Civilians can't use UEC, as it's a construction kit. Yet spinning up 'local cloud' instances becomes simple, with the details left of how to provision virtual appliances and make them do work. Downstream, the work can be added to, repurposed, or automated through the use of other cloud control applications and management applications.
Our goal with the Private Cloud Management Tools review was to highlight the differing approaches taken to manage internal resources that have been poised towards cloud usage profiles.
Novell's Cloud Manager treats an IT department as an internal MSP. Users get to see a listing of applications to choose from, and an idea of what's involved to use them, along with all-important costing, which is an integral part of the cloud computing model. Novell's management application takes care of the details of creating libraries of virtual appliances, costing them out, and doling them according to either directory services rules, or through an internally-developed permissions set. It's an internal cloud ecosystem, and a mature way to look at internal assets that have been repurposed and poised (hopefully after review) towards cloud use.
Another dimension we tested was contained in Citrix's XenServer 5.6 — in its Lab Manager component. Hidden inside is a gem called the Self Service Portal/SSP that although not very sophisticated from an accounting/cost perspective, offered an enormous amount of specific virtual appliance and user behavioral controls — the most we've seen so far. The templates offered showed us a wide variety of possible design controls that could be applied. We were thrilled, despite the fact that it's specific to XenServer only.
The Eucalyptus Enterprise package seemed to be a work in progress, standing on the shoulders of the openEucalyptus package that we saw in UEC. We have great hopes for it, but there's much work to be done. The upshot is that work ought to be able to be easily repurposed between a private cloud and Amazon (and perhaps other) cloud services.
OpenNebula, by contrast, used an open source platform to spin-up private cloud resources with comparative ease, and with its online ecosystem, seems poised towards grid and many core computing needs. OpenNebula seems poised towards more scientific deployments, rather than a retail virtual appliance store.
Summing it up
The 800-pound gorilla missing from the corner is Microsoft. We haven't tested Microsoft's Azure cloud resources yet, but plan to soon. That means that much of what we've tested has to do with virtualization platforms that support Linux, and perhaps Windows Server editions as an afterthought. Much of the current cloud computing horizon sees the disposable computing infrastructure as a drink for thirsty if non-persistent applications.
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