Open-source cloud frameworks: A work in progress

Nimble and fast, open-source frameworks can simplify application deployment in the cloud. But they're not for everyone.

By Robert L. Scheier, Computerworld |  Cloud Computing, paas

Customers often use multiple frameworks and associated tools. One example is the use of OpenStack to provision virtual machines, and Opscode Chef to create "recipes" describing how servers should be configured, says Opscode co-founder Jesse Robbins. The further up the "stack" a platform operates, the less work the customer must do, but they also have less control over the infrastructure components, says Matt Conway, CTO at online backup vendor Backupify.

Beyond easing cloud creation, most frameworks claim to make it easier to move cloud deployments among public and private clouds to get the lowest cost and best service. For example, Eucalyptus is meant to provide an Amazon EC2-compatible API that runs on top of Ubuntu Linux (the version of Linux underpinning the Ubuntu Cloud), "so apps authored for EC2 should be transplantable to one's own data center running Eucalyptus," says Conway. "Deltacloud was an initiative by Red Hat to create a 'cloud API' to abstract your application away from vendors like Amazon, and it would proxy your requests to the actual Amazon API."

For online storage vendor CX, OpenStack provides the flexibility to use other cloud vendors besides Amazon "if [Amazon's] services become too expensive or otherwise unsuitable," says CX CTO Jan Vandenbos.

Anthony Roby, a senior executive in Accenture's advanced systems and technology group, says the word "framework" is often misused, and offerings such as Eucalyptus or OpenStack are "not frameworks at all," but "products you can extend or use to build your own infrastructure cloud." However, most observers define frameworks as software building blocks used to create cloud-based services for users.

Three Steps

Choosing an Open-Source Framework

1. Evaluate which components of a "framework" you need, as well as the level (i.e., infrastructure, platform or both) at which you need to reduce your workload.

2. Evaluate the level of support and professional services you'll need.

3. Check support for the specific cloud providers you might want to use, and whether your platform supports the added services (such as replication) your applications may require.

- Robert L. Scheier

The Role of Open Source

Open-source projects range from "pure" open-source development initiatives directed by nonprofit foundations that aren't associated with any commercial vendors, to those getting financial, marketing and development help from leading companies.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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