Inside Extreme Scale Tech|Saturday, September 20, 2014
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Eucalyptus Scales Out AWS Cloud Clone 

eucalyptus-tree

Cloud controller pioneer Eucalyptus Systems is sticking to its plan to provide a private cloud alternative that mimics Amazon Web Services and with the 4.0 release of its eponymous software the company is adding support for more AWS features. Many of the features in the release were driven and tested by Nokia Siemens Networks, which is one of the company’s largest customers with a cloud that is scaling up to 100,000 cores and which EnterpriseTech told you all about back in November.

One of the new features that NSN put through the paces is an integration layer to link Eucalyptus to object storage. The storage gateway behind this integration can hook into any object storage system that presents an interface that is compliant with the S3 object storage from AWS. The initial first such object storage product that is being integrated with Eucalyptus is the RiakCS clustered object storage created by Basho Technologies. RiakCS is an object storage layer that rides atop the Riak key-value data store, which is written in Erlang and has fault tolerant data replication and automatic data distribution across the cluster for performance and resilience.

Marten Mickos, CEO at Eucalyptus, tells EnterpriseTech that Ceph object storage, which is now controlled by Red Hat after it shelled out $175 million last week to acquire Inktank, and Swift object storage, which is championed by the OpenStack community but by no means restricted to it, will be supported based on customer demands. The gateway can also hook into the actual S3 object storage from AWS in hybrid cloud scenarios, and obviously makes it easier for customers to move applications from AWS to a private cloud. The gateway also allows for active-active clustering of object storage clustering for high availability where replication is not the norm as it is in RiakCS. While companies are able to use the open source RiakCS cloud storage in conjunction with Eucalyptus, the cloud controller peddler is now a reseller of RiakCS Enterprise, the commercial-grade and supported version of Basho’s object storage and the open source RiakCS can be upgraded to the commercial variant and supported through Eucalyptus. As is normal in such partnerships, Basho is providing backup support to Eucalyptus as part of the reseller agreement.

Another new feature, and one that NSN also helped drive, is called edge networking and it allows Eucalyptus to map to the existing networking hardware in a cluster and decentralize some of the control paths of the cloud networking stack and push it out to the edge of the network rather than having it all run through a single Linux server as in prior Eucalyptus setups. Before the advent of edge networking, explains Mickos, Eucalyptus had very precise needs in terms of networking and now it is less finicky about it. The data and control paths for Eucalyptus are also now separated from each other, reducing potential bottlenecks.

The 4.0 update includes another feature called dynamic cloud configuration, which allows for services running on the cloud, such as the cloud controller or the cluster controller, to be reconfigured without having to reinstall the cloud. This dynamic cloud configuration feature also makes it easier to change network settings independently of the cloud, such as when a cloud runs out of network capacity and needs to be moved to a new network or when a cloud is moved or merged into another one after an acquisition or consolidation initiative. (The latter is happening increasingly as companies realized that they have multiple baby clouds running, some of them not necessarily with formal approval from the IT department.)

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On the scalability front, Eucalyptus 4.0 allows for multiple instances of key services, such as the clones of EC2 compute, S3 object storage, and IAM identity management, to be run in a private cloud and for workloads to be load balanced across those instances. The new release also includes a hybrid cloud user console that works on PCs, tablet, and smartphones and can be used to manage private clouds based on Eucalyptus and compute, storage, and other cloud features on the actual AWS.

For better AWS compatibility, Eucalyptus 4.0 lets an EMI (that is short for Eucalyptus Machine Image and a clone of the Amazon Machine Image) to be created from a running virtual machine instance. You can also import Elastic Block Storage (EBS) volumes and create images from the disk image. The 4.0 update also allows for Eucalyptus to automagically resize an EC2 compute instance running on the private cloud to a larger instance when and if it is running out of gas or a smaller instance when it has lots of headroom. The software supports multiple security groups for fine-grained rules for network access and supports the latest S3 access policies and bucket lifecycle features of the real AWS. Eucalyptus 4.0 also has a technology preview of a clone of Amazon’s CloudFormations feature, which is an application templating and deployment system. Templates created for AWS will run with Eucalyptus and vice versa.

While the Eucalyptus cloud controller can scale up to tens of thousands of server nodes, the company does not have access to such a large machine to test the outer limits of scalability. The target customer for Eucalyptus is an IT shop that starts out with a few tens of nodes on a prototype and then grows to hundreds to thousands of nodes. The company does not expect – nor desire – for those building public clouds to deploy Eucalyptus. “If they want a public cloud, they should go to AWS,” says Mickos.

Eucalyptus 4.0 is in beta testing now with a handful of customers and is expected to ship at the end of May or in early June, depending on how that testing goes. Eucalyptus offers three different subscriptions to its cloud controller. The Starter edition costs $149 per month per server and is billed monthly; it is aimed at smaller teams in larger organizations or budget-conscious tech startups who, for whatever reason, want an AWS-compatible private cloud for prototyping rather than using the real AWS public cloud. The Standard edition is intended for production workloads and costs $199 per server per month with an annual billing cycle. That is a complicated way of saying that it costs $2,388 per server per year. The Premium edition has 24×7 tech support and costs $299 per month or $3,588 per year since it also has an annual billing cycle.

About the author: Timothy Prickett Morgan

Editor in Chief, EnterpriseTech Prickett Morgan brings 25 years of experience as a publisher, IT industry analyst, editor, and journalist for some of the world’s most widely-read high-tech and business publications including The Register, BusinessWeek, Midrange Computing, IT Jungle, Unigram, The Four Hundred, ComputerWire, Computer Business Review, Computer System News and IBM Systems User.

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