Xen.org to build open standards cloud platform

Xen Cloud Platform will form part of wider initiative aimed at bridging private clouds with public cloud services such as those offered by Amazon and Rackspace.

The Xen.org community has announced plans to build a new cloud platform for service providers, as the basis of an initiative designed to help private and public cloud services co-operate using open standards.

The planned Xen Cloud Platform (XCP), announced on Monday, will combine enhanced security, storage and network virtualization capabilities with the Xen hypervisor--a piece of open-source software used for running virtualised operating systems on server hardware.

However, a key goal of the wider XCP initiative is to use open standards from the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF)--an open-standards industry body founded in April--to package virtual appliances in a hypervisor-independent format that can be transported between private and public clouds without vendor lock-in.

"Today Xen is already the most widely used hypervisor in the service provider market and the community will be able to build on this momentum to develop a complete, open source, cloud-optimized Xen virtual infrastructure platform," Xen creator Ian Pratt said in a statement. "Our goal is to [let providers] offer a rich set of services that will catalyze cloud adoption by the enterprise in a way that's open, accessible and non-proprietary."

According to Xen.org, the XCP initiative will not try to develop new virtualization management tools for the bridging of public and private clouds, as this area is already well served by commercial products and open source initiatives such as the Eucalyptus project and OpenNebula.org.

Instead, the new initiative will build on storage, security and network virtualization technologies that are "already under development as part of Xen.org", the community said, adding: "As a result, the new platform will not only address cloud provider requirements around security and isolation, but will also meet next-generation user requirements for security, availability, performance, isolation and manage between on-premise and off-premise infrastructures."

Xen.org advisory board members including Citrix, HP, Intel, Novell and Oracle are backing the XCP initiative, as are a host of other companies such as NetApp, AMD, Dell, Fujitsu, Juniper Networks and GoGrid.

"Novell is committed to an open source model that thrives on the support and contributions of a strong community," Carlos Montero-Luque, Novell's open platforms chief, said in the statement. "Creating a stable, well-defined public API for Xen will help drive its rapid adoption inside the enterprise and in clouds."

Oracle's head of Linux engineering, Win Coekaerts, added that "aligning the community around a single compatible code base will maximize the benefits of open source virtual infrastructure for customers, and simplify the federation of private and public clouds".

The Xen.org statement said it wanted to bridge internal enterprise clouds with "external cloud platforms like Amazon EC2, Rackspace Cloud Server and GoGrid". While Rackspace and GoGrid are both quoted as supporters of the XCP initiative, Amazon is not involved in the project.

Last week, Amazon launched a separate service, Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), for bridging private and public clouds. VPC is designed to let companies extend their security services, firewalls and intrusion-detection systems to the cloud, and Amazon has indicated it will roll out the service--currently in beta--to all of the Amazon Web Services.