Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Proposal for Principles of Foundation of Open Cloud Federation

This post has been prepared as contribution to the Boston Open Research Cloud Workshop that MIT is hosting on May 11-12, 2017. The aim of the workshop is to discuss the issues, reach consensus on how to move forward, and begin actively working towards the establishment of a federated scientific research cloud.

The two main cloud computing deployment models are public and private clouds. Public clouds are multi-organization, shared environments that are hosted, managed and operated by a third-party provider. Private clouds are single-organization, dedicated environments that can be hosted on-site at the organization data center or off-site at a service provider’s data center. Both deployment models provide agility, improve experience, flexibility and instant provisioning, but while private clouds offer greater control of security, customization and performance, public clouds offer higher scalability, simplicity, low upfront investment costs and pay per use.

Both public and private clouds can be multi-site infrastructures consisting of multiple geographically distributed, but tightly coupled data centers. These datacenters are typically replicated with a few instances on a continent wide scale in semi-autonomous zones. For example, at the time of this writing, Amazon maintains 38 availability zones within 14 geographic regions around the world, Microsoft operates 30 regions, Softlayer operates 31 data center facilities and Google operates 6 cloud regions.

Although cloud computing has grown, developed and evolved very rapidly over the last half decade, cloud federation continues being an open issue. Vendor lock-in, trust, security and incompatibility issues are plaguing current cloud offerings and hampering innovation.
A federated cloud is not a large-scale cloud based on a multi-site distributed data center infrastructure but a cloud composed of resources from different providers. In the federated cloud model, clouds managed by different organizations federate to allow users to utilize any of the connected clouds.

Hybrid clouds combine the existing on-premise private cloud infrastructure with outsourced resources from one or more external public clouds, enabling to transform the local datacenter into a highly scalable IT environment. Hybrid cloud computing is the next step beyond private clouds in the evolution of cloud computing, and it is emerging as the mainstream of IT as more and more organizations are embracing or planning to embrace hybrid cloud as part of their IT strategy.

With the quickly increasing number of scientific institutions building private clouds to support their research projects, a growing pressure has been placed to establish conventions supporting the federation of research and scientific cloud resources, and their hybrid combination with public cloud resources. There are several cloud federation initiatives around the world building distributed infrastructures made of academic and science private clouds and driven by requirements of the scientific community. Some fundamental principles should be adopted in order to define an open framework for cloud federation that integrates existing standards and best practices. This  would allow any research institution, hosting provider, telecom or public cloud provider to join this open interoperable ecosystem.  

I suggest the following principles as the foundation of Open Research Cloud Federation:

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Monday, February 20, 2017

9 Years of Open-source Driving Innovation in Cloud Computing

Nine years ago, in February 2008, OpenNebula announced the first open-source management software for deploying private and hybrid clouds, and released one of the most transformative platforms for innovation in the cloud. OpenNebula was the first of many open-source software components that now constitute an active and quickly growing open ecosystem in a private cloud market estimated in $7 Billion.

“Open source” software refers to source code that is freely available for use, modification and, depending on the terms of its license, redistribution of modified and extended versions of the software. It is not only that the code is open and free, collaboration between technology providers and users is a huge advantage in the open source arena. One of the beauties of open source is that it is a meeting point between users and innovators, both from industry and academia, where they can freely share resources and knowledge. Open source software is also playing a vital role in the timely dissemination and transfer of important research and technology advances in cloud computing.

Open-source has been a growing phenomenon for more than two decades, but it has been with cloud computing when open-source has become the leader for innovation and the dominating form of technology, disrupting the traditional, commercial closed-source software business. During these years, we have witnessed how open source has played a key role in driving and supporting the transition to cloud computing, accelerating the pace of innovation, and facilitating new products and services.

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