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Building the Cloud: Notes on Apache CloudStack (incubating)

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Build a Cloud Day Interview with Mo Morsi of the Aeolus Project

build-a-cloud-dayWe’re interviewing Build a Cloud Day speakers ahead of some of the Build a Cloud Day events that we’re doing in conjunction with PuppetConf, Ohio LinuxFest, and CloudCon Expo. Today’s cloud builder is Mo Morsi, an engineer at Red Hat who works on the Aeolus project.

You can catch Mo’s talk on Friday in Columbus, Ohio ahead of Ohio LinuxFest. It’s free to attend, but you do need to register.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background, and your current job?

Mo Morsi: I’m a software engineer at Red Hat where I work on the Aeolus project, a suite of utilities aimed at providing an open source abstract interface for cloud infrastructure services.

I’ve been a tech enthusiast my whole life, I started programming in middle school and throughout my entire academic and professional career have pursued may various technical interests and projects. I graduated from Syracuse University, first in 2006 with a Bachelors in Computer Engineering and a Minor in Mathematics and then in 2008 with a Masters in the same field. I was also cofounder and first vice-president of the Syracuse Innovators Guild, Syracuse NY’s non-profit hackerspace. I’ve since stepped down to pursue other goals though am still highly active with the group.

Other than that I have a diverse set of interests, from helping others, to playing the guitar, to martial arts (I practice Aikdio), to nature / camping, you name it!

Q: What will you be speaking about at Build a Cloud Day?

Mo Morsi: Aeolus, our cloud abstraction API. The slides are going to be light with an extensive live demo that will show the suite in action. I will be demonstrating using Aeolus to control OpenStack and RHEV/oVirt cloud providers. We also support EC2, Rackspace, GoGrid, VMware vSphere, and more.

Q: What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to companies starting to adopt IaaS and/or PaaS solutions?

Mo Morsi: Don’t repeat the mistakes of the past! We know what happens when we adopt proprietary APIs and data formats. By adopting open technologies, especially on the cloud now, one can free their self from vendor lock in and proprietary interfaces.

Even tying yourself to a specific open cloud implementation has perils. Clouds are comparatively complicated in nature as they involve orchestrating many different moving components, each of which may be complicated in its own right. By choosing to adopt technologies completely focused on compatibility and interoperability one can do the most one can do to reduce long-term costs (pricing, man hours, resources, etc.).

Q: A big topic in cloud computing right now is the “open” cloud. Opinions differ, though, on what “open” is. What do you think an “open” cloud looks like, and how important is it that a company or organizatino has an “open” cloud?

Mo Morsi: Data formats are extremely important in all of this. Without this, once a user has adopted a cloud provider they are stuck (there is a way to mitigate this with a tool in the Aeolus suite but that a side note). An open API is important, but since that may change or be restricted if coupled with a proprietary implementation, an open backend is important as well. Furthermore, an API that is as close to a standard cloud definition as possible is desirable, as this is most likely to stay relatively stable even as backends change (as is always inevitable).

We have contributors who are part of the Distributed Management Task Force’s Cloud Infrastructure Committee and are working with other companies, organizations, and groups across the industry to rigorously define a standard around cloud infrastructure management. Deltacloud, the core component in the Aeolus suite implements this interface, controlling various cloud specific implementations on the backend so the end user does not need to worry about the messy details.

Q: Cloud technologies are still in early stages, what predictions do you> have for the industry over the next five years?

Mo Morsi: I’ll be the last person to tell you that the cloud is the be all end all. It is a great solution for many problems though and I fully expect to see hybrid and custom infrastructures emerge that leverage public and private cloud resources. Technologies such as Aeolus help assist with this integration and adopting process .

Q: What’s the biggest opportunity you see around IaaS and PaaS technologies for companies that are adopting these technologies? What’s the biggest challenge you see around these technologies?

Mo Morsi: Both of these answers tie together. The cloud allows you to look at the problem differently. The problem being anything that computational resources in general can assist with these days. It is just another resource to leverage, albeit a very powerful one that is made available for an affordable cost to the masses. One needs to evaluate their problem domain and what they are trying to do before adopting the cloud. Try not to buy into all the marketing speak, and try to pick open technologies, formats, and apis that allow you the most flexibility and choice down the road as the change that inevitably comes arrives.

We’re designing Aeolus such that it helps with cloud adoption in a user friendly fashion, allowing us to mitigate many of the problems with proprietary formats and implementations. I will be demonstrating some simple Aeolus cloud management commands at the Build Your Own Cloud Day and Ohio LinuxFest, and hope everyone can make it!

Thanks, Mo for taking the time to answer our questions!

Tagged in: Aeolus Red Hat
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Joe Brockmeier, known to many as "Zonker," is a member of the CloudStack evangelism team at Citrix. Prior to joining Citrix, Joe worked with Novell as the openSUSE community manager, and as Editor-in-Chief of Linux Magazine. He's also worked as a freelance technology journalist, and has written for LWN, NetworkWorld, ReadWriteWeb, and many other publications.
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Guest Saturday, 19 July 2014


Citrix supports the open source community via developer support and evangeslism. We have a number of developers and evangelists that participate actively in the open source community in Apache Cloudstack, OpenDaylight, Xen Project and XenServer. We also conduct educational activities via the Build A Cloud events held all over the world.