According to Mornini, Engine Yard Solo lowers the price point for customers that want an entry-level service plan capable of taking advantage of Amazon's elastic cloud infrastructure, while still leveraging Engine Yard's expertise in deploying Ruby on Rails applications. Designed to provide programmers and system administrators with a development platform that can be used for automating the cloud as well as for writing distributed, real-time applications, Engine Yard released Vertebra as open source to foster a collaborative approach to elastic application development.
Vantuyl explained that the Vertebra platform has the ability to automate processes and manage applications across many different clouds because it's built on an XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) infrastructure. XMPP is a set of open XML technologies for presence and instant messaging developed by the Jabber open-source community. XMPP's architecture is similar to e-mail since anyone can run his or her own XMPP server and there is no central master server. With features like a security and discovery agent to manage security policy and a process automation agent to orchestrate tasks that involve both machines and people, Vertebra has the capability to orchestrate communication and coherent operations among autonomous agents in many clouds, according to the company's announcement. The Vertebra platform also offers distributed job control and auditing/logging capabilities.
Also highlighted in the announcement is a system provisioning registry that allows your applications to become self-organizing. According to Vantuyl, this feature was added because "these days, configuration usually is either on the instance or in some central database. Vertebra has tools that put this configuration 'in the cloud,' thereby avoiding the trouble of provisioning at the instance and the failure scenarios of a central configuration service."
Solo will be available on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) on Jan. 28 for a starting price of $129 per month, with support for other cloud platforms in the works. An early release (0.3) of Vertebra that's licensed under the Lesser GNU Public License (LGPL) is currently available for download.