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By | Timothy Prickett Morgan 4th May 2010 15:49

Cloud.com takes on virty infrastructure

Former VMOps comes out of stealth

Cloud.com, formerly known as VMOps, has come out of stealth mode today as it raised its second round of funding and launched its first products for managing virtual server infrastructure across private and public clouds.

The techies behind Cloud.com, which was founded a mere 18 months ago, are all seasoned IT execs with lots of experience with servers, networks, and virtualization. Sheng Liang, who is the company's founder and chief executive officer, was the lead developer for Sun's Java Virtual Machine, the idealized computer that runs Java, which is an idealized form of C++ if you don't like thinking about the underlying iron. Liang was on the management teams of Seven Networks and Openwave Systems after leaving Sun Microsystems, and co-founded Teros Networks (sold to Citrix Systems in 2005).

Peder Ulander, also an ex-Sunner who managed the Solaris development team and who took Java open source as well as having management positions at Linux distro MontaVista Networks and server appliance maker Cobalt Networks (eaten by Sun), is chief marketing officer at Cloud.com. Kevin Kluge, who was in charge of software engineering at email service provider Zimbra (eaten by Yahoo and passed on to VMware recently) is taking the same position at Cloud.com; he held various development positions at Corvigo, Sun, Openwave, and Portola Communications.

In effect, this is a bunch of Sunners heading for the clouds, as Sun itself tried to do a couple of times and failed.

According to Ulander, Cloud.com was founded about the same time as the open source Eucalyptus project and with same goal in mind: to create a framework for managing internal clouds based on various server hypervisors and adhering to emerging standards and APIs relating to virtual machines and clouds.

"Everybody was talking about it, but no one was actually doing it," says Ulander.

Eucalyptus Systems, the commercial entity behind its eponymous framework, started out with the goal of supporting Amazon's APIs for its EC2 public cloud on internal clouds running VMware ESX hypervisors; the company has since worked with Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux distro, to add support for KVM virtual machines to the Eucalyptus framework.

Cloud.com's CloudStack software is trying to span more clouds, but has the same goal of creating a management framework that spans internal clouds based on a variety of hypervisors and virtual containers and commercial clouds like EC2, which use a customized Xen partition and a bunch of APIs for managing images, VMs, and virtual networks.

Like Eucalyptus, Cloud.com is open sourcing its code, but not quite all of it. Ulander says that 98 per cent of the code in the CloudStack management framework has been open sourced under the GPL v3 license, with the exception of the billing mechanisms the company has created so service providers and IT organizations can do chargeback to the customers or departments that consume virtualized servers, networks, and storage; the enterprise connectors and APIs that Cloud.com has created to link to various servers and storage arrays, such as Cisco Systems' Unified Computing System blade servers or EMC disk arrays are also not open source.

The CloudStack software supports Amazon's Web Services API and is hewing to VMware's vCloud and Citrix' Cloud Center frameworks and related APIs as well, according to Ulander. The software also provides a security layer that can isolate processing, networking, and storage resources in a number of different ways, including by user, by physical location, and by deployment environment. The tool creates and maintains and image library, catalogs of applications, and templates that are used to spin up application stacks quickly on virtualized x64 iron.

Right now, the CloudStack tools support VMware's ESX Server 4.0, Citrix XenServer 5.5, and the latest KVM hypervisor, with support for Microsoft's Hyper-V. CloudStack does not run these environments directly, but makes use of the VMware vCenter, Citrix XenCenter, and soon Microsoft Systems Center tools; in this way, CloudStack is more of an uber-management tool, like the master control programs on giant parallel supercomputer clusters, which schedule jobs but use other tools to provision individual (and often incompatible) nodes in the supers so they can run particular jobs. CloudStack can interface with tools for managing virtual or physical networks, and is partnering with RightScale for workload management.

So why is Cloud.com not trying to tackle all of these different hypervisors and systems management tools individually, displacing them with a single tool? Well, for one thing, the vendors of the operating systems and hypervisors would not like that, and therefore would not partner and cooperate. And being a startup, Cloud.com has to pick its target and then try to hit it.

"Right now, the number one problem in IT is figuring out how to wrap a service around virtual infrastructure and then manage, meter, and charge for it," Ulander explains. And that is what Cloud.com says it can do.

The CloudStack software comes in three versions. The Community Edition is free, and it is the weekly spin of the tool that will be available "out there in the wild." The Service Provider Edition and Enterprise Editions include the closed source billing and connector modules and the same code stack, but the services that are wrapped around them are a bit different.

The prices for the service provider and enterprise versions of CloudStack are the same, however. That's $10,000 for a management server license and five nodes under management, with additional two-socket server nodes costing $1,000 a pop to be brought to heel by CloudStack. A 5 TB block of storage to be virtualized has a license fee of $1,000 as well.

The Community Edition of the CloudStack tools is available now (which you can check out here), with the Service Provider and Enterprise Editions available by month's end.

In addition to launching itself with a new name, Cloud.com also said that it closed a second round of venture funding, with $11m being kicked in by Index Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, and Nexus Venture Partners. Redpoint and Nexus had already paid out $6.6m in the first round of funding last year. ®

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