Apache CloudStack 4.2: Easier upgrades, faster installation, better scaling

What was once Citrix's private cloud deployment technology has now become a major Apache Software Foundation offering

Apache CloudStack, software for creating and managing private cloud infrastructures and IaaS generally, is now in its second release -- 4.2 -- since becoming an Apache Software Foundation (ASF) project.

Formerly a Citrix product, CloudStack was open-sourced, then donated to the ASF, where it became an ASF Top-Level Project -- a mark of ASF prestige -- in March. Citrix still offers Apache CloudStack as part of its commercial CloudPlatform product, but one can always download CloudStack itself and use that for free.

Chip Childers of the ASF uses the term "cloud orchestration software" to describe what CloudStack is meant to be about, and he stressed its wide adoption. "[CloudStack is] used in hundreds of production environments today, powering everything from large-scale public cloud providers, to small dev/test lab infrastructure, and everything in between," Childers said. "The largest known installation of the software is controlling over 40,000 physical hosts."

Childers described three kinds of changes made in recent revisions of CloudStack:

  • Upgrading, which can be done from any version of CloudStack as far back as 2.0, has been made "as painless as possible."
  • Installation has been made less complex "by reducing the number of required moving parts, and by the community-provided Linux packages."
  • CloudStack is also now designed to scale that much more efficiently thanks to Amazon-style Regions, a feature actually present since 4.1.

Often mentioned in the same breath as OpenStack and Eucalyptus, CloudStack actually sits somewhat apart from both of those technologies. It's meant for building and managing private cloud infrastructure, rather than providing strictly Amazon Web Services-compatible private cloud systems (Eucalyptus) or providing a toolbox of cloud-building components to be leveraged by a large vendor (OpenStack).

Another key difference is the type of backers for each project. CloudStack's main two backers are its custodians, Citrix and the ASF. OpenStack benefits from the collusion of a whole slew of hardware and software vendors: Red Hat, VMware, HP, Dell, Rackspace, Cisco, and so on -- many of whom have their own OpenStack-powered products (such as HP Converged Cloud).

Most Apache CloudStack users are cloud resellers or providers of one sort or another: Datapipe, SoftLayer (now an IBM subsidiary), and GoDaddy, as well as Japanese and British telecoms NTT and BT. IBM is nominally known as a supporter of OpenStack, but apparently decided to let SoftLayer keep its existing investment in CloudStack as a way to offer IBM customers the best of both worlds. Citrix, by contrast, left OpenStack in 2012 and is now doublty committed to CloudStack.

According to stats collected through 2012 by Qingye Jiang, interest in CloudStack, as measured by community size and participation, has accelerated. It lags a fair way behind the curiosity about and adoption of OpenStack, but much of that may be due to the relative size of the communities expressing interest in each product. Even so, there's little question interest in CloudStack -- and cloud-building technologies generally -- is continuing to mount.

This story, "Apache CloudStack 4.2: Easier upgrades, faster installation, better scaling," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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