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4/18/2012
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OpenStack Surprises Involve Hyper-V, Solid State

Third parties Hostway.com and MorphLabs step in to give the open source cloud project capabilities few thought likely.

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One measure of how fast the OpenStack open source code project has gained mindshare is the appearance of two developments that few in the OpenStack community thought likely or even possible. They've been created by independent third parties, one a member of the project and another outside it.

In the first instance, Hostway.com sought to link Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor and OpenStack clouds. There is no team of developers or subproject within OpenStack devoted to creating the link, even though many small and midsize businesses rely on Hyper-V. The project's leaders concluded they couldn't do everything, so they decided to drop what had been poorly maintained Hyper-V support from the recent Essex release. (Essex became available this week at the OpenStack Design Summit, attended by an estimated 1,000 developers in San Francisco.) The OpenStack project managers decided to focus on VMware's and Red Hat's open source hypervisors, reflecting the greatest use in OpenStack supporters' customer bases.

Initially, Hyper-V was included in the OpenStack framework of services, but in early February it came under fire as troublesome and buggy code. Ken Pepple, director of cloud development at Internap Network Services, an OpenStack implementer, posted to an OpenStack forum: "Hyper-V support is missing support for even the most basic functions--volumes, Glance, several network managers, etc. We investigated it for our service, but found it only borderline functional."

[ OpenStack supporter Dell is beginning to assume more independence in the marketplace. To learn more, read Dells Plays Switzerland Between Microsoft, VMware. ]

Part of the problem was lack of input from Microsoft, which has its hands full on other fronts, and lack of enthusiasm in the OpenStack community itself, even though it includes such key Microsoft partners as Dell and HP. Thierry Carrez, an OpenStack release manager, proposed that the Essex release would be a good time to cut out dead wood, and that's what happened to Hyper-V support.

That's where Hostway.com, one of the world's largest managed hosting service providers, comes in. Hostway.com is not a member of the OpenStack Foundation or project, but it does do website hosting for 600,000 customers worldwide. Those customers include Coca Cola, Fox News Channel, Disney, Hershey's, Wrigley, Sony/BMG, and McGraw-Hill. Many of those customers are Microsoft Hyper-V users and potential OpenStack open source code users for their internal private clouds.

Without assistance from either OpenStack or Microsoft developers, Hostway concluded its future lay in establishing a link that Hyper-V users could exploit. That way, Windows Server and Hyper-V users could build out a private cloud architecture in their data center and tie it to an external, Hostway.com data center for cloud bursting, system backup and recovery, or other purposes. Its FlexCloud API provides that pathway for Hyper-V workloads into Hostway.com data centers.

"The OpenStack community didn't see the market demand there. They said it wasn't possible to maintain Hyper-V support without assistance from Microsoft. Within two months, we've developed it," and did so with little direct help from Microsoft, said Aaron Hollobaugh, VP of marketing, in an interview. Hostway.com sees it as a competitive differentiator.

The API is not open source code, but Hostway.com has published details so that enterprise developers can figure out how to link to it. Hostway's confidence in OpenStack is such that it believes many internal clouds will be built using it, and it wishes to be ready to interact with as many of their workloads as possible, including their Hyper-V virtual machines.

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Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/23/2012 | 1:57:39 AM
re: OpenStack Surprises Involve Hyper-V, Solid State
I'd love to see how resilient the MorphLabs offering is with the removal of the SAN - it seems to run slightly counter to my standard solution building mantra of wanting to create something that would survive an attack with a chainsaw through the middle of the rack.

I can absolutely see the performance improvement in moving away from spindles to chips, but doing away with the SAN and associated infrastructure raises questions for me regarding the resiliency of the solution.

500 VMs on 20 blades seems to be just below the sweet-spot of a 30:1 ratio, and I would wonder at how much efficiency the solution loses to the SSD storage routing software layer that had to be incorporated, although the promise of the future features may make that efficency loss worth it.

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
Multicloud Infrastructure & Application Management
Multicloud Infrastructure & Application Management
Enterprise cloud adoption has evolved to the point where hybrid public/private cloud designs and use of multiple providers is common. Who among us has mastered provisioning resources in different clouds; allocating the right resources to each application; assigning applications to the "best" cloud provider based on performance or reliability requirements.
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