What do Ticketmaster and the open source OpenStack cloud platform have in common? Thanks to startup Metacloud, they now both have some 'spine.'
Spine is an open source technology for provisioning and scaling that was originally built by Ticketmaster and then released as open source. Steve Curry, CEO of Metacloud, was formerly a Senior VP at Ticketmaster before leaving along with some members of his cloud engineering team to create the OpenStack-based startup.
Instead of being yet another OpenStack-based distribution, Metacloud aims to differentiate itself by providing fully managed private cloud deployments. OpenStack has emerged to become of the leading open source cloud platforms benefiting from the support of IBM, HP, Dell, IBM, Cisco, AT&T, Red Hat and Ubuntu.
"The big appeal of the public cloud is not that it's public, but that it is fully managed," Curry told Datamation. "So we want to provide that same fully managed experience with OpenStack where companies just consume their own compute resources."
Curry stressed that the Metacloud model is about adding value by way of its experienced operations team. Part of the operations team experience stems from the Spine effort at Ticketmaster. The spine system was first built in 2004 as a robust configuration management system that was later released under the open source GPL license.
"Spine acted as our orchestration layer as well as our configuration management platform at Ticketmaster," Curry said. "At Metacloud we continue to use Spine and it is the basis of our cloud provisioning and scaling capabilities."
Configuration management in the open source world is a space that lately has been dominated by the Puppet and Chef tools. Curry said that in his opinion, Spine is analogous to what Puppet and Chef provide. He noted that when Ticketmaster started building Spine in 2004, neither Puppet nor Chef were available.
"Spine is a highly dynamic polymorphic configuration management system," Curry said. "It's highly modular and it has been enterprise hardened."
As a managed OpenStack private cloud, Metacloud take an operation level view into the current health of a deployment. From a customer perspective, enterprises use the OpenStack Horizon project to provide visibility into what is running.
From a hardware perspective, Metacloud is relatively agnostic. From a bare metal operating system, Metacloud is currently using Ubuntu Linux. Metacloud CTO Sean Lynch noted that to date, Metacloud doesn't have a commercial agreement with Canonical, the lead commercial sponsor behind Ubuntu.
"We feel that we have the expertise to support it," Lynch said.
That said, he added that if any issues came up that they couldn't solve, they would contact Canonical. While Metacloud doesn't currently work with any specific hardware vendor, Lynch noted that this is actually a benefit.
"One of the big attractions of Metacloud is the fact that larger enterprises already have a pre-existing set of servers sitting around," Lynch said. "More times than not, the hardware is already there for us to leverage."
The core OpenStack project is all about open source and Metacloud's intends contribute back to the project. Lynch noted that Metacloud has contributed bug fixes back to the Nova compute project among others.
"We want to lean toward contributing back as our default mode of operation," Curry said.
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