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11 Top Open-source Resources for Cloud Computing

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[digg=] Open-source software has been on the rise at many businesses during the extended economic downturn, and one of the areas where it is starting to offer companies a lot of flexibility and cost savings is in cloud computing. Cloud deployments can save money, free businesses from vendor lock-ins that could really sting over time, and offer flexible ways to combine public and private applications. The following are 11 top open-source cloud applications, services, educational resources, support options, general items of interest, and more.

Eucalyptus. Ostatic broke the news about UC Santa Barbara’s open-source cloud project last year. Released as an open-source (under a FreeBSD-style license) infrastructure for cloud computing on clusters that duplicates the functionality of Amazon’s EC2, Eucalyptus directly uses the Amazon command-line tools. Startup Eucalyptus Systems was launched this year with venture funding, and the staff includes original architects from the Eucalyptus project. The company recently released its first major update to the software framework, which is also powering the cloud computing features in the new version of Ubuntu Linux.

Red Hat’s Cloud. Linux-focused open-source player Red Hat has been rapidly expanding its focus on cloud computing. At the end of July, Red Hat held its Open Source Cloud Computing Forum, which included a large number of presentations from movers and shakers focused on open-source cloud initiatives. You can find free webcasts for all the presentations here. The speakers include Rich Wolski (CTO of Eucalyptus Systems), Brian Stevens (CTO of Red Hat), and Mike Olson (CEO of Cloudera). Stevens’ webcast can bring you up to speed on Red Hat’s cloud strategy. Novell is also an open source-focused company that is increasingly focused on cloud computing, and you can read about its strategy here.

Traffic Server. Yahoo this week moved its open-source cloud computing initiatives up a notch with the donation of its Traffic Server product to the Apache Software Foundation. Traffic Server is used in-house at Yahoo to manage its own traffic, and it enables session management, authentication, configuration management, load balancing, and routing for entire cloud computing software stacks. Acting as an overlay to raw cloud computing services, Traffic Server allows IT administrators to allocate resources, including handling thousands of virtualized services concurrently.

Cloudera. The open-source Hadoop software framework is increasingly used in cloud computing deployments due to its flexibility with cluster-based, data-intensive queries and other tasks. It’s overseen by the Apache Software Foundation, and Yahoo has its own time-tested Hadoop distribution. Cloudera is a promising startup focused on providing commercial support for Hadoop. You can read much more about Cloudera here.

Puppet. Virtual servers are on the rise in cloud computing deployments, and Reductive Labs’ open-source software, built upon the legacy of the Cfengine system, is hugely respected by many system administrators for managing them. You can use it to manage large numbers of systems or virtual machines through automated routines, without having to do a lot of complex scripting.

Enomaly. The company’s Elastic Computing Platform (ECP) has its roots in widely used Enomalism open-source provisioning and management software, designed to take much of the complexity out of starting a cloud infrastructure. ECP is a programmable virtual cloud computing infrastructure for small, medium and large businesses, and you can read much more about it here.

Joyent. In January of this year, Joyent purchased Reasonably Smart, a fledgling open-source cloud startup based on JavaScript and Git. Joyent’s cloud hosting infrastructure and cloud management software incorporate many open-source tools for public and private clouds.  The company can also help you optimize a speedy implementation of the open-source MySQL database for cloud use.

Zoho. Many people use Zoho’s huge suite of free, online applications, which is competitive with Google Docs. What lots of folks don’t realize, though, is that Zoho’s core is completely open source — a shining example of how SaaS solutions can work in harmony with open source. You can find many details on how Zoho deploys open-source tools in this interview.

Globus Nimbus. This open-source toolkit allows businesses to turn clusters into Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) clouds. The Amazon EC2 interface is carried over, but is not the only interface you can choose.

Reservoir. This is the main European research initiative on virtualized infrastructures and cloud computing. It’s a far-reaching project targeted to develop open-source technology for cloud computing, and help businesses avoid vendor lock-in.

OpenNebula. The OpenNebula VM Manager is a core component of Reservoir. It’s an open-source answer to the many virtual machine management offerings from proprietary players, and interfaces easily with cloud infrastructure tools and services. “OpenNebula is an open-source virtual infrastructure engine that enables the dynamic deployment and re-placement of virtual machines on a pool of physical resources,” according to project leads.

It’s good to see open-source tools and resources competing in the cloud computing space. The end result should be more flexibility for organizations that want to customize their approaches. Open-source cloud offerings also have the potential to keep pricing for all competitive services on a level playing field.

26 Responses to “11 Top Open-source Resources for Cloud Computing”

  1. Hi,

    Some quick comments.

    1- Open Source IaaS cloud can be more innovative and provide higher performance. Look at NiftyName. It does actually more than EC2 (and Eucalyptus) with much better performance. And it is alread used in production.

    2- Better than SaaS built on open source, there is now 100% open source SaaS. Look for example at TioLive ( It does more than Zoho which you mention, since it even provides VOIP and a true ERP, and all the source code is public and open source. It is even free for unlimited users.

    3- Open Source Cloud already has its GPL like definition called “TIO Libre” where “TIO” stands for Total Information Outsourcing and “Libre” for Freedom.



    • Anthony Bisong

      I agree Ubuntu server 9.10 is left out. Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) allows you to create your own cloud environment that is up and running in less 25 minutes and you can choose to deploy your UEC images to Amazon EC2 if you choose.


  2. @Sam–to be clear, I know that Zoho’s applications are not open source, but they are a good example of a company doing arrays of different types of web-hosted applications where they make liberal use of open source components. Check the interview I linked to for Zoho–it gets into this. You’re right, lots of other web-based properties use open source components too (Twitter especially, and, yes, even Hotmail). In fact, some predict that almost all applications will end up with FOSS components. I just think it’s notable that web-hosted apps can leverage open source tools that are so easily available.


    • Google is built on open source and actively contributes to open source projects (GSoC etc.), and makes available open source clients for manipulating their services (GData), yet they keep their “secret sauce” (search algorithms etc.) to themselves. In fact many leaders in the open source community happen to be Google employees too.

      What have Zoho done for the open source community that makes them worthy of mention here? According to the open source + cloud article their involvement with the open source community (except as a consumer) is very limited:”Yes, at times we modify open-source software to meet our needs, but often, like with the operating system, we don’t modify the source code. We simply strip it down to the essential components that we need, thereby improving performance and security. But for other areas, we may modify a project like MySQL to improve scalability. As for contributing back, it depends. If our changes help us but likely won’t help the community, we won’t contribute them back. But if it’s code that would help the general community, like a security improvement, we contribute that back, unless it’s something proprietary to our business.”

      Don’t get me wrong – I am impressed by Zoho and am keeping a close eye on them, but championing them as an “open source resource” when there are other, better examples is wrong.


  3. If you want to be taken seriously then remove Zoho from this list… they may use open source but last I checked so does Hotmail. I’d also be wary of any products that aren’t 100% open source (e.g. that only release part of their functionality as open source). I haven’t checked but I guess Eucalyptus falls into this category (that said, Ubuntu did recently include them so maybe not) and i know Enomaly have an “enterprise edition” with a lot of their more interesting functionality.


    • @ Sebastian,
      I just wanted to update you that last week Blogtronix launched blogtronixMicro, the brand new open source micro-social platform on the web. This is both an open source cloud on RackSpace as well as open source software (to be available soon for the new version)
      Our new open source project is more of a micro-social with real-time feeds, dashboard, groups, micro-blogging, social profiles, multimedia support, powerful admin, and mobile interface. We now have over 900 communities powered on the software as well ;)
      you can go to for free account, video, and live demo trial.


  4. Sebastian, you may want to include our open source micro-social platform Sharetronix (the name may change in the next week) this is basically a more powerful micro-blogging platform with extended social networking, group creation, mobile UI and powerful admin. The new version will be launch in 10 days and will blow you a way ;)

    Find out more at or

  5. Hi Roshan, Zoho’s applications are free (for limited numbers of users in some cases) but not open source themselves. They very liberally use open source components, though, which is an interesting example of very widely used online hosted applications taking shape based on open source.


  6. Roshan Shrestha

    How is Zoho open source? Sure it uses Tomcat, MySQL, Hadoop, etc, but then so do a log of companies. Twitter uses Ruby in Rails, MySQL, but it sure isn’t an open-source company. Can I download some of Zoho’s contribution and run it on my computer?

    Maybe Zoho has open-sourced some of its core software that it wrote, that I am not aware of.