authentication.

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OpenStack, one of several open source options for building a private cloud, launched its fourth release in a little over a year on Thursday with several features that make it easier to manage an enterprise cloud.

OpenStack is the big open source project founded by NASA and Rackspace in July 2010 that competes with Eucalyptus Systems, an Amazon Web Services compatible offering, and Nimbula, a vendor neutral cloud operating system from the architects of AWS' EC2. In addition, three startups--Piston Cloud Computing, Cloud.com, and Nebula--have adopted OpenStack as the basis of their commercial offerings, making it the favorite for building a private cloud. Former NASA CTO Chris Kemp left the space agency in order to found Nebula, a private cloud appliance company, which launched in July of this year; the appliance runs OpenStack software.

OpenStack has attracted the broadest following so far in terms of cloud open source code software. The project lists over 100 member companies, including Citrix Systems, Dell, and Cisco--and got a boost earlier this month when HP announced it will adopt the OpenStack software as the heart of its own cloud initiative. HP has a representative, the recently hired former head of Rackspace software development John Purrier, on the OpenStack board. HP will sponsor the OpenStack Summit which opens in Boston on Oct. 3. HP's cloud with both compute and storage services launched Sept. 7, but it is still a private beta offering.

In its fourth release, known as Diablo, OpenStack adds several feature that make it easier to implement a private cloud for enterprise use. Strictly speaking, OpenStack can be used by either cloud service providers or companies seeking to build their own cloud but the Diablo release primarily addresses the latter.

[ Want to learn why Google's original investors are backing Chris Kemp's Nebula cloud startup? See NASA's Former CTO Brings Cloud Appliance To The Enterprise.]

For example, OpenStack now includes a dashboard for monitoring an OpenStack cloud's health, a boon to IT managers and business managers alike who wish to check on the continued operation of their workloads. One of the Amazon Web Services EC2's most popular features is its CloudWatch service health dashboard, giving visibility into individual EC2 data centers.

The dashboard is the result of a new project within OpenStack, lead by Nebula representatives. The Web-based user interface provides a way for an OpenStack implementer to graphically represent services and report on their operation, said Devin Carlen, project technical lead and VP of engineering at Nebula, in the OpenStack announcement.

A second newly incubated project within OpenStack and part of the Diablo release is Keystone. Rackspace engineers lead the Keystone project, which seeks to provide a unified means of authenticating users across a OpenStack cloud by making use of Microsoft's Active Directory and LDAP-based user directories. By incorporating a company's existing directories into a cloud's operation, Keystone resolves one of the stumbling blocks to establishing a private cloud.

Another added feature is a distributed scheduler, which makes it possible for multiple virtual machines to be deployed at the same time in geographically distinct locations to run the same workload. The practice ensures a system will remain available, even if one cluster or individual cloud data center goes down unexpectedly. It helps private cloud builders implement high availability systems.

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