Cloud control systems tame the ether

3tera, Enomaly, Kaavo, and RightScale take myriad and mixed approaches to managing virtual servers in the sky

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Next, the Virtual Network Manager control panel assists in creating and managing virtual networks within your clusters. (This control is not in the community version; it was in a testbed system that Enomaly gave me temporary access to.)

Finally, the Elastic Valet is a control panel for provisioning machines. You select a target cluster for the machine, and specify launch parameters. The Elastic Valet will determine which physical machine in the cluster is the best destination to "park" the virtual machine -- hence the tool's name.

[ Application development has taken to the skies. See the InfoWorld Test Center reviews, "Windows Azure Services Platform gives wings to .NET" and "Google's high-flying cloud for Python code." ]

Another important component of the ECP control panel is the Repository, which is a storage management system for OS images and plug-ins for the Enomaly system itself. (The latter is typically supplied as Python eggs.) The Repository recognizes both local and "remote" machine images. Remote images are available from Enomaly's central servers; you can select a remote image and have it downloaded to your local system. At the time of this writing, there were about 10 images, including Red Hat, Ubuntu, CentOS, and others.

Hard-code developers will enjoy the Enomalism API selection from the Admin tab. This provides a list of the REST-style APIs that Enomalism supports. Select an API, and you're provided with a structured definition of the parameters and data types for that API.

ECP is simply not there yet. Or, if it is, it hides the fact behind its meager documentation. Though I was able to install and run the community edition on Ubuntu, whenever I got something to work, I could never be certain whether I had done the right thing or had simply stumbled into a solution. More importantly, ECP appears to be lacking in tools that assist in the configuration of machine instances. That is, it has nothing analogous to RightScale's RightScripts or Kaavo's system definition file. For now, it appears to be good for managing virtual machines in a cluster of networked hardware, but provides little support for applications on those virtual machines. Hopefully, this capability will appear in a future release.

Kaavo IMOD

Kaavo's Infrastructure and Middleware on Demand (IMOD) seeks not only to abstract the individual servers running on cloud-based system, but -- as much as possible -- to erase the boundaries between tiers. That is, with IMOD, you can work with a multitier application as though it were a monolithic application, without losing the ability to fine-tune constituent parts.

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