We had a great turn out for the April meeting of the CloudStack European User Group on April 2. The meeting was very kindly hosted by BT (British Telecom) at their Showcase Centre in London.

I’d been a little worried about attendance because, in my wisdom, I’d decided at organise this meeting a week before the CloudStack Collaboration Conference in Denver.

However, the room was packed. Partly my fault as I’d told the guys at BT that “if everybody who’s registered turns up, I’ll eat my hat.” I managed to keep my trilby in my pocket, but only just.

I started the meeting off with my usual roundup of CloudStack news. Since our last meeting in January the main news item has been the release of CloudStack 4.3. We discussed many of the great new features of 4.3 and also the emphasis on code quality that has been a recent driver in the project. The new zone-to-zone VPN functionality was greeted with a few cheers in the room, Christian seemed beside himself with excitement!

After having a good look at 4.3, we had a discussion on the ongoing lack of awareness of Apache CloudStack. Despite having nearly 300 production deployments, a large & vibrant community CloudStack sill does not get the attention that we think it deserves. I decided to compare the perception of Cloudstack in US/Europe with that in Japan (where it is the dominant IaaS technology).




Next to speak was John Gillam, Cloud CTO of BT themselves. John’s talk was the story of BT’s adoption of CloudStack in order to drive their global cloud. John explained how BT has started their cloud journey many years ago by attempting to wirte their own orchestration platform. After realising the error of their ways, they discovered CloudStack in 2010 (in its early VMOps start-up days) . John explained, that even back then he recognised the technology as a game-changer: something that could orchestrate VM’s and properly manage multi-tenant networking .

The first release of the BT cloud was June 2011, by October 2012 it was launched in US and Latin America and by October 2013 they had availability zones in 16 countries. John also talked through some of the tools that the BT guys have developed and his ambition to contribute those to the Apache project.

But the best part of Johns talk for me was learning about BT’s desire to get actively involved in supporting the Apache CloudStack community. As a major user of CloudStack, BT have got a great accumulated wealth of experience with the technology and it will be great to see them interacting in the project. I look forward to seeing those BT email addresses starting to appear in the mailing lists.



When I first got involved in Cloudstack I often felt that Europe was a remote outpost in our community: the majorty of the movers and shakers seemed to be in silicon valley.

However, this seems to be changing. At this meeting we had (from memory) 6 project committers and 3 PMC members in the room. All based in Europe. As if that wasn’t enough, we also had the newly appointed VP of Apache Cloudstack, Hugo Trippers and it was Hugo who gave the next talk.

When not running critical instrastructures at Schuberg Philis, Hugo spends his time helping develop and maintain Apache CloudStack (on which he relies to maintain those ciritical infrstructures). Hugo (almost single handedly wrote the original Nicera NVP integration for Cloudstack and has recently been working on early integration for OpendDaylight




Next up was Geoff, the ShapeBlue CTO. Geoff had planned to do a talk around an exciting projects that we’ve been working on recently, but in that true spirit of opensource collaboration, he’s not allowed to actually talk about it quite yet , unless he aes everybody sign an NDA.

Geoff decided to revert to type and talk about CloudStack networking instead. I often get people telling me that nobody on planet earth knows more about CloudStack’s networking model than him and, as usual, he gave a master-class in the intricate details, brining in some practical tips from the field. Geoff focussed on some of the great new networking features in CloudStack 4.3


Bringing the day home was Sebastien Goasguen, with a great talk on Cloudstack’s support for both the Amazon EC2 API and the Google Compute engine API



Thoughts on – CloudStack Collaboration conference NA 2014

We’re under two weeks away from the annual North American CloudStack Collaboration conference (CCCNA14) , an event purely focussed on the Apache CloudStack project, its developers, its users and it ecosystem: in summary, the community.

CCCNA14 is in Denver, Colorado 9-11 April and promises over 60 sessions on CloudStack content across 3 different tracks, numerous tutorials and some great keynotes. This conference follows two previous cloudstack conferences in North America and a highly successful European CloudStack conference in Amsterdam in Novermber 2013.

As many people will have already noticed, the conference is being co-located with ApacheCon NA this year. Along with ApacheCon, the event is being organised by The Linux Foundation, who have done a great job in producing such a sizable conference. Although the two previous US CloudStack conferences were a great success, it seemed sensible to co-locate with another sizeable open-source conference and to hand over the organising of our growing conference to an organisation that live and breath open source conferences.

ShapeBlue and CloudStack Collab

As always, ShapeBlue will be well represented at CloudStack Collab. We’re proud to be both Gold sponsors and lanyard sponsors this year and are looking forward to meeting up with fellow community members, many customers & business partners at our booth in the main venue lobby.

We’re presenting a total of 6 talks at the conference: giving an insight into our wide experiences in designing & building CloudStack environments across both service providers and enterprise customers.

Mini CloudStack Bootcamp

After it was so well received at the last CloudStack Collab, we’ve decided to run another ShapeBlue CloudStack Bootcamp course on the hackathon day (  This is usually a 2 day fast paced course in CloudStack, that we managed to squeeze into a day for the Amsterdam conference. For this conference, we’ve had to squeeze it down even further as there was pressure on the schedule. We’ve only got only 3 hours to take sutdents through 9 different CloudStack subjects and 4 hands-on labs (therefore the addition of “mini”) If you want to come along – don’t be late (and make sure you buy the guys a beer afterwards)

Our talks

ShapeBlue will be presenting a total of 6 talks at the conference this year. Unfortunately Geoff, our CTO, is currently up to his arms in diapers so he’s not able to come and share some of the great work he’s been doing recently on CloudStack reference architectures.

However, Paul Angus has had an unprecedented 4 talks accepted on a wide range of subjects

Giles, our CEO, is doing a talk (or more an interactive session he tells us) around the perception problems and lack of awareness that CloudStack has traditionally suffered from compared with other simiar projects. As you’d expect from him, the title to straight to the point:


Back by popular demand, Tariq will be delivering a talk around metering, usage and billing data in CloudStack. This is a must-see talk for anybody looking to commercialise services around CloudStack

All in all, CloudStack Collab is looking like its going to be a great event. At ShapeBlue, we’re proud to be part of, and support, such a fantastic open-source community. And, as always, we’re looking forward to a few beers with so many of our friends in one place.

The CloudStack Collaboration Conference 2014 is in Denver,  CO 9-11 April 2014

Further information and registration can be found here


The CloudStack European User Group met on Thursday 23rd January for our quarterly meeting. The event was kindly hosted by TrendMicro UK and we would like to thank Simon and Jon for making sure that everybody was comfortable, fed and watered. TrendMicro are one of the many vendors who are actively showing their support for Apache Cloudstack through contributions to the project and community.

There was a fantastic turnout, we had a packed room with standing room only. It is great that we continue to see a good mix of developers, users, integrators and customers; all in the room ready to share experiences and ideas around CloudStack. Also present were four members of the Apache CloudStack Project Management Committee (PMC), who are responsible for the management and oversight of the Apache CloudStack codebase. Their presence provides an ideal opportunity for attendees and organisations to ask questions, discuss and provide feedback on CloudStack and get further value from the user group.

Giles Sirett (CEO of ShapeBlue and Chairman of the Group) started the meet up with his usual roundup of all things Cloudstack and highlighted how the CloudStack business community continues to mature through major vendor involvement and increased backing from users. Now with availability of multiple commercial support offerings there are clear signs of the CloudStack market developing. Further statistics show how both the Cloudstack user and developer communities continue to rapidly increase inline together and interestingly, the CloudStack community is just as active as OpenStack’s. Giles finished off with a summary of the best talks from the successful European CloudStack Collaboration Conference which took place in Amsterdam last November.

Next up was Donal Lafferty of Citrix. For the last 12 months Donal has been working on the Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor integration for CloudStack, which is due in the 4.3 release. Donal talked through his development work to integrate ‘the last hypervisor’, starting with the drivers behind this project, the problems he faced, the solutions and the lessons learnt. There were some good take-aways such as using QuickCloud in development as an alternative for System VMs.

After a quick break, Arjan Eriks from Schuberg Philis talked about the landscapes in which Schuberg Philis use cloud in general and CloudStack in particular. And what choices Schuberg Philis has made to come to this point. Arjan described the various scales of clouds and how organisations should choose a cloud based on requirements such as Compliancy, Feature Richness, Adaptability, Price and Pricing models and Level of Control.

Of particular interest were Schuberg Philis’s current cloud implementations on Apache CloudStack for the following clients:

  • Belgium Bank
  • Dutch Harbor Pilot
  • Royal Dutch Airline
  • Dutch Retailer
  • Dutch bank
  • Employee Cloud


Puppet and Chef have been become the dominant configuration management tools in most cloud environments. Many people think Ansible now presents a much more sys-admin focussed alternative to these established technologies. Paul Angus of ShapeBlue has been working with Ansibile in CloudStack environments for a while now and his presentation shared his experiences, looked at the use-cases for Ansible with CloudStack and walked through some real-world examples of using Ansible.

This was very much an interactive session with the audience asking questions around “What…?”, “Why…?”, “How…?” and even a moment of epiphany – “Can Ansible be used to burst from CloudStack to AWS?”. As others like David Nalley are finding “there are more and more tasks Ansible is a perfect fit for”. This talk certainly left many inspired to explore the possibilities of Ansible with CloudStack!

The final talk of the day was from Sebastian Goasguen on “Contributing to Apache CloudStack”. Many people new to an open-source project find the idea of contributing code a daunting prospect. However, keeping the product documentation up to date is just as valuable to the projects long term success and is open for anybody to contribute to.

Sebastian started by describing the many mechanisms for contributing to the CloudStack project from coding and supporting users via IRC and the User mailing list to marketing/promoting CloudStack. Those who make sustained contributions to the project may be invited to become Committers. Sebastian also gave an overview of the Cloudstack documentation, and showed just how easy it is for any user of Cloudstack to contribute. He rounded off his talk by discussing other indirect ways of contributing such as working on language translations, ecosystem tools/librarys/projects (Ansible, Docker, LibCloud, Puppet,Hadoop,etc), hosting and sponsoring events.

Already within the first six weeks of 2014, there are five CloudStack user group meet ups taking place worldwide and four classroom/online bootcamp training sessions scheduled, so if you are getting up to speed with CloudStack there is plenty of opportunity to get involved. It’s certainly looking to be an exciting year for Apache CloudStack.

We are all very much looking forward to the next European CloudStack User Group meeting in 3 months time, hopefully with even more new faces!





Giles Sirett, CEO of ShapeBlue discusses why the upcoming Cloudstack Collaboration conference in Amsterdam may be a lot more significant than many people think.

The title of this article  is bold, I know. A lot of people are going to question whether a conference around a specific open-source project can really be billed as the most significant  cloud conference of the year. But I think it is and this is why.

IaaS, as a concept ,is at a juncture. The whole of the industry is waking up to the concept that the value of cloudy automation is above the IaaS layer (lets call it “AIaaS” ).   It’s this devops use-case that is driving a good percentage of the private and hybrid cloud development globally.

If we’re all going to get focussed on AIaaS  , we need to be able to see our IaaS layer as  something that just works, something that is stable yet something that will evolve as the underlying compute,network and storage layers evolve. It needs to be a vibrant open source project and it needs to be backed by the vendors that matter: those that provide the underlying infrastructure. We need it to abstract that mundane infrastructure stuff away from what we want to focus on.

To date, Apache CloudStack has been (in my opinion) the best technology available to perform this task. It came donated to Apache as an established, proven piece of software. It works. However, for the last couple of years it has been  unfairly overshadowed by OpenStack’s relentless quest to paint the earth red and grey.

OpenStack  has always offered the nirvana  of being a framework that could be adopted by vendors to deliver their own products and solutions. That’s worked well for certain large vendors, who have the resources and cash to do that building, but what about the other 99.9999% of organisations ?. The banks, the publishers, the insurance companies, the government departments: all of the average enterprise Joe’s who just need their IaaS layer to work, so they can focus on the real value AIaaS.   These are the guys who are now building private and hybrid cloud, they’re going to want something that works; and they wont want a framework or a propriety fork to eat from.

Many people have, to date, claimed that “OpenStack has won”. But I believe that is beginning to change. As many of the Openstack myths unravel, organisations are looking for an alternative. I think people are now seriously starting to say: “hmm, Openstack isn’t quite what we thought we were signing up for here”. We are not Dell, we are not Rackspace but we do want  to implement  an IaaS layer.

So, what’s all this got to do with a conference ?   Well, this conference, purely by it’s timing and the nature it’s  technology  (as a serious alternative  to OpenStack) at its core, is going to be The event where  this really becomes obvious  that some serious organisations are getting behind Apache CloudStack.

Where my evidence to back this up ?

First, lets look at some of  the sponsors for the upcoming CloudStack collab conference. Many people will find some of these surprising.

NetApp,VMware,  Nexenta, Solidfire, CA, Akamai,  TrenMicro, OpsCode aren’t small names (full sponsor list here and many of them aren’t names, up until this point, associated with Apache CloudStack.

Its safe to assume that, organisations paying serious money to sponsor a single technology conference, have a vested interest in doing so.  Just  ask yourself: why are organisations like this starting to open up their involvement on this technology ?

I declare that I am helping to organise this conference. That does, however, give me visibility to the organisations who have already registered. This more than anything has driven my conclusions on the significance of this event and led to me writing this article.  So far, over 130 different organisations are represented, many of them more significant names than my partial sponsor list above. Most significantly, many of them are organisations that have previously declared their undivided loyalty to OpenStack. Its not right to publish registrant lists on blogs, but come and look at some of the name badges that are going to be at this conference. I think many in the industry may be surprised to see who’s coming.

Now, lets look at the speakers. If dev-ops is driving private & hybrid cloud adoption, then you’d expect to see that movement well represented. Speaking at CloudStack Collabration will be John Willis, Mark Burgess and Patrick Debois. If you don’t know who those guys are : Google them (and do so with the knowledge that not a single speaker has been paid or had expenses covered to come to this conference). Again, their attendance at this event is no coincidence.

So, is this going the be the most significant Cloud Event in Europe this year ? Well, there will be  some very significant  stories will be heard at this event, the recent OpenStack summit was held in Hong Kong  ( a bit like FIFA taking the World cup to Qatar – they love to build a new market those OpenStack guys) , so potentially yes.

The 3rd CloudStack Collaboration Conference is happening in Amsterdam 20-22 November.


On Thursday 10th October, the quarterly meeting of the CloudStack European User Group was combined with a Build A Cloud Day – a format for people looking to understand the basics of building clouds using open-source technology.

The event  was hosted by our friends ControlCircle: a leading provider of managed and cloud-based services to enterprises and on-line businesses. ControlCircle have been involved in the Cloudstack community for some time now: using Cloudstack as the basis for their own managed cloud product, Hybrix

The morning session started with an introduction from Sebastien Goasguen (@Sebgoa) , Citrix open source evangelist and Cloudstack committer and PMC member. Sebastien did a great session, introducing Apache Cloudstack as a technology, it’s history and also explained a number of complementary OSS technologies from Apache and other sources.

Next up was Giles Sirett (@shapeblue) , CEO of ShapeBlue and author of this blog who did a talk on the Business Use cases for Apache Cloudstack, looking at what’s driving organisations to build IaaS cloud infrastructures and also why those organisations are choosing Apache Cloudstack ahead of other technologies.

Paul Angus (@cloudyangus) then took us on a beginners tour of the cloudstack UI and API, with his talk “CloudStack 101”. Always one to be ambitious, Paul decided to do a series of live demos based on an environment he had built during the first coffee break (to be fair, comms issues had prevented him getting out to his intended demo environment ). Paul did great job of explaining key UI & API features of Cloudstack and tied them in nicely to both public cloud and devops use-casees’. He also did a great job of showing us how Xen server doesn’t like the 16k of memory his laptop had available and how to read the cloudstack error log 🙂

After Paul, Geoff Higginbottom (@cloudstackguru) did a short “Introduction to Cloudstack Networking” talk . Many people acknowledge that there’s nobody on planet earth who knows as much about Cloudstack Networking as Geoff. Luckily he decided to throttle back a little on his usual detail levels and did an excellent job of explaining the key cloudstack networking features and also had a good look that the new & improved VPC functionality available in Cloudstack 4.2

After lunch, we had a couple of talks looking at new and exciting storage options available around the cloudstack ecosystem. Wido den Hollander (@widoh) did a great presentation on his work to integrate Cloudstack to Ceph. As well as learning about Ceph (a, hugely scalable distributed storage platform ), I found Widos talk really exciting as it demonstrates the power of an well governed open source project. 18 months ago, Wido’s company decided that they would like to use both Ceph and Cloudstack in their hosting environment . Unfortunately, there was no integration between the two so Wido stepped up and, almost singlehandedly, wrote the integration. The power of OSS projects to bring about innovation like this never ceases to amaze me.

Next up was Stuart McCaul from Basho. Basho are makers (or rather, governors since its all been open-sourced) of RIAK and RIAK CS, a really nice distributed database & object store that integrates beautifully with Cloudstack. It’s exciting to see Basho also committed to integrating their technology into Cloudstack

Many thanks for ControlCircle for hosting, ShapeBlue (my employers) for organising the event and the pizza, and to all of the speakers who gave up their time to share their experiences.

The final point to note was that attendees of the day were invited to the upcoming Cloudstack Collaboration Conference (20-22 November, Amsterdam). It would be great to see some attendees of the event in London, being able to make this great conference.


There was a great turnout for the July meeting of the European CloudStack User Group. It was fantastic to see a good mix of developers, users, integrators and  customers: all in the room ready to share experiences and ideas around CloudStack.

One interesting observation was that we had representatives from organisations using Apache CloudStack and Citrix CloudPlatform (Citrix’s commercial distribution of CloudStack)  and also some people who were using both technologies. This gave me the sense that, whether or not somebody chooses to go with a commercial distribution, they all consider themselves part of the CloudStack community and get value from user groups such as ours.

The event was kindly hosted by SunGard Availability Services and I’d like to thank Rhian, Max and Perry for making sure that everybody was comfortable, fed and watered. SunGard are a major user of CloudStack  (it drives Sungard Online )and have shown continued commitment to the community through events like this and, not least, through their support of CloudStack VP Chip Childers.

I started the evening with a roundup of CloudStack news: both from the Apache Community and from the Citrix perspective.

I shared some of the slides that Chip had delivered  for his keynote at the CloudStack Collaboration Conference: importantly the news of a rapidly growing community and of a rapidly growing install base. When Chip presented at collab (10 days earlier) we had counted 272 production  clouds (of decent scale) using CloudStack. The amazing thing is, when I checked the open CloudStack user survey for this user group, that number had jumped to 280.

Next up was Mike Tutkowski of SolidFire. Mike has been a very active contributor to the Apache CloudStack project in recent months and has done a lot of work on the storage plugin architecture. Mike shared his experiences of being involved in a dynamic opensource community and the challenges he’s face d in trying to develop a mechanism for CloudStack to integrate with Solidfire’s storage solution.

Special thanks go out to Mike, who flew from Denver, Colorado to share his experiences with us. He was so jet-lagged that he forgot it was 4th July  and managed only 1.5 pints of English beer afterwards.

There had been a lot of requests from previous groups for somebody to explain, in detail, the networking model of CloudStack. There was only one man for this: so ShapeBlue CTO & CloudStack Committer , Geoff Higginbottom, set out to unravel CloudStack networking in 1 hour.  Anticipating what was coming, I almost introduced him in a “Top Gear style”: “some people say he  is married to a hypervisor, others know that he has “VLAN” tattooed on the sole of his foot. All we know is he’s called Geoff”.

I should have done.

Embedded in this blog are the 67 (you read that right) slides that Geoff covered in 60 minutes. Content great. Brain frazzled.

After a quick break, Pierre Vacherand  from Amysta gave a really good demo of their chargeback & billing solution for CloudStack.

Amysta gives a sensibly priced answer the  challenge that many Enterprises and service providers have when deploying a CloudStack cloud: how do we simply and acurately track the costs associated with running the infrastructure. I think Amysta is a great answer to this problem (for the record: ShapeBlue are a partner of Amysta….we like the tech)

The final slot went to Len Bellemore of ControlCircle. ControlCircle are a managed service provider, based in London who deliver services to many large organisations. His company have built a hybrid cloud offering based on CloudStack and Len  shared his experiences on deploying CloudStack.

It was good to hear that ControlCircle have successfully developed an enterprise-grade cloud service offering based around CloudStack. Apparently Len doesn’t sleep as much as his boss.


We’re all very much looking forward to the next European CloudStack User group in September. Details to follow





The CloudStack European User group met on Thursday 11th for our quarterly meeting.

We had a packed room, with standing room only  and attendees coming from as far afield as UK, France, Turkey and Germany.

Giles Sirett (CEO of ShapeBlue, Chairman of the Group, and author of this blog)  opened the meeting with his usual roundup of all things Cloudstack:


Geoff Higginbottom (CTO of ShapeBlue & Apache CloudStack committer)  gave a good overview of the features of the upcoming 4.1 release of Cloudstack:


Oliver Leech (Platform Architect at Tata Communications) demonstrated using puppet to deploy applications within a CloudStack environment.  As an example application, he chose to use Cloudstack to deploy CloudStack  which did leave some people in the room with spinning heads. Clever guy Oliver!

We then had a look at two different object storage technologies: Cloudian and Basho (although Stuart did keep reminding us that Basho are a “distributed systems company”). Although they’re technically competitors, Bob and Stuart did a good job  of providing some solid thinking around the use-case’s for object storage and also how they both are investing in integrating their technologies with CloudStack.


Bob Defoe from Cloudian gave a good overview of the use of Cloudian for object based storage within CloudStack

Stuart Mcall from Basho talked about their RiakCS technology & community

A massive thank-you to  the speakers  and also to everybody who came along.  Citrix very kindly gave us the room and ShapeBlue paid for the beer, pizza and my time to organise.

Everybody seemed to agree that  that the next meeting should be a ½ day affair. I will look to schedule something mid June.  Proposals for presentations can be emailed straight to me.

Keep an eye on the group on Linkedin for further information on the June meeting