Our Autumn meetup saw us back at Trend Micro, which is becoming a home from home for us! Great to see the guys there again and many thanks for hosting another great meeting. As usual a good turn-out for the group and some really interesting discussions.

Once we’d all settled Giles kicked off with the CloudStack news, and since our last meet-up there’s been a lot of that…

CloudStack 4.4.0 has been released since our last meet-up (GA July 26 2014), and (in what was some fantastic timing), our User Group was held the day after the release of CloudStack 4.4.1 (GA October 24 2014). Giles went through what’s new, and the headlines are: a big uplift of features supported with Hyper-V; support for managed storage for root disks (which gives greater flexibility to the ‘Storage as a Service’ proposition); and support for VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS). The full list of new features and functionality is in Giles’ slides.

It wasn’t only CloudStack this time that had a new version released – next up on Giles’ agenda was the release of CloudMonkey 5.2.0, adding new functionality such as multiple server profiles and Windows and Linux versions. We at ShapeBlue are particularly proud of this as this was authored by our very own Software Engineering team, led by Rohit Yadav.

Whilst on the subject of the ShapeBlue Software Engineering team, they have also been working hard on something we hope will benefit the community – we will now host repos available to anyone to download and use (https://www.shapeblue.com/packages). Maintained by ShapeBlue, and hosted by our friends at BT, this will have 3 types of repository. ‘Upstream’ will contain builds from official Apache CloudStack releases; ‘Main’ will be ShapeBlue patched Apache CloudStack releases built from our patch repository; and finally, ‘Testing’ will be a nightly build repository (untested, potentially unstable and not available for all versions). We will also include links to useful documentation such as release documentation, release notes, installation docs, upgrade docs and admin docs.

Sticking with CloudStack development, Giles then talked about a push from within the community to completely change the development approach. Instead of developing on the master, cutting a potentially unstable release branch which then goes through QA and then continuing to develop on the master; the proposal is to maintain a stable master, with development being merged into the master. Watch this space!

Giles then shared some figures and some anecdotal evidence based on his recent experience and travels. One of the problems CloudStack has is awareness, with another platform grabbing all the headlines and maybe shouting the loudest. However, we are seeing the install base grow, the number of committers grow, and lots of people representing lots of enterprises deciding that maybe it’s time to look at CloudStack. At the recent LinuxCon Europe there were 5 CloudStack talks and the buzz around the delegates was ‘it’s time to look at something else’… maybe something that ‘just works’. On that – the awareness problem IS being addressed, with an announcement to be made at the end of the next European CloudStack Collaboration Conference (Budapest, November 19-22). Again – watch this space.

Earlier this year something that wasn’t big news BECAME big news – namely, the departure from Citrix of 3 big CloudStack names. A lot of blogs and news articles immediately leapt to some pretty wild assumptions, and started claiming that this was the end of CloudStack. This all died away very quickly as a tide of better informed blogs and news articles followed, and Giles summarised here by pointing out that CloudStack is an Apache project and has been for 2.5 years; Citrix are a big contributor but that’s now down to c.40% and continues to fall; and that NO organisation has standing in an ASF project. CloudStack does NOT = Citrix.

Before handing over to our first speaker, Giles finished with news of the Conference – 64 different speakers, workshops and training and use-cases. This event is always fantastic and this year will be no different – book your place now! http://events.linuxfoundation.org/events/cloudstack-collaboration-conference-Europe

Our first guest speaker was Laurence Forgiel of BT, talking us through how BT Research have used CloudStack.

Laurence talked us through how they came to use CloudStack – starting with version 2 back in 2011, moving through CloudStack 3.0.5 with CloudPortal 1.4.5 and currently on 4.3 with CloudPortal 2.1. He then talked about how they use their cloud and how he feels that CloudStack ‘removes barriers to cloud adoption’. This opened up a lot of lively discussions in the room, and it was really interesting to hear someone talk about using CloudStack from its very early days.

Next up was a good friend of ours – Lucian-Paul Burclau (possibly better known as Nux to some of you) – who gave an excellent presentation of creating CloudStack templates using OpenVM.

This was a very informative talk, starting off with the ‘3 laws’ of building templates, namely: a template must be functional, a template must be secure, and a template must be unique. After expanding on this, Lucian led a short debate about the trend for hypervisors to need agents running inside the VM and what should be provided in a template. The future? Better templates, launchers on different Cloudstack public clouds, etc. If you’re interested – get involved here contact@openvm.eu.

After a short break it was Geoff Higginbottom’s turn with the laser pointer. Geoff is our CTO here at ShapeBlue, and gave a great presentation on how to stand up a CloudStack cloud on your laptop!

Geoff went through the software you need to create the virtual environment (all open source naturally), and then really got into the nuts and bolts going into network design, how to configure the software, XenServer, the management servers, CloudStack zones, pods and clusters and Storage. Geoff even went into the specific commands and even touched on enhanced configuration. For those that were listening and taking fast notes, this was a master class in how easy it is to get CloudStack working. Everybody wanted to get hold of these slides.

Last but by no means least we had Andy Roberts of SolidFire.

Andy’s talk started by making the point that public cloud has changed how IT is delivered, and the more we move forwards the less the ‘silo’ed infrastructure model’ becomes sustainable. To quote Andy – ‘We’re moving from a world of isolated users, stifled by isolation and manual administration, to one of shared resource pools available in real time using self-service tools’. This is driving a shift in design and delivery, with SolidFire a part of that shift. I’m not going to pitch on their behalf here – but do check out Andy’s slides! Andy finished his presentation by talking about all the great work SolidFire are doing with CloudStack integration.

As always, we finished a great day with a few beers and the discussions continued for another few hours…

The next CloudStack European User Group will be our Winter meet-up, in January 2015. Either keep an eye on the mailing lists or right here for more details. Hope to see you there!