Oracle prepares a IaaS cloud platform, releases a management API

Surprise, surprise. 
Larry Ellison, Oracle’s CEO, may have an issue with the (ab)use of the term “cloud computing” (and frankly it’s very hard to not agree with him) but the rest of his company seems busy preparing to embrace the IT-as-a-service model in a big way.

To be fair, Oracle announced cloud-ready products in September 2008, allowing core products like Database 11g, Fusion Middleware and Enteprise Manager to run inside Amazon EC2.
Oracle itself acts as a cloud hosting provider, opening its Platform for SaaS (the one where CRM on Demand and Argus Safety run) to external developers.

Anyway the company didn’t touch at all the infrastructure layer so far. The corporate FAQ page about the topic simply suggests to look at the Oracle virtualization offering to those customers that are looking to build a private cloud. But the offering is about to become a lot more articulated.

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VMware answers to Rackspace on OpenStack

Earlier this week Rackspace announced a massive open source project called OpenStack
In its early form, it is the open source version of The Rackspace Cloud, including the storage-as-a-service Cloud Files component and the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Cloud Servers component.

The market answer has been extremely positive, with a remarkable number of key cloud computing players supporting the initiative. 
As Cloud Servers is built on top of XenServer, Citrix has been blazing fast in suggesting that OpenStack instantly killed the upcoming VMware vCloud Service Direct (vCSD) even before its launch.

VMware responded earlier today. Sort of.

The company has been extremely vague in addressing its lack of presence among the OpenStack supporters.
Nobody in the industry really expected VMware to openly recognize the value and the potential of the Rackspace initiative. But customers may have hoped at least for an explicit clarification about the VMware’s commitment to interoperate with OpenStack in the future. Mostly because VMware has been frequently accused of locking in its customers.

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Rackspace open sources its cloud computing platform

With a surprising move, Rackspace today announced the release under open source license of the technology that powers its cloud computing platform.
Customers will be able to download it and use it to build a Rackspace-like on-premises cloud.

Named OpenStack, the platform initially includes only the part of the The Rackspace Cloud (formerly Mosso) called Cloud Files (formerly Cloud FS).

Cloud Files is a storage-as-a-service cloud that Rackspace launched in May 2008 and that competes with Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), part of the Amazon Web Services (AWS).

This component will be called OpenStack Storage:

OpenStack Object Storage aggregates commodity servers to work together in clusters for reliable, redundant, and large-scale storage of static objects. Objects are written to multiple hardware devices in the datacenter, with the OpenStack software responsible for ensuring data replication and integrity across the cluster. Storage clusters can scale horizontally by adding new nodes, which are automatically configured. Should a node fail, OpenStack works to replicate its content from other active nodes. Because OpenStack uses software logic to ensure data replication and distribution across different devices, inexpensive commodity hard drives and servers can be used in lieu of more expensive equipment.

In late 2010 the company will also include in OpenStack the portion of its current platform called Cloud Servers.

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The Planet selects KVM for IaaS cloud hosting

These days the hosting industry is passing through a profound transformation thanks to virtualization and cloud computing. And during this evolution some providers are taking some risks to differentiate their offering and find new, profitable niche.

So while Softlayer decided to adopt Parallels Server Bare Metal as hypervisor of choice for part of its hosting facility, The Planet decides to adopt KVM to power its new cloud computing hosting platform.

The infrastructure includes Oracle/Sun SANs, Intel Nehalem processors, Cisco and Juniper network equipment, and Dell servers.

Quite interestingly, The Planet selected Ubuntu Server rather than Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) as virtualization host.
Apparently, the version of KVM being used by The Planet doesn’t support vCPUs and vRAM hot add:

Seamless, Rapid CPU, RAM Upgrades: Customers buy only what they require to get started and grow their performance seamlessly as demand expands. A single system reboot from the server host recognizes any added resources.

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Okta secures $10M in Round A funding

Like Symplified (see coverage), Okta is a cloud computing security vendor focused on identity access management (IAM).

The company was founded in early 2009 by Todd McKinnon and Frederic Kerrest.
McKinnon (CEO) comes from Salesforce, where he has been the Senior Vice President of Development from 2003 to 2009. Before that he has worked as Software Developer in Peoplesoft for 8 years.
Kerrest (President) comes from Salesforce too, where he was in the Sales & Business Development team from 2002 to 2007.
With them there are Eric Berg (Vice President of Products), a former Director of Product Management at Microsoft and former Vice President of Product Management at Apptio, and Roger Goulart (Vice President of Sales & Business Development), a former Vice President of Alliances at Salesforce.

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Release: Zuora Z-Force 3.0

After announcing a version of Z-Commerce for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud computing platforms last month, Zuora announces this week a new major update for Z-Force.

Developed as an Apex Language application and hosted on the Salesforce Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud, the product already integrates with CRM.

Z-Force 3.0 introduces several new features:

  • Ability to create customer-ready quotes for upsells, amendments and change orders
  • Automatically calculate, display, and quote prorations and charges across multiple charge periods across complex charge models
  • One-click activation of orders to automatically kick off billing
  • 20x improvement in synchronization performance
  • Improved automation of data synchronization
  • Support for Chatter

IBM opens a second cloud computing data center in Europe

After the Cloud Computing Centre opened in Dublin in March 2008, IBM announces a second facility today: the Cloud Computing Competence Centre, in Ehningen, Germany.

Big Blue already has its biggest data center in that city. It will be extended to host the entire cloud computing offering of the company: the Smart Business Desktop and the Smart Business Development and Test.

This last piece of the offering has been in beta since March and is expected to go in production this fall.

Virtuon launches a VMware-powered Desktop-as-a-Service cloud

After Verizon, IBM (with its Smart Business Desktop) and tuCloud, the last vendor announcing a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) cloud computing offering is Virtuon.

A DaaS cloud actually is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud solely used to host and serve virtual desktops. It could be called an off-premises, on-demand VDI.

The Virtuon DaaS cloud, which is powered by VMware View 4 and supports PCoIP thin clients, serves Windows XP, Vista and 7 guest operating systems. And here the problems start.

So far no vendor has been able to offer a proper Windows DaaS offering because Microsoft licensing doesn’t allow to do so in any practical way.
As wrote almost one year ago:

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Amazon allows VMs custom Linux kernel on EC2

Amazon just announced a new, remarkable option available for customers of its Xen-based Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud computing platform: Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

From now on, the EC2 virtual machines (called Amazon Machine Images or IMAs) will be able to load custom Linux kernels.

Customers have to use a Linux kernel that supports the Xen’s pv_ops (paravirtual ops) infrastructure with XSAVE disabled or the Xen 3.0.2 interface, and perform some specific configuration steps.

To enable user provided kernels, Amazon has published a set of Amazon Kernel Images (AKIs) that use a system called PVGrub. PVGrub is a para‐virtual “mini‐OS” that runs a version of GNU GRUB, the standard Linux boot loader. PVGrub selects the kernel to boot by reading /boot/grub/menu.lst from your image. It will load the kernel specified by your image and then shutdown the “mini‐OS”, so that it no longer consumes any resources. One of the advantages of this solution is that PVGrub understands standard grub.conf or menu.lst commands, allowing it to work with most existing Linux distributions.

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