Major OpenStack players build ARM-based sandbox

HP, Calxeda, Canonical, and Rackspace build out previously x86-only TryStack test environment

In a move to demonstrate OpenStack's flexibility and potential on non-x86 servers, backers of the open source cloud platform today unveiled a new OpenStack sandbox for cloud testing, powered entirely by ARM-based servers.

The sandbox is actually a new zone that's been added to TryStack, a free OpenStack sandbox that made its debut back last February. The first zone was built on x86 servers. It was only a matter of time, however, until ARM-based machines were brought into the cloud mix. Hardware vendors and data center operators alike have been bullish about the ARM architecture's potential to reduce operating costs thanks to its low power usage.

"What a lot of people are starting to see with large-scale data center deployments is that the power requirements become one of the biggest cost drivers. The electric bill becomes a huge part of the economics, especially in a cloud environment," said Jonathan Bryce, chairman of the OpenStack Project Policy Board. "For certain Web-scale applications, it's more efficient to use twice as many cores [built on ARM] that are relatively slow and energy efficient versus fast chips that are energy hogs."

The OpenStack platform is particularly well suited for ARM in that they combine "a radically more efficient chip architecture with the flexible OpenStack cloud operating system designed to manage them at scale," according to Mark Collier, vice president of marketing and business development for OpenStack at RackSpace

Among contributors to this new ARM-based zone are HP, which announced its first ARM-based server last November; ARM chipmaker Calxeda, which is emerging as a formidable rival to Intel; Canonical, which recently added ARM support to its Ubuntu Server 12.04 LTS (Long Term Support); and Rackspace, which developed OpenStack with NASA.

The TryStack sandbox is freely available for anyone, though its only intended for testing purposes. It has its share of limitations, too: First, server instances are only available for 24 hours before being automatically deleted. Second, users can't upload their own server images; rather, they may select from two available images: Ubuntu Oneiric Ocelot and Natty Narwhal. Third, not all OpenStack APIs and features are available through the sandbox; OpenStack Computer API and the OpenStack Identity Services API are, however. Oh, and to get an account, you have to make a formal request through the TryStack Facebook group.

Once you have an account, you can access the sandbox through the Essex dashboard or the Diablo dashboard.

This story, "Major OpenStack players build ARM-based sandbox," was originally published at 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 on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.