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Re: Note worthy package: XCP

On 01/04/2012 08:38 PM, Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:
> On Tue, Jan 03, 2012 at 06:53:09AM +0800, Thomas Goirand wrote:
>> This makes 2 cloud stacks available for Debian SID and soon Wheezy, and
>> makes Debian on top of cloud computing (no other distributions have XCP
>> at the moment, though I'm expecting Ubuntu to import XCP for the next
>> LTS, and Fedora to also use the RPMs from Citrix).
> I agree this is quite an achievement, especially considering the
> disappointment of Eucalyptus in Squeeze.

Thanks! FYI, I've been working with Mike and Jon from Citrix since last
summer on XCP packaging. Mike and Jon have been awesome, did lot's of
packaging work by themselves, and understand how much Debian cares about
the FHS and openness of what we have in main. Communicating with them
was a real pleasure.

The move Citrix did in the direction of opening XCP is rare enough so
that I believe we should advertise about it. This can push other
companies to do the same.

I'm not 100% sure what motivated the decisions. (I may or may not have
contributed to it last spring, by asking the disturbing questions at the
good time on public lists.) The fast rise of OpenStack running KVM might
have pushed Citrix to release XCP as packages so that Xen can continue
to beat KVM in the data center. Maybe Lars (he's Citrix community
manager) can talk about this better than I.

The story of OpenStack also shows that just having an open source
product isn't enough nowadays, and that having a really packaged
software, integrated with distributions is important, otherwise, with
enough competing alternatives available, your project may die. People
also do expect to be able to contribute openly.

If you didn't know the story goes like this:
- Citrix sells XenServer
- Then they decide to open it and create XCP (Xen Cloud Platform) from
it, as a CentOS appliance, download-able from their site as an ISO image.
- Last april/may, they decided to switch from a CentOS appliance with
home-brewed tweaked packages to a packaged solution that can be
integrated in distributions like Fedora, Ubuntu and and of course Debian.

Side note: Zack, I suppose that you know that XCP is written in your
loved Ocaml language (which I don't know enough)! Maybe when you're done
with being a DPL, you may contribute? :)

> More generally, empowering Debian users to deploy their own clouds ---
> instead of having to rely on public cloud far far away from them --- to
> be very much aligned with Debian goals.
> I'd therefore dare to propose something a bit more bold of what you
> propose here (although not incompatible with it): a press release along
> the lines of "deploy your own clouds with Debian". Some of the topics
> that could fit in are:
> - the availability of the 2 stacks you mention: XCP + OpenStack
> - the importance of private clouds vs public cloud for users who care
>   about their software freedom and privacy
> - a call for testing of cloud technologies that are expected to be
>   delivered as part of Wheezy

Right! Testing is important, and isn't finished yet. We got to make sure
XCP works as a replacement for XenServer (the commercial product from
Citrix) so that XCP can be used together with OpenStack. For the moment,
it's possible to start VMs with XCP controled by Openstack, but I had no
network and not console on it... yet (I'm convinced it must be only few
glitches to fix). Then there will be documentation effort to process,
since it's not that easy to do this setup (lots of components to install
and connect together). Such project is nothing without a good howto.

Anyway, Openstack and XCP from SID/wheezy can, *today*, be used
independently: they both work well.

> to make sense, we should wait for the involved packages to reach
> testing, though.

They all did!!! But as per above though, XCP and Openstack both need a
bit of rework so they can work together. I'd say that waiting for this
to happen would be a good idea.

Also, the Openstack packaging team in Debian is aiming at having
Openstack Essex (which is scheduled to be release for the next Ubuntu
12.04) in Wheezy. I'm not sure if what we have in SID/wheezy currently
can be considered production ready, and I have yet to hear about a
commercial deployment around it. What's for sure is that with such
server/infrastructure software, it's best to wait that everything gets
stabilized and bug-fixed before going in production.

As for the freedom part, what I've always tried to work on since I
contribute to Debian, is a hosting environment so that it's also
possible to run a small hosting company fully with open source software,
as I believe it's equally important to allow small businesses to deploy
infrastructure with open source software. Having only Amazon as a public
cloud infrastructure provider was a really bad situation, and a lot of
people (including myself) are delighted to see that changing.

It's important to show everyone how much Openstack emerged from
deceptions of the open core model of Eucalyptus, and that Openstack
isn't only free, it's also a project with *open governance* (everyone
working in Openstack knows about it), with its contributor electing and
steering the project democratically. Leaders for each of the individual
projects are elected, patch are reviewed by individuals elected to be in
"core" developers, and Openstack is currently trying to build a
foundation. This shows how much having a project being just open source
isn't considered enough anymore. Even the Debian community could learn
from that experience: when will we also do elections for key positions
in Debian like FTP-Masters leader, release managers leader, DAM, etc
(just an idea I'm throwing, don't count on me to actively push for that)? :)

> I'm available to draft the more "political" part of the press release.
> But I'm just a casual user of private clouds, hence I'd need help from
> the Xen/OpenStack people to write the more technical parts and why they
> matter.
> What do you think?

If you elaborate a bit more what you think should be in it, then I'll
work on something (which obviously will need some rework/rewording later
by someone else, as I don't feel I'm a very good writer). What would you

> I wonder if that might backfire, other distros seem to have more cloud
> stuff, for example Ubuntu has their Juju/Ensemble thing and OpenSUSE
> has Eucalyptus, OpenNebula, OpenStack and ownCloud.

The Eucalyptus has been pointed at because of its open core model, and
its main contributor taking arbitrary decision on what to apply or not
on the main VCS. Cris Crawford from Nebula (he was, before leaving to
create Nebula as a company, head of NASA IT dept.) blogged about it few
years ago, and it's now a quite famous story in the small world of cloud

OpenStack is really the project that everyone is looking at, maybe
because of past marketing that has been made around it, but frankly, it
if that's the case, then such marketing did work, and now we have lots
of nice features, and so many contributors, all working in a very open way!

On 01/04/2012 10:06 PM, Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:
> Well, we're not in the business of saying "we're better than other";
> also, we don't care about market shares. So I don't see how stating
> factual truths about what's available in Debian (as we did, say, with
> [1] or more back in time with [2]) could backfire.
> People will of course be free to say « look at those late-comers to the
> party », but they could do that anyway, no matter the press release.
> And, with the press release, we'd still have the benefit of having
> informed Debian users of new available stuff and called for testing

We missed the Eucalyptus and Nebula thing, but we're first on XCP,
Ubuntu didn't have Xen for a while, but I don't think all this is
important. So I agree with the above, especially since cloud computing
is quite a new thing. Anyway, that's marketing, and I intend to leave
this part to someone else if possible! :)


Thomas Goirand (zigo)

P.S: I'm not registered to the debian-publicity@lists.debian.org, please
CC me.

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