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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Abstrations

About those Cloud APIs...

Posted by on in Cloud Strategy

There has been a lot of discussions lately within the OpenStack community on the need for an AWS API interface to OpenStack nova. I followed the discussion from far via a few tweets, but I am of the opinion that any IaaS solution does need to expose an AWS interface. AWS is the leader in Cloud and has been since 2006 -yes that's seven years- Users are accustomed to it and the AWS API is the de-factor standard.

When Eucalyptus started, it's main goal was to become an AWS clone and in 2012 signed an agreement with Amazon to offer seamless AWS support in Eucalyptus. Opennebula has almost always offered an AWS bridge and CloudStack has too, even though in total disclosure the interface was broken in the Apache CloudStack 4.1 release. Thankfully the AWS interface is now fixed in 4.1.2 release and will also be in the upcoming 4.2 release. To avoid breaking this interface we are developing a jenkins pipeline which will test it using the Eucalyptus testing suite.

Opennebula recently ran a survey to determine where to best put its efforts in API development. The results where clear with 47% of respondents asking for better AWS compatibility. There are of course developing official standards from standard organizations, most notably OCCI from OGF and CIMI from DMTF. The opennebula survey seems to indicate a stronger demand for OCCI than CIMI, but IMHO this is due to historical reasons: Opennebula early efforts in being the first OCCI implementation and Opennebula user base especially within projects like HelixNebula.

CIMI was promising and probably still is but it will most likely face an up-hill battle since RedHat announced it's scaling back on supporting Apache DeltaCloud. I recently heard about a new CIMI implementation project for Stratuslab from some of my friends at Sixsq, it is interesting and fun because written in Clojure and I hope to see it used with Clostack to provide a CIMI interface to CloudStack. We may be couple weeks out :)

While AWS is the de-facto standard, I want to make sure that CloudStack offers choices for its users. If someone wants to use OCCI and CIMI or AWS or the native CloudStack API they should be able to. I will be at the CloudPlugfest Interoperability week in Madrid Sept 18-20 and I hope to demonstrate a brand new OCCI interface to CloudStack using rOCCI and CloudStack ruby gem. A CloudStack contributor from Taiwan has been working on it.

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This post is a little more formal than usual as I wrote this for a tutorial on how to run hadoop in the clouds, but I thought this was very useful so I am posting it here for everyone's benefit (hopefully).

When CloudStack graduated from the Apache Incubator in March 2013 it joined Hadoop as a Top-Level Project (TLP) within the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). This made the ASF the only Open Source Foundation which contains a cloud platform and a big data solution. Moreover a closer look at the projects making the entire ASF shows that approximately 30% of the Apache Incubator and 10% of the TLPs is "Big Data" related. Projects such as Hbase, Hive, Pig and Mahout are sub-projects of the Hadoop TLP. Ambari, Kafka, Falcon and Mesos are part of the incubator and all based on Hadoop.

To Complement CloudStack, API wrappers such as Libcloud, deltacloud and jclouds are also part of the ASF. To connect CloudStack and Hadoop two interesting projects are also in the ASF: Apache Whirr a TLP, and Provisionr currently in incubation. Both Whirr and Provisionr aimed at providing an abstraction layer to define big data infrastructure based on Hadoop and instantiate those infrastructure on Clouds, including Apache CloudStack based clouds. This co-existence of CloudStack and the entire Hadoop ecosystem under the same Open Source Foundation means that the same governance, processes and development principles apply to both project bringing great synergy that promises an even better complementarity.

In this tutorial we introduce Apache Whirr, an application that can be used to define, provision and configure big data solutions on CloudStack based clouds. Whirr automatically starts instances in the cloud and boostrapps hadoop on them. It can also add packages such as Hive, Hbase and Yarn for map-reduce jobs.

Whirr [1] is a "set of libraries for running cloud services" and specifically big data services. Whirr is based on jclouds [2]. Jclouds is a java based abstraction layer that provides a common interface to a large set of Cloud Services and providers such as Amazon EC2, Rackspace servers and CloudStack. As such all Cloud providers supported in Jclouds are supported in Whirr. The core contributors of Whirr include four developers from Cloudera the well-known Hadoop distribution. Whirr can also be used as a command line tool, making it straightforward for users to define and provision Hadoop clusters in the Cloud.

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To REST or not to REST

Posted by on in CloudStack Tips

I wish I could write like Shakespeare but since I don't you are left with this blog about Representational State Transfer (REST) and specifically a discussion on whether the CloudStack API is a REST API or not. The short answer is that the CloudStack API is RESTlike but not RESTfull since it is only based on the GET method. Being an http based API that can return JSON does not make it a RESTfull API. This should not be seen as negative criticism but just a clarification.

A few words first about the CloudStack API and a few pointers. It is very extensive, from user creation, vm management to firewall configuration and more advanced networking features. Github has lots of clients written by the community and I am sure you can find your favorite language in there. The Developer Guide explains in details how to make requests. With CloudMonkey interacting with the API has become even easier. It is a terrific way to learn the API and check the required parameters of each call. Coupled with devcloud you can have a fully functional local CloudStack testbed.

To explore the API, I often also look at the GUI and see how the API calls are made. To do this, I access the UI in Firefox and launch Firebug console. I can then see the calls that I am interested in and specifically check the parameters/headers etc or the http call being made.

REST is known as an architectural style and to put it in french-english it is basically a way to design your API to create a web service that only uses the HTTP methods to manipulate the state of web resources. In my opinion it was really a response to the complexity of the SOAP based web services and the many standards that came out. REST really took off with Web 2.0 and was seen as a way to create easy to use web services. I recently found a few articles by Luis Rei and they clearly explain how to design a REST web service as well as implement on with Flask a lightweight python based web framework.

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Since CloudStack entered incubation at the Apache Software Foundation, there has been lots of work in integrating existing software solutions with Apache CloudStack (ACS). On the networking side we have seen integration with Nicira, BigSwitch BVS, VMWare dvSwitch, Midokura Midonet. On the storage side we have seen integration with Ceph, Riak CS, Caringo and more recently Solidfire. All of these integrations are either already present in the 4.0 release, set for 4.1 at the end of March or in the works for the 4.2 release this summer. Most of these integration efforts need some tight integration with the CloudStack code, developing plugins, writing new classes, potentially defining new orchestration steps, and adding UI interaction. In this post, I want to introduce an integration with Proactive from a french company called Activeeon (@activeeon). They treated ACS as a black box and integrated with it using the default exposed API. A very powerful mechanism to integrate existing solutions and enterprise workflows with a private or public cloud.

Activeeon is a company that originated from an INRIA research lab (INRIA is the leading computer research organization in French , and a CloudStack user in their continuous integration department). One of their solutions, Proactive is an open source software available at the OW2 consortium. Proactive is an advanced workflow manager that combines a powerful IDE, a workflow engine and a resource manager. It aims to take complex computational workflows and ease their execution on distributed resources, such as HPC cluster, desktop grids and clouds. Existing applications using Proactive are from a diverse set of industries such as the financial, biological and automotive industries. Integrating with Clouds allows ProActive to dynamically provision resources to execute a workflow based on a set of pre-defined policies and constraints that are up to the user. Activeeon had developed a Amazon EC2 resource plugin and it made complete sense to integrate with Apache CloudStack either through the EC2 mapping and even directly via the ACS native API. Below I embed slides from Brian Amedro (@brianamedro) describing the integration, as well as a video demoing it live.

Practically speaking, how did the integration happen ? According to @brianamedro it took 1 person five days. They used the ACS sandbox DevCloud to stand up a live ACS cloud. They modified the template used in DevCloud to make it a Proactive nodesource template. To call the API they used an existing library which even though it was created for older CloudStack release still worked with ACS 4.0. The resulting java code was open sourced on the OW2 repository. Looking ahead, Activeeon wants to test the scalability of the CloudStack connector on thousand nodes cloud and add a stronger integration especially in terms of identity management and auto-scaling.

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Open@Citrix

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. 

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