Accelerating Cloud Adoption

Over the past weeks we’ve been releasing a number of new features in response to numerous requests from our user base to broaden the reach of the RightScale platform.  Just today we launched support for Amazon’s new Singapore region, see Werner’s blog post as well as Jeff Barr’s. We’ve worked closely with the EC2 team so we can support the new region right out of the gate in our dashboard as well as with RightImages and the whole ServerTemplate, monitoring and automation stack. We’ll soon re-release our popular ServerTemplates in our library such that Singapore shows up in the list of supported clouds in each template. We’ve gotten a fair number of questions around who exactly has been asking for RightScale in southeast Asia and interestingly there isn’t a single answer.  Given that we support a large number of social gaming companies we’ve certainly heard requests from there. Some even were ready to set up a Eucalyptus cloud managed with RightScale. Obviously latency, specially with mobile devices, has been an issue so being able to spin up servers in the region is a major enabler. Additionally, enterprises have been asking for ways to provide better cloud services to their development and research locations in Asia. How soon until it’s easier to list world regions where there isn’t an EC2 cloud than to list where they are?

Last week we released RightLink install packages for Linux and Windows enabling our users to take almost any image and RightScale-enable it. Most of you are probably well aware that I’m not a fan of creating images: it’s a slow process that results in hard to maintain monsters. This hasn’t changed with the RightLink installer, but what has changed is that we wanted to make it easier for our partners to build RightScale support for their flavor of Linux and we wanted to make it easier for users that already have servers up in the cloud to benefit from RightScale. But we didn’t just put the RightLink packages out in the wild, we also published the ServerTemplates we use to build our RightImages. We’ve been publishing these images since 2007, the idea being that we provide a clean base OS install for CentOS and Ubuntu. In RightScale these serve as the base boot image on top of which custom software gets installed and configured dynamically at boot time. What has set our images apart is that we built them automatically and have published the scripts we used for that purpose. This means they’re clean and reproducible. More recently we’ve used ServerTemplates to build the images, basically we boot a server that then builds and saves an image as it comes up. The benefit of using ServerTemplates to build images is that they are easy to maintain and 100% automated, they also make it easy to understand what went into an image later on. This is an excellent framework for anyone else to customize and build their own special image. But I won’t let an opportunity pass by to recommend that you save yourself a lot of time and grief and simply use the RightImages we already built and maintain!

Last but not least we’ve introduced public beta support for Windows in RightScale, and that’s not just launching AMIs, it’s the full ServerTemplate machinery and associated automation, including initial monitoring support. Our sales guys all asked which of our standard features we don’t support for Windows. The response is, “Uhhh, syslog consolidation?” I’m really interested in seeing how the usage pattern of Windows deployments will differ from Linux. I assume that Windows folks will have to be much more in the image bundling business to create base installs of software packages that are too slow to install at boot time. But I also wonder about things like autoscaling, because it still takes a Windows server a lot longer to boot up. We may have to play more games with stopping and starting servers instead of booting them cold. I’m sure our users will tell us!