March 26th, 2013. The project has come a long way since the first “technology preview” of OpenNebula five years ago. During these years we’ve witnessed the rise and hype of the Cloud, the birth and decline of several virtualization technologies, but specially the encouraging and exciting growth of OpenNebula; both as a technology and as an active and engaged community.

OpenNebula 4.0 is the result of the terrific feedback of the day-to-day operation of virtualized infrastructures by many of you, result of all your contributions, bug reports, patches, and translations, but one and foremost, OpenNebula 4.0 is the realization of a vision of simplicity, openness, code-correctness and a sysadmin-centric approach. This defines our personality as a community, it defines the OpenNebula Way. Now the features that you’ve been waiting for….

OpenNebula 4.0 includes new features in most of its subsystems. We are showing for the first time a completely redesigned Sunstone, with a fresh and modern look and an updated workflow for most of the dialogs. A whole new set of operations for VMs like system and disk snapshoting, capacity re-sizing, programmable VM actions and IPv6 among others. There are some new drivers also, like Ceph; as well as minor improvements for VMware, KVM and Xen. The scheduler has received some attention from the OpenNebula team to easily define more placement policies… and much more.  Check the full release notes for details.

Relevant Links

Post Bonus… a Suntone video preview

inovex GmbH has just announced its partnership with C12G Labs to support the deployment and operation of OpenNebula-based enterprise cloud infrastructures, and the automation and migration of legacy systems. With OpenNebula as their software platform, inovex experts can set up cloud infrastructures very quickly and operate them efficiently.

inovex is particularly qualified to use OpenNebula in an enterprise environment. inovex has many years of experience in virtualisation, data centre management and highly available and ultra-scalable storage. inovex helps leading Internet companies, like 1&1 Internet AG (WEB.DE, GMX), buch.de and maxdome, IT departments in traditional industry (such as Bosch, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen) and other leading industrial companies like EnBW or DB Schenker, to deal with their IT challenges. For over four years, inovex has been following the development of OpenNebula and other solutions, like OpenStack and OpenQRM. The new partnership with OpenNebula now underpins the confidence inovex experts have in the product and C12G Labs.

Matthias Albert, Head of IT Engineering Operation at inovex, explains the reasons behind the company’s decision to opt for OpenNebula: “We look forward to working with OpenNebula and C12G Labs, as we have identified OpenNebula as the best available open source product for cloud applications after thorough and critical evaluations. OpenNebula has been exhaustively tried and tested and the manufacturer has a clear vision about how it should evolve. Together with C12G Labs, we will give fresh momentum to the German data centre industry, as our exacting customers will love the product.”

More information in the inovex press release.

Though OpenNebula may seem the obvious choice, believe it or not there are still some that patch together complicated solutions to solve their day-to-day data center virtualization challenges. To bring some light to the darkness, I’ll join FLOSS UK Spring Conference next Wednesday and Thursday (20 – 21 March) to give a talk on OpenNebula.

FLOSS UK (previously UKUUG) is the UK’s oldest open systems user group. I’ve enjoyed the Leeds and Edinburgh conferences over the past two years, and found them a guarantee for interesting talks. This year should be no different, and the conference will take place in Newcastle upon Tyne.

My talk will focus on OpenNebula’s current features as well as some upcoming ones for version 4.0. To avoid the possibility of a potential slide war, my talk will focus on a live demo of our OpenNebula setup in Nuremberg. Live migration of web servers on the fly is the best demonstration of reliable data center virtualization, and will be a good testimony to OpenNebula’s stability. If it doesn’t work, I may still have a warm welcome back in the office – that being said, failing is not an option!

If you still have no plans for next week, come over to Newcastle and join me at the FLOSS UK Spring Conference 2013. I look forward to seeing you there!

We described in a previous post our experience about the different types of cloud models, and our view about how the main open-source Cloud Management Platforms (CMPs) are targeting their needs. Our aim was to demonstrate that we will see an open-source cloud space with several offerings focused on different environments and/or industries, due to the fact that no single CMP can be all things to all people. The four open-source CMPs will coexist and, in some cases, work together in a broad open cloud ecosystem.

This article tries to answer another quite common question in open-source cloud computing discussions and presentations… which CMP is the most open? Of course such analysis should go beyond just considering the openness of the code (which as far as we know is fully open-source in the four projects) and the development process to additionally address the perspectives of the consumers and the builders of the cloud infrastructure.

OpenStack CloudStack Eucalyptus OpenNebula
Source Code Fully open-source, Apache v2.0 Fully open-source, Apache v2.0 Fully open-source, GPL v3.0 Fully open-source, Apache v2.0

In this comparison we refer to the version of the software that is available for download directly from the respective project web sites. As in our previous post, we have tried to be as neutral as possible.

The Perspective of the Developer

What is “open” and how can we measure project openness under the perspective of a corporation interested in contributing to code development?. We would suggest to use the following measures:

  • Development Model: Is the code developed over the Internet in view of the public?
  • Developer Engagement: Is the development open to external contributions?
  • Governance Model: How are the decisions about roadmap made?
OpenStack CloudStack Eucalyptus OpenNebula
Development Model Public development Public development Public development Public development
Developer Engagement Contributor license agreement Contributor license agreement Contributor license agreement Contributor license agreement
Governance Model Foundation Technical meritocracy Benevolent dictator Benevolent dictator

The four CMPs are fully open-source software, accept contributions under similar license agreements, and are publicly developed over the Internet. However, there is a difference in their governance models. While OpenStack follows a foundation approach with a Board of Directors providing strategic oversight and CloudStack follows the Apache meritocracy rules, Eucalyptus and OpenNebula are managed by a single organization that focuses on the interest of the project and strategically leads it to ensure that it meets the needs of the users and the community. Benevolent dictator governance is the model followed by other successful projects like Android or Linux Kernel, and, in our view, it is the most effective way to focus on engineering quality, to be responsive to the users, and to ensure long term support.

The Perspective of the User

Let us now evaluate openness under the perspective of the user. In this case, we should consider both the perspective of the user of the cloud (consumer) and the perspective of the user of the technology (builder).

  • From the perspective of the cloud consumer, “open cloud” is all about APIs and data formats. Common API’s give freedom to run anywhere, being this freedom supported or not by open source. This provides the ability for the user to compare cloud offerings, select the offer that best suits his needs, and change providers if he is unsatisfied with the service or finds a more competitive offering.
  • From the perspective of the cloud builder, “open cloud” means that the community open-source software is enterprise-grade and commercially supported without having to install a vendor enhanced distribution (which would be much closer to an “open core model”). This is where technology buyers and users can evaluate openness for themselves.

From the perspective of the user, we would suggest to use the following measures:

  • API Ecosystem: Is the software supporting a de-facto standard with a broad ecosystem?
  • Production Readiness: Is the open-source software ready for enterprise use and commercially supported?
OpenStack CloudStack Eucalyptus OpenNebula
API Ecosystem OpenStack API Amazon API Amazon API Amazon API
Production Readiness No, only available through any of the several vendor specific “stacks” Enterprise-ready and direct support from developers Enterprise-ready and direct support from developers Enterprise-ready and direct support from developers

No much more to say about cloud API ecosystems, we do not want to start a new discussion about which of the cloud APIs is a de-facto standard and which ecosystem is bigger and growing faster  (please see addendum 2). Production Readiness is a very interesting aspect which deserves a detailed discussion. Independently of whether the software is being used for development or for production purposes, it is understood that a corporation needs the open-source cloud management platform to be enterprise ready, which means to be stable, long-term commercially supported, and with a clear upgrade process.

From this perspective, it is clear that Eucalyptus and OpenNebula are more open. Both projects provide an enterprise-ready open-source cloud solution. Any organization can use the open-source distribution to build a production cloud, and receive best-effort support through a community mailing list. Additionally, any organization can purchase commercial support directly from the developers. The important aspect is that these projects do not deliver enterprise editions of their software, they commercially support the community software. In other words, the community versions of Eucalyptus and OpenNebula are not limited editions of enterprise versions. CloudStack could be also included in this group, given that Citrix CloudPlatform is basically an enterprise distribution that (as far as we know) does not provide extended features.

On the other side, any organization interested in using OpenStack, and requiring commercial support and enterprise maturity, is recommended (please see addendum 1) to deploy any of the several enterprise distributions that are being released by the vendors contributing to the project. These enterprise-grade distributions incorporate different versions of the OpenStack components with extended features, custom enhancements and integrations that may make difficult their compatibility and interoperability. Moreover many of them include proprietary components and exhibit significant differences in the implementation of critical underlying functionality. So the organization is finally using proprietary software based on OpenStack and is locked to that specific distribution given that the vendor only supports its own stack, not the community version, and there is no way to migrate to another vendor distribution.

Looking to the Future

We have not prepared this article to try to demonstrate that one of the CMPs is more open than the others. We have tried to show how the four open source projects have different cultures and drivers, and these differences are reflected in the different dimensions of openness. For example, the four CMPs implement different governance models because they are addressing different needs. While Eucalyptus and OpenNebula serve the needs of the users, CloudStack better serves the needs of the developers, and OpenStack serves the needs of the vendors, so they have a technology base and a marketing brand to build their own cloud stacks.

Which is the most important measure of openness in cloud computing? Do the cloud users really care about this? Users mainly want a solution that meets their functional needs, and are interested in open-source as a way to enhance flexibility, lower costs and avoid lock-in. However, in our experience, most of these benefits are only available when an open-source software can be used in production environments without the addition of proprietary components.

Addendum 1 (14:41 PDT, March 14, 2013): This is not a personal recommendation. This is a recommendation made by several of the companies involved in OpenStack that have released, or are planing to release in the short term, an enterprise-ready OpenStack distribution. According to their different announcements, these vendor specific distributions bring production-grade features like upgrade services, scalability, performance, or stability.

Addendum 2 (23:23 PDT, March 14, 2013): I forgot to include some words about the support of the four open-source cloud management stacks to existing de-jure standards addressing interoperability and portability issues surrounding cloud infrastructures. Although they do not have a broad ecosystem now, they will be critical in future cloud interoperability and portability. The OpenNebula main distribution provides an implementation of OGF OCCI and in its ecosystem there are implementations of DMTF CIMI and OVF, and SNIA CDMI, and OpenStack also offers an experimental implementation of OGF OCCI.

A huge effort is being put in by the OpenNebula team to finish and polish the features that define the upcoming OpenNebula 4.0. Here’s our monthly newsletter with the main news from the last month, including what you can expect in the coming months.

Technology

The OpenNebula team has been busy with the next major release, OpenNebula 4.0. We expect the Beta release to be available in mid-March, followed by the final release towards the end of the month.

There has been already leaks of the Sunstone facelift, and the team is working at top speed to add the latest features to the Web GUI. For instance, the ability to create virtual machine snapshots and hotplug network interfaces, as well as the possibility of schedule actions over virtual machines (“shutdown this machine next saturday at 10:00am”) are currently at work in the Sunstone interface. Also, there has been a major reform of the command line interface, with new added possibilities.

After receiving several requests from our users to sponsor some particular features, a new program called “Fund a Feature” has been created, which allows organizations to fund the development of new features. And lastly, we have prepared an article to briefly describe our experience about the different types of cloud models, and our view about how the main open-source cloud management platforms (namely Eucalyptus, CloudStack, OpenStack and OpenNebula) are targeting their needs.

Community

The community has been as vibrant as ever this month! We have amazing contributions like the really good help at the time of the development of the new Ceph drivers. An amazing contribution in the realm of the LVM shared drivers has also emerged from the community, with a very neat and detailed documentation. Moreover, contributions to the ecosystem components have been made as well, like the cxm cluster, a solution to host virtual machines on a pool of Xen hypervisors connected to a SAN.

Our community is also present in several multi-site cloud infrastructures, like BonFIRE, with contributions like the NFS and LVM deployment with OpenNebula. We are also very proud to have contributed to the European Roadmap for Cloud Technologies under H2020

Outreach

This past month a number of events were participated by OpenNebula members:

  • FOSDEM 2013, Brussels, Belgium, February 2 and 3, 2013

During the following months, members of the OpenNebula team will be speaking in the following events:

Remember that you can see slides and resources from past events in our events page. We have also created a Slideshare account where you can see the slides from some of our recent presentations.