Amazon allows penetration testing against EC2

Trying to address the excessive lack of transparency that plagues today’s public cloud computing offerings, Amazon has just published a new policy that allows customers (or security researchers) to perform penetration testing inside EC2.

The company already defines what is considered a security attack, or a network abuse, in its Acceptable User Policy. An EC2 customer that wants to simulate a real-world attack without violating that policy has to require permission to do a penetration test. Amazon keeps this request confidential and answers within 24 hours in a non-automated fashion.

In its reply Amazon requires specific information about the penetration test, like the targeted Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) and the attack timeframe. The company also lists the security tools that customers are allowed to use during the attack (but the published policy doesn’t include this list).

Amazon also published the policy to report about discovered vulnerabilities in any of its Amazon Web Services (AWS) platforms, including EC2 of course.

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C12G Labs (negatively) reacts to the Rackspace OpenStack announcement – UPDATED

The OpenStack cloud computing infrastructure announced by Rackspace earlier this week certainly shacked the ecosystem, pushing a few players to answer.
VMware, for example, published a vague statement about the value of open source without really validating the OpenStack platform.

Another vendor that reacted to the announcement is C12G Labs, creator and maintainer of the OpenNebula management framework for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) clouds.
While open source, OpenNebula wasn’t included in the OpenStack platform, along with Citrix XenServer or NASA Nebula.

So C12G Labs published a sort of “me too” statement where the company reminds everybody that OpenNebula has been one the first projects in cloud computing, that it uses Apache licensing, that it is open, flexible, production-ready and that the existence of a commercial Enterprise edition doesn’t imply that the free edition has less features.

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Axibase launches a reporting tool for Amazon EC2

Axibase is a US company founded in 2004 that develops sophisticated reporting.
Its flagship product, Fabrica, turns availability and performance data coming from all sort of IT assets, including entire Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs), into Microsoft Visio diagrams that update in real-time.
Fabrica works with HP OpenView Operations (OVO), IBM Tivoli Monitoring, HP Network Node Manager (NNM) and Microsoft System Center Operation Manager (SCOM).

The company just entered the cloud computing market with a new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) monitoring solution that is hosted on Amazon EC2 and reports about Amazon EC2.

Called Cloud Reporter, this solution is able to track resource usage inside the Amazon Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud and report about the Amazon Virtual Images (AMIs), the Relational Database Service (RDS), the Elastic Load Balancers (ELBs) and the Elastic Block Store (EBS).

Axibase is able to track the EC2 resources thanks to the Cloudwatch web service that Amazon offers.

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VMware organizes its channel to sell Zimbra starting next month

As part of its new cloud computing strategy VMware acquired Zimbra from Yahoo! in January.

Zimbra is an online/offline collaboration suite which Yahoo acquired in September 2007 for $350M in cash and that competes with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) PIMs offered by Google or Zoho for example.

Zimbra also offers an open source mail client that competes with products such as Microsoft Office and Mozilla Thunderbird. 
Yahoo is rumored to be trying to sell it since September 2008.

The new VMware that Paul Maritz is building since June 2008, when he replaced the founder Diane Greene as CEO, believes that SaaS applications must be part of the platform as much as the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) underlying foundation blocks. So the company is developing and acquiring in many areas, far away from its corporate technology area of expertise, to build an end-to-end software stack.

But VMware has been quiet so far about Zimbra. Probably, training a channel that is used to sell hypervisors and virtual machines is a significant challenge that required some time. 
The company seems ready now.

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Web Hosting Talk to launch another benchmark for IaaS clouds

Earlier this week the hosting community Web Hosting Talk (a division of iNET Interactive), in collaboration with the hosting provider The Planet, announced the private beta of new benchmark for cloud computing called Bench the Cloud.

The new benchmark framework, which will be officially launched as a private beta in mid August, seem designed to measure performance of public cloud infrastructures only, through a crowdsourcing approach.
It is built on a suite of open-source benchmarking tools and measures three key criteria essential to running cloud applications: CPU performance, disk read and disk write speed.

Bench the Cloud is only the last attempt to rate the performance of public clouds. In June CloudHarmony published the first performance analysis of most IaaS public clouds. And in July Compuware launched a public tracking service for IaaS and PaaS public clouds called CloudSleuth.

The Planet recently adopted KVM as virtualization platform of choice for part of its public cloud infrastructure, so it will be rather interesting to see if Bench the Cloud will measure that portion of the infrastructure and compare it against other offerings that are Xen-based and ESX-based.

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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