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8/30/2010
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Nimbula Unwraps 'Director' Cloud Operating System

Virtualization software from Amazon EC2 designers aims to operate across multiple virtual machine formats and internal and external clouds.




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Nimbula offered a quick view of Director, "a cloud operating system for the real world" at an event Monday for press and analysts near VMware's VMworld in San Francisco.

It was a gambit by Nimbula's founders, Chris Pinkham and Willem van Bijon, who were also the original designers of Amazon's EC2 cloud. VMware often describes its evolving virtualization software as a data center operating system. Pinkham and Bijon are trying to steer Nimbula so future customers won't need to select a particular virtual machine format.

For that matter, they'd like Director to have one set of APIs that could be used to link internal cloud services to similar external cloud services, regardless of who the provider might be. They want the builder of an internal cloud to be able to select Rackspace or Amazon's EC2 or Terremark services as they see fit, without knowing very much about the differing APIs involved.

Director will also have the smarts to take a workload, a combination of operating system and application, cast in a particular virtual machine file format, and recast it for delivery to the target cloud, they said. Amazon uses a proprietary version of Xen, called the Amazon Machine Image. VMware has been supporting the creation of cloud suppliers, such as AT&T and Verizon Business, who use its ESX Server preferred format.

Director "will install on bare metal. We don't assume any operating system or hypervisor," said Pinkham. Once installed, Director will be able to work with any x86 operating system, including Windows Server and Linux, and any of several hypervisors. The beta of Nimbula's director recognizes KVM and Xen, two open source formats. ESX Server is next on the list says, Pinkham.

Their cloud operating system is in a private beta with several customers, soon to enter a public beta but Pinkham acknowledged, "I can't say when." Likewise, the appearance of a generally available product is slated for later this fall, with no date set.

Once it becomes available, it will include automated resource discovery. If servers or storage are added to the cluster, Director will find them. "If you add a new rack, Director will find it. It will virally adapt to new resources," said Pinkham. Director itself is intended to be distributed across several nodes in a cluster and will scale from managing a minimum of three nodes up to thousands of nodes.

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