Feature Set? Rebuild Option?

There really isnt any information available on cloudmin right now and i know the new site is supposed to be here shortly (yesterday, right?), but could you by chance list some of those features here?

Will customers be able to start, stop, reboot, rebuild, monitor, graph their Xen guests? Im assuming this software has a admin area and a client area. Right? Im really hoping its not just something for admins.

Im close to ordering it just to try it out, but i dont want to waste anyones time and money when just a little more information would help. I know, i know, im being impatient. Its just that I was supposed to launch a new vps product line last week, but obviously with what happened with hypervm, thats not happening anymore. So now I have empty servers doing nothing until then. =/

Anyway, keep up the good work and look forward to the new site and information.

BTW, I know some people have ordered it already, care to comment on what you have seen, etc?

I know I’m running slower than intended on getting everything on the site up to speed. I’ve run into some roadblocks in getting the Support module working with the new ticket tracker (it works, but it doesn’t trigger notifications, which is how Jamie, and Eric, and I know we have work to do!), so I’ve been banging on that for an extra day now.

Anyway, Cloudmin is for both administrative users and customers.

Current feature set for customers includes start, stop, reboot. Monitoring and graphing I believe has made it in. If you’ve seen Virtualmin, you’ve seen our system analytics engine…the same stuff is being used in Cloudmin, though it’s still early yet on that front, and we’re not exposing every bit of data that could be exposed; there’s a screenshot of a Virtualmin graph on the front page here, and the screencasts and demo stuff will be up soon. I’m not actually sure what graphs are currently available, but I know the SVN version has some cool new stuff, particularly for monitoring the health of your host systems.

For spinning up new virtual machines, at the moment, that would I believe be handled by your shopping cart or billing system front end (because someone has to pay for it, right?), and it would call Cloudmin’s API to create the virtual machine.

That said, we just added fine-grained reporting of usage (fine-grained, as in hourly usage and such) into Cloudmin in the last revision, with the goal being to allow your users to spin up and down new machines any time they like, and your billing system just checks every day to know how much is being used. This is, obviously, a longer range goal and plan…because currently no billing system that I’m aware of can operate on an hourly basis. But, we think it’ll be important to be able to offer that sort of flexibility in order to provide compelling cloud services that compete with Amazon Web Services on more than merely price.

Folks who’ve bought it and are trying it out are certainly welcome to chime in. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback on bits that could be better, and we’ll be releasing a new version hopefully before Jamie and I fly out for YAPC this weekend which adds OpenVZ support and corrects the biggest reported issues. I don’t think anyone from the new batch of Cloudmin buyers has yet deployed it on a production system yet; some folks are waiting for OpenVZ support to start migrating to it, some are waiting on billing support (it sounds like Matt from WHMCS is on board for working with us on making that happen, though that’s tentative and still depends on his community expressing a preference), and some are just wrapping their heads around it. (There are a dozen or so hosts who were in the private beta for the past six months or so, who’ve been using it in production. I think only a couple of those folks are regulars in the forums here, but maybe they’ll chime in.)


I’m a bit’ confused, and I think its more so because the information is not available on your website. So is Cloudmin a full cloud software (featuring pooled/combined resources of physical nodes), or is it considered to be more of a VPS software?

So is Cloudmin a full cloud software (featuring pooled/combined resources of physical nodes)

Is that the definition of “cloud software”? If so, then nobody is making cloud software. :wink:

Amazon Web Services (arguably the leader in the field) doesn’t pool/combine resources of physical nodes…at least not automatically.

There simply is no way to make a third party application use pooled resources. You can’t throw five servers at an application designed to run on one, and expect it to make any difference. No one is offering that kind of ability under the name “cloud computing”.

Our working definition of cloud computing with Cloudmin is:

  1. Scalable (within limits determined by the hardware and virtualization technology in use). Increasing available memory, CPU, disk space, etc. The goal should be (though this isn’t fully realized by all virtualization types in Cloudmin at this time) that any or all of them can change via API or UI. AWS doesn’t offer this at all, but we think it is important (in AWS, to “resize” you have to launch a new instance and migrate your data and app to it).

  2. Shared resources allow maximization of infrastructure (and perhaps this is the pooled/combined stuff you’re talking about, rather than actually combining and sharing the nodes themselves). So, it should be possible (and easy) to make use of NAS/SAN for storage, dedicated database systems, etc. Again, this often depends on the infrastructure, but Cloudmin+Webmin (and optionally Virtualmin) provides a good toolset for building cloud services in this regard. We’ll be writing up some docs on building out this kind of service using various off-the-shelf technology from Sun (like ZFS) as well as on Linux. We’ll also be adding more tools to Cloudmin for creating and managing such shared resource pools. We’re waiting to find out what hosting providers want to use. Should we be focusing on ZFS in Solaris, GlusterFS in Linux, something else entirely?

  3. Flexible and empowering for the developer. The developer of a web application knows better than anybody what resources he needs and when…so a cloud computing platform should allow the developer to use what they need, when they need it, and only pay for what the need. We’re still settling in on how these aspects of the product work, as we learn how folks are interacting with the system, and as we learn how billing systems respond to this new market reality (Cloudmin, for example, has hourly resource information; intended to allow billing similarly to AWS; but it’ll be a while before anyone has written the tools needed to realistically bill that way).

or is it considered to be more of a VPS software?

Number 3 above, in particular, I think, rules out general purpose VPS software.

Virtualization is, obviously, a core component of building cloud services. So, yes, Cloudmin has a lot of VPS related capabilities, and those will be the first that get used by hosting providers (they understand them, billing systems and shopping carts can easily be made to work with those concepts). But, Cloudmin is not intended to merely be a cheaper version of Virtuozzo. It’s a pretty good replacement for Virtuozzo, but we’d like to take it to the next level and enable folks to build services that don’t currently exist and some of those tools are already in place in Cloudmin.

The information is being added to the website as fast as possible. We’ll be posting a few screencasts showing some of these concepts in the coming days. We understand if you want to wait a while before diving in. Nobody is going to beat you up for wanting to know what the product does before buying it. And the current low cost offer will be around for a while; at least a couple more versions of Cloudmin. :wink:

Anyway, a core set of VPS management features is required for anything else interesting we might do, so that has been where a lot of our development effort has gone, to date. But merely managing some virtual systems is not really an interesting problem space for us, and I don’t think it is really a solution to the problem hosting providers are facing going forward (which is competition from Amazon, Microsoft, Google, etc, increasing demand for flexible and low-cost options, better tools for managing growth, etc.)

So i didnt see it in the explanation, but will customers be able to “rebuild” their vm instance? Aka, return it to factory settings?

That’d be a combination of deleting and creating a new vm. Right now this capability isn’t exposed to users, but it will be shortly. It’d require API calls from your support system or similar (if you have an automatic “reboot request” type thing in your support system, this could be done in pretty much the same way…just make a couple of calls to Cloudmin to kill the old instance and create a new one).

But, I think it’s sort of non-cloud thinking, as though it’s a “server” that needs to be re-imaged.

Why not, instead, allow users to spin up as many virtual machines as they want, and take them down and delete them when they want and only pay for the time they’re running? (And optionally disk space used.)

The notion that you’d want to “rebuild” assumes that you only have one to work with…and that’s what we’re trying to get past. The cloud should provide effectively limitless resources, where you use what you need, and pay for only what you use.

So, we’ll add this particular feature as a stop-gap until there’s systems in place to bill folks for real cloud computing services.

We’re expecting you guys to come along with us into the future, rather than keep hanging on to a past in which a “server” was a specific finite thing that could never grow or evolve and you had to sell them one at a time, and if you want to try something new you have to buy an additional server or start from scratch on the old one. Cloud computing is about having your cake and eating it, too. :wink:

So reading over what I just wrote I realized it’s not quite clear what is available today in Cloudmin.

API support and administrator support for deleting and creating virtual machines exists today. If you already have systems in place that will do reboots and such for your users, it would be trivial to do the same with Cloudmin virtual machines.

UI support for this for end-users (your customers) is not in the current version, but I’m pretty sure Jamie has added it for the next release (but I might be wrong; he’s mostly focused on OpenVZ support this week).

Am I missing something or does the current client area not allow the client to do anything besides view the status of their instances? Not even any useful information about those instances. No instance creation, graphing, rebooting, starting, etc. I know the owner has the right plan assigned to it. Probably a lot of these questions could be answered with the new website so we know what is actually a current feature and then whats actually more just on the roadmap and might just be currently being worked on.

Whoops, im blind. Looks like you already mentioned above that the client area really has no UI features at this point, my bad.

Whoops, im blind. Looks like you already mentioned above that the client area really has no UI features at this point, my bad.

I think I must have failed to be clear again.

When I said UI support client-side didn’t exist, I was specifically talking about instance creation and deletion (and thus instance “re-image”; though, again, I don’t like folks thinking of instances as something you would ever want to “re-image”, as though it’s as dumb and simplistic as a physical server; cloud computing is about making things better than physical servers). The other stuff you’ve asked about is available to your clients. Reboots, status, etc.

The next version coming out the moment we get back from YAPC has quite a bit of new stuff in this area, including re-imaging (Jamie mentioned this at lunch, and I groaned aloud, because I don’t like this old-fashion physical server nonsense; but folks want it, so Jamie made it…it’ll be in the next release).

I think the thing that a lot of people are worrying about is exactly as aforementioned. A lot of billing scripts from my logical perception will need to be seriously rewritten in order to support cloud-type billing and if you’re steaming straight into cloud-based provisioning without providing any backwards compatibility for what is currently the main method for provisioning VPSs (on a physical server, single-instance), I think you’ll probably scare a lot of people off.

Whilst I agree that cloud computing is pretty funky, it’s not for everybody just yet, but I can still understand why you’d get annoyed with people that don’t want to adopt it yet.

My logic tells me that if I have a VPS with a distro that I don’t like on it, I should reinstall the instance with a different distro, not create another one (which I’ll have to pay for) and then delete my current one, it just seems to be illogical. Just like with a desktop computer, if you want to keep something, you save it, and if you want to change it, you overwrite it, you don’t save it as a new file and delete the old one, that’s just stupid. This is the mentality I’m afraid a lot of people will have and which is why I implore you to have some backwards compatibility with the old method of provisioning and running VPSs in with your product.

This is the mentality I’m afraid a lot of people will have and which is why I implore you to have some backwards compatibility with the old method of provisioning and running VPSs in with your product.

I don’t understand why you’re imploring us to do something that I’ve already said Jamie added to Cloudmin several days ago and will be in the very next release? :wink:

It’s done. No more need to fret about it.

Apparently, I need to book an eye exam, because I completely missed that bit :stuck_out_tongue: