Leading Cloud Management Platforms

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The cloud management platform (CMP) market is still evolving, and vendors offer solutions with varied feature sets. With so many new options, which offering is the right fit for your organization?

Commercial vendors—Microsoft and VMware—offer commercial off-the-shelf capabilities, and are typically higher cost than open-source offerings. Choosing the appropriate CMP for your cloud environment depends on your current virtualization environment, the scope of your cloud strategy, your business requirements, the availability of skilled resources, and your budget.

The following describes five CMP solutions, two commercial and three open-source offerings. The open-source solutions—Apache* CloudStack*, Eucalyptus* cloud computing software, and the OpenStack* platform typically provide a low cost point of entry for the software and the prospect of application portability, but require a significant amount of in-house development.

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Apache* CloudStack*

Apache CloudStack software is a top-level project of the Apache Software Foundation and calls itself a turnkey solution. CloudStack software provides an open and flexible cloud orchestration platform for private and public clouds. It offers self-service IaaS capabilities and features:

• Compute orchestration

• Network as a service; user and account management

• Native API and Amazon* Web Services (AWS) API translator so that apps written for CloudStack can run in AWS

• Resource accounting of network, compute, and storage resources

• Multitenancy and account separation

• “First-class” user interface

CloudStack software is based on the Java* language and includes a management server and agents for hypervisor hosts. It currently supports hosts with the most prevalent hypervisors: VMware* ESXi with vSphere* technology, KVM software, XenServer* software, and the Xen* Cloud Platform (XCP).

CloudStack began as a project at the startup company Cloud.com and was bought by Citrix in 2011. The software became part of the Apache Software Foundation’s open-source projects in April 2012. CloudStack boasts $1 billion worth of business transactions annually running across its clouds since Citrix first released the code.

Eucalyptus Systems

Eucalyptus is an open-source provider of cloud management software with strong technical ties to Amazon Web Services. One of the advantages to deploying the Eucalyptus Cloud platform is the ability for a company to move seamlessly from a private cloud to a hybrid model by bursting into the Amazon public cloud as needed.

Eucalyptus software supports industry-standard AWS APIs, including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), and Amazon Identity and Access Management (Amazon IAM). It supports three hypervisors: VMware ESXi with vSphere technology, KVM software, and the Xen Cloud Platform (XCP).

The Eucalyptus Cloud platform provides these additional capabilities and features:

• Self-service user console

• Dashboard for cloud management tasks

• Mixed hypervisor environments

• Storage area network (SAN) integration to take advantage of storage arrays

• Identity management with fine-grained role-based access control

• Accounting, chargeback, and quota management

• Usage reporting and pattern analysis

• Automated installation with guided configuration of cloud components

Microsoft* Hyper-V* Software and Microsoft System Center

Microsoft’s vision for cloud is referred to as Microsoft* Cloud OS, a set of technologies, tools, and processes built on the Windows Server* operating system with Hyper-V* software, the Microsoft System Center, and the Windows Azure* platform. Together, these technologies provide a consistent platform for infrastructure, applications, and data.

Microsoft commands a great deal of credibility as a strategic enterprise vendor and offers a robust set of technologies with well known, extensive capabilities. The Windows Server 2012 operating system was designed to run virtualization environments with the cloud in mind. Other Microsoft products can be added to your cloud mix, such as Microsoft SQL Server* and Microsoft Visual Studio*.

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Microsoft cloud technologies also provide:

• Virtualization of servers, network, storage, and applications

• Automated self-service web portals and a provisioning engine

• Extensibility with third-party partner solutions

• Unified management view that can extend across private, hosted, and public clouds

• Single identity for secure user and device management

• A complete data platform that can handle petabytes of data with Microsoft SQL Server

OpenStack* Cloud Software

OpenStack, the third of the three open-source platforms in this guide, was cofounded by Rackspace and NASA in 2010 and is currently available under the Apache 2.0 license. Growth in the use of the OpenStack platform has been rapid, with dozens of companies, many of them well known, such as AT&T, HP, and IBM, signing on to use OpenStack as the base for their private cloud offerings. This gives IT departments two options for deploying OpenStack for private cloud—either as a free software download with in-house deployment or from a vendor.

The OpenStack platform has a modular design that enables integration with legacy and third-party technologies. It supports the Xen and KVM hypervisors. OpenStack also offers:

• Massively scalable redundant storage (OpenStack Swift* for object-based storage and OpenStack Cinder for block storage) for high availability

• Strong, token-based security and compute security groups for automated segmentation among tenants and VM roles within a single tenant

• Shared services for identity management, image management, and a web interface

• Native API and Amazon EC2–compatibility API

• A dashboard for administrators that provides an overview of the size and state of the cloud environment and user management for IT and provides self provisioning for users

• Compatibility with software-defined networking (SDN) such as OpenFlow* technology

• Six-month release schedule for continuous code improvement

VMware* vCloud Director*

The VMware vCloud* Suite is a comprehensive, integrated cloud platform that includes all the elements to build cloud environments and operationalize VMware vSphere* virtualized environments. VMware vCenter* Server manages the compute, storage, and networking resources, and VMware vCloud Director* ties all the pieces of the cloud together so you can deploy a secure, multitenant cloud using the resources from VMware vSphere environments. VMware supports the VMware ESXi hypervisor.

VMware cloud technologies also offer:

• Rapid policy-controlled, self-service provisioning of virtual machines and applications

• Ability to enable trust-zone policies to protect and control traffic to IT-governed groups of virtual machines

• Comprehensive data center monitoring and management capabilities

• Compatibility with SDN

• Disaster protection and operational and regulatory compliance

• Self-service portal access

• High-performance service levels for disaster recovery, security, and compliance

This blog is part 4 of 4 in a series focused on planning your organization’s cloud strategy. For a full report, please click here.

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For a real-world example of a successful cloud deployment using OpenStack platform, click here.

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