Things are hotting up in the datacentre. Not just as a result of increasing moves towards a warmer operating temperature, but also due to some of the commercial activity around the new dynamic datacentre.
Cloud relies on virtualisation and what we used to call orchestration -- a term VMware used a lot but which seems already to have fallen by the wayside. The ability to manage applications that provide services and allocate to their supporting VMs the required resources when required is a critical element of this approach to computing.
It's very early days in this area but plans to automate the datacentre are moving ahead in hosters and enterprises. And already we can see the vendor battle lines being drawn up.
On the one side we see the likes of Abiquo, which is bidding to become the default company to go to when you need software to manage VMs in one or more datacentres as a single entity. One the other side, the biggest entity is OpenStack, an alliance of companies delivering "open source software designed to provision and manage large networks of virtual machines, creating a redundant and scalable cloud computing platform." Abiquo has joined OpenStack mainly, as Malcolm said to allow it "to watch with interest".
You could think of this fight of philosophies -- open vs proprietary -- as analogous to Red Hat versus VMware.
Abiquo's CEO Pete Malcolm poo-poos the OpenStack approach, saying that "enterprises want virtualisation 2.0, they want to take their existing environments and turn them into a cloud by offering self-service and automation. The approach taken by the likes of Eucalyptus and OpenStack mean that you have to start from scratch." Malcolm said he doubted if many of the OpenStack alliance partners had a viable business model.
OpenStack is not yet at the operating stage as it admits on its website. Its code does not yet come "with certification from operating system or hardware vendors. Instead it's aimed at providers, institutions, and enterprises with highly technical operations teams that have the capabilities and needs to turn physical hardware into large-scale cloud deployments."
It does however aim high, positioning itself similarly to "the transition away from fractured, proprietary flavors [sic] of UNIX toward open-source Linux. An open cloud stands to provide the same benefits for large-scale cloud computing that the Linux standard provided inside the server." The goal "is to produce the ubiquitous Open Source cloud computing platform that will meet the needs of public and private cloud providers regardless of size, by being simple to implement and massively scalable."
But Abiquo and others outside the open source community are lining up for a piece of this pie. Imagine what a hosting provider might pay for a piece of software that could automate not just the technology -- hardware and software -- in a datacentre but the charging and billing too, in order to deliver cloud-based services for the lowest possible cost.
There's still a long way to go.