OpenNebula, the European answer to the likes of Eucalyptus and OpenStack that counts CERN and China Mobile among its customers, is moving to differentiate itself from competitors by freely releasing OpenNebulaApps, a suite of cloud application management tools that sit on top of its traditional infrastructure management toolkit.
The OpenNebulaApps tools were previously available only to OpenNebulaPro customers but, according to project director Ignacio Llorente, OpenNebula realized there was more value in opening them up:
“Most customers are interested in our enterprise support – they want us to provide them with commercial support and a service-level agreement. These components weren’t so important for them, so we realized it was more important for us to release these components to the community, to compete [with OpenStack, Eucalyptus etc].
“As we are an open-source community, it is much easier for us and our customers to be fully open-source and not to have special add-ons only available for customers. We have a quality assurance process for all open-source technology and also have the community as testers.”
There are three tools in the OpenNebulaApps collection: AppStage allows automated software stack installation and configuration for virtual machines (VMs); AppFlow is for automatically executing and managing multi-tiered applications that consist of interconnected VMs; and AppMarket lets users build and deploy private marketplaces, so that users can share virtual appliances across multiple OpenNebula instances.
The suite is being released under the Apache license and will become part of the main OpenNebula distribution. It’s not the first move OpenNebula has made recently to boost enterprise uptake by opening up functionality to more users: a couple of weeks ago, sponsor company C12G said the community would get access to every maintenance release and service pack.
Llorente described the target users of this latest release as enterprises that see cloud computing as an extension of data center virtualization and that want to, for example, use the VMware hypervisor while avoiding the vCloud VMware component because OpenNebula is “more cost-effective” and supports other hypervisors as well. He suggested that this was a different type of customer from those who want to build an Amazon Web Services-like cloud on-premises.
“While OpenStack and Eucalyptus can be seen as an open source incarnation of the Amazon cloud model, OpenNebula can be seen as an open source incarnation of the VMware vCloud cloud model,” he explained.
The open-sourcing of OpenNebulaApps will have some casualties in OpenNebula’s own ecosystem – after all, there’s overlap with projects such as RIM’s Carina environment manager that were designed to run on top of OpenNebula.
“Yes, this is going to be a problem,” Llorente said. “[Various users] are providing functionality on top of OpenNebula and we are now releasing components with similar functionality, but this is an open ecosystem. Users can decide which solution they want to use.”